Judge, But Don’t

Every skeptic has the same favorite Bible verse. “Judge not, lest you be judged also. (Mat 7:1)” It’s weaponized and wielded as a means to shut down dissenting opinions of believers when they are, apparently, being too harsh. Is there legitimacy to it?

Sort of. 

Before we decipher, it’s important to first see what Jesus is not saying. Later in the same chapter Jesus tells His listeners that they will know someone “by their fruits.” In other words, one can judge someone’s content by the product of their behavior, similar to how one would determine a tree by its fruit. So He is not saying, categorically, to not judge.

What this seems to mean is that there is legitimacy in judging a person’s actions. Where one gets into trouble is when he judges an individual or that person’s intents. I have full license to judge what a person does, but I ought to exercise restraint in judging them or their motives.

I’ve personally discovered another element that complicates matters, and this complication helps to reveal why judging others turns into self-judgement. Really there are two elements that tie together. 

The first is that human beings have a tendency to project. We spend a lot of time with ourselves and become accustomed with our flaws and insecurities- whether we realize it or not. This develops into an acute awareness (or imaginary projection) of character flaws or intentions in others that we actually (perhaps unknowingly) observe in ourselves. Also, we may make assumptions about others that are informed by insecurities wrought in us through prior experiences. In both cases, we are projecting onto someone else a version of themselves that has been created in or informed by our own subconscious.

Secondly, God conveys throughout Scripture the notion of cosmic fairness. If we do not forgive others, He says that He will not forgive us. By what standards we judge others, we will be judged also. Our judgement is obscured. Only God is licensed and able to fairly judge a person or their intentions.

Do not judge, because when you condemn others you are actually condemning yourself (via both psychological projection and the cosmic fairness principal) and also because you are not omniscient or innocent. Only God is both fully morally upright and omniscient. Only He is qualified to judge.

But you have every right to judge a person’s actions, and when someone is made uncomfortable by that, they don’t prove that you are judgemental. They only prove that they condemn themselves with their own actions. Whenever one scornfully wields Scripture as a weapon, they wield it against themselves.

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The Future of Conservatism

“If you are a little different, or a little outrageous,
or if you do things that are bold or controversial,
the press is going to write about you.”
                              Donald Trump, Art of the Deal, page 56

 

Donald Trump is the future of the conservative movement. National Review, with the choir  of conservative voices, has vehemently proposed otherwise. The conservative outlet will no doubt enjoy a significant boost in their online traffic. The Trump brand is effective at courting controversy. But if they stay the course of this war that they have waged, they do so to their own injury. Donald Trump is the juggernaut of the Republican primaries- of this entire presidential election. He is a stalwart. Donald Trump will not be stumped.

In their appeal they seek to portray him as an insincere, liberal demagogue.  They accuse him of leaning liberally in the past. They say he lacks the expertise and experience that career politicians have. They say he is a danger to conservatism and the Republican Party.

Really? What precious gem of Republican conservatism is Donald Trump sullying? And if he is sullying it, than who in the running is preserving this unicorn?

They make some thoughtful points if you take Trump’s approach at face value. Trump’s point is that politicians are “experts” with plans who must bow to special interests and in turn get nothing done. His views and approach to a lot of these things will materialize when he needs to directly address them. He’s a pragmatist.

What I’m not understanding is what conservatism NR is defending. The GOPe is tired and stale. What good are their values if they’re mostly ineffective at best or moulded by corporate interests at worst?

Trump may not be the type of conservative they want, but he’s what the people want. His strong man ethos can help revive the exceptionalist American spirit. And I think most people would prefer a guy who may not feign to know everything, but has a strong record of getting things done (often way under budget and behind schedule), is not controlled by donors, and speaks his mind. This is preferable to weak politicians who pretend to know everything, are controlled by donors, get nothing done (or worse, fall back on their word), and don’t speak a word without a pollster.