Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon F. K. Bartels

8/17/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The new pagans of this age labor to guard their false philosophies by annihilating judgment. Even Christians can be swayed by their influence. The Bible, however, does not prohibit objective moral judgment of others, but rather encourages it. Jesus Christ himself urges brotherly and fraternal correction (see Mt 18:15).

Some think silence is best in the face of grave sin. But that is a serious error. We are not helping our brothers or sisters by withholding the truth. Souls can be lost by silence taken as approval. If we say we have not sinned, we make God a liar (1 Jn 1:10), which means we all need correction, admonishment and support. A dose of wisdom is light to the soul. The idea that we harm a friend by speaking the truth is perhaps one of the greatest errors of the age.

Highlights

By Deacon F. K. Bartels

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/17/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Judgment, moral discernment, choosing, human free will, free will, objective judgment, judgmental, condemnatory, Deacon F. K. Bartels


GLADE PARK, CO (Catholic Online) -- A correct understanding of judgment--that is, the process of moral discernment in which a determination is made of whether a particular human action or lack of it is morally right or wrong, good or bad--has become so diluted in the contemporary age of the "new paganism" that, as Peter Kreeft writes, the only judgment remaining "is the judgment against judging."

The new pagans who battle against judgment fail to abide by their own precepts, however. While their final ruling is, apparently, the adamant refusal to judge anyone for anything, they refuse to play by the rules of their own making. People who disagree with their take on things are unhesitatingly judged, at the least, to be in error, and, most often, to be "intolerant religious bigots."

The distortion of what it means to judge has led also to a distortion of what it means to be tolerant. The tolerance of the age is a false tolerance: it happily tolerates the intolerable and roundly condemns a consistent respect and conviction for goodness and human dignity.

The first and most terrifying example that comes to mind is legalized abortion. The new pagans shout "judge not" in their support of the intentional killing of innocent unborn children. However, those who point out that a consistent respect for human life and the dignity of every human person is gravely contradicted by the evil of legalized abortion are quickly judged to be "moralist radicals" who are intolerant of "women's reproductive rights." Dare not ask, "Since when is killing children radical?" for then you are being "judgmental."

Perhaps this attitude in favor of annihilating judgment makes some feel a little better about themselves. After all, if one must not judge the actions of others, one must not judge his own actions either. Judgment is simply off limits. Whether interior or exterior; whether looking within or without; it is something that must be done away with.

But it cannot be done away with. Everyone, whether consciously or unconsciously, makes decisions about what is good or bad for themselves and for others. We would not get out of bed in the morning unless we judged that particular action to be in some way good. If we thought it harmful to leave the covers, we would remain cautiously snuggled underneath.

The human person is "wired" to make moral judgments, to decide what is right or wrong, good or bad, to discern situations and circumstances. If we were incapable of judging, we would also be incapable of choosing, which would then mean we lacked free will. No longer would the human person be a rational animal, but an irrational one enslaved by instinct. We are, however, created in God's image and likeness and given the gift of free will. We are made to make judgments in order to determine what is good and avoid evil, and thus find our way to the ultimate, infinite and perfect good who is God.

The important thing to remember is that humankind does not create moral laws. Judgment does not originate in or from man. Relativism is dangerous because it is founded on the false notion that man determines what is true for himself. Given humankind's tendency toward sin, relativism puts everyone and everything at risk. Nevertheless, divine law, moral law--these originate in the Creator, in God. We achieve our destiny and judge correctly when we align our actions and moral decisions in accordance with God and his goodness.

In the normal course of a day we make many determinations of what is right or wrong, good or evil. The problem arises when people begin to think that their actions are above judgment or that they must never objectively judge the actions of others. These types of ideas lead to all manner of errors and social sin.

It is necessary to here point out that we are not speaking of subjective judgment of the state of a person's soul. Will someone enjoy eternal life in communion with God? Is my neighbor saved? We do not know and cannot know. Only God knows. However, we do know when a particular human action, such as murder, rape, theft, fornication and so forth, is objectively immoral or sinful.

