Who Are You to Judge?
You can’t talk about sexuality without implicitly addressing the concept of judging others. It seems that I’m often walking the fine line of trying to help women find truth without offending them. Cohabitation, homosexuality, erotica, masturbation, BDSM (bondage, discipline/dominance, sadism, masochism) . . . My job is to help women make sense of issues like these.
Lately, I’ve been hearing many variations of the question, “Who are you to judge me for reading Fifty Shades of Grey?”
Even if your day job doesn’t include teaching about sex, I’m sure you regularly find yourself dealing with similar tensions. As Christians living in a postmodern society, it’s tempting to just keep our mouths shut because we don’t want to judge. But what would you think of a doctor who, in the spirit of being non-judgmental, won’t tell his 350-pound patient that his lifestyle is going to kill him? Or an accountant who hates confrontation so she doesn’t warn clients when they’re violating the tax code? Does their silence communicate truth?
As followers of Jesus, we need to maintain a loving, non-judgmental attitude while also sharing the truth with our friends and the world in general. How can we do that? Here are a few critical elements of speaking truth without becoming judgmental.
Appeal to moral authority, not personal opinion
As we discuss sexual morality with others, we need to base our conversations on truths, not simply our experiences or opinions. While opinion implies judgment, sharing facts does not. I’m not the one who decided that sleeping around is morally wrong. Actually, my opinion on the topic isn’t worth a whole lot. Anything I say or teach needs to come from a source much more trustworthy than just my experiences and conclusions.
Throughout hundreds of generations, the Bible has been viewed as the trusted authority of truth and morality. Jews, Christians, Muslims, and even many governments use the Judeo-Christian ethic expressed in the Bible (like the Ten Commandments) as the basis of moral understanding. “The fear the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10, NIV).
While many people today may want to chuck the Bible and embrace relativism, it is not judgmental or arrogant to hold to God’s Word as a moral standard. The catch is that we actually have to know the Bible. Don’t quote what you think the Bible says or what you grew up believing about God. (I’ve had people confidently tell me that the Bible says everything from “A woman should never work outside the home” to “God helps those who help themselves.”) Stick to what Scripture actually says.
Juli Slattery is a widely known clinical psychologist, author, speaker, and broadcast media professional. She co-founded Authentic Intimacy (www.authenticintimacy.com) and is the co-author of Passion Pursuit: What Kind of Love Are You Making?