Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Did Jesus teach that it is wrong to judge other people?

Great post by Matt at MandM on an often misunderstood verse.

Here’s the passage in question, Matthew 7:1-5:

1“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.

2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Most people only quote the first verse, but they don’t look at the rest of the verses that come after.

Here’s what Matt has to say about those other verses:

The phrase translated in the NIV as, “do not judge, or you too will be judged,” was originally written by Matthew in Koine (a Greek dialect). The Interlinear Bible gives the literal translation here as, “do not judge that you be judged.” In other words, do not judge others in a way that leads one to put oneself under judgement.

[...]One is not to judge in a way that brings judgment on oneself. The reason for this (“for”) is that the standard one uses to judge others is the standard that one’s own behaviour will be measured by. Jesus goes on to illustrate, with a sarcastic example, precisely what he is talking about; a person who nit-picks or censures the minor faults of others (taking the speck out of their brothers eye) who ignores the serious, grave, moral faults in their own life (the log in one’s own eye). His point is that such faults actually blind the person’s ability to be able to make competent moral judgments. This suggests that Jesus is focusing on a certain type of judging and not the making of judgments per se.

In fact, the conclusion that Jesus does not mean to condemn all judging of others is evident from the proceeding sentences in the above quote. Rather than engaging in the kind of judgment Jesus has condemned one should “first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” In other words one should try to rectify the serious moral flaws in one’s own life precisely so one can assist others with theirs. One needs to avoid hypocrisy in order to make constructive and effective moral judgments about others. This would make no sense if Jesus meant to condemn all judging by this passage.

Judging happens all the time but it can be much easier for a person to accept if you do the judging in a professional way. After all, teachers tell students all the time that they are wrong, but these judgments are accepted because teachers know what they are talking about. If you are going to make a judgement, then try to do it in the way that an expert does.

This is an apologetics blog, so I feel that I should say that when you are trying to talk to someone about apologetics, then don’t talk about their personal lives at all. Just talk about what is true in the real world, or about moral choices in general. I’ve noticed that people get really mad when I say that some behavior is wrong because the Bible says it, so I don’t do usually that. But I’ve noticed that most are open to hearing the evidence for why a behavior is wrong, for example the harm caused by unwed motherhood to children. People are more likely to listen to you if you  stay away from judging their personal situation.

Second piece of advice: if you are going to talk about right and wrong, start by showing someone that just because there are differences of opinion on an issue, it doesn’t mean no one is right. If morality comes up as the topic, then I find it easier to first explain that just because people disagree, it doesn’t mean no one is right. What I like to do for this is to bring up something that is affirmed by one religion and denied by another, like whether the universe had a beginning. Jews (for example) affirm a beginning of the universe, Mormons deny a beginning of the universe. Who is right? We have to look to science to decide it. Once we’ve decided it, someone is going to be right, and someone is going to be wrong. You want to get them to see that telling someone they are wrong doesn’t make you a villain. In our case, if the universe had a beginning, and you tell a Mormon why you think it did using science, it’s no defense against you for them to call you “intolerant” for using evidence to show you are right. Sometimes people can be wrong, and they need to tolerate when others tell them they are wrong, even if they don’t agree.

Jonathan Morrow talks about that second point here:

However, true tolerance is usually not what people have in mind when they say people should be free to believe in whatever God (or no god at all) they want to. Here is the simple, but profound point to grasp—merely believing something doesn’t make it true. Put differently, people are entitled to their own beliefs, but not their own truth. Belief is not what ultimately matters—truth is. Our believing something is true doesn’t make it true. The Bible isn’t true simply because I have faith. Truth is what corresponds to reality—telling it like it is.

No point of view is correct just because someone believes it. Beliefs are made true if they correspond to reality. And it’s not “intolerant” to “judge” truth claims that don’t correspond to reality as false.

