Monday, March 5, 2012

Don't judge? Really?

Today's Gospel reading from Luke (6:36-38) is one that is often thrown back in the faces of Christians: "Don't judge me!  Your Bible tells you not to judge."  Ummm...yes...but I'm not supposed to be stupid, allow violence or wrongs to be committed, or allow people to walk all over me. 

My dad grew up in a predominately Protestant town in Northern Ireland and as a Catholic he needed to be wise.  Years ago he and I watched the film, "In the Name of the Father."  It's based on real events about several people who were falsely accused of being involved with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and convicted for bombing a pub in England.  At one point during the film I made a comment about feeling sorry for the main character.  

My dad said, "It was his own fault.  He's guilty by association."

I was quite surprised by his reaction.  "What?  How can you say that?"

"When you grow up in Northern Ireland, you know who your friends are.  Everyone knew who was who.  I don't believe that this guy didn't know his friends were in the IRA.  He was guilty by association."

Growing up in Loyalist Larne, my dad needed to make judgements.  It helped to keep him out of trouble - big trouble.  

It seems to me that there are certain areas where I ought to judge, or at the very least make a judgement call.  I remember making decisions when I was young to not be friends with certain people because they did drugs or slept around or were disrespectful to adults.  I didn't want to be friends with people like that because I knew the road it could lead down.  I had watched others go down that road and I didn't want to be like them. 

I have to survey situations all the time and then make a decision.  Isn't that judging?  Perhaps the key comes in the sentence that follows.  "Stop condemning and you will not be condemned." (Luke 6:37)  Making a judgement call can be the wise thing to do, but condemning someone is God's job.  Today's reading ends by saying what you do to others will be returned to you.  If you sit around judging, condemning, and being selfish, then you'll be condemned too, maybe not by others, but by God.  

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