In the words of the prophet Miley Cyrus:
“To my home girls here with the big butt
Shaking it like we at a strip club
Remember only God can judge ya
Forget the haters ’cause somebody loves ya”
Where does one even begin?
As a Christian I think it’s safe to say I’ve been on every side of this issue. I’ve been the one judged. I’ve been the one to tell people not to judge. And I have flat out unabashedly judged countless people in my life. I thought I was so right. Fighting for the things of God to those who don’t believe in them. Because “How dare they? Right!?”
Only the older I got, the more I realized that that book that I was using to justify my judgement of sin was actually telling me: “Devon, shut your dang mouth.”
Judgement is THE thing right? It’s that one trait that most would use to define Christians yes? Those Christians whom Jesus said people would know by the way in which they love one another. (John 13;35)
We’ve become so passionate in our defense of our religion (that is by very nature counter-cultural) that we have overstepped our bounds of power. The bible, in its best of forms, actually gives wisdom on how to deal with these things. Yet in our active defense of the scriptures we either glanced over or forgot the very words we were defending.
So to get this ball rolling…..
Aside from their deliciousness, pigs are gross creatures. They roll in the mud. They constantly are licking the dirt. They snort. They play in their waste. A pig is a stupid animal.
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls at pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” Matthew 7:6
First off…that’s one of the silliest passages in the bible. Who would give a pig a pearl? And yet what Christ is addressing is something we do all the time.
I can’t always pin-point exactly why I find such great issue with bullhorn preachers. But my assumption is that it is rooted in this teaching.
A pig cannot appreciate a pearl. It doesn’t understand the beauty of how it came to be. Or the reason that for many it holds great value. To a pig a pearl has no value. So why would a pig ever appreciate or treat it with any care?
Yet these bullhorn preachers get out in front of masses and yell at questionably dressed women and call them sluts and expect them to abide to their moral compass.
Why would a person with no belief in God obey God’s purpose of sexuality?
Why would a person who is unable to appreciate holiness obey the teachings of the Bible?
We can’t start with these teachings. If we start with God’s expectations for humanity we are throwing pearls to swine.
A person must understand they are a creation of a loving God before they can truly understand their brokenness.
It’s why we have pushed the LGBT community away from the church. We elevated and enforced a sacred view of sexuality on those unable to appreciate it.
Belief drives behavior. We can’t expect to preach behavior and see one respond with belief.
Jesus himself said, “if you love me, obey my commands.” Obedience is driven by a persons love for Christ. Let’s build that up in a person first.
I once lived in a house with a bunch of Christian guys. All of us varied in our levels of faith (if one can say such a thing). Some of us had been on this journey for some time, some of us were figuring it out, others were brand new to it all.
At one point the topic of underage drinking came about. It was present in the household and I took the passionate defense. “If he’s a Christian he shouldn’t be doing that!” How can we allow him to “just be himself!” The opposition was stating I wasn’t loving him where he was at.
And they were right.
He was new to it all. Stepping his foot in the door. And I in my “vast superiority” was pushing him out the door.
Romans 14 is talking about kosher foods and how some are forcing others to abide by new dietary laws. This for many was pushing those who kept kosher away from the faith. Paul goes through a long process of how we should handle such situations.
“Accept those whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat everything, but another person, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.”
I think for many of us there comes a point where we get it before we get it. In other words there comes a point where we learn the new testament. We can recite it, teach it, enforce it, we can feel very wise and sure about it all. We share this knowledge in impassioned ways and expect others to be on our level so we start to judge others who aren’t.
How are you not getting this? You need to stop doing that! Oh my gosh I saw Timmy with a beer. Guys, Jessica has such a foul mouth. Did you know that Mark thinks it’s okay for gay people to be married!?
Knowledge puffs up while love builds up. -1 Corinthians 8:1
We get so caught up in the mindset that we finally get it that we actually are missing it when it comes to loving those whose faith is weaker than ours.
One of my favorite writings on this is from C.S. Lewis, talking about the new creation.
“For mere improvement is not redemption, though redemption always improves people even here and now and will, in the end, improve them to a degree we cannot yet imagine. God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man. It is not like teaching a horse to jump better but like turning a horse into a winged creature. Of course, once it has got its wings, it will soar over fences which could never have been jumped and thus beat the natural horse at its own game. But there may be a period, while the wings are just beginning to grow, when it cannot do so: and at that stage the lumps on the shoulders-no one could tell by looking at them that they are going to be wings-may even give it an awkward appearance.”
Let the creature form. This doesn’t mean never guide them towards holiness. But don’t push them out if they aren’t able to achieve the same obedience as you. It took you time and struggle and suffering to reach the point you are at. Allow them the awkward appearance.
“Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food.” Romans 14:20
“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” Romans 2:1
Paul speaks elsewhere of the lives we used to live. Whether we are still there or we were once there, we ought to understand the struggle of a new believer. Sanctification is a long process. Encourage a life towards holiness without being a stumbling block to one whose faith is weak.
Perhaps I’ll shift a little more harshly here as this is one of the things that has pushed away many that I love.
As a Christian over a period of time one comes to understand what God deems to be righteous acts of the human race. Proper sexuality, honesty, love in its purest form. When we throw our pearls to pigs or we try to enforce God’s holy commandments on unbelievers, or we flaunt our knowledge of things to those whose faith is weak, we can be stumbling blocks to those who still have a ways to go.
Let me give an edgy example.
In college I knew a girl who was a single mother who felt so judged and unwelcomed at church that every time she would hide in the back and not engage.
If we are going to be so passionately against abortion then why do we so severely judge single mothers who step into our churches?
Maybe we are to blame for abortions because of our culture of nonacceptance of mothers who chose life.
If we so loudly vocalize to nonbelievers that we have this vicious attitude towards pregnant teens and “Oh how could you make such a mistake.” then absolutely they would feel the fear of bringing a child into that world where judgmental eyes would watch every step of her mistake.
Some of the most beautiful people I know were leaders who stepped in and walked alongside single mothers or young couples who found themselves in such a situation. They let them know they were loved. They let them know they weren’t alone. And they helped those people become better parents. They earned the right to talk about God’s purpose for sex and yes, sometimes these mothers would go and have other kids and these leaders would be there again to help.
I was talking to a married man the other day and he shared the ever so common story:
“My wife was telling me all she was struggling with and I immediately went into fix it mode. Well you need to do this and this. To which she replied “Sometimes I just need you to listen to what I’m going through and care. Be there. That’s all I want.” To which he said “She was right and I was being a stupid husband.”
How often are we being a stupid church?
We encourage people to come to us with their burdens, to seek out our community and they come and share to a new community something very painful and difficult and we immediately tell them, you need to do this and this and stop doing that.
Maybe all they need to hear in that moment is “we love you, and we are with you.” Let God do the work. You can’t fix anyone.
Those outside of the church should know us by our love, by what we are for, not by what we are against. There is need and value in preaching brokenness, but it must be attached to creation and creative purposes. It must be attached to the gospel. The world will be against this. People won’t listen. Don’t get caught in that argument to someone unable to appreciate the commands of God.
“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.“-Matthew 10:14
Which means you’ve done what you can, you are no longer responsible. God will judge those outside of the church. We give them to his dealing.
Which brings us to last but not least….
Ya know..those “inside” since we are labeling such things. Christians are called to be holy. The way of our life is to be counter-cultural, set apart, from the rest of the world. The world is lost and broken and God will judge those outside the church. But what does this mean for those inside the church?
WE GET TO JUDGE THEM!!!!! YAYYYYY!!!!!!
Too much? okay. Christian judgement is encouraged. The holy are called to judge the holy. The set apart are called to judge the set apart.
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”
Woah, woah, woah, Paul…chill. Jesus said “Do not judge.” What are you getting at? Are you saying I actually am supposed to judge?
So what about all that stuff up there^^^
You’re not tracking.
7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
Before you ever judge someone else we should evaluate ourselves. Otherwise if I tell someone not to drink alcohol and then a week down the road I’m out with a brewski someone will likely judge me according to the way I judged them. “But you said don’t drink what are you doing?” If we actively argue with the LGBT community for the sanctity of marriage and have a high divorce rate then yes, Why on earth would anybody listen to our arguments. Our primary concern is our own heart and our own obedience before we worry about anothers. This is our first judgement. Ourselves.
If we are not supposed to judge then Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 18 would be highly confusing.
Dealing With Sin in the Church
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
The emphasis here is on guidance. A person who is living for Christ should listen when Christians come to guide them towards Jesus. Otherwise well…they aren’t living for Christ and we are called to let them be God’s problem so yeah, excommunication is a thing.
There’s casting out the evildoers and there’s pushing people out before they were ever really in. Use your best discernment when approaching these situations.
We are called to remain holy in addition to representing one body. We should all be in check towards leading one another towards the image of Christ. If one of us is misrepresenting Christ we are called to help that brother or sister back towards the right path.
Excommunicating a person from the church is in essence the same as dusting your sandals as you leave a town. You are saying “this is no longer our problem. It’s God’s.” God will judge those outside the church so we send them outside the church.
The more severely we judge others the higher of a standard others will hold us to.
So whether you are a pig, a vegan, a block, or one of the holy may we use judgement not to tear each other down but rather to build people up. May we be known by our love rather than by what we are against. That we accept those whose faith are weak. That we judge ourselves first and let God change the lives we cannot.