Finally, you want to get the other person to see that saying someone is wrong isn’t a bad thing – especially if their being wrong is going to get them into trouble. Suppose you tell someone “don’t take a nap on the railroad tracks” because they’ve been doing that. This is a good thing to do. It helps them to not get run over by a train. You’re not forcing them into anything, you’re just giving them information that they can use or not. It’s up to them to believe you or not, but they shouldn’t try to shut you down by saying “don’t judge me”.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Did Jesus really teach that it is wrong to judge others?

Great post by Matt at MandM on an often misunderstood verse.

Here’s the passage in question, Matthew 7:1-5:

1“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.

2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Most people only quote the first verse, but they don’t look at the rest of the verses that come after.

Here’s what Matt has to say about those other verses:

The phrase translated in the NIV as, “do not judge, or you too will be judged,” was originally written by Matthew in Koine (a Greek dialect). The Interlinear Bible gives the literal translation here as, “do not judge that you be judged.” In other words, do not judge others in a way that leads one to put oneself under judgement.

[...]One is not to judge in a way that brings judgment on oneself. The reason for this (“for”) is that the standard one uses to judge others is the standard that one’s own behaviour will be measured by. Jesus goes on to illustrate, with a sarcastic example, precisely what he is talking about; a person who nit-picks or censures the minor faults of others (taking the speck out of their brothers eye) who ignores the serious, grave, moral faults in their own life (the log in one’s own eye). His point is that such faults actually blind the person’s ability to be able to make competent moral judgments. This suggests that Jesus is focusing on a certain type of judging and not the making of judgments per se.

In fact, the conclusion that Jesus does not mean to condemn all judging of others is evident from the proceeding sentences in the above quote. Rather than engaging in the kind of judgment Jesus has condemned one should “first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” In other words one should try to rectify the serious moral flaws in one’s own life precisely so one can assist others with theirs. One needs to avoid hypocrisy in order to make constructive and effective moral judgments about others. This would make no sense if Jesus meant to condemn all judging by this passage.

This is something I actually try to do, and it’s easy. Before you open your mouth to judge someone, you have to look at your own life and make sure that you don’t do the thing you’re condeming.

I try not to say anything about individual people at all, but just talk about behaviors in general that are harmful. I don’t ask people if they do any of those behaviors. If they try to tell me about their bad behaviors, I tell them that their personal lives are not up for discussion, unless they explicitly ask me to comment on their specific case. So, instead of saying “you’re bad!”, I say “this behavior is bad and here’s why”. And I make sure I don’t DO that behavior before I declare it as immoral!

I hear this challenge about Christians being too judgmental all the time from non-Christians. If you do, too, then you should definitely click through to MandM and read the whole thing. There’s a logical element, a common sense element and a hermeneutical element to this problem, and all are discussed by Matt. He’s a sharp guy, you’re bound to learn something new that you can use.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ethics week 2013: Five universities. Five nights. Five moral issues

Details:

DOING THE RIGHT THING Week 2013 is a nation wide university initiative to focus on a discussion of the foundation of morality, how do we determine what is right and wrong, and what it means to live ethically. These are questions that every college student, indeed every person on the planet, must grapple with as the answers affect government, society, our families, and ourselves.

Monday:

SEPT. 30, 2013 | 6:30 PM EDT

TRUTH, JUSTICE, & THE RESTORATION OF REASON | GEORGIA TECH

DR. MICHAEL MILLER, Acton Institute

PHYSICAL LOCATION: Student Center Theater

Tuesday:

OCT. 1, 2013 | 8:00 PM EDT

SEXUALITY & MARRIAGE: WHAT’S ETHICS GOT TO DO WITH IT? | RUTGERS UNIVERSITY

KELLIE FIEDOREK, Alliance Defending Freedom | RYAN T. ANDERSON, Heritage Foundation

PHYSICAL LOCATION: Cook Campus Center Multipurpose Room

Wednesday:

OCT. 2, 2013 | 8:00PM EDT

The History of American Eugenics: Lessons for the Second Genetic Century | OHIO UNIVERSITY

DR. CHRISTOPHER HOOK, Mayo Clinic

PHYSICAL LOCATION: Baker University Center, Ballroom A (8 PM EDT)

Noon Panel Discussion:

OCT. 2, 2013 | 12:00PM EDT

Can We Safely and Successfully Re-Engineer Humanity?

