Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged as Judgmental

“Don’t judge” is the new pop culture catchphrase, and it makes zero sense.

Somewhere along the way, Americans decided–definitively (ironic, isn’t it?)– that decisiveness is bad. Therefore, if your friend has a raging eating disorder, say nothing as she starves herself. Better to do that than ask if she needs help, just in case she thinks you’re judging her. (If she actually has a disorder, she will think you’re judging her, by the way. And while you’re pandering for her approval, the disorder will kill her just as dead.) If another friend shoots heroin, don’t judge… let him live his short life. Are you a vegan who didn’t like Lady Gaga’s meat dress? Say nothing. Don’t judge.


Funny thing is, in the name of letting everyone have their opinions and encouraging people to be themselves in a nonjudgmental environment, we’re censoring an awful lot.

I’m normally polite in this blog, but let me be blunt, readers, family, close friends:

I hope you judge. I hope you judge me. I hope your judgment is clear, sharp, compassionate, accurate, helpful, and above all, wise.

I hope you spend a lifetime working on and using your good judgment, because I need it whenever mine goes bad like a New Coke. I need people who will always believe that two plus two equals four, even if television and all of their friends–and I– insist it equals a chocolate cake. I need those people on my exhilarating good days, and in the darkest hours of my life.

I hope you share with me things you have considered, pondered over, meditated on, and learned from going through hell on earth without receiving a dismissive response like “Don’t judge!”

If I can’t allow people to disagree with me without labeling that disagreement as judgment and hate, I clearly have no idea of what love really is.

Shaming people in ways that frame me as morally superior is little more than being controlling, which is a pathetic, ineffective, and selfish substitute for love, which is so, so, so much more durable.

And if you enjoy trying to strip away someone else’s right to their beliefs by quoting “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” here’s a lesson in the theology you’re trying to evoke: That Biblical passage means that you should expect to receive the exact same kind of treatment you dish out to other people. That includes silencing any and all dissension to your own beliefs in the name of open-mindedness.

You don’t have to believe in absolute truth– that’s not what this post is about–but if you do, know that it works everywhere, and in all situations. Forcing out all contention isn’t necessary for it’s veracity… that’s just insecurity.

So pop culture, I’m going to use a word you don’t like: “No.” I reject your silly catchphrase because I prefer to think for myself… and little passive-aggressive “shame bombs” won’t stop me.

Until next time, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

Love on. And call a spade a dadgum spade.



23 thoughts on “Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged as Judgmental

  1. jholmes1 says:

    Amen! I think too that people forget the difference between judging something and condemning it. The Bible tells us to make decisions about people’s character and to be wise as serpents. Fact of the matter is we have to be aware of other people’s character. That is judging no matter how it is sliced. That doesn’t mean we are condemning anyone or say that we are better. It’s just calling the spade a spade 🙂


    • indyink says:

      Ravi Zacharias says, “In world of civility, you do not mock a counter perspective. You dialogue with a counter perspective.” Excellent comment, J.

      • shadesofmay says:

        Ravi Zacharias is amazing! My mind is blown every time I listen to him on the radio.

        Also, thank you for this post. I’ve been toying with writing about this topic on my blog as well. Thank you for not sugar-coating!

  2. Taylor Jamieson says:

    Then again…to be the devils advocate here…the greatest trick people today play is to pretend they don`t judge while living in incidentally segregated neighborhoods, watching people on TV`s and iPads who conveniently make no effort to present a fare representation of the populations size, color, gender, race, you name it (insert your favorites here) and many, each in their own way, go to their churches and about their business of not judging like this is 1950 Alabama (or in my Canadian world…1970`s Alberta) where the words left unsaid are as clear as the words of god in a good book somewhere.

    I`m sorry, but that is the real BS and I have to disagree…there is a disturbing amount of judging in my eyes; judging who you should love, what you should do with your body, where you should live, what you should say, where you should worship….and on.

