Jun 15, 2021 Print this article

Does the Bible Really Say You Can’t Judge?

If you stand up for moral values, eventually, you will be accused of “judging.”  For most postmodern liberals, the only sin that still counts is judging.  The only wrong is to believe that something can ever be wrong.

But is it really a sin to judge?  When is it wrong? And how do you answer the “don’t be judgmental” charge?

The short answer is simple.

You say:  “If judging is always wrong, as you claim it is, then it must be wrong for you to judge me for judging, right?”

But liberals have selective memory when it comes to Holy Scripture.  They quote the passage "Judge not, that you may not be judged" (Matt 7:1) yet they ignore its context.  In the very same chapter, Our Lord commands us to judge: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves" (Matt 7:15).  Jesus also said: "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment" (John 7:24).

Although God alone knows and judges the hearts of men, we can and should judge actions according to right reason and the Law of God.

In fact, Saint Paul teaches that "the spiritual man judgeth all things" (1 Cor. 2:15).  The Apostle tells us not to keep company with sinners.  "…if any man that is named a brother, be a fornicator, or covetous, or a server of idols, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner: with such a one, not so much as to eat. For what have I to do to judge them that are without? Do not you judge them that are within? For them that are without, God will judge. Put away the evil one from among yourselves" (1 Cor. 5:11-13).

The great Catholic scholar, Fr. Cornelius a Lapide, S.J., explains that judging becomes sinful when it is rash, malignant, envious, and detractive – vices repugnant to charity and justice and “to God Himself, whose office of judgement is usurped.” If we have an evil opinion of our neighbor, we injure him, and “we take away his good fame if we let this judgment go abroad; for reputation is a great good, greater far than riches.”

Fr. a Lapide brings Saint Augustine’s brilliant commentary into the discussion:

“Concerning those things, then, which are known to God, unknown to us, we judge our neighbours at our peril. Of this the Lord hath said, Judge not. But concerning things which are open and public evils, we may and ought to judge and rebuke, but still with charity and love, hating not the man, but the sin, detesting not the sick man, but the disease. For unless the open adulterer, thief, habitual drunkard, traitor, were judged and punished, that would be fulfilled which the blessed martyr Cyprian hath said, ‘He who soothes a sinner with flattering words, administers fuel to his sin.’”

Therefore, not only is it licit to judge people’s actions, but it’s also a spiritual work of mercy to admonish the sinner.  As Catholics, we should always speak the truth with charity.