Thou Shalt Not Judge...

I hear this a lot from people (in a more everyday English form) who say that judgement of any kind is wrong. I was thinking about it and talking with a friend yesterday, and I came to the conclusion that the G-man upstairs, if he’s home at this time, instead wants us to not condemn anyone. I find that this pops up in Buddhism a little too.

An example: someone you know has a long history of stealing money from those around them. You decide that it is unwise to keep your money out where they can see it or get at it. This is not judging them for their crimes, it is being practical. Telling someone that you will not keep money where they can get at it because they might steal it, while telling them that they will be punished eternally for their crimes fits more in line with the “not judging” thing.

A healthy sense of judgement tends to keep us alive and away from harmful people and situations. What the judgement bit is about is instead that you shouldn’t take the role of the final arbiter and dole out punishments or condemnations yourself.

Any comments on this? Or is this a non-issue?

The version I’ve heard is “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” The idea being that this is another version of the Golden Rule – treat others the way you yourself would want to be treated, judge others the way you yourself would want to be judged.

Thus, it’s not a prohibition against judging per se, but against judging overly harshly, without adequate evidence, without hearing the other side of the story.

Of course, if you’re basing this on the biblical passages that says not to judge lest you be judged yourself (Matt 7:1-2 and Luke 6:37), I guarantee you you’ll be able to find other biblical passages whose basic gist is “Go ahead and judge the heck out of 'em.”

I’ve always sort of thought of the “udge not lest you be judged” o be more of a “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. Don’t go pointing fingers at others…you are far from perfect yourself.

Red Dragon, what you say is pretty close to what the actual concept means: Don’t sit in judgment over people as though your attitude about them meant anything – you’re a sinner same as them. Honest evaluation of what might be right, how to treat someone else, what to plunge in on and what to avoid, how to help someone else – these are not the sort of “judgment” that is condemned.

It’s worth noting that immediately after the “Judge not, lest you be judged” passage, Jesus goes on to say, “For with the judgment that you measure out, you too will be judged.” As I hope for God’s mercy, love, and compassion, it therefore behooves me to treat my fellow man with mercy, love, and compassion.

I think of that level of judgment as being “discerning.” You are not labelling the person who has a history of theft. You are excercising your right to take reasonable steps to protect your interests. You can do that and still be hospitable and pleasant to the person.