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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Don't You Judge Me!

We've all heard the trite, perfectly-packaged statements that are designed to cast us into silence and seal our mouths shut. The statements are designed to make us feel ashamed so that we'll say no more, especially if what we're saying is contrary to someone's near and dear opinion that normally has something to do with permissiveness.

Sorry...was that harsh? And reality check...I'm not a bit sorry for saying it.

But....DON'T YOU JUDGE ME! DON'T YOU DARE!

Yup, that's the word. That's the statement. Other variations are, "We can't judge." Or my personal related favorite: "What would Jesus do?"

I got that inane comment early today on a different post. Because, of course, we all know that Jesus was a warm fuzzy teddy bear that just made everyone feel good about themselves. (Aside: Do people ACTUALLY BELIEVE THAT?)

So, maybe it's time to discuss what judgment is...and what it is not.

JUDGMENT

We all make judgments. We have to. If you are breathing, you are making judgments. Right now, YOU, dear reader, are probably making a judgment about what you think I'm going to say, whether you agree with what you think I'm going to say, or whether you disagree, and in fact, I'm guessing that you're already preparing to comment upon or refute what you think I'm saying, as opposed to actually reading my words.

Sound about right?

Busted.

So, let's talk about judgment. We make judgments every day, from the inane to the important. We have to judge what is proper to wear, what is proper to eat, what is proper to say in greeting to the guy at the DMV. We have to judge what we are going to do in any given situation, because we know the difference between right and wrong. We know, for example, that as much as we might want to run the red light and think we'd be justified in doing so, that the action would be wrong; not just because it's against the law and there might be consequences if we are caught, but because our action may hurt someone else.

That's a judgment.

And when we see another car run a red light just as we're about to venture into the intersection, and a crash is narrowly avoided, we certainly have the right to peel our feet off the brake and declare that the other driver that nearly got us killed was in the wrong. It's a clear cut situation. That right or wrong is objective; it's outside of us. We don't get to arbitrarily decide that the red light is optional or not necessary or that we're more important than everyone else and they should stop to clear a way for us. We'd all agree that if someone runs a red light, they're in the wrong.

That's a judgment. The kind of judgment we make every day, and we do it for our own survival. But there's more; sometimes we have to make judgments on behalf of others who perhaps aren't able to do so on their own. Such as our children. Ask any parent...you are constantly making judgment calls for your children, rather than suggesting that their decisions and lives are morally ambiguous. And you teach them, over time, to know right and wrong so that they don't get hurt, so that they become good citizens, good Catholics, good people...making good choices.

OBJECTIVE REALITY

We all have to recognize that there is an objective Truth, something outside of us, something against which to measure our decisions. For if that "yardstick" is absent, how can we know right from wrong? Just because a vote is taken by society to vote something good or not good?

That kind of moral ambivalence, sadly, is what pervades and is destroying our society, and even our Church. And because this is a Catholic blog, I'm going to address this with regard to Catholic teaching, although what I'm saying here, consistent with the universality of the Church, applies to EVERYONE.

Let's take the idea of liturgical abuse. We all know that the Mass has certain rubrics that must be followed...to disregard these rubrics means that the Mass could be rendered invalid. Or irreverent. Or just plain...weird. And that happens. I know of a local parish that has the lay Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion line up on the altar BEFORE the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God), and they are given a consecrated host, and they elevate it with the Priest...and then they self-communicate. (In this parish...I don't think the lay ministers are GIVEN the host...I believe they TAKE it themselves as would the Priest.)

Now, this doesn't render the Mass invalid, but this is a SERIOUS abuse. Since I know that this happens at that parish, I won't attend Mass there unless I have no other choice. Yup...I just made a judgment.

I have a friend who recognizes the abuses and just tries not to look, and only goes there occasionally for specific purposes. She knows that what's happening is wrong, and she is VERY uncomfortable with it. She is a VERY faithful Catholic. Yet, about this abuse, she has said to me on more than one occasion, "We can't judge".

YES WE CAN!

This is an objective judgment:

1. There are rubrics to the Mass, found in the GIRM for thos interested.
2. If people are taking actions contrary to what is written in the GIRM, or in complete disobedience to this document....they are doing something wrong, ergo...
3. We can judge that the actions happening at that Mass are liturgical abuses and need to stop.

