Are you really better?

Stephanie, at Girl with the Dragonfly Tattoo, criticizes a blogger for her reasoning that outrage over actions like pedophilia is improper due to our own moral failures. Here is her main thought: 

She “laughs” at the incongruity of normal people daring to judge a child molester when calling for justice to be done. 

Why would a Christian laugh at a situation dealing with something so clearly evil, and something we are supposed to view with soberness and yes, we are called to judge and expose evil (Eph 5).

 

In the comments, when responding to a victim of child molestation 😦 , who obviously was very offended by her suggestions in this post, she defends herself and takes this analogy even further to include other evil acts some humans engage in: killing a police officer – which earns people the death penalty in some states.  Don’t judge them, she says.  You’re no better as a person, than a cop killer.

 

Ok, so where does this “you’re no better than a truly evil person” stop with this line of reasoning?

With all the mass murdering happening in the news lately, first the church that was my Uncle and Aunt’s old church being shot up with MANY children and even pregnant women murdered last week, to just this morning hearing of an elementary school being another target of an evil mass murderer.  Are we really called to “not judge” evil doers who commit acts like these?  Is it really better “to laugh” at the people who DO get angry and voice their sentiments of desiring justice?

Her philosophical exercise is revealing. The fact of human beings being all equally under condemnation for sin by no means implies that all are under equal sentences or are guilty of equally evil sins. But it got me to thinking about the Biblical justification for the claim that universal human sinfulness does not entail universal moral equality. Here are some Biblical justifications:

  1. The Old Testament teaches that Enoch and Noah were morally superior to their contemporaries and the Abel was morally superior to Cain.
  2. Old Testament laws have different penalties. Jesus teaches different levels of punishment for different levels of sin in Luke 12:35-48.
  3. He also teaches different levels of sin in John 9:40-41.
  4. Again, he teaches different levels of sin in Mark 3:28-29.
  5. Paul, in Romans 2:6-9, assumes that people have different responses to God’s revelation in conscience.
  6. Paul teaches some who are spiritual have the right and responsibility to correct their brothers and sisters in Galatians 6:1-4. These verses line up exactly with what Jesus says in Matthew 7:1-5, human judgment (instantiated as criticism and correction) is for those who first correct themselves.
  7. Peter teaches that you can get morally worse (2 Peter 2:20).
  8. James, who says not to judge your brothers lest you become a judge of the law of God, also says to turn sinners back to the truth (James 5:19-20). Through his epistle, he also criticizes the rich exploiters of the poor, those who distort faith into mere assent, and those who blame God for their personal sins. So whatever James means by ‘judge,’ he doesn’t mean, ‘don’t publicly criticize sin or sinners.’
  9. Finally, for the New Testament to teach that Christ can redeem us is to teach that at least one person is morally superior to all other people.

So, moral superiority is real and actual (not merely potential). But what does that mean? Well for one, it means that you ought not pray as though you haven’t sinned at all (Luke 18:10-14), but as one unworthy of heaven’s favor. It means that you are now responsible for correcting your brothers and sisters in such a fashion that they do not just turn around and automatically judge you because you’ve corrected your flaws so thoroughly and are willing to accept similar correction even from the person who is sinful in ways you are not. 

In the post Stephanie is criticizing, the author runs into a common problem for those who think Jesus teaches to never judge. In any act of correcting Christians who judge (read: correct or claim somebody did evil), you necessarily are judging. It is perhaps best to see Jesus’ teaching about judgment as normative: Judge with righteous judgment (John 7:24). So don’t just judge by how things appear, but judge based on careful reasoning.

My suspicion is that the original post is meant to be taken as more of a puritan exercise in self-examination. They recommended that you see in yourself the depths of depravity that are truly there through the lens of the deeds you abhor in others, then be grateful for God’s grace (see Jonathan Edwards’ Resolution 8). Exercises of this sort keep you from doing such horrible sins. 

All of this is to say that it’s important judge and it’s important to judge in such a way that allows you to remain humble.

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