The cultural re-definition of sin
It was bound to happen. In a culture that rejects God (and therefore, objective right and wrong), man has taken on the role of god. Whether it is the anti-theist camp, environmental saviors, or “breast milk is the best milk” crowd, someone is out to judge your actions. This proves that there are no true relativists when it comes to morality.
I have read and heard these judgements in various forms. Health-obsessed people judging overweight Christians for having potlucks. A man in a park judging me vocally for giving a duck a french fry. In these cases, and others I have heard about, people have assumed godhood and the right to judge and condemn others based on whatever modern attitude prevails.
But before I get to far in the cultural analysis, it is important to note that judgmental attitudes can be found everywhere. It is not simply a modern movement. In fact, it might be fair to say that Christians in the U.S. have had their fair share to play in creating judgmental and condemning attitudes.
Judgment and condemnation of others has existed throughout human history. The Pharisees condemned Jesus for eating with “sinners”. Judaizers in the early church judged gentile believers, thus prompting Paul to defend the gentiles in the book of Galatians. In the early church, rich Christians judged their poor brothers, prompting James to write the book named for him.
Ultimately, both Jews and gentiles judged condemned and executed God in the person of Jesus Christ.
There is a place for judgment. In fact, both Galatians and James are written to utterly destroy the false judgments of Christians criticizing one another. But, what is the point of the judgment of judges? Both Paul and James were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write scathing condemnations of other believers. The end goal was to bring these judgmental people back into the church with a more humble attitude and a recognition of their utter need of Christ for forgiveness.
16Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”
20“You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”
21Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. 22Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” [emphases mine]
When confronted by religious people who judged and condemned Jesus, Jesus points out their sin. The fundamentalists who condemned people over and over again without reflecting on the fact that judgment doesn’t bring about repentance are now the brunt of the anti-theist movement (for good reason).
1You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? [this was written to Christians]
And where do we see God’s kindness? In God’s total judgment of human sin by pouring out all His wrath upon Jesus. He has died for our judgmental attitudes. In fact, He has died for all judgment. He, Himself, is the mercy of God for Christians, anti-theists, environmental saviors and the “breast milk is the best milk” crowd. Now and forever. Amen.