A recent discussion has prompted some deeper reflection for myself, and others I suspect. A friend recently posted a snarky photo w/comments to his facebook wall: “Someone said to me ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged’ I answered them: ‘Be ye not like Satan and twist not your scripture out of context’ ” was my friend’s reply.
There was much chuckling, dozens of ‘likes’, and general back-slapping about his comeback. I was deeply ashamed at my friend’s post/response. We’ve known each other for over 30 years through thick and thin and many differences.
After some deep thought, I decided to post a rare comment to his original post, (I’m paraphrasing now due to the deletion of the original entire post and all comments), “As satisfying as this may feel to do to someone, let alone publicly, on the Internet for all to see, there is no other context than what was recorded as spoken during the Sermon on the Mount. It means exactly what it means: Don’t Judge Others or you will be judged the same way. Love and Forgive so that you will be forgiven. It’s been my experience that when someone quotes this to myself or others, it means, we’ve been rightly called out. Any other such response as this is a stone, along with all the others stones we hurl at others. Does this really please divinity? or, rather, ourself?”
A healthy, good discussion of comments followed, specifically referencing the ENTIRE Sermon on The Mount, how spirituality actually neither includes Judgement, Punishment, nor Condemnation, that it includes the imperative to believe the best of others, hope for the best, never give up on others, being content, thankful in everything, no slander, brawling, isn’t malicious, doesn’t attack others, doesn’t celebrate when others fail or are ruined, ALWAYS encourages others, is kind, gentle, meek, makes peace, doesn’t judge, is joyful, is loving. Perfect love eliminates fear. Fear has to do with punishment/condemnation. Those living from from a place of fear are not mature in their spirituality, nor love.
My friend said he could only ‘partly agree’ with me, then quickly condemned the government, political correctness, assaults on rights and freedom, and more. Responding with an exegesis & commentary on the Sermon on the Mount and a summary of only seemed to further bother him, which was not my intent, so I refrained. Another friend whom has known both of us equally well, for over 30 years, stepped in.
At first I was glad for the other friend’s perspective. It turned out to be a very lengthy, cut and paste of a Commentary on judgement and judging by a very popular, current day Calvinist theologian, complete with a logically torturous justification for calling down judgement on others for their sins – the very thing the religious police of that day were called out for, in the Sermon on the Mount to the astounded, thunderous applause of those who had assembled to hear it, AND the hatred of those same religious authorities of that day. The more I thought about it, the more this response bothered me. Something so simple as ‘judge not, lest ye be judged/treat others as you want to be treated/love your enemies’ made into something it wasn’t: complex beyond comprehension.
I spoke plainly and honestly, ‘There is no question about context. There is only one judge and it isn’t us. Your ENTIRE bible including the New Testament Gospels and Letters are very clear on this point: We aren’t the judge. Why is there any question about that? If we are living humbly, meekly, lovingly, peacefully, joyfully, thankfully, we won’t HAVE any room for judgement nor condemnation of others?’. At that point, the entire original post and all comments were deleted. It struck me, at that point, I had long ago, moved beyond the current religious obsession with other people’s sin, and whom did what to whom, and the constant need to be ‘right’ or prove others ‘wrong’.
The oft-repeated drivel of ‘love the sinner, hate the sin!’ along with their very public obsession over sin, morals, and more, are the very same things spoken so passionately about via contrast. It was the same approach of religious idiots that encouraged the stoning of a single, scapegoated adulterer. Their worship of a book transcended love for others, in a twisted, perversion of their own self-righteousness motivating them to kill offenders in execution. Seems to me, if my history serves me correctly, it was that exact same kind of “love” in which the Inquisition tortured and executed so many for so many perceived heresies. It’s also the same kind of “love” that was so offended that brought about the Crusades, centuries of sectarian religious wars in Europe, Britain, and around the rest of the world up until the present day.
The message of the Sermon on the Mount wasn’t popular 2000 years ago, especially with zealot patriots screaming for the Romans‘ heads, neither is it popular today with self-proclaimed zealot patriots of all stripes and countries, not just our own. If their theology and religion is so shallow as to be so threatened by others’ wrongdoing, then, plainly and simply, they have bad religion and bad theology, and the love of the divine is not in them. It is NOT what was taught, lived, or shared by the original speaker of the sermon on the mount. Thankfully, that speaker is my example, not anyone else claiming the mantle as current spiritual champion. Not once did the speaker of the sermon on the mount call for the Roman Senate to be packed, nor for them to rig the rules. He knew legislation wasn’t the way – the Heart is the way – from the inside out, not the outside in, from love, never fear. The sooner more realize it, the better.
Every bit of the religious law was turned ON ITS HEAD, starting with: A new commandment I give you, that you love one another. The first and greatest commandment is to love God then love your neighbor as yourself (and yes, everyone is your neighbor on this small planet), forgive so that you may be forgiven, be respectful of each other, stop fighting, arguing, malicious accusations, judgement, condemnation. It is the provenance of the divine to judge the heart. Why? We’re to look our OWN hearts and lives, not anyone else’s, and do it in secret. This ensures our humility. None can cast that first stone. We’re to make our life’s ambition to Live Quietly, Mind our own Business, and work with our hands. We’re to be respectful, loving, encouraging, kind, humble, meek, quiet – in short, everything a great number of very loud, hell-fire Talk Radio tele-vangelicals are NOT. To sum it all up: the divine thought we deserved something better than Pharisaical Talk Radio Theology whether it was 2,000 years ago or today. Judge not, lest ye be judged, forgive so you will be forgiven, love your enemies, live in peace, I’ll accept this, ANY day. The context is: Love (without agenda), the rest is not up to me, nor anyone else.
The ignorance daily on display by christians of their own holy book is astounding as even a cursory survey shows
- Jesus and Homophobia (rabbnoir.wordpress.com)
- Judge Not, That Ye May Not Be Judged. Matthew 7:1 (lovelogo.org)
- An Atheist’s Admiration for the Sermon on the Mount (sharefaith.wordpress.com)
- Do Not Judge! (savouringthegospel.wordpress.com)
- Excerpt of Living Jesus: Doing What Jesus Says in the Sermon on the Mount (gregtaylor.org)
- A Radical Sermon – Leaving Evil Tactics to the Evil One (Matthew 5:38-42) (instrument-rated-theology.com)
- Who do you think you are? (revnigelcarter.wordpress.com)
- 3 important truths from the story of the woman supposedly caught in adultery (erikbrewer.wordpress.com)
- Red Letter Year: 3/14 (mikeraburn.com)
- Note to the “Deeper” Crowd: (faithwalkblog.wordpress.com)