One of the most unattractive challenges in joining a Christian group is the fear of being judged. Honestly, most people fear the judgement of Christians over the judgment of God Himself. How can this be if Saint Paul reminds us not to judge others, “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God…” (Romans 14 10:-12)? I believe this issue takes considerable more space than one post can manage, but let’s look at some of the main points.
In real life and online, including out blog here at ACNM, judgments are constantly being made and even documented. Many of the contributors have devoted entire post of our judgment of various situations, and that makes some feel uncomfortable.
It is true that we are not called to judge others. We should never judge and personally condemn others to hell, no matter what the situation. That’s no one’s job but God’s, but there are other levels and forms of judgment. In fact, one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit is consel, also known as right judgement (Isaiah 11:1-2).
Most of the time, we’re afraid of being judged because in our heart of hearts we know that means that we have to change something and admit we we’ve done wrong. No one really enjoys admitting fault, and change can be even more overwhelming. There just seems to be nothing fun about it.
In any properly functioning society, judgment is needed to keep order. Sure we would love to get to our destinations faster, but if we go 50 in a 30, we’re likely to be judged by a cop that will give us a ticket for speeding. It’s not that they’re doing it just to make more rules, but because the road and neighborhood probably have pedestrians we could be endangering. Then there’s also the whole judicial system. Accountability is a necessity in a world where no man is an island.
Within the Church we make our own society that needs its own accountability. There are occasions that we have to look at a situation and make a judgment in charity for the good of the people involved and the greater good of the Church. For example, if a man is trying to hurt his neighbor, our judgment leads us to try and stop him from doing something wrong. In choosing not to judge or get involved, we would be acting outside of love. This is also certainly true when we see others having abortions, abusing loved ones, living in sexual relationships outside of the sacrament of marriage, caught up in drugs, stealing, and any other sins.
This is where people feel the most uncomfortable. Our society points to isolation, and it also points relativism in Truth. We are accused of imposing our faith on others if fight against abortions and other evils. Of course it’s far easier to stay silent and not get involved in other people’s business than to defend the Truth and help them avoid hurting themselves or others.
Judgements from and of Christians should not come out of giving ourselves an ego boost or tearing down another – there is no edification in that. It is out of love that prudent judgement can help guide people out of destructive behaviors or sin. It is because of love that we do not want to see others hurt or fall out of grace. It is also out of concern because we are all on body in Christ and our sins are never isolated.
This also doesn’t mean that we’re called to constantly police everyone’s actions around us. We should always be mindful of our own state and seek to work on ourselves first to better help our brothers and sisters in Christ (Matthew 7:1-6). Especially for those in places of leadership, continuous conversion and prayer along with regular confession and the Eucharist help keep us in check.
The gift of right judgment works best when used with the virtue of prudence and strengthened by the gifts of knowledge and wisdom. It’s a difficult act that we have to balance, but that’s why we have the Holy Spirit to help us.
The moral life of Christians is sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are permanent dispositions which make man docile in following the prompting of the Holy Spirit. CCC #1830
With all this considered, I hope no one is offended when you see Christians blogs or publications publicly saying something is wrong. Yes, there most certainly is an ultimate Truth, and our mission is to promote and defend it. Forgive us if we ever step out of charity in doing so, we encourage your right judgement to lovingly let us know.