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Christians can truly be so intolerant and judgmental By: Michael Bowles

Christians can truly be so intolerant and judgmental. In fact, some of the most judgmental and intolerant people can be found in church, but it is fair to say that is not the case for all Christians. It would not be fair to go to a restaurant and have a “not so good” and or bad experience and then say all restaurants are bad. Majority of people have been to enough restaurants to know that there are some really exceptional ones out there. Although that may not be the best illustration possible, it is pretty close when it comes to Christians. There are some “not so good” ones and some exceptional ones out there.

Christians being or coming off as judgmental is one of those parts of the Christian journey in which it is unfortunately very easy to make mistakes. 

A definition will help us here: to be judgmental is to point out something that is wrong in someone else’s life, making the person feel put down, excluded, and marginalized.

[1] A Christian, who is judgmental, more than likely, is struggling with self-righteousness. A self-righteous person thinks of oneself higher than they ought, and often deal with comparison issues. This poor misrepresentation of who Jesus really is pushes people away from the church not towards it.

If Christians would spend more time having meaningful conversations with grace and truth, helping other people become aware to God’s standards of living instead of condemning people then the church would be thought of differently from outsiders.

The Bible actually has some shocking, gut wrenching verses to Christians regarding judgment:

You may be saying, “What terrible people you have been talking about!” But you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you do these very same things. . . . Don’t you realize how kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Or don’t you care? Can’t you see how kind he has been in giving you time to turn from your sin?

Romans 2:1, 4

This verse explains how kind God is to humanity, so much so, that it leads them to repentance. If more Christians embodied this verse then their lifestyle of kindness would lead others, especially outsiders, to repentance.

On the flip side, Christianity requires particular beliefs in order to be a member of its community. Western society is based on shared commitments to reason, rights, and justice, even though there is no universally recognized definition of any of these.

[2]Everyone has different ideas of what their rights, freedoms, and the meaning of life that shape their belief system. Still on the topic of Christians being intolerant and judgmental, Timothy Keller addresses how community can’t be completely inclusive. He challenges us to consider an illustration. Imagine that one of the board members of the local Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Community Center announces, “I’ve had a religious experience and now I believe homosexuality is a sin.” Now imagine that a board member for the Alliance Against Same-Sex Marriage announces, “I discovered that my son is gay and I think he has the right to marry his partner.” Now no matter how gracious and flexible each of these groups are they would eventually ask each one of these board members to step down because they don’t share the same set of beliefs. The first one of these communities is known for being inclusive and the second for being exclusive, but in practice both of them operate in almost the very same way.

In the illustration above, we can see neither of these groups is being intolerant or judgmental; they are just operating as a community. Any community that did not hold it’s members accountable for specific beliefs and practices would have no corporate identity and would not really be a community at all.

[4] I think as followers of Christ we are responsible to hold each other accountable within the church (Galatians 6:1-2). Where the lines get crossed is where Christians try to hold outsiders accountable to a set of beliefs and traditions that they never signed up nor believe in.

The invitation for each of us is to abandon judgment, to abstain from condemnation, to forego punishment and pursue love. Perhaps if we can do this, we just might find less judgment. More than that, we will find meaningful conversations full of truth and grace, and more reconciliation.

[1] Kinnaman, David, and Lyons, Gabe. 2007. unChristian : What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity…and Why It Matters. Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group. Accessed September 25, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central.

[2] MacIntyre, Alasdair. After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, 2nd ed. (University of Notre Dame Press, 1988).

[3] Keller, Timothy. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. New York: Dutton, 2008.

[4] Keller, Timothy. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. New York: Dutton, 2008.

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