In that judgment that we have just made, have we judged the people? No. We have judged their actions, comparing the actions against an authortitative document that spells out what is correct and what must be followed.

And consider my friend; although the words, "We can't judge" passed from her lips, didn't she judge? Didn't her conscience TELL her, making her cringe and physically close her eyes? That was a judgment...and a proper one. Because she knows right and wrong and what should be juxtaposed against what isn't happening.

But what about life issues?

Consider this scenario: You have a friend who is caring for an aged relative. This friend has put their entire life on hold to care for this relative, and then one day when you're having coffee, says, "Well, Aunt Helga isn't doing so well and I'm kinda tired of taking care of her, and she doesn't like anything I cook, and has no quality of life. And her mind is gone, with that Alzheimer's, you know. So...I'm not going to feed her anymore. That way she'll die a natural death and I can get on with my life without all the inconvencience."

If you're appalled...you've just made a judgment. If you're in favor of it...you've just made a judgment.

And if you're reaction is "Well, we can't judge", my reaction to YOU is...then you've lost touch with reality. ESPECIALLY if you have reacted to that story in any way.

We sure CAN judge, and it is our MORAL OBLIGATION to make these kinds of judgments!

Yes, you can quote scripture at me all you want about "not judging others". I know the verses, too. And so did Satan. He was an EXPERT in scripture, as you might recall.

WHAT JUDGMENT ISN'T

We are not allowed to judge the SOUL of another, no matter what they have done or what we think they have done. We can't declare, "So and so is going to Hell for what they did." We likewise don't have the authority to judge whether someone has gone to Heaven. What if they didn't? We can't possibly know that. And it's not our place to make that decision.

But we can definitely look at what is objectively true and declare what does or does not match up against Truth. For example...Nancy Pelosi has revealed her ignorance of Catholic teaching and thus we have a right to declare that she is not, in fact, capable of calling herself Catholic. Maybe she was baptized Catholic, maybe she was raised Catholic. But if her beliefs and conduct don't match Catholic teaching...well, then we can surmise that she's left the Church. Fine. She has that right.

With regard to the term "Pro-Choice". Sure. In political parlance, that means that they support the "right to abortion." There's one problem with that; abortion is murder, and no one has the right to commit murder.

Let's say I'm married, and of course, that would mean my husband and I are "one flesh". I see this term used even in secular/civil marriages that do not have the sacramentality of marriage. But it's universally believed, and recognized by the law that the "two become one."

Well...I guess, if I follow the logic of the "Pro-Choice" crowd, if my husband is an inconvenience to me, for whatever reason, well, then I can just eradicate him. Why not? You can't judge me for it. You haven't been walking in my shoes. And for those who aren't married...who are YOU to say that I can't kill my husband? We're one flesh! We own each other and I have a right to do what I want with his life!

Such an argument is ridiculous, isn't it?

But...I'm entitled to that opinion. Maybe I'm not right, but you have no right to judge whether I'm right or not.

And the baby-killing crowd, they might "personally believe" that abortion is wrong, but who are they to "judge"? That's probably the biggest reason people declare themselves "pro-choice". Not because they're for killing children...but because they haven't thought it through.

Their position is one of silence, and, folks...silence gives consent. And by this silent consent, one is made a party to a murder. If a friend comes to you and wants an abortion, or to kill her husband, and you remain silent, and your friend goes away...you share in the culpability of an intrinsically evil act. In a murder, you'd be charged as an accomplice.

Abortion is no different; just because it's legal doesn't mean the moral law changes. The moral law that guides us all in our judgments.

You can choose to ignore moral law. You have free will and a right to reject Truth. But don't you DARE tell me I can't judge. I can and I will and I have a moral obligation whether you like it or not.

And if you're going to flame this post, you'd darn well better have something to say other than the same old relativist tripe quoted in all the message boards. Or you'll be summarily deleted. I don't have time for empty arguments and trite slogans that follow the lack of reasoning of "you can't judge" and "what would Jesus do?"

