My last blog post was about the judgmental secular world. I seem to be one of the only persons talking about the rise of judgmentalism in our culture, and how this judgmentalism is coming from secular sources, not just religious sources. After posting my blog to Facebook, a friend commented that she thought religious (i.e., Christian) people were far more judgmental than secular people. I want to take the opportunity to address that critique here.
I want to make clear that I am not saying that Christians are never judgmental. I have written a couple times about how judgmentalism is a problem among those who claim to be Christians. However, Christians who are judgmental are not following the tenants of Christianity; so it is not Christianity that is flawed, but people. That is an important point to understand. Christianity calls for grace and forgiveness while lovingly and humbly offering correction. (See Matthew 7:1-5, Galatians 6:1-2, 2 Timothy 2:24-25, and Titus 3:1-3 just for starters.) So Christians who are acting judgmental can actually be corrected by their worldview. However, the secular world offers no clear moral guideline.
I also want to explain why I am saying the secular world and not pinpointing any one worldview (e.g., naturalism). American society is a huge mix of different worldviews. However, most of what we see in America is secular. Secular is defined as denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis. Certainly most people of America have attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis. For most people in America religion does not directly impact their day-to-day decision making. America wants her laws to be secular, her public conversation to be secular, and her attitude as a whole secular. Sure this secular world will refer to religious things when they know they can get away with it (e.g., “Our thoughts and prayers are with them”, “God bless America”), but for the most part religion is ignored by most in America.
Lastly, I want to clarify that I am not saying that all of the secular world is judgmental. I am just saying that in general it is much more judgmental than most people know or are willing to admit.
Why Christians seem more judgmental than what they really are
I have grown up around Christians. I can confidently say that most Christians are not judgmental. In fact, I can confidently say that most dedicated Christians employ the grace and forgiveness that is commanded in Christianity. However, there are certainly exceptions to this. Interestingly many of these exceptions are “in-house”; in others words Christians are often more judgmental towards other Christians than they are to people who are outside the church. This is definitely a shame, but I want to emphasize that this is the exception, not the rule.
I would like to offer up a few reasons as to why it is easy to believe that Christians are judgmental even though I do not believe that they are ultimately any more judgmental than those who are not strongly religious based.
First, judgmental is defined as the tendency to judge others harshly (Merriam-Webster) and too quickly and critically (Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary). I want to clarify that there is nothing wrong with accurate, humble, and gracious correction. Humbly pointing out a wrong, offering forgiveness, and suggesting alternative actions is not being judgmental. Unfortunately many people mistake the latter for judgmentalism. Many people simply do not like any form of correction no matter how accurate and gracious it is and so they wrongly label any form of correction as judgmental. Many times I have witnessed someone label loving correction as judgmental.
My second point is closely tied to my first point. Christianity has very high moral standards. Since it does, it is not surprising to see Christians try to humbly and graciously correct people who do not live up to those standards. So Christians may only appear to be more judgmental simply because their standards are so much higher.
On the other hand the secular society has extremely low moral standards. In secular society getting drunk, sleeping around, recreational drug use, gossip, swearing, frivolous spending, crude joking, viewing pornography, and a host of other actions are completely acceptable and even cheered. Of course if one’s moral standards are extremely low it is easy to look nonjudgmental. But as soon as you cross one of these supposed nonjudgmental secular individuals, watch out, the claws are coming out.
Third, it is easy to not see one’s secular judgmental behavior because we have been taught that it is religious people who are judgmental. I have witnessed many secular people gossip about others without ever feeling the least bit judgmental. It is common to overlook one’s judgmentalism when one is focused on the behaviors of another (as the picture that I chose to go along with this post demonstrates).
Fourth, there are many people in America who call themselves Christians but really are not followers of Christ. Even Christ said that many will take His name and claim to be His followers, but they would not really be His followers. These people are religious, not Christian. There is a big difference between being religious and being Christian. Often times these people are the most judgmental people out there. These religious people give a bad name to the whole lot of Christians, and even worse, to Christianity and Christ Himself.
Do not get me wrong, there definitely are Christians who are judgmental. I will continue to humbly and graciously correct the Christians who are acting contrary to their own claimed worldview.
However, I believe that there is just as much of a judgmental attitude among secular people. Christians seem more judgmental because many people simply cannot receive any kind of correction, because Christianity has a very high moral standard when compared to a secular position, and because secular society in general overlooks their judgmentalism.