March 2018 – There’s a whole lot of judging going on in New York and Hollywood these days. When movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was accused of – and admitted to – sexually harassing and physically assaulting actresses and other women for decades, a cascade of other powerful men were outed for similar behavior.
Now, many are saying Weinstein’s behavior was an open secret in Hollywood circles. Same with Matt Lauer of the Today Show, actor Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose, and the list goes on.
Weinstein may not be a household name, but he is considered one of the most powerful people in Hollywood with his Miramax movie brand. It took a few days after the Weinstein story broke, but Hollywood liberals soon began to use social media to openly judge Weinstein’s actions as wrong. That’s right, these secular progressives who don’t believe in judging were riding their moral high horse. At the same time the Hollywood crowd was condemning Weinstein, they were praising Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy. Hefner died last September and made his fortune objectifying women. The irony is thick, to say the least.
This whole Hollywood/Weinstein debacle reminds me again that the favorite Bible verse of those who don’t believe the Bible is Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” These are the words of Jesus Himself.
As with all Scripture, context is everything. In its right context, it is clear that Jesus is warning against self-righteousness and hypocrisy. He is not saying sin should be overlooked. But, of course, that doesn’t stop those who don’t believe the Bible from charging that Christians are self-righteous when we point out that certain behavior is immoral.
To me, it just doesn’t make sense that those who don’t look to God’s Word as the final authority on moral issues would use the Matthew passage to render a moral judgment about Christians who do believe the Bible.
But I suppose it’s not really the judging per se that many people have a problem with – it’s making a negative judgment about a behavior they don’t want challenged. No one gets upset when someone compliments their behavior even though in doing so, a judgment has been rendered. No, it’s only when disapproval is expressed that the offended party responds with, “Quit judging me!”
So, I think the idea that we should not judge is generally used by the world against Christians in order to avoid a discussion about morality. And the reason the world would want to avoid a discussion about morality is because it naturally leads to a whole set of other uncomfortable questions. Where do moral standards come from? Does God really exist? What does He require of humans? What are the consequences for disobeying His standards?
It’s not hard to see how a discussion about morality would confront and anger a guilty world. After all, who wants to be confronted with their own shortcomings? So, the world lashes out at the messenger (Christians), as well as the standard bearer (God).
Truth is that the Bible, including the teachings of Jesus, is full of judgments. It informs us what is good and what is evil – moral and immoral. If you don’t want to be accountable for your life, best to avoid the Bible. And many do for that very reason.
For the Christian, our goal every day should be to obey and live out what the Bible teaches, both outwardly and inwardly. Often we will fail to do so, because as long as we are here on earth, we have to contend with the war between the spirit and the flesh. It is unnatural to deny the flesh, so by the grace of God, we have to discipline the flesh to submit to God’s will. It’s a daily struggle.
This is also why humility is so important. Humility is the opposite of arrogance or self-righteousness. Which brings us back to judging. Because we are all capable of doing bad things, we should be careful not to think too highly of ourselves, lest we fall into sin.
Micah 6:8 says this: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
In my judgment, that is an appropriate verse on which to end this column.