Some think silence is best in the face of grave sin. But that is a serious error. We are not helping our brothers or sisters by withholding the truth. Souls can be lost by silence taken as approval. If we say we have not sinned, we make God a liar (1 Jn 1:10), which means we all need correction, admonishment and support. A dose of wisdom is light to the soul. The idea that we harm a friend by speaking the truth is perhaps one of the greatest errors of the age.

It may come as a surprise to some Christians that, when the Gospel is taken as a whole in its proper context, we are called by God to discern by the light of faith our actions and the actions of others. In fact, we are to, in a balanced way and within certain limits, voice our opposition to sin (especially grave sin) with the aim of the salvation of another's soul in mind. This, of course, does not mean nitpicking someone for a minor fault of human weakness; nor does it mean constantly pointing fingers, or being rashly judgmental or condemnatory; it does not in any way favor inappropriate harshness but rather charity, compassion, concern and love; and it most certainly does not mean attempting to correct the faults of another while refusing to examine and correct our own.

When Christians speak about refusing to judge others, they often impartially quote the verses from either Matthew chapter 7 or Luke chapter 6 that speak about judgment. Both are very similar.

In Luke (6:37) Jesus says, "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned" (Lk 6:37). If we take this verse in context of what comes before and after, however, we find that the overarching message is one of mercy, forgiveness and love for enemies. While Jesus is condemning rash judgment, his words are not a total condemnation of judging whether particular actions are good or evil. We know this because he goes on to speak about removing the "log" from our eye before attempting to remove the "speck" from another's eye. Once one begins to live a life of holiness, seeing clearly, he can then indeed assist his brother in removing the "speck" that is in his eye (41-42). There is indeed a place for speaking the truth and for fraternal correction.

We know Jesus does not condemn attempts to correct sinful actions because he tells us that "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone" (Mt. 18:15). Here we have one of the most important and revealing narrations concerning proper judgment as well as the authority given the Church by God himself.

Jesus goes on to say: "If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the Church; and if he refuses to listen even to the Church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector" (18:15-17).

Recall that the Jews viewed Gentiles and tax collectors as outsiders who were to be shunned and avoided. Jesus himself, then, encourages strong admonishment, if necessary, but it is to be always tempered with mercy and with the aim in mind of spiritual healing and the achievement of unity. In fact, to help someone to be healed spiritually through encouraging free and loving obedience to the truth is itself an act of love.

We find another example with St. Paul, who wrote, "Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart" (1 Cor 4:5). Here, however, Paul is speaking of criticisms made by others of his own ministry. He is not denouncing proper, objective judgment against sinful actions.

We know Paul does not advocate a total refusal to properly judge within the right context, since he tells us elsewhere to let "the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom" (Col. 3:16).

In Paul's letter to the Ephesians we read: "Take no part in the works of darkness, but instead expose them" (5:11). Turning our back in silence does nothing to expose works of darkness.

In the letter of St. James, we learn that fraternal correction is a work of mercy: "My brethren, if any one among you wanders from the truth and some one brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins" ((5:19-20).

Article 1868 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us, "Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them: - by participating directly and voluntarily in them; - by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them; - by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so; by protecting evil-doers."

Clearly, one purpose of our life is to labor to heal others. To judge correctly and with charity in order to assist and guide our brothers and sisters along on their pilgrim journey is in itself a great gift. The wise person embraces fraternal correction, for he knows it is for the good of his soul. He listens intently and carefully, eagerly following sound Christian advice that is in accordance with the will of God.

Perhaps all of this is best put into perspective if we recall that we are family. Family watches out for family. Family takes care of family.

If we are family, then we are, too, friends. Friends speak openly and sincerely from the heart. They do not hide what should not be hidden; nor do they refuse to speak about what must be spoken of. Above all, friends help each other.

-----

Deacon Fred Bartels serves the Diocese of Pueblo, Colorado as a member of the Catholic Clergy. He has been married to his wife Shelly for twenty eight years and they have four children. Deacon F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer and deacon who knows his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever receive. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at joyintruth.com 

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More Living Faith

Pope Francis denounces ongoing global conflict as 'piecemeal' World War III Watch

Image of Pope Francis, who has often condemned the concept of war in God's name, said it would be legitimate for the international community to use force to stop

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In his visit to the Redipuglia monument, the resting place of 1000,000 Italian soldiers killed during World War I, Pope Francis condemned ongoing conflicts across the globe. "Humanity needs to weep and this is the time to weep. Even today, after the second ... continue reading


Fr Peter M. J. Stravinskas on the Exaltation of the Holy Cross Watch

Image of Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D. is the Executive Director of the Catholic Education Foundation.

