Mar 17, 2013

You keep saying "Do Not Judge" I do not think it means what you think it means

"Do Not Judge": Wait a minute, are you judging me??

I have heard in conversations with other moms and have read in dozens of blogs (and have even written a post about the same topic and another one saying I had nothing more to say... apparently that's not true) that as moms we spend too much time "judging", competing with and condemning other moms, while we should be supporting and lifting one another up.

In fact I recently read a post by Four Little Fergusons called "Dear mom on the iPhone" which went viral in November 2012, and kept right on going viral through Feb/Mar 2013.   The post was right on... but the comments took the post in another direction and created an argument (too angry to be a discussion) about this idea of being judgmental.  In fact several bloggers, like this one, even wrote a post defending this fictional mom on the iPhone.

Listen, the Bible does say "“Judge not, that you be not judged." in Matthew 7:1.  So, what does it mean to "judge"?  Merriam defines it a few ways, two of them are : 1. to form a negative opinion about or 2.  to form an opinion about through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premises.  

Most of the time I get the impression that a mom who says "you ought not judge me" is really saying "Who do you think you are to hold ME to YOUR standards?" or "I am doing what is right for me, who are YOU to tell ME what is right or wrong when it comes to parenting?! (or my lifestyle etc.) or maybe even "Don't look down on ME!  I'm doing exactly what I want to do! YOU can't tell me what to do!", one other possibility is "Don't condemn me!"

The Bible says more about judging. Expanding out from Matthew 7:1-5: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye."  This suggests that if you choose to judge someone, you are opening yourself up to being judged.  This sounds more like a warning than a command.  How can you guard against being hypocritical?  {By doing what you say and saying what you do.}

In John 7:24 it say "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”".  Which again isn't saying "don't judge" but rather "do it with right judgment."  How do you know if you are doing it with "right judgment"? 

Right judgment comes out of the knowledge and understanding of the scriptures: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17.  This certainly doesn't sound non-judgmental.

One last scripture for you:
Ephesians 4:13-16 "This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.  Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love."  

One other interesting passage on judgment is from Luke 12:41-59... thought provoking, a good read if you are interested in a different sort of teaching from Jesus.

5 Truths about Being Judgmental

1. You can do it if you want to.  
There is nothing in the Bible that says "DON'T JUDGE", but rather warns against being judgmental, because if you are hypocritical in your judgment it will come back to bite you.  For example if you lecture your friend about not giving her kids so much sugar, she will be watching you carefully and call you out if you feed your kids ANY sugar in her presence. 

2.  If you do it, you have to use a higher standard {not just your opinion}.  
Most passages talk about using either scripture or Christ as the standard to compare your actions to; what about gray areas?  What about non-Christians?  What about 95% of the parenting topics today that are not SPECIFICALLY mentioned in the Bible?  (Pretty sure television watching isn't in there).  While we can probably find a relevant passage, we will need to use our own faulty understanding to translate the translation into modern culture... there is much that can go terribly wrong {hence the people wandering around stating that we should ONLY listen to Christian music or ONLY watch rated 'G' movies}.  

3.  If you do it, you have to do it with LOVE.
As always, the scripture seems to come back to "LOVE".  We should speak the truth in love, we should love our neighbor, our enemy, our God, and we should have a goal of helping people become "full of love".  When considering the message you are sharing, are you "full of love?"  Is your goal to increase love?  Are you stating it in a loving way (as opposed to a condemning or angry way)?

4.  People don't usually truly MEAN "Don't Judge". 
In my opinion, most people who are saying "Don't judge me" are actually saying "Affirm me".  Is there a way to affirm people while still teaching, rebuking and correcting people in their faith?  Is there a way to help people understand that you aren't condemning them as bad mothers, but rather challenging them to be better than "good"?  

If you are a person who regularly (or occasionally) defends themselves by saying "Don't judge me.  Support me!"  Is it the WAY it is said or is it WHAT is said?  Do you feel attacked when someone makes broad sweeping statements or can you deflect it long enough to understand why it is relevant to you, or not?  Are you teachable?

