Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Having Good Judgment isn't Being Judgmental

One of today's readings is Romans 2:1-11. Here's an excerpt:
"1 Therefore, you are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment. 2 For by the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the very same things. ... There is no partiality with God. "
(Romans 2:1-11)
The whole reading is at the end of this post.1 Again, the usual disclaimer. I've got the teaching authority of "some guy with a blog." I don't speak for the Church. I do, however, try to understand what we've been told: which is what this post is about.

Splinters, Wooden Beams, and Hypocrites

If that " the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself..." sounds familiar, it should. It's an idea my Lord discussed in the Sermon on the Plain and the Sermon on the Mount. In Luke, it comes after the Beatitudes. (Matthew 7:1-5; Luke 6:37-38, 41-42; and see footnote 10 in Luke:6)

I think that chapter of Luke has a gentler tone than Matthew 7, and that's another topic.

Matthew's Gospel is fairly clear about the wisdom of someone's being concerned with bad behavior in others, when the 'concerned' person is doing the same thing:
"You hypocrite, 3 remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother's eye."
(Matthew 7:5)
Maybe that "hypocrite" is a bit harsh. Or maybe not so much, considering the sort of damage we've seen lately.

When folks who should know better talk one way and act another, they hurt their public image: and that's the least of their concerns. They also damage the credibility of everything they've said: including what's true.

Yes, I Know About the Pedophile Priests

The 'pedophile priests' scandal wasn't entirely media hype. Besides the obvious victims of those rogue priests, many others were hurt emotionally.

Pharisees, Christians, and Hypocrisy

Back to Matthew, and "hypocrite;:"
"3 Hypocrite: the designation previously given to the scribes and Pharisees is here given to the Christian disciple who is concerned with the faults of another and ignores his own more serious offenses."
(Mark 7, footnote 3)
Looks like self-righteousness isn't a viable option.

Behavior, Arrogance, and Getting a Grip

I suppose that "stop judging" instruction could be taken to mean that we were supposed to be 'affirming' and 'supportive,' and 'non-judgmental.'

That sort of 'friends let friends drive drunk' thing looked good on paper, a few decades back, but didn't work too well in practice. 2 And I'm getting off-topic.

Footnotes in Matthew 7 point out that we're not supposed to be arrogant or self-righteous.

But we're not supposed to be stupid, either:
"1 [1-12] In ⇒ Matthew 7:1 Matthew returns to the basic traditional material of the sermon (⇒ Luke 6:37-38, ⇒ 41-42). The governing thought is the correspondence between conduct toward one's fellows and God's conduct toward the one so acting.

"2 [1] This is not a prohibition against recognizing the faults of others, which would be hardly compatible with ⇒ Matthew 7:5, 6 but against passing judgment in a spirit of arrogance, forgetful of one's own faults."
(Matthew 7, footnote 1, footnote 2)
That seem clear enough.

Once again, it comes back to "love God, love your neighbor." (Matthew 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-31)

Related posts:
(Not an exhaustive list)

1 First reading, October 12, 2011, Wednesday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time:
"1 Therefore, you are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment. 2 For by the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the very same things. We know that the judgment of God on those who do such things is true. Do you suppose, then, you who judge those who engage in such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you hold his priceless kindness, forbearance, and patience in low esteem, unaware that the kindness of God would lead you to repentance? By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God, who will repay everyone according to his works: 3 eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness. Yes, affliction and distress will come upon every human being who does evil, Jew first and then Greek. But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, Jew first and then Greek. 4 There is no partiality with God. "
(Romans 2:1-11)
2 There's a little good sense buried in the 'you do your thing, I'll do mine' approach to living. I think American culture has started sorting out the difference between actions that are objectively harmful, and behavior that isn't to the liking of the establishment:

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.