Being “judgmental”. Fr. Finigan hits for six!

My friend His Hermeneuticalness has hit for six.

Here is a sample.  But definitely go over to his place and spike his stats even while reading the rest of this excellent entry.

My emphases and comments:

    Judge not, that you may not be judged. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again. (Matt 7.1-2)

How often do we see this verse quoted in response to Catholic blog posts? Criticise the public actions of a politician or a high-ranking ecclesiastic and you can be sure that someone will say that you should not be "judgmental". Should bloggers cringe in shame at failing to observe the teaching of Our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount? I think we can reasonably take a deeper look at this. [Do I hear an "Amen!"?]

We cannot "judge" someone in the way that God judges us. (He will judge us, by the way.) [As a matter of fact, we will receive His judgment whether we want it or not.  But His mercy is ours for the asking.] We do not have the right to make such a judgement, or in fact the information on which to base it. Only God knows the subjective state of an individual’s soul. So even if we consider the infernal columns’ brutal repression of the rising in the Vendée, the Mexican campaign against priests such as St Christopher Magellanes, the shooting of the intellectuals in Mao’s China or Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Lenin and Stalin’s atrocities (or indeed the Nazi concentration camps) it is still only God who can judge the individual’s state of soul. Nevertheless, we can and should judge all of those publicly known horrors as objectively evil[We human beings are made in God’s image, with an intellect and the ability and obligation to make judgments.  Not as God judges, but according to the Truth.  We have our intellect and also the help of authority for the process of making judgments about that which is good, true and beautiful.  To refuse to make judgments about such things is to deny our humanity.]

In the case of politicians who have voted in favour of abortion, embryo experimentation, assisted suicide, and passive euthanasia, we are entitled to look at their voting record and to make an objective judgement that what they have voted for is wrong, and call them to account for it. A public figure, making public decisions, in the public square, [open actions in the public square!] may be subjected to reasonable judgement as to the rightness or wrongness of their public actions. The political life of the country would not function without the people being able to express their opinions in such matters.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. TomB says:

    I have always thought that by calling someone “judgmental” that person himself was being “judgmental”. And I usually point it out when it happens.

  2. THREEHEARTS says:

    First of all I can say I have heard Catholics (behind a person’s back) say that (place your own circumstantial action here) is from the devil. This is of course the judgment reserved for and by God. That is condemning the object of their very limited intelligence to hell. We do get so much of our religion from the Jews after all when Jesus said do not judge if the sin committed is one you commit yourself. He had to be completely within Hebraic teaching or be brushed off as a heretic. One of the better explanations fulfilled by Christ is found in the Torah found at
    All the reasons we need to consider to enable us to comment on the rightness and wrongness of ours’ or anyone’s actions are found there. It is very worth reading. Remember the majority of the Church is not properly catechized and are always going to use text-proofing a protestant evangelic way to defend or turn aside the pricking of their consciences. One thing is worth considering as laymen and women, is Fr Hermeneutic has not faced the great dismissal one can hear often when talking about confession. That is you cannot tell me this you are not a priest

  3. RichR says:

    I wish people would bring up this biblical quote at funerals. So often, you hear mourners say things like, “Joe is in a better place.” Well….. we don’t know that [unless “Joe” was baptized and below the age of reason]. And by saying these types of things, you are trying to usurp God’s role as Judge. Yes, we have Christian hope, but we aren’t God.

    I submit that this is the cruelest form of “being judgmental”. If the person is in Purgatory, then convincing everyone still on earth that the deceased is “in a better place” (ie. Heaven), then you are doing that soul the greatest disservice because you discourage prayers and sacrifices for their eternal rest.

    Most people try to offer these comments as words of comfort, but, in fact, they are being judgmental and are missing the best opportunity to help the soul of the deceased.

  4. Magpie says:

    This is TOTALLY relevant::::

  5. JohnE says:

    Calling someone judgmental is just a more acceptable way for someone to say shut up so he can avoid the more difficult work of formulating persuasive arguments. I think a good response to someone who says you’re judgmental when you’re not judging the state of someone’s soul would be “YOU shut up!”