Tomorrow's gospel reveals a Jesus who tells you EXACTLY what He would do and this is what He said:

MT 16:21

“Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,
and then he will repay all according to his conduct.”


Do you want to know what a Christian is? Read the above description...and make the right judgments. You'll be held responsible for all of them.

Let the flaming begin. But let me remind you: if you are about to say, "Who are you to judge", then you should keep your typing fingers to yourself...because that statement is a judgment.

I await. To remain or delete, I don't know. I haven't judged yet.

15 comments:

Kat said...

mmmkay... what in the heck did I miss today while I was doing other stuff?????

Adoro te Devote said...

Kat ~ You didn't miss a thing...this post has been a long time comin' and was just sparked off today by an idiotic comment to me on Facebook from someone who shouldn't have even been able to see the note I wrote within a specific context.

And he won't read this one...but other people will!

Kat said...

ah, ok.

Melody said...

Adoro, you did a good job of laying it out about what "judgement" is and isn't. People say they don't judge, not seeming to think that it's impossible to live without making judgements.
Like Kat, I was wondering what I missed! Thanks for explaining.

Randy_in_MN said...

Adoro, my mouth dropped open twice when I saw this blog entry. This was exactly what I wanted you to write about. I'll give you more context on why I wanted this offline, but suffice it to say that I believe you write the truth and its pretty clear that makes many people uncomfortable. It certainly is where I was in the past and yet I knew deep down how we are supposed to live our lives. Our culture has anesthetized many to the truth in the examples of who we hold in esteem, including the sickness in Hollywood. I admire your courage in bringing this topic to your readers.

Adoro te Devote said...

Melody ~ There's a lot more that could be said, but I figured I should maybe stop before I get too fired up! lol

Randy ~ I used to be there, too. I didn't know what judgment was, although of course I knew I was making judgments, all the time. I had to...I was getting a degree in Criminal Justice! (Funny how God uses things like our edcation to make us do exactly what we need to...and how it applies to our spiritual lives...!)

I like your term "anesthetized"...so true. Our culture IS anesthetized by this! I have a friend who has a PhD, and he's an absolute relativist, "Your truth and my truth" and all that. I don't understand how someone can get a PhD (or some other XhD) and still be a relativist? Clearly, their philosophy is lackng because relativism is NOT logical!

Christina said...

"I'm guessing that you're already preparing to comment upon or refute what you think I'm saying, as opposed to actually reading my words."

totally busted...I was already preparing the comment on how this was a perfect post ;)

I've had that "don't judge me" remark so many times it makes me sick...now I know what I'll have them read the next time it's said to me :)

RJW said...

I have judged this post to be most excellent as well as outstanding. You are most excellent and outstanding too. (Me thinks I doth judge.)

Rhonda said...

Honey, everyone judges everything, good and bad. You shouldn't offend anyone (even though you're offended, but that's another story. You're Catholic so you don't count.) Those who try to pull that line with me don't get too far...foolish hypocrites all of them. I love your writing and try to keep up with it. If they don't like what you write, so what!!! This is your small piece of the pie, not theirs. :-P~~~ on them. Love ya!

Rhonda said...

Oh, and I just LOVE being judgmental. Everyone hates me - I'm a pro-life, conservative, independent, non-feminist, pro-large family, anti-global warming CATHOLIC!!! Aghhh run for the hills!

RJW said...

Rhonda, you think that is bad? I;m a Catholic in Utah who does not ski!

Rhonda said...

LOL!! I'm a Texas Catholic who hates football. I've been disowned! :)

RJW said...

Rhonda, you win!

angelmeg said...

Try being a pro life Catholic Republican in a liberal Big Ten University town that hasn't had a Republican Mayor since before the depression. The elitist dems in my county assume I am anti-enviroment because I am republican. I contend they don't know their history.

I try not to be judgemental, but we are called to admonish the sinner and instruct the ignorant,it is in our owner's manual as Catholic Christians. I learned it in Catechism class as a child. If those two acts come across as judgemental what can I do?

Adoro te Devote said...

The problem is that whenever Truth is spoken, it's regarded as "judgmental". Why? Because the people it applies to judge themselves and are shooting the messenger.