    A `spade is a spade` huh… if you open your eyes you will see how far we have come.

    Who will cast the first stone…

    Taylor Jamieson

    I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe. HH the Dalai Lama

  3. Jeanne Morgan Modisette says:

    Will Rogers once said, “Good judgment comes from experience and a lot of that comes from bad judgment”. If we are open minded in the sense that we recognize people will not look at everything as we do, some judgment is still necessary. Remember our momma’s always said, “if a crowd jumps over a cliff, are you gonna join them?” We judge every day whether someone has earned our trust enough for us to follow them and be taught.If we are teachable, we will make a “judgment call” numerous times in our lives. It is impossible not to judge and we’re self righteous if we think we don’t do it at times.

  4. seekingsweetsanity says:

    I believe there is a difference between judging and going to someone in love. Going to someone in love is an attempt to help that person. Not to put judgement on them. It’s using your own experiences or your insight to help them correct something that could possibly be harmful. Judging is usually completely unhelpful and a lot of times very hurtful. But I agree. Too many people use that saying and end up letting their friends and family do stupid things that could have been stopped. This is a great and insightful post! Way to make people stop following others and become individuals!

  5. Terry says:

    I appreciate the sentiment, and agree with it. Every day I need to assess behavior and make a judgment. I also need to act on that judgment, and I’m not afraid of confronting someone who is falling short in some way, as long as I am using empirical data.

    My problem with being Biblically judgmental is that it seems common that people make judgments using just portions of the Bible, and will conveniently leave out condemning behaviors that are inconvient for them to proscribe.

    That is sitting in moral judgment, and unless there is a clear line where someone is doing damage to themselves or others, it is counterproductive to apply any set of morals as a legal code.

    I leave laws and worldly judgment to the government, and love and compassion to the faithful.

  6. ghdflghkdfs says:

    May I simply say what a relief to find somebody who truly knows what they’re discussing on the web. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people really need to look at this and understand this side of the story. I can’t believe you are not more popular given that you certainly possess the gift.

  7. Jaycen says:

    Deep breath….here I go…

    It seems that the new John 3:16 is Matthew 7:1. You can find a person who has never opened up Scripture in their life and start it, “Judge not….” and they’ll finish it in a heartbeat. Yet they fall miserably on their face theologically and contextually as they are oblivious to a few verses later when Matthew says to, “beware of false prophets…” (Matt. 7:15). Anyone with a junior high education can tell you that you have to judge at some point able to beware of something.

    Furthermore, they fail to understand Jesus never tells us NOT to judge! John 7:24 shows our Savior telling us to do just that! “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

    I’d also add that maybe it’s not completely that person’s fault if they are not a follower of Christ. After all, in that case, “…the god of this world has blinded minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ…” 2 Cor. 4:4

  8. Lawanda L. Emerson says:

    When Jesus told us not to judge (Matthew 7:1), He was telling us not to judge hypocritically. Matthew 7:2-5 declares, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 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? 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? 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.” What Jesus was condemning here was hypocritical, self-righteous judgments of others. In Matthew 7:2-5, Jesus warns against judging someone else for his sin when you yourself are sinning even worse. That is the kind of judging Jesus commanded us not to do. If a believer sees another believer sinning, it is his Christian duty to lovingly and respectfully confront the person with his sin (Matthew 18:15-17). This is not judging, but rather pointing out the truth in hope—and with the ultimate goal—of bringing repentance in the other person (James 5:20) and restoration to the fellowship. We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

  9. Kurt Q. Webb says:

    “Speak not one against another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother, or judges his brother, speaks against the law, and judges the law: but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge. One only is the lawgiver and judge, even he who is able to save and to destroy: but who are you to judge your neighbor?” (Jas. 4:11-12).

    • indyink says:

      There’s a difference between “You can’t do any better because you’re a loser” and “Stop that, you’re hurting yourself and everyone around you. You can do better.” Some would say both are judgment. I disagree because of the example set in Matthew 23.

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