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'Quick Help' Page: Does 'Judge Not...' Mean We Can't Judge Something As Sinful?

 

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Arrow Question / Issue:

Does 'judge not lest ye be judged' mean we are not to judge something as sinful?

 

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We have to judge actions (objectively speaking) as good or bad/sinful – this is required of us by God. For example, it would not be possible to live up to biblical precepts such those below if people could not judge actions (objectively) as sinful...

"Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lk. 17:3)

"If your brother sins (against you), go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that 'every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 18:15-17)

"If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray." (St. John, 1 Jn. 5:16)

"Reprimand publicly those who do sin, so that the rest also will be afraid." (St. Paul to Timothy, 1 Tm. 5:20)

"After a first and second warning, break off contact with a heretic, realizing that such a person is perverted and sinful and stands self-condemned." (St. Paul, Ti. 3:10)

"But I now write to you not to associate with anyone named a brother, if he is immoral, greedy, an idolater, a slanderer, a drunkard, or a robber, not even to eat with such a person. For why should I be judging outsiders? Is it not your business to judge those within? God will judge those outside. 'Purge the evil person from your midst.'" (St. Paul, 1 Cor. 5:11-13, emphasis added)

While we must judge actions as sinful (objectively speaking), we should not judge hearts or judge individuals as guilty of sin (see here for more information).


DR FOOTNOTES

Regarding St. Matthew's Gospel (Chapter 7), "Judge not, that you may not be judged...", consider the following footnotes quoted directly from the Douay Rheims Bible...

"CHAP. VII. VER. 1. Judge not, or condemn not others rashly, that you may not be judged or condemned. Wi.--S. Jerom observes, Christ does not altogether forbid judging, but directs us how to judge. Where the thing does not regard us, we should not undertake to judge. Where it will bear a favourable interpretation, we should not condemn. Magistrates and superiors, whose office and duty require them to judge faults, and for their prevention to condemn and punish them, must be guided by evidence, and always lean towards the side of mercy, where there are mitigating circumstances. Barefaced vice and notorious sinners should be condemned and reprobated by all. A.--In this place, nothing more is meant than that we should always interpret our neighbour's actions in the most favourable light. God permits us to judge of such actions as cannot be done with a right intention, as murder. As to indifferent actions, we must always judge in the most favourable sense. There are two things in which we must be particularly on our guard: 1. With what intention such an action was done. 2. Whether the person who appears wicked will not become good. S. Jerom.

VER. 2. This rule, which God will infallibly follow, should put a check to the freedom with which we so frequently condemn our neighbour. A.--As we behave towards our neighbours, interpreting their actions with charitableness, and excusing their intentions with mildness; or, on the contrary, judging them with severity, and condemning them without pity; so shall we receive our judgment. M.--As the pardon of our sins is proportioned to the pardon we afford to others, so also will our judgment be proportioned to the judgment we pass on others. If our neighbour be surprised by sin, we must not reproach or confound him for it, but mildly admonish him. Correct your brother, not as an enemy, taking revenge, but as a physician, administering appropriate remedies, assisting him with prudent counsels, and strengthening him in the love of God. Chry. hom. xxiii.

VER. 3. 'Mote and beam,' light and grievous sins. M.

VER. 5. Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam, &c. Correct first thy own greater faults, before thou censure the lesser failings of others. Wi."


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