Judge Judy

This is the kind of post that I almost dread writing because the subject matter isn’t totally clear in my head which means it probably resembles word vomit on the screen, but it keeps coming up, so write I must. Let’s go way back, like junior high school back. My dad and myself were having a conversation about judging people based on what they were wearing. Specifically, I think I was defending someone with many facial piercings, tattoos, and all black clothing. I was explaining to my dad that I was sure that person could’ve been perfectly sweet and maybe even a strong Christian. My dad argued differently, and honestly, it made sense. It makes sense. You can judge a book by its cover, no? (as i duck for cover from the angry mob). I wouldn’t see a book titled “Learning to Ride a Bike” and expect it to be about throwing knives, now would I? I wouldn’t wear a t-shirt that says “I’m pro-life” if I’m really pro-choice, would I? I would judge both of those things at face value. Makes sense to me. But people are different though, right?

The house across the street from ours is now vacant. Yesterday some people drove up and started peeking in the windows and checking out the property. I judged them based on the car they were driving. I’m a big, fat judger. Apparently, I’m Judge Judy. It happened again today at Wal-Mart. I judged. I sat on my high-horse. I judged. At the park, again! “Look at the man smoking at the playground. What kind of person does that?! If he burns my child I might burn him back!” “What kind of parent doesn’t put a jacket on their kid right now? It’s cold!” “Is that a man or woman? Oh my, I can’t tell. Why would someone dress like that?” Judge. Judge. Judge.

who.gave.me.the.power.to.judge

No one.

I’ve been struggling with this ever since I read Romans 2:1-4:

1You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

My theology isn’t great. I’m still learning. A lot. But I’m pretty sure that judging another person based on such asinine things as the car they drive and the clothes they wear (or are not wearing for that matter) is wrong. God knew it would happen and that’s why He made it clear that I am a MERE woman. Who am I to judge? The definition of ‘mere’ is being nothing more nor better than. God’s kind of perfect like that. Sometimes I forget that God loves that person just as much as He loves me. Even the guy smoking on the playground. That’s so crucial. God doesn’t play favorites.

But here’s the rub. How do I teach my daughter to judge someone as dangerous? The Bible also says we will know a person by his or her fruit. Isn’t that judging them on some level? This is where my weak theology comes into play. But it’s one of those things that God hasn’t allowed me to be free from. Judge Judy. It plays over and over. I can’t put into words the difference between judging someone and knowing them by their fruit, but I think I know the difference. Here we go with the word vomit and rabbit trails. I’ve just felt really convicted regarding this. It happens all the time. It’s so accepted. I judge people on what they wear, how they speak, what they drive, where they live. It’s awful. It’s sin. I’m no one’s judge.

Knowing is half the battle.

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by CStoll on March 7, 2010 at 9:55 am

    I think the Bible is clear that we aren’t to judge someone else’s motives or condemn them for their sins. That is definitely God’s area of expertise.

    But other areas of “judging” are a little gray. The convo with your dad seemed to be more about first impressions, which may not be 100% accurate as to *who* the person really is, but I don’t think it’s wrong to make the natural association between how a person looks and what their station in life is, their occupation, or other tidbits about them. Sherlock Holmes deducted quite a few things just from observation and reasoning. Like at a job interview, if someone shows up in a wrinkled t-shirt and jeans, the potential employers are going to think that person doesn’t care enough about their appearance or about getting the job to make an effort to dress up. Or seeing a pack of cigarettes in a guy’s back pocket and assuming he smokes. Those kind of judgments are not sinful.

    But how about categorizing a person into a stereotype? If someone has lots of piercings and tattoos all over their body, I usually associate them as someone who rebels against authority. It might not be completely accurate, but that is the image they are portraying in my mind. Should I treat them any differently? I don’t know. I tend not to be so much racist as “classist”. I don’t typically categorize or judge people by the color of their skin and think of them any differently, but I do react negatively to people who are “in the system” on welfare (especially when I see them spending our money on non-necessities!), dress a certain way, are druggies, etc… Sin? Yep. I’m just not sure how to change my attitude about it.

    As far as the smoking at the playground, I hate it too. I think it’s disgusting and don’t know why anyone would do that around their kids – it’s killing them!
    But…then I will go feed my child fast food. Any difference? Not really. :(

    Reply

    • Well the smoking on the playground affects everyone, the fast food, only the person consuming it :) And A eats fast food at least once a week because of Puggles and everyone’s busy schedule on Wednesday, but really a plain hamburger and apple dippers isn’t all that bad aside from it being ‘processed’ which I’m not into worrying about (as of now). I like your point on the racist vs classist. Again, I think its just something God has specifically started to deal with me about and that I never really paid that much attention to before.

      Reply

  2. Posted by CStoll on March 7, 2010 at 9:58 am

    As far as teaching kids how to tell if someone is dangerous…wow. I’m not sure you even can do it. Many child molesters and abductors are not people who “look the part.” Makes me a bit paranoid. But I’m not sure how to teach the little ones how to be safe and cautious without throwing them a few stereotypes to watch out for. I don’t think that’s wrong for now, and with maturity they will learn to look at people in deeper ways in a few years.

    Reply

    • Yea, I’m pretty much going with the “don’t talk to strangers unless mommy is present,” “don’t go anywhere with anyone unless mommy or daddy give permission,” and “don’t take anything from anyone.” Scary!

      Reply

  3. Posted by Dixie (mom) on March 8, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    I think that having a thought about a person and condemming a person are two different things. I might have a thought that the piercings are wierd or strange, but I am not judging the person, just the piercings. If that person with the same piercings asked me for help or asked about God, I would try to help. I wouldn’t take my thought to the point that I wouldn’t give the person a chance to be my friend. I judge clothing and actions all day long, but not really the person. I love to critique peoples fashion, etc., but for me personally, I don’t feel like I am judging. I know I do judge, especially if a person is not friendly – I assume they are mean, but I still give them a chance. It’s a deep subject and something that I believe God has to deal with us each on an individual basis

    Reply

    • Having a thought and condemning are very different, you’re right. I think I’ve just been…made more of aware of it and to figure out what it is that I’m doing.

      Reply

  4. I think we are all guilty of doing the same at some time or other.
    Just stopped by from SITS to say hi; hope you’ll return the visit.

    Reply

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