No Scripture is quoted more often than the proverbial, “judge not” passage of Matthew 7:1. Whatever its iteration, this statement appears welcome in every college classroom and any political conversation. It’s probably the only Bible verse with universal appeal. The sayings, “We mustn’t judge” or “I try not to judge others,” are threatening to overtake the frequency of expressions like “How are you?” on the list popular parlance.
At the risk of being a fish out of water, I baldly proclaim, “Refusing to judge others is the height of stupidity and a vacuous absence of love.” There, I said it. The rest of my time will be an attempt to persuade my good readers to avoid this stupidity and, of course, be more encouraged to love.
It is a stupid thought to say that you mustn’t judge others. If you fail to judge rightly between those who tell the truth and those who tell lies, you will end up believing lies and living an illusion. You will be a Yo-Yo for every fool who cries “Wolf!” You will also be very poor, as you will believe every TV ad which commands you to act now on an offer you cannot refuse. Failing to judge the veracity of others’ speech is simply stupid. You must judge others.
Typically, the judgment in question relates only to moral judgments. So, when people say “Don’t judge,” they mean don’t judge the morality of others—particularly their sexual morals. More often than not, quoting the verse “Judge not” refers to not telling others that their sexual preferences are wrong. This refusal to judge is—in my humble opinion—vacuously unloving. Here is what I mean.
Knowing what is known now about Jerry Sandusky (the former football coach at Penn State who has been convicted of serial child molestation) and Kevin Clash (the creator and voice of Elmo on Sesame Street), a parent would be criminally negligent to allow his son to be alone with either of these men. While Kevin Clash has not yet been convicted of any crime, he has been credibly accused by at least two men of having sex with boys under the age of 18. Clash has not yet denied the charges. He only says that he is working to resolve his “personal matters privately.”
Sexual sins (as we learned in the case of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky) are supposed to be private matters and should not be any of the public’s business. So, Clash is hoping to resolve his “private” sexual matters privately. Any parent who buys that claptrap is foolishly unloving toward his child. Would you send your son off for a visit with someone about whom there is credible evidence of sexual exploitation? Sex is no longer a private matter when it threatens your son or daughter.
While it is true that we must not judge Kevin Clash guilty of all the crimes he is being charged with until after a trial has brought forth all the evidence, it is also true that some measure of judgment is required already when it comes to protecting children. Clash himself understands this and, so, has resigned for now from Sesame Street. Unfortunately, Sesame Street’s on statement is (again in my opinion) culpably weak, stating only that this is “a sad day for them.” A sad day for them? What about concern for the safety of children who may be targeted for sexual exploitation?
If you have any intelligence whatsoever, you will in fact judge the statements and actions of others. If you have any love in your heart for your children, you absolutely must make judgments about the sexual practices of your neighbors and about whether or not you want your children to spend time with them. Matthew 7:1—like the rest of Scripture—speaks about how to judge rightly (from God’s perspective) rather than persisting in judging wrongly (from a self-righteous perspective). Maybe we would be helped by quoting John 7:24 more often: “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”