Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Here's the thing...

Judge not lest ye be judged is not a carte blanche allowance for you to check your morals at the door.  Nor is it a blanket absolution for you to get away with whatever you damn well please and expect nobody to say a word lest they be judged.

For one thing, there is a distinct difference between common sense judgment and moral condemnation—or biblical “judgement”.

Each and every morning when we take a drink of orange juice we’re making a good, common sense judgment that orange juice is better to drink with our pop-tarts than battery acid.  Anyone who would say something as ignorant as “battery acid is just as good as orange juice” needs to be kicked square in the nards.  Nobody in their right mind would say “if that works for you, go ahead and drink battery acid.”

At the same time there is a distinct difference between saying “drinking battery acid is stupid” and saying “you are stupid for drinking battery acid”.  You may be stupid, but you’re stupid for more profound reasons than drinking battery acid. 

Chances are you were stupid before you took a good gulp of the car-juice.

The one statement condemns the action.  “You shouldn’t do that because it’s bad for you”.  That is the compassionate thing to do.  It is far more cruel and I dare even say evil to see someone about to engage in an activity that is bad for them and by correlary bad for society—unless you consider allowing stupid people to do stupid things “thinning the herd”, but that’s another rant—and then stand by and do nothing.  It’s the difference between pushing someone off the tracks from in front of an oncoming train and just standing by and doing nothing.

The other statement condemns the person for the action that’s being taken.  That condemnation is not ours to give.  The action may be dangerous, asocial, or even deplorable.  But that does not mean that we take the person and toss them aside.  The person is intrinsically valuable.  The action is deviant.

And that brings me full circle to something that’s been on my mind lately.

If the church decides to take the low road and climb up on the “Judge not lest ye be judged” fallacy and opts to never, ever speak out about social evils and chooses instead to say “if it works for you, hey, that’s cool” then what purpose does the church serve?  If the world outside the walls of the church looks just like the world inside the walls of the church, then either the church has won or society has won.  The church does not serve any purpose if there is no reform.  The church does not provide any comfort.  If that’s the situation then the church does not provide anything and has no reason to be.

If there is no sin, then what is there to forgive?  If forgiveness is given freely, but there is nothing to confess, then why is forgiveness offered?  What is being absolved if the only standard is “if it works for you, hey, that’s cool”.

It’s an astonishingly short sighted deviation from the fundamental role of faith and religion.  And if it’s a Christian church serving up this garbage then it’s a drastic deviation from the apostolic gospel that has been handed down for centuries.  For what it’s worth, there a chapter in Galatians that speaks about pastors delivering deviant gospels…  but then again, if you’re going to toss out wide swaths of the gospel and ignore the teachings of the lord you presume to serve then why not ignore the parts of that book that you don’t like, too?

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