"Don't judge me."
These three words pack a solid punch in our culture. No one likes to feel judged, especially when judged unfairly and especially when judged by religious people. Somehow, Carrie Ann Inaba and the judges with Dancing with the Stars get a pass on the "Don't judge me" cultural mandate, but you and I don't.
Our culture has several reasons for pushing back against judging: a relativism that says "to each his own," a lack of trust in authority and authority figures (the ones who judge), an awareness of the ulterior motives behind judging.
But are these biblical?
The Bible seems to have firm beliefs about some rights and wrongs. The Bible seems to honor authorities (in government, church, cosmically ---> God). But this last one ... the ulterior motives ... that has some potential.
In Romans 2, Paul rails against the hypocritical judgements in circulation at the time. Jewish Christians judged Gentile Christians for not keeping the Jewish ceremonial laws and for being sinners. But, as he begins to make his case, Paul sees that those who sit in judgement, do the same things themselves.
In this case, judging isn't about discerning right from wrong, but about elevating one group above another. "You do bad things, so you're not as valuable as us. You do bad things, so you're not as close to God as us. You do bad things, so I don't have to include you in my Good People's Club."
Frequently, this is the course that judging takes. A specific infraction or sin is identified and the offenders are knocked down a notch. Less than full citizens in the kingdom of God.
But this judging won't fly.
If we're better, it's only because of God's kindness, tolerance and patience. If we're better, it's because we have unfair advantages and are playing with a stacked deck. If we're better ...
But the reality is that most of us are not better. We're the same as those people over there, the ones we like to condemn. And the gospel of Jesus bounces us all down to the same level, the level where his grace and mercy and love abound and abound and abound.
Don't judge me. Not because there's no such thing as right and wrong. Not because all authority is corrupt and can't be trusted. Don't judge me because you and I are the same. If you judge me, you're judging yourself ... and taking the role of God.
What would change if this equality was the reason we refused to judge?