Wandering the savage garden…

“Judge not, lest ye be judged” considered harmful?

Jessa Duggar is back, and under fire from those enlightened souls at Addicting Info, who posted Duggar Daughter: Liberal Christians Are Going To Hell, Just Like Other Sinners. It’s an interesting read, but not for the reasons the site would hope.

This kind of content makes me angry, even as I try to be calm and mild in expression.

It’s not journalism – although I’m sure its perpetrators think it is – and it gets a lot of commentary on Facebook, to the tune of “I’d rather go to Hell than go to a Heaven where these morons are” and, in one inspiring case, “I want to go to Hell so I can see the look on (Jessa Duggar’s) face when I get there.”

What she said

The title says “Liberal Christians are going to Hell, just like other sinners.” Yet that statement is not anywhere present from Jessa Duggar herself! From the article’s own quote, verbatim:

People are content to live on in lying, cursing, pride, anger, bitterness, disrespecting of parents, lust, pornography, fornication, adultery, and other sexual sins– and if anyone tries to confront them, their attitude and response is, “You live your life, I’ll live mine. Don’t you tell me what to do! Only God can judge me!”

They don’t even realize what they’re saying. God’s judgement isn’t something to be taken lightly! It should scare you! Man’s “judgement” is a 1000x lighter… usually just a voicing of disapproval. But when unbelieving, sinful men die and stand before God, He justly condemns them to hell.

Note the lack of “liberal Christians.” At no point in the quote does she suggest that Christians are going to Hell – she says, specifically, that unbelieving, sinful people are justly condemned to Hell. No reference to believing Christians going to Hell whatsoever, regardless of their political leanings.

The original content came from Facebook, from Jessa’s own fingers. If you read the article, again, there’s no mention of liberality – only sinful condition. Jessa focused on two kinds of people:

  • The “Christian” who believes God is nothing but love, who would never send anyone to Hell
  • The “Christian” who feels in his heart that whatever he’s doing is okay, not being pricked by conscience

In both cases, you have someone claiming a label that, well, might not apply. A Christian has to understand that God is holy (Deuteronomy 6:4-9); it’s not really negotiable, and we see Christ as Redeemer because we need His sacrifice to stand in our stead, such that we have His Holiness and purity as a blanket that covers our sin. (see Romans 3:25 and 1 John 2:2.)

Political leanings aren’t part of it; everything Jessa was saying was focused directly on the condition of the heart. Is it sinful or not? Mankind’s heart is sinful (Romans 3:23) – there’s no escaping that. Even when we would want to do right, we still desire that which is wrong, or selfish, or evil (Romans 7:18). Thus, the blood of Christ covering us redeems us despite our innate sinful natures.

The label isn’t part of that; a liberal Christian who believes is saved. A conservative Christian who does not believe is not saved. Period. The “liberal” and “conservative” labels are irrelevant; remove them from those phrases and they lose absolutely no meaning whatsoever. Here, I’ll help:

  • A liberal Christian who believes in Christ is saved. A conservative Christian who does not believe in Christ is not saved.
  • A Christian who believes in Christ is saved. A Christian who does not believe in Christ is not saved.

Those two statements are exactly equivalent, except for emotional connotation attached to the labels. Emotions, not being rational, can be discarded here.

About what they say she said

It strikes me as ironic that the pages using her comments as fodder scream about how she’s being all judgmental. For one thing, they all scream about “judge not,” even though they’re judging her, and they’re using “judge not” as a defense almost exactly like she said they would; then they say that she’s judging liberal Christians even though she never mentions liberals at all.

And what an implication, if she did! AddictingInfo seems to stand to defend those who see their own behavior as immoral: do they think all liberals think it’s okay to lie, or curse, or steal, or live in pornography, or whatever? Why would the “liberal Christians” want the defense of “judge not?” Wouldn’t they – as Christians – want to know what they could do better?

Perhaps the bar is just lower for liberal Christians – I don’t know. I think I’m fairly liberal, but I’d hate to think that that meant that my standards were lower – I want my standards to be what God sees them to be, not what I think I can get away with.

That means I want the judgement of other Christians – people who can and will stand beside me, encouraging and correcting me.

But, then, where does “Judge not, lest ye be judged” (Matthew 7:1-3) enter in? The key is in the nature of “judgement.” Jesus was telling his audience that they were not in a position to condemn others, that doing so meant they were assuming God’s role for the person being judged. Jesus was not telling people to turn off their brains, to accept everything before them as gospel truth and ultimate wisdom. In fact, if you read the whole paragraph, it becomes obvious: before you condemn others, make your own heart right, then help them — but “helping them” would fall under AddictingInfo’s umbrella of “not judging,” which goes directly against what Christ was actually telling his audience.

Using “don’t judge me, judge not!” as a defense means you’ve lowered your own standards. You’ve decided that whatever you’re doing is wrong, but that it’s okay, because your fellow man shouldn’t condemn you.

Here’s the thing: you’re right, your fellow sinner is not in a position to condemn you. But you are condemned. You know it, too, because when you say “don’t judge me!” you’re assuming that judgement is going to be negative, and you’re most likely right.

Thanks be to God, who offers the free gift of Christ to all who would believe – the condemnation is washed away for those who are saved, no matter who they are or what they’ve done. (That doesn’t mean there aren’t still consequences of sin: an adulterer who gets saved might still have to deal with the tragedy of the betrayed spouse.)

I’m not suggesting that we, as Christians, are to walk around telling people every sin they’ve ever committed. For one thing, it’d take too long; for another, there’s no way for one person to truly understand another person’s sin; for a third, there’s no-one who is without sin such that they have the moral authority to actually walk around doing that.

To correct in love is one thing; condemnation in general is another.

We should correct in love, as iron sharpens iron. That’s really what Jessa was urging; “believe in Christ, minister to each other.”

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