By Fr Peter M. J. Stravinskas,Ph.D., S.T.D.

Every cross borne by any believer in history gains meaning and becomes life-giving when it is brought into a relationship with the Cross, the Cross from which Jesus reigned as the King of Love and over which He triumphed in His glorious Resurrection.  The ... continue reading


Two U.S. priests appointed by Pope Francis to address clergy sexual abuse Watch

Image of Father Oliver had previously served as a judge and promoter of justice in Boston tribunals and as a consultant to the Boston archdiocesan review board.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Addressing the sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has appointed two U.S. priests to top positions at the Vatican. Father Robert W. Oliver, from Boston and Jesuit Father Robert J Geisinger, a member of the Chicago-Detroit ... continue reading


The truth about climate change

Image of Pope Benedict is known as the 'Green Pope' because of statements he has made on the environment. Pope Francis is also said to be working on an encyclical about the environment.

By Tony Magliano

"Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change .  loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the ... continue reading


Cardinal George compares forcing of sexual agenda to Sharia law Watch

Image of Cardinal George compared American culture and government to Sharia law in the way it treats mainstream Christians.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Cardinal George has criticized the imposition of a "public creed" to force acceptance of sexual depravity across the nation, enforced with the power of law. Cardinal George compared the forcing to Sharia law in some countries. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Head ... continue reading


Jesus Spent the Night In Prayer. Maybe We Should Follow His Example Watch

Image of Prayer is the most effective form of action for a Christian.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

What jumped off the page as I proclaimed the Gospel is the importance and priority of prayer. Before Jesus made this historic and eternal decision he spent the entire night in prayer. I know that in His Sacred humanity he shows us the pattern for our own lives. ... continue reading


Pope Francis, Vatican actively pursuing better relations with Mainland China Watch

Image of The status of the Church in Mainland China has long been a bone of contention between the Vatican and Chinese officials.

By Catholic Online - (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While as a nation it remains largely inscrutable and resilient to criticism in regards to human rights, Mainland China, along with both the Vatican and Pope Francis is now pursuing improved relations. The Pope hopes to warm their relationship and someday ... continue reading


Healing our Fractured Freedom Watch

Image of Christianity is the religion of freedom

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Let us consciously reflect on our own choices today. What informs our daily decisions? Do we seek to inform the exercise of our freedom with the truth? Are we aware of the effect of sin in our daily lives? Are we struggling against it and taking advantage of ... continue reading


We Do Not Shop for a Church, the Church is a Gift Watch

Image of The Church is not a commodity but a communion, a call into the very inner communion of the Trinity through Jesus Christ!

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

I understand that some people have been dissatisfied with their experiences of what is presented as Church in some circles. That was clear in a program that I listened to on my way home from Washington,DC.  However, the very notion that we can shop for a ... continue reading


Controversial Chick-fil-A founder dies at 93 Watch

Image of Fiercely Southern Baptist, S. Truett Cathy taught Sunday school to 13-year-old boys for more than 50 years.

By Catholic Online - (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Fiercely Southern Baptist, S. Truett Cathy taught Sunday school to 13-year-old boys for more than 50 years. The founder of the Chick-fil-A freely mixed his faith with his multi-billion dollar business, Chick fil-A. He took many unpopular stands that lost him ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Numbers 21:4-9
4 They left Mount Hor by the road to the Sea of Suph, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 78:1-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38
1 [Psalm Of Asaph] My people, listen to my teaching, ... Read More

Gospel, John 3:13-17
13 No one has gone up to heaven except the one who ... Read More

Reading 2, Philippians 2:6-11
6 Who, being in the form of God, did not count ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 14th, 2014 Image

St. Notburga
September 14: Patroness of poor peasants and servants in the Tyrol. Born in ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter