I should be careful what I say here because I’m still in process. What I mean to say is that I’m still learning how to not judge others.
We should make it clear what we mean by “Judgment” here. The way we use the word in English, it could mean to things. A “judgment” could be an assessment or decision leading to action based on available information. We could also use the word to speak of condemnation, usually to the end of a stern punishment, usually because we view the “judged” as bad in some way.
There are problems with me making myself a judge. Even if all I want to do is assess a person, in spite of all my efforts, I will never have all the facts. Lots of facts maybe, but I will never be able to fully inhabit another person’s experience. Assessing a person isn’t always so harmful, but should still be done with caution and humility.
Besides that, one must always ask why they are assessing a person. Is it to help them? Good! Is it to label them? What good does that do?
I am most certainly unqualified to make myself a judge who makes condemnations. The reason? I just don’t have that much inherent righteousness or strength to stand on. Deep down, I have brokenness, weakness, fear, meanness, and an incomplete understanding. Everyone has these things. Do I see someone living a way I can’t understand and don’t like and that offends me? Perhaps if I’d have the same life factors as that person, I’d be living the same way. Do I have a strength where they have a weakness? Likely they have a perspective where I have an ignorance.
This concept began to make sense to me as I came to terms with my sexuality. Perhaps I would have come to this conclusion anyway, but for me, my sexual orientation was the starting point.
There was this thing about me, me being gay, that just didn’t fit in the circles I was in. Made me feel different, at times isolated, often lonely, and there were those years of self-hate. I am fortunate not to have been overtly persecuted or harassed for my way of being…for the most part. There are a few stories I could tell.
My point in all this is to say that now I see that I am not better than anyone else. I have some good strengths and some serious weaknesses. I have a unique story and unique situation. I have done the best I could with what I knew.
Just like everyone else.
I’m not perfect at this…I still tend to condemn people I perceive as close-minded and unthinking, those who I think hide away from the world. All in my head. And it’s not good. But I’d like to think that I’m getting better at thinking more compassionately toward people and then speaking more compassionately toward people.
Being gay and being Christian has taught me to appreciate grace and that I should be liberal in the giving of that grace. What do I have that no one else has? I certainly don’t have the right to condemn.