One anecdote, something I reflect upon from time to time, is when a man trying to discredit Christianity claimed to one Christian man “you can prove anything using the Bible.” Losing no time, the Christian countered “not to someone who knows the Bible.” I think this applies very solidly to debates I have had with Christians about judging. I will explain.
One command in the Bible reads like this “curse God and die.” Now this is an odd command, considering the message of the Bible is one detailing why we should worship God. But this command is in the Bible. Taken in context, however, it is revealed that this command is given by Job’s evil wife in reference to Job’s Satan-caused misery. One would be foolish to take it as a real command and one to be followed.
Another command in the Bible states “Do not judge”. Now modern Christians might say that calling someone a “fool”, “wicked”, “adulterous”, or even calling them a “hypocrite” might be judging. Calling people “murderers”, “God-less” or even calling them “Satan” would probably also fall under this realm. The problem for modern Christians is that these are all names Jesus called people. Jesus was deep into judging.
So was Jesus himself a hypocrite? Or was there some special law exempting Jesus from “judging” commands, a concept both Jesus and Paul would argue against:
Joh 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
Jesus is commanding his listeners to judge. Paul reiterates this sentiment in his writings:
1Co 6:2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
1Co 6:3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
Not only are Christians required to judge, but we need to be judging constantly as to gain practice for when we judge the angels! If Christians are not to judge, the Bible contradicts itself and Jesus is a hypocrite. Atheists, of course, are quick to capitalize on such seaming inconsistency. SkepticsAnnotatedBible has sections for both Christian name calling and “conflicting” verses on judging.
Anti-judging Christians are quickly stumped on such inconsistencies. I would know; I have debated plenty. However, Christians who value the word of God only need to read the verses themselves to understand the real meaning. Christians are commanded to judge, though are not to judge hypocritically or disproportionately to the offense:
Luk 6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged:
This is a typical if-then-else conditional statement: if Peter eats the cookie, he will gain weight. In the example sentence, the “then” condition must be bad if it is to serve as any reason for not doing the “if” action. If gaining weight is bad, Peter might look at the sentence and then decide not to eat the cookie based on the harms described as a result. But what of Jesus’ “then” conditional? Why is it bad to get judged? Luckily, Christians do not need to make up reasons because Jesus explicitly tells us. In a similar text in Mathew Jesus expounds on this:
Mat 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
Mat 7:2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
So Jesus says judging puts you at risk for being judged in turn for your own sin. Someone with common sense would begin to understand as the subject sins less and less then the potential harm of being judged, in turn, decreases. But just in case the point was not driven home, Jesus goes on:
Mat 7:3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Mat 7:4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Mat 7:5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
Oddly enough, the verses usually cited by Christians on not judging are actually a manual on how to judge. Jesus did not hate judgers. Jesus hated hypocrites. If you remove the sin from your own life, then you can judge others. Contrary to modern Christian psychobabble, Paul tells us that to be a good Christian one should judge all things:
1Co 2:15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.