Friday, December 26, 2008

Judge Not

Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged

In case it's been a while since sunday school, Jesus said that. Here's the quote in context:

1Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye

What's truly interesting there is verse 2, which is mostly overlooked. This is not just a prohibition against judging other people, it is a warning that you will be judged by the same harsh standards you use against everyone else. We see this all the time when we laugh at the most judgmental preachers who end up being publicly outed as thieves and adulterers. "Oh," we say, "He was one to talk!"

Verse 3 is also interesting: you shouldn't be judging others because you know you have done wrong yourself. Worry about your own faults and flaws instead of others', in other words.

(Hey, I may be an atheist, but Jesus had some good ideas.)

Apparently, Grace Community Church got some faulty bibles that didn't include those 3 verses in the 7th chapter of Matthew. They are publicly "disciplining" a 49 year old women for having sex with her boyfriend. Yeah. Really. So, after being confronted about her "habitual sinning", she stops attending the church.

End of story, right?

Hey, c'mon now, this is christianity, of course not.

Grace Community Church decides that it's not enough for her to simply stop attending church. They need to publicly "discipline" her, which involves announcing to the entire congregation why she no longer attends church. The best part? Her two young boys still attend the church. Grace Community Church intends to announce the exact nature of her "habitual sinning" in front of her sons.

Nice, huh?

I picked up on this after reading a two part blog post at baptist21 defending the church's actions. Oh, yes.

This is an extremely interesting story, and several observations about it need to be made. First, the church is acting appropriately! They are following a command laid out by King Jesus to restore those who refuse to repent of sin and might be on a path to destruction and judgment (Matt. 18:15-19).

Clearly, baptist21 misunderstands these verses. (Why am I doing better at bible reading?)

15"If your brother sins against you and stop. sins against you. YOU. How is a woman having sex with her boyfriend sinning against anyone at Grace Community Church? She may be sinning against god, if you believe that sort of thing, but she's not sinning against you or me. , go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. Wait, what part of this suggests announcing to everyone in the congregation that the woman and her boyfriend were having sex?

18"I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Dogma clause. Doesn't even apply here.

19"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. apparently, if the church "disciplines" this woman on earth, she will be disciplined in heaven, as well. What does this have to do with the question at hand?

You know, Jesus loved the sinners, and not in a "hate the sin, lover the sinner" kind of way, either. He never condemned prostitutes and adulteresses. In fact, he protected an adulteress from being stoned.

Now, you may say that Grace Community Church has the right to expell anyone they want from their congregation, just like any other private group. That's true, but it misses the point of what Jesus actually said. Jesus didn't preach for the perfect, the sinless, the rich and the powerful. He preached for the poor, the drunk, the diseased, the imperfect and the flawed.

Why is it that Christians, whose own savior said more than once not to judge, just can't let go of the judging?

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