SSM Pt. 2 (What do we mean that we can’t judge? What is at stake?)

Last week I published a response in regards to the comment that implicitly asserts that to be a follower of Jesus is to accept SSM at face value (Click here to read the full article). Now, this blog of the week is going to respond to another common view that rants: it’s not right to judge!

To pause for a second, what do we mean when we say that it’s not right to judge?

And since we are all willing to admit that often times, as people, when we feel being cornered and defensive from an action we just did – we frantically pull out the line: “it’s not right to judge!” And then we agree, and move on. Yet when the confrontation is getting a little bit deeper than we usually anticipate, we then prefixed Jesus – who in his very perfect nature prohibits us to judge.

But, did he? Absolutely yes! Jesus said:

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matt. 7:1-2, NIV, emphasis mine).

So if Jesus, who in his perfect nature says it, then that arguably settles it! By that red flag, we are expected to set one-step backward from judging others, given the undeniable knowledge that we don’t even have the nature Jesus have.

But what will boggle our minds is that, in that same chapter – Jesus didn’t have any hesitation to call particular people as pigs and dogs (7:6). To go even further, he even points out the pretensions of certain people who will come “in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (v. 15).

And now, we are in for a confusion! The tender Jesus, whom we pictured to be gentler than Barney indignantly compared certain people as dogs, pigs, and wolves. And by the way, even John recorded that Jesus, (contrary to how we read Matt. 7:1-2) commands us to “judge with right judgment” (John 7:24). Yes, Jesus calls us to judge.

So what are we missing? Perhaps, there must be something we have overlooked! Hence, all these prove that the Jesus we picture who never used offensive words, and the Jesus of the Gospels[1]  are by in large part not the same person. We may have only made a caricature of the Jesus we want in our own image.

Well, there are actually two ways we can navigate regarding this dilemma we are confronted with:

(1) Either the Jesus we picture is true, and the Jesus of the Gospels is false, or the Jesus we picture is false, and the Jesus of the Gospels is true. But since the only way we can have an accurate picture of Jesus is from the Gospels, then that arguably proves that our picture of Jesus must be false and the Gospels are right.

(2) Either the Gospels contradict themselves or we misread the Gospels. But since we’ve just snipped out some of the verses we like to use, in order to fit to our own occasion – it’s more probable that we therefore misread it.

Given that the Gospels are the only places we can get the closest picture of who Jesus is[2], while simultaneously admitting that we have misread it, perhaps it would be smarter to look at it through its own occasion (or context) than our own.

This is a universal fact: all people, by nature of being created in the image of God – make judgements. Judgement is intrinsic to careful living. We discern and decide. Yet in contrast to that typical judgement necessary for deliberate living, what Jesus condemns (in Matt. 7:1-5) pertains to the attitude of judgementalism – a downright behavior of moral superiority towards another[3]. It’s a condescending self-righteous behavior which expresses away the grace of God, while at the same time opposes the character of humility (c.f. Phil. 2:3). But when Jesus calls us to “judge with right judgment” (John 7:24), he is pertaining to align ourselves with the right judgment of God, and that includes calling sin what it is – an offense to God.

And given that, if we’re going to help another person regarding a moral concern, we must first do a self-examination, that is, removing first the plank from our own eyes (Matt. 7:5). And then address the problem humbly, as a beggar telling another beggar where to find food[4], while simultaneously remembering that we all need the grace of God, and that we are also easily be tempted (Gal. 6:1).

Why? What is at stake?

The prophet Isaiah only warns us not “to call evil good and good evil” (Isa. 5:20). Therefore, if SSM is right, then we are calling good as evil – thus we will be accountable to God for that. But to contrast, if SSM is wrong, then they are calling evil as good – thus they will be accountable to God for that, not to us.

So judge rightly, perhaps including this piece of article.

[1] By Gospels that means the book of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
[2] Norman Geisler points out regarding the NT (including the Gospels): “No other piece of ancient literature can boast this many manuscripts. The conclusion is clear. If unbelievers can’t trust the New Testament because they can’t be sure that it represents the original writings, they must also reject all of ancient history, science, philosophy, and poetry due to the inferior manuscript evidence” (see Noman Geisler and Joseph Holding, Living Loud, 2002).
[3] See also the Ch. 4 of Paul Copan entitled “Who are you to judge others?” in True for You But Not for Me (2009), 43; and Caroline J. Simon, “Judgementalism,” in Faith and Philosophy 6 (July 1989): 275-87.
[4] A common phrase overused to express humility