  6. “Comment by TomB — 28 May 2010 @ 5:24 pm”

    You too?

  7. Lee says:

    Yes, and when one objects to lesbians, fornicators, those who have abandoned their faith, and the divorced and remarried being invited to family gatherings on Christmas and Easter, one hears plenty about being judgmental as well.

    Strangely, the focus is always on the sinner. “How can we bring them back if we have no contact?” The focus is never on the children and the younger people of the family who will see the family stamp of approval given to “lifestyles” the Lord condemns-and that we should condemn as well. It is easier and more pleasant to indulge and support scandal.

    We should be loving of course, but how loving is it really to lead people down the primrose path by pretending that marriage vows mean nothing at all, that the faith means nothing, that the body given us by God means nothing?

    Over the years the results of the accommodationist policy become obvious- the loss of the Catholic faith by the accomodators and the almost complete disappearance of a Catholic family. I have had a ringside seat for thirty years.

    And the irony is that in reality they have have passed judgment on the commandments of God.

    Maybe they expected a blessing.

    IMHO this is a dynamic that is killing the Church in the West. Of course, there are many secular forces ferociously at work, but they would have no impact if we simply stood up to them, if we judged and condemned them. This we dare not do, for fear of being thought judgmental. And for fear of really BEING judgmental. In general, we are very confused about what being judgmental is in the eyes of the Lord.

    I would be very interested to know how early Christians dealt with this situation.

    We definitely need catechesis on this topic, probably more than on many of the favorite topics of the Catholic press. Thank you, Fr. Finigan, for broaching the topic.

  8. david andrew says:

    I do so love it when liberal “NewChurch” cafeteria Catholics use this expression as a counter to those who espouse Church Teaching. It usually means, “don’t tell me what is evil, because you make me uncomfortable. So instead I’ll tell you you’re being ‘judgmental’ and try to falsely shame you into silence.”

  9. idatom says:

    Fr. Z.;

    In my humble opinion any one with a functioning intellect probably should make thousands of judgments every day, which is normal.

    What we may not do is decide / judge, who God has sent to HELL or who is going there.

    But then what do I know, I’m just an old run down electrician, without all the fancy degrees my liberal sisters and brothers have. No doubt if they knew my thoughts on many of today’s hot button items they would call me very judgmental using their definition of the word or interpretation of Matt 7.1-2.

    Tom Lanter

  10. TonyLayne says:

    Great post, Father!

    I think this is why we who have used Matthew 7:1 ff. in such a manner tend to import a verbal distinction between “judgment” and “discernment”. Not that we’re any less positive or firm in our moral and philosophical decisions, but because “discernment” has a softer, cute-fuzzy-bunny feel to it; it makes us sound like we’re being more cautious and tolerant than we really are. (In fact, even simply considered as prose, the word is a little flabby.) I still use the verse, but not in the relativist sense I once used it.

    There are two sure-fire ways you can outrage certain kinds of Christian: 1) You can upset the liberal Christian by positing that some “good” people are going to Hell; and 2) You can anger the conservative Christian by suggesting that some “bad” people may go to Heaven. Both points are minor conclusions that follow from certain implications of orthodox faith and morals, and are distractions from the main emphasis. Yet they are true, and pose stumbling blocks for those who want Christ to validate either a vague, undemanding benevolence or an angry, unforgiving vindictiveness. (I go into this point a little more in-depth in my own blog:

    In fact, Christ doesn’t just tell us to not try to remove the splinter from someone else’s eye when we have a plank in our own; he also tells us to remove the plank, rather than ignore it and remain blind. And then we try to remove the splinter from the other’s eye, rather than condemn them for being blind.

  11. Hieronymus Illinensis says:

    The first people in Scripture to cry “judgmental” were the Sodomites, who

    surrounded the house; 5 and they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” 6 Lot went out of the door to the men, shut the door after him, 7 and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. 8 Behold, I have two daughters who have not known man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” 9 But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he would play the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them” (Gen. 19:4-9 RSV-CE).

    Plus ça change

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