I honestly think that most of us feel attacked and judged if we feel misunderstood.  Once I feel understood, I am more willing to take suggestions about my parenting, and other lifestyle choices.   If I feel misunderstood and then someone tries to correct me, I resist because I suspect they aren't saying it to support or love me (and in turn to help me be better), but to make me feel inferior.

In the end I think that most people who say "Don't judge me" or "We shouldn't judge each other" really are looking to be seen, heard and understood.  In the case of the iPhone post, the author said (in a reasonable way) that we spend too much time staring at our phones and ignoring our kids.  Most moms, in one on one conversation with a trusted friend, would be able to consider the possibility and maybe even see the truth in the statement, but reading the message in a post from a stranger, their conviction turned to defensiveness, mistrust and anger.

5. What if you AREN'T doing the best you can.
While I think we should support one another as moms and do our best to lift one another up and not tear one another down, I think there are some discrepancies in how we define those things.  For me, false truths like "We are all doing the best we can" or "Every mom does what's best for her own family" do not lift anyone up, but rather keep people wrapped up in falsehoods and self-deception.

While we should not be comparing ourselves to others and putting others down to make ourselves look better, we should be real.  There are things that every parent should be doing, and if you aren't doing them, you are NOT doing the best you can.  It's not because I am doing them.  It's because it is what is best for your child.  Children need nurturing, education, attention, care and love.  Is it judgmental to be disturbed by a child who smells like they haven't been bathed in a week? 

Why do I care what another mom does with her kid?  Because her kid is going to be an adult some day... and that adult is going to be loose in my community.  That kid will become an adult who may be a future politician or teacher.  We are ALL invested in how the next generation is raised.  It is ridiculous to think that as parents, as people, we are not intimately connected at very deep levels.  We should ALL care how well children around us are being trained, loved, cared for and lead.

I will not stop sharing convictions I have about parenting.  I will not stop sharing what I am learning about effective parenting strategies.  I will not stop pointing out "the Emperor has no clothes".  I will not accept someone throwing the word "judgmental" at me unless they can prove that what I am saying has no truth.  You shouldn't either.

I think as moms we need to spend more time encouraging one another toward good parenting {in a loving and positive way} and less time justifying and mollifying one another, but that's just me.

So, what do you think?  Is it wrong to be judgmental?  What does that mean for you?


  1. Sometimes, now I'm going out on a limb here, people think you are judging because of their own guilty feelings even when you are not judging. I've encountered that. My MIL was very condescending to my husband, her own son...So I told all the amazing things my husband/her son does. She took that and turned it around as my judging her.

    Just something interesting to add to the discussion.

    1. I think you are absolutely right. Already feeling convicted about something and if you do something that makes them more aware of their deficiency it tends to make them mad... even if you don't say anything or have any ill-intent.

  2. I think it's wrong to be judgmental, the word judge has a very negative meaning to me, and if someone is judging me about what I should/shouldn't do, it means that the person has it all together, never fails, etc, and we all know that nobody's perfect. But, I think it's fine to give advice and in that way try to help someone who seems to need help. Giving advice has a totally different meaning to me than judging, although the goal may be the same. If someone judges me, it makes me feel bad and I tend to give up because I feel I suck and fail at everything, while advice inspires me. Someone else who reacts differently on the word judge will probably say something else.

    1. :) I think a lot of people feel that way too. My dad is a lawyer, and so my mind always goes straight to the career "Judge"... but yes, usually it is implied that if you are judging someone, then you are coming from a superior place.

      While I think being a "judge" over one's peers is a generally dangerous thing to do... I think that most people's intentions come from a genuine desire to help... not to put someone else down... hmmm. Good input.

  3. Hello
    I am following you from The things we find inside GFC blog hop- I like your blog!
    Jennifer-Always Walk In Love

  4. Your comment that often people who say "Don't Judge Me" are actually saying "Affirm Me", is so insightful. I think you are spot on with this observation, and you have pointed out how important it is to see a man's heart - which to me is the way you keep from "judging". You try to see a person for all that they are, and you try to understand all the pieces that make them who they are. If you do this right, it leads to compassion. If you do it wrong "judgement" in the standard sense. Great post.


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