We’ve all experienced it. At just the wrong moment, you accidentally make eye contact with your coworker as they slyly reach for their third piece of almond pie* and they guiltily exclaim, “Don’t judge me!” And although you truly don’t care about their pie consumption and even confide in them that you were just diving into your fourth piece, the coworker proceeds to spend the next ten minutes rambling about how clean they’ve eaten all week, that they plan to go on the Stonewall Ab Diet** as soon as the holidays are over, the first two pieces were small, etc. But let’s get real. They don’t actually want you to NOT judge them. They actually want you to say, “No prob, Bob,” or better yet, “Girl, you should be proud of eating that pie. You do you!”
Why am I rambling about this? Well, people get huffy when you express disapproval about – anything – they do, from eating too much pie to sleeping with your best friend’s wife. They then become angry because you pointed out their shame, and then try to shame you – by branding you as “judge-y.”
I declare, loudly and proudly, that if the new definition of “judging” is “evaluating stuff, sometimes negatively,” then I fully embrace the title of judgmental. I can’t believe that this has become a revolutionary statement, but it is okay to tell someone that their actions are wrong, and it is okay to tell someone that their opinions are wrong.Let’s face it, a lot of people are doing and thinking a lot of stupid shoot these days. And no, we are not compelled to respect all opinions equally. Some opinions are very well informed and logical, but too many are not. We are also not compelled to have the exact same level of respect for all people, regardless of their opinions and actions.
Granted, I try to have a baseline respect for people, if only for their great accomplishment of being a part of the human race. But let’s imagine a man who insists that Robin Williams is coming back to earth as a rainbow colored snail to lead a few devoted followers down into the core of the earth to live in toasty harmony. I am absolutely not obligated to respect snail-man as much as I respect Tim Keller ❤ , for example. It’s not that I think snail-man needs to die, or that I’m a fundamentally more valuable person than him… but I’m not going to read 8 of his books, recommend them to all my friends with wild abandon, or creepily namedrop him in 37% of my blog posts. If you really think about it, I’d wager you probably wouldn’t respect snail-man either. Please note, I don’t think that everyone who disagrees with me is this ridiculous – there are scales of absurdity, and there is a strong, inverse correlation between your absurdity and my respect for you.
In all seriousness, I hope you judge me too. I don’t want to think or do things that are dumb, wrong, or downright evil. I need people to challenge my foolishness. I especially need kind, smart people to challenge me. And yes, the degree to which I respect you will scale how much I value your challenge. Even if it makes me a little butt-hurt, “better a butt-hurt from a friend than a butt-squeeze from an enemy,” as they say.
So let’s all get over ourselves a bit and stop being self-righteously indignant about other people’s (we think) self-righteous indignation. I judge you, do you judge me? Check yes or no.
—- EDITORIAL NOTES —-
*I WILL MAKE ALMOND PIE A THING
**This should also be a thing. STONEWALL!
Okay, if you’re not a Christian you can stop here. If you are, please huddle in for a little family chat. [WARNING: about to drop some serious J-bombs!]
Yes, Jesus did indeed say “Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7). But He also goes on to say that you will be judged with the same measure that you judge other people with. The only measure I use to judge someone in the most serious sense of the word is whether the person 1) confesses their own imperfection and 2) realizes that Christ’s perfection in life makes his death the only and perfect way for them to be restored back to right relationship with God. And truly, I’m okay being judged by that measure. But even beyond eschatological concerns, the bible actively encourages Christians to evaluate people, especially other Christians. We are told to evaluate whether someone is full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control to determine if they are truly Christian (Galations 5:22-23; Matthew 7:16). We are also told to exhort (definition: strongly encourage / urge someone to do something) each other so we won’t be hardened by sin (Hebrews 3:13), and to confront each other when we do something wrong (Matthew 18:15-20). The Apostle Paul also strongly chastised Peter (Galations 2:11) and entire churches in his various letters (e.g. 1 Corinthians). So, it would seem evaluating other people’s actions and confronting people who are doing or thinking wrongly isn’t going against Christian teachings, it’s actually a crucial part of it. I’m assuming, however, that this is done out of love for the confrontee(s), and that the confronter(s) is perfectly aware that their *ONLY* merit is through Christ and approaches the entire issue in complete humility. But I don’t have no Doctor of Divinity, so please look into this yourself and seek out other sources.