Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Of Course the Church is Judgmental: Part 1

I admit I am getting rather tired and bored of the criticism that the Church is judgmental and full of judgmental people.

Of course it is.  It has to be.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I was there 20 years ago offering this criticism of the Church.  You know, back when I was first entering college and my professors were telling me that young people were leaving the Church in droves, refusing to worship or become members because the Church was judgmental and full of judgmental people. 

In 20 years, nothing has changed.  I still hear the same stuff, and generally the same response from hand wringing Church leaders who, looking at steep declines, say, "We've got to change.  We've got to reach out to this demographic or else we will die."

Well, in 20 years of reaching out to this demographic, not a whole hell of a lot has changed.  20 years of hand wringing and trying to keep from being judgmental hasn't offered much of a shift.  "But we've got to keep trying harder."

Go ahead.  Do that.  Keep doing the same stuff.

As for me, no thank you.  I'm not going to try and make the Church less judgmental.  In fact, I will argue that the Church MUST be judgmental.  I'll also argue those who call the Church judgmental and full of judgmental people are themselves being judgmental.  Finally, I will argue that being judgmental should not lead to judgmentalism or self-righteousness from a Christian perspective.

The first argument I want to tackle is putting the shoe on the other foot.  As I said, I am tired of people saying, "I don't come to church because the Church is too judgmental and full of judgmental people."

Stop just a moment and reflect upon that statement.  Instead of becoming defensive or having your pulse rate increased by an "we've got to do something to make you feel like the Church isn't judgmental," knee-jerk response.  Recognize that statement for what it is: a judgment.

Break it down: I don't come to church (associate with a group of people) because of the way they act and what they proclaim.

Do you see the judgment in this statement?  I don't hang around them because I don't agree with them.  They are wrong, and I am right, so I don't play with them.

Does anyone else see pot meeting kettle? 

Being judgmental is part of human nature.  If we believe we have stumbled upon any sort of Truth--and even if we say we believe truth is relative (an untenable position)--we render judgment.  The moment you say, "Stealing is wrong," you've rendered judgment on those who steal.  The moment you say, "We must work toward justice," you have rendered judgment on those who are unjust.  The moment you say, "You have no right to judge," you have rendered judgment on those who judge. 

So, stop it already.  Stop pretending that you or anyone isn't judgmental.  You are.  I am.  The Church is.  We cannot help it, and tomorrow, I will argue this is not bad.


David said...

Well now I can't wait until tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Excellent! I look forward to tomorrow's follow-up.