One of the things I go into at length, in my page on scriptures that Christians love to ignore, is Jesus’ injunction against his followers judging others. He was very clear and specific on the matter, yet Christians have, historically, refused to obey this explicit instruction. Christianity’s history is a long chronicle of Christians judging other Christians … and non-Christians … adversely, and often coming to blows over it. It’s not as though they aren’t aware of this teaching; what they’ve done is to rationalize it away so as to grant themselves license to judge, even though they’ve been ordered not to.
An example of precisely this sort of rationale was offered by the AFA’s Bryan Fischer. He objects to people he calls “secular fundamentalists” and “Leftists” using this injunction against dutiful Christianists like himself (WebCite cached article):
Leftists think it’s [i.e. Matthew 7:1] their trump card. Anytime a social conservative expresses criticism of, say homosexual behavior, the secular fundamentalist throws the “judge not” card on the table, declares game over, and smugly dares his vanquished opponent to breathe another word.
Here’s the problem. A leftist cannot use that argument without condemning himself.
If judging other people is wrong, then, to personalize it, he has no moral right to judge me, which is exactly what he is doing by condemning me for criticizing deviant sexual behavior.
His whole argument is predicated on his mindless conviction that passing moral judgments on other people is, well, immoral. But then he is guilty of the very thing of which he charges me.
Fischer even conjures up a laughable, imagined dialog with his own personal version of a “Leftist” in support of his contention.
His problem is, his entire argument is predicated on a straw man. He assumes that “secular fundamentalists” (aka “Leftists”) are under the same injunction that he is. The problem: They very well might not be! Jesus’ order to his followers not to judge others, by definition does not include non-Christians, who increasingly make up a larger proportion of America’s ideological Left (or what Fischer refers to as “secular fundamentalists,” whatever that might mean).
I concede that any Christians within the ideological Left would, of course, be subject to the same injunction Fischer and all of his fiercely Rightist co-religionists are. But given that Fischer is complaining about “secular fundamentalists” and equating them with “the Left,” he’s referring to a larger group than just liberal Christian believers, a group that would have to include non-Christians. Some of Fischer’s critics to whom he’s responding are not subject to Jesus’ injunction against judging others, and are allowed to judge him negatively — and simultaneously inform him that he’s violating Jesus’ teachings.
Fischer didn’t use it, but some Christians cite another scripture passage as an evasion:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
This passage is an admission that it’s sometimes necessary for Christians to correct each other. However, it clearly contradicts what Jesus said on the subject. And it’s not a “clarification” of what Jesus taught, because it’s not worded that way. No part of 2 Timothy says anything along the lines of, “Jesus did teach us not to judge one another, but sometimes you need to admonish and correct others, and when you do, Scripture will help you do it.” It’s not in there … at all. But even if 2 Timothy did say that, we’d still end up with Jesus on the one hand teaching one thing, and the author of 2 Timothy (which, in spite of Christian tradition, was not written by Paul), who says another.
At any rate, if Fischer, or any other Christian, objects to being told s/he isn’t supposed to judge anyone else, too bad. It’s their religion, they picked it, and that’s what it teaches. If they don’t like it, they either need to alter their religion and its scripture so it teaches something else, or leave the religion and find another. This problem is entirely between Christians and their God.
Photo credit: storyvillegirl, via Flickr.Tags: 2 tim 3:16-17, 2 timothy 3:16-17, afa, american family association, bryan fischer, christian, christian right, christianism, christianist, christianists, Christianity, christians, christians judging others, christofascism, christofascist, christofascists, judgement, judging, left, matthew 7:1, mt 7:1, religionism, religionist, religionists, religious right, right