DR. CHRISTOPHER HOOK, Mayo Clinic; Scott Carson, Professor of Philosophy, Ohio University; & Scott Robe, Attorney, Athens, Ohio; TIM SHARP , News Director of WOUB, will facilitate

PHYSICAL LOCATION: WOUB Studio A (Noon – 1:30 EDT)

Thursday:

OCT. 3, 2013 | 8:00PM EDT

DOES NATURAL LAW REQUIRE A MORAL LAW GIVER? | TEXAS A&M

DR. FRANCIS BECKWITH, Baylor University

PHYSICAL LOCATION: Rudder Theater

Friday:

OCT. 4, 2013 | 7:00PM EDT

DOING THE RIGHT THING AT THE BEGINNING OF LIFE | UC IRVINE

DR. SCOTT RAE, Biola University

PHYSICAL LOCATION: UCI Student Center, Pacific Ballroom C

Click here for more details on the events.

Filed under: Events, , , , , ,

Five common objections to the moral argument

Apologetics 315 posted a list of five objections to the moral argument from philosopher Paul Rezkalla.

Here are the 5 points:

  1. “But I’m a moral person and I don’t believe in God. Are you saying that atheists can’t be moral?”
  2. “But what if you needed to lie in order to save someone’s life? It seems that morality is not absolute as you say it is.”
  3. ‘Where’s your evidence for objective morality? I won’t believe in anything unless I have evidence for it.’
  4. ‘If morality is objective, then why do some cultures practice female genital mutilation, cannibalism, infanticide, and other atrocities which we, in the West, deem unacceptable?’
  5.  ‘But God carried out many atrocities in the Old Testament. He ordered the genocide of the Canaanites.’

That last one seems to be popular, so let’s double-check the details:

For starters, this isn’t really an objection to the moral argument. It does not attack either premise of the argument. It is irrelevant, but let’s entertain this objection for a second. By making a judgement on God’s actions and deeming them immoral, the objector is appealing to a standard of morality that holds true outside of him/herself and transcends barriers of culture, context, time period, and social norms. By doing this, he/she affirms the existence of objective morality! But if the skeptic wants to affirm objective morality after throwing God out the window, then there needs to be an alternate explanation for its basis. If not God, then what is it? The burden is now on the skeptic to provide a naturalistic explanation for the objective moral framework.

If you have heard any of these objections before when discussing the moral argument, click through and take a look.

 

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Luka Rocco Magnotta’s murder victim was his gay lover

The UK Daily Mail reports that Luka Rocco Magnotta is now on the run in France. (WARNING: Graphic details of murder)

Excerpt:

Yesterday, as 190 countries joined in an Interpol manhunt for  Magnotta, his victim was identified as Lin Jun, a Chinese student who was studying in Montreal.

Police said Mr Lin, 33, was in a relationship with Magnotta, 29.

[...]Police say Mr Lin had been in Montreal since July last year and was studying at Concordia University.

His family lost contact with him on May 24.

Days later a janitor found his limbless body in a suitcase near Magnotta’s apartment in the city. Other body parts were found in the  flat. The video of the killing is called ‘1 Lunatic 1 Ice Pick’ and shows a man tied to a bed frame being hacked with a kitchen knife and the ice pick.

The victim’s throat is slashed and he is stabbed before being decapitated and dismembered.

The killer also appears to eat some of the flesh.

Here is my previous post on Luka Rocco Magnotta in which I explain how Canada’s war on the free exercise of religion and the free expression of moral judgments makes outcomes like this unsurprising, especially in secular leftist Quebec.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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