When Christians publicly take a stand on moral issues, such as homosexual behavior and gay marriage, they are often accused of being judgmental. Well, the famous country singer Dolly Parton used this argument recently in an interview with Billboard. She was asked, “Dollywood attracts lots of church groups, but it has also become a draw for the LGBT community. What does that say about you?” In reply she stated, “It's a place for entertainment, a place for all families, period. It's for all that. But as far as the Christians, if people want to pass judgment, they're already sinning. The sin of judging is just as bad as any other sin they might say somebody else is committing. I try to love everybody.” By the way, in saying this, Dolly Parton herself was being judgmental against Christians!
Are Christians sinning when they judge homosexual behavior to be a sin? The verse that most people use to say that Christians shouldn’t judge but should just love everyone is Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” But to say that Christians shouldn’t make moral judgments and call sin what it is grossly misrepresents what the Bible teaches. The context of Matthew 7:1 makes it clear that Christians have no right to tell someone they are acting sinfully if we have not first repented of our own sins. Only then can we “see clearly to remove the speck from [our] brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5). A few verses later, Jesus actually tells us to be careful that we don’t throw our pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). If we are to obey this command, we have to make a judgment about whether or not it is wise to “cast our pearls.” Also, in John we are told to judge but to be careful that we aren’t judging by appearances (John 7:24) but that we’re making “a right judgment.” How do Christians ensure they are making right judgments? By turning to the Bible and seeing what our Creator has to say. It is from God’s Word that we know how to make right judgments and know to call sin what it is. We need to judge our own thoughts and behavior against the absolute authority of the Word of God, and we are to judge what others say and do against this same absolute authority.
Now, Christians are called to share the gospel with needy sinners, and part of the gospel is showing a person that they—like everyone else—are a sinner in need of a Savior (Romans 3:23). Unbelievers also need to be shown what sin is and where it came from if they are to understand why they need a Savior. This means we need to use Genesis when presenting the gospel (ironically enough, the doctrine of marriage also comes from Genesis, where God made the first marriage—a man and a woman!). How can a Christian tell someone they need Christ without first making the judgment that they are a sinner? They can’t! So of course Christians must judge, but they are to do so in a right way and only after first repenting of their own sins.
I doubt Dolly Parton realizes it but in saying “if people want to pass judgment, they’re already sinning,” she is doing exactly what she tells Christians not to do—she’s judging! And I sincerely doubt that she, or anyone else for that matter, would say that we can’t judge murderers or thieves and call their behavior wrong.
Now, while Christians can and should make moral judgments, they must be careful to do so in a loving manner. It’s out of love for a person and a desire to see them turn from sin and turn to Christ that we should be making judgments. Judging does not mean we have to display judgmental attitudes. After all, every Christian is a sinner who has been saved by Christ’s sacrifice, and we should remember that when we share the gospel with unbelievers.
I encourage you to read this full-length article that I coauthored, “Does the Bible Tell Christians to Judge Not?”
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,