Being the blunt and forward person that I am, I’m often frustrated when my arguments are circumvented with this supposed “end all” argument: Don’t Judge Others. Was I busy tweeting up a storm of hilarities when the world decided judging others was worse than any sin you can list? I’ll be real honest with y’all: I think that argument is sad, over-used, and out-dated.
Everyone you know came to Earth with their God given agency SUPER PUMPED to start making choices. Part of that choice making process includes making judgement calls on the people you associate with, the content you read, and ultimately the beliefs you will hold. So when I write an article that is NOT full of fuzzy feelings, but is in fact filled with bold statements about my beliefs, I’m called out for judging others. One time, just for fun, someone was facebook yelling at me and I just straight up said, “OMGosh stop judging me!!” The guy immediately backed down and apologized. While entertaining, I think the power of that accusation is a huge issue. Instead of apologizing for not walking on eggshells about hard topics, I would like to inform the Millennial Mormon generation about the facts pertaining to judging others.
Elder Oaks divided judgement into two parts. Final judgments are the ones made by God that determine our place in His kingdom. Intermediate judgements are part of the essential use of our God given agency. Third Nephi 14:2-5 declares Christ’s counsel that the judgement we use to judge others will be the same judgement used to judge us. Matthew 7:1 states clearly, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Declarations of one’s place in heaven or hell, their standing with God, or condemnation of that person are the types of judgements we are explicitly told to refrain from giving. By making these sweeping claims, we are essentially attempting to quicken the day of judgement. It is this final type of judgement we are to avoid, lest we be judged in the same manner. Telling someone they’re going to hell for drinking would be the wrong type of judgment. Telling that person drinking is wrong is the right kind.
Other scriptures counsel and teach us to make judgements of various people and situations. “Beware of false prophets…Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-16). “..Go ye out from among the wicked…” (D&C 38:42). These examples demonstrate our implied need to judge others. How are we to avoid temptation? How can we know if someone can be trusted? We are asked to take it upon ourselves to judge in those situations. We clarify this intermediate judgement from final judgement by considering different factors. We must not judge a person, but should judge the situation. We can judge a sinner by their sin, but never the child of God behind the sin.
A member I know was drinking, and also happened to be the friend/roommate of a fairly new member. Her sins and bad example helped to justify the drinking of the new member. When I confronted her about her drinking and the bad example she was setting for her friend, she lashed back with my own sins and how I had no place to judge her. While I could have done better to approach the situation with more tact, I was judging the situation and sin, not the woman. It’s not right to condemn and determine the worth of a person by their sins. It IS right, however, to judge the situation and condemn her actions and their affect on others. It is the instilled right and privilege of every child of God to say, “What you’re doing is wrong.”
For some unknown reason, our generation is completely obsessed with being found politically correct. We work our beliefs around other, scared of offending them. We apologize for our doctrine and our gospel, for how stern and unwavering it is, for fear of turning someone off from our beliefs. We dread being called judgemental so we rebel against any type of judging at all. In the words of President Uchtdorf, which have been made immortal by LDS themed memes, “Stop it.”
The advice every Christian should take away from the topic of judging others can be found in the words Alma spoke to his son. “Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually…” (Alma 42:14). Don’t refrain from judging to appease the world. It’s OK to Judge Others. Love everyone, but judge decisively. In this you can do no harm.