I felt inspired to write yet again today and so I did! I think that this needed to be said in order to clarify what I wrote yesterday.
“Don’t be Judgmental”, and “learn to be tolerant”, seem to be common phrases/themes we hear or see in our culture. First of all, our understanding of both of these things is severely skewed. To begin with, tolerance is gravely misunderstood in our culture. Tolerance in a sense has become the god of this generation. Tolerance DOES NOT MEAN I have to keep my mouth shut and keep from commenting when I disagree with someone. Tolerance DOES NOT MEAN I have to simply accept beliefs and lifestyles different than my own. Tolerance DOES NOT MEAN everyone is free to believe in whatever they want to choose their own truth. As my friend Chris Stefanick says in his talk on moral relativism, “you have to DISAGREE with something before you start TOLERATING it.” Tolerance means I simply put up with something I don’t like. I can still LOVE someone and disagree with them. To say that homosexual actions, contraception, abortion and voting for Obama is wrong is NOT INTOLERANT! To say that there is such a thing as absolute truth and that one religion is more right than another is NOT INTOLERANT! To have moral convictions and stick by them is NOT INTOLERANT! For example, most people in my family do not believe a lot of the same things I do. They are wrong in their beliefs, period. Does that mean I love them less or we can’t get along? No! Can we have intelligent dialogue and conversation? Yes! Are they 100% wrong? No! Are there a lot of things they get right? Yes! Do I still respect them and see good in them? Yes! Believing that someone is wrong does not mean you are intolerant nor does it mean you hate them.
Secondly, one of the most common things I hear is, “We shouldn’t judge people.” That is absolutely correct! We should not judge people, only God can judge people. However, what people mean by “not judging others” is not what Jesus meant by this. For example in today’s culture to go up to a friend or family member and say, “I don’t think you should be having sex outside of marriage”, or “you shouldn’t be getting drunk every weekend” would elicit a response like, “don’t judge me, I’m a good person even if I do those things, who are you to tell me what to do?” That my friends is not judgmental. That is actually doing our Christian duty of loving our neighbor. That is showing care and concern for another. We actually are called to judge actions. We can’t judge PEOPLE, but we can judge ACTIONS! What is the difference? Well judging actions is calling someone out and telling them what they are doing or have done is wrong. Judging people implies that you assume the state of their soul. To tell someone they are going to hell because of what they are doing is judgmental. To tell them something is sinful is not judgmental; it is actually loving and scriptural.
“‘If your brother* sins [against you], go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-17)
As Pope St. Felix III said, "Not to oppose error is to approve it; and not to defend truth is to suppress it; and indeed to neglect to confound evil men, when we can do it, is no less a sin than to encourage them." When someone corrects me for the way I am acting or for what I am doing, I don’t see it as judgmental. I actually often take some time to think about it and take it to prayer. More often than not I realize that the person who provided the criticism is correct and I am thankful for that. Why? Well, because I can then use what I have learned or discovered through the situation to grow in virtue and holiness.
The mentality behind these two concepts is truly ruining our culture and causing serious moral degradation in society. No one wants to call anything evil or sinful anymore. It seems like the only sin in society anymore is having moral convictions and telling someone they are wrong. As Pope Benedict said before he became pope, “We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires.” This is a scary thought. I think we can all agree that Hitler was an evil guy and what he did was pretty messed up. However, I seriously wonder that if Hitler was alive today and committing the same evils if we would think they were wrong. We would honestly try and stop him? I seriously question the fact that we would. Someone would surely say that we were being “intolerant” or “judgmental” if we disagreed with him.
Here is the problem, people see Christians as judgmental and intolerant because they haven’t been given the whole message. They simply see Christianity as a list of rules. Christianity is not simply a belief system; it is a RELATIONSHIP with a living God. The best part about it is that when we are wrong about something, or someone calls us out on a sinful action, is that there is mercy and forgiveness available. The mercy of Christ is infinite. He desires nothing more than for us to recognize our faults and imperfections so that he can forgive us and begin to heal us and make us whole again! Today's Gospel from Luke says it well:
"The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
"This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."
So Jesus addressed this parable to them.
"What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.'
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance."
Jesus was not “tolerant” in the way today’s liberal leftist are want everyone to me. He was and is tolerant in the way that he loves us in spite of our sin and weaknesses and calls us to become who we are meant to be. There is hope, joy, and love in Christianity. Are there Christians who can be judgmental and truly intolerant? Absolutely, but most often than not the culture simply tells us we are behaving that way, when in fact we are being loving.