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 January 2015
General Intention:
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.



Comments


More Living Faith

St Francis DeSales Challenges Us to Live a Life of True Devotion Watch

Image of Today in our Liturgical calendar in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, we remember St Francis DeSales (1567-1610). The Saints are all given as examples to emulate. They are our companions on the journey, men and women like us who responded to God's invitation to become like Jesus. They pray for us because we are joined with them in the eternal communion of love. They also put legs on the Gospel, showing us what holiness looks like.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

I say that devotion must be practiced in different ways by the nobleman and by the working man, by the servant and by the prince, by the widow, by the unmarried girl and by the married woman. But even this distinction is not sufficient; for the practice of ... continue reading


Hey Main Stream Media - Do Your Job! Media Bias on March for Life Watch

Image of The hundreds of thousands who gatherred in Washington, DC were virtually ignored by the mainstream media because they gave a voice to children in the womb intentionally killed by procured abortion

By Catherine Contreras

What do you get when over 500,000 people attend the March for Life in Washington DC? Yup. A biased main stream media barely covering it, again. OAKLAND, CA (Catholic Online) - On the 42nd Anniversary of Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in ... continue reading


Arlington Diocesan teachers provide English Language Learners with special support Watch

Image of Fourth-grade students work on personalized language arts activities at St. Thomas More Cathedral School in Arlington. (Christine Stoddard, The Arlington Catholic Herald)

By Christine Stoddard, The Arlington Catholic Herald

Step into Sarah Conrad's pre-kindergarten classroom at St. Thomas More Cathedral School in Arlington and you'll see the usual suspects: tiny furniture, storybooks, brightly colored posters and educational toys. But you'll also notice that laminated labels abound. ... continue reading


'Self righteousness is not going to change peoples' attitudes and save babies,' Cardinal says Watch

Image of Cardinal Sean O'Malley says that the abortion issue in the United States is a call for those of all faiths to action.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In delivering his homily at the March for Life vigil in Washington D.C., Cardinal Sean O'Malley said that indifference is the "greatest enemy" of the pro-life movement, adding that "to change people's hearts we must love them." Speaking at the Basilica of the ... continue reading


Eighth Annual Stand Up 4 Life Rally|Walk in Oakland, California! Watch

Image of Walk for Life in California

By Catherine Contreras

"If Black lives matter, they have to matter in the womb first. Because if Black lives don't matter in the womb, they don't matter anywhere else. So join us and help us speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves." - Walter B. Hoye II, Founder and President of ... continue reading


Papal Nuncio to Join Walk for Life West Coast! Watch

Image of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigaṇ

By Catherine Contreras

The Walk for Life West Coast is honored to announce that Archbishop Carlo Maria ViganĂ², the Holy Father's Ambassador to the United States, will be attending the 11th Annual Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco, on January 24, 2015. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Build a Culture of Life! A Rally Cry Was Heard In Los Angeles!

Image of Pro-lifers marched in One Life LA on January 17, 2015.

By Catherine Contreras

 A Rally Cry Was Heard in Los Angeles, California, "Build a Culture of Life! A Culture That Loves Life and That Defends Life!" The Mission of OneLifeLA is to unite communities and inspire positive action through an annual event that promotes the beauty and ... continue reading


Catholics fail to practice 'responsible parenthood' when they have too many children, Pope Francis says Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis recently praised Blessed Paul VI for defending Catholic teaching against contraception. At the same time, "this does not mean a Christian must make children one after another," the Pope added. In fact, Catholics fail to practice "responsible ... continue reading


Pope Francis confirms stops in Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia in upcoming U.S. visit Watch

Image of The papal itinerary remains in the planning stages. Organizers are already talking about appearances at the White House, the United Nations and Ground Zero, and even a Mass at Madison Square Garden.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has confirmed that his trip to the United States this fall will include stops in Washington, D.C. and New York City, in addition to Philadelphia. Francis told the press that he wishes he could enter the U.S. through the Mexican border "as a sign of ... continue reading


Announcing Ignatius Press books at Catholic Shopping .com - Start your Catholic library today!

Image of Catholic Shopping .com is proud to announce, that we are now carrying a wide selection of Ignatius Press's most popular books.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Discriminating Catholic readers will be excited to know Catholic Shopping .com now carries a wide selection of the best books from Ignatius Press. LOS ANGELES, CA - The story of Ignatius Press is one that began over thirty years ago, and a story that has not ended ... 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, Jonah 3:1-5, 10
1 The word of Yahweh was addressed to Jonah a second ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
4 DIRECT me in your ways, Yahweh, and teach me your ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 1:14-20
14 After John had been arrested, Jesus went into ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 7:29-31
29 What I mean, brothers, is that the time has become ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 25th, 2015 Image

St. Peter Thomas
January 25: Carmelite Latinpatriarch and papal legate. Peter was 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