Hannah and Papa J

Hannah and Papa J

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Never trust a "non-judgmental" person

Dear Hannah,

When atheists first began to undermine the power of religion, I think they meant to keep us from arguing about all kinds of silly things.  As it turns out, we're still arguing about silly things; the difference being that now we're responsible for being silly.  Before the advent of modernism you could blame your ridiculous arguments on the idea that God had said it.  Now if we're caught in the clutches of any trendy and backward philosophy, we say it's because a man had said it.  We've gone from being idiots on accident to being idiots on purpose; and with everything bad we've lost by losing the Pope, we've added a hundred more by enthroning our professors.

It turns out many of the terrible things we took to be Christian were just as possible without Christianity, with the unfortunate result that now they are even more imbalanced.  The current catastrophe with transgenders, in which the government is making our citizens say men are women, proves you can end up like Galileo without even having the Catholics.  The difference is that the people of the Renaissance could only discover the roundness of the earth by mathematical calculations, and modern men can easily discover the difference between men and women by common observation.  Science and our most obvious natural sentiments, the first and foremost being our unwillingness to sleep with even the "prettiest" of the she-men, prove the insurmountability of the obstacles to the transgender movement; and instead of making our newest ideology the rightest, have given it the most embarrassing and fraudulent qualities of alchemy.

But I admit that with the Christians you had an entirely different problem.  For instance: whether Jesus or His translators are responsible, somebody is to blame for the wording of His passage about judging.  The fault lies in the simplicity.  Judge not, lest ye be judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

It leaves all kinds of questions unanswered.  Who will we be judged by?  What does He mean by judge?  A God who gives commandments ought to be more clear; and if anyone is obliged to do anything, he ought to have a decent definition of his obligations.  This of course is a Pharisee's answer; and it proves that the people we have grown up villainizing were not as stupid as we thought.  The definition of a workless Sabbath wouldn't have been so serious a question if it hadn't involved capital punishment*; and in this light Christ's obscurity is almost unbearable.  Disobedience might mean embarrassment at the very least.  At the very worst Christ could send you to hell.

But whether we hear it from Jesus or the liberals, a general commandment against judging is a terrifying commandment; for our entire lives are spent in judgment.  From the moment we're born we link cause and effect, associating some things with pain and others with pleasure, some things with success and other things with failure, and passing judgment on them according to experience.  We also judge things by our taste, not even expecting anything horrible out of appearances, but hating the appearances in themselves for making us feel horrible. A life without judgment is a life without happiness, without preference, without art, without pleasure.  To ask anyone to be non-judgmental is to ask them to commit suicide.  Mankind's enemy was never judgment itself, but bad judgment.  To paraphrase Charles Spurgeon, man's perennial problem is that he fails to distinguish between the things that are right and the things that seem right.  And I think most of us can agree that if we may judge things, we may just as easily judge people -- for people are very good at generating things.

And the more sensible people, measuring everything too scantily in the light of other passages (John 7:24), takes Him to mean never judging over superficialities**; while the left-wing, taking everything in the most Pharisaical literalism, takes the teaching in totality.  The trouble is that the former has a difficult time explaining which things are superficial and which are really serious***, and the latter has a very difficult time pretending that preaching the commandment isn't actually a violation of it.

But if both sides can err badly they can't both err equally.  The most enjoyable aspect of the passage is that nobody who ever took it literally was ever able to live it honestly.  Like the ridiculed Catholic monk, always whipping himself more for who he is than what he's done, the non-judgmentalist spends his life pretending penitence without ever really achieving it.  For the irony of taking the commandment literally is that taking it seriously means taking it exclusively.  And so everyone who takes the commandment literally speaks as it if was the only commandment; as if all the other rules and regulations set by Christ and the Apostles were really an adornment for the highest of the principles (and a principle which, we remind the reader, Christ personally denied was the highest of the principles). We advise anyone, if he really believes that a total commitment to non-judgmentalism is what Jesus meant by taking up your cross, to take Jesus more literally and please crucify himself.

Nearly everyone who loves the teaching forgets its subjectivity.  For instance, you can only judge something you find personally distasteful.  Everything else doesn't require the commandment; and to prove the idiocy of the left on this issue, we need only mention that we've never heard a sermon against judging racists or sexists or homophobes. It seems that some of us are entitled to preach it more than others; and further than this, that those some of us are all a very similar kind of people with a very specific code of tastes and ethics -- a kind of ethics which is itself considered non-judgmental, despite its being a code of judgments.  If we judge openly, like conservatives, we at the very least judge honestly.  But if we judge secretly like the liberals, we judge with insurpassable hypocrisy.   If the commandment to "not judge" makes us all guilty of sin, it's probably better to not add another sin on top of it.

A call to being non-judgmental is never a call to being non-judgmental, but a call for the hearer to abandon his principles for the speaker's.  There is no non-judgmental person other than a dead person, and there is no creed of non-judgmentalness other than suicide.  It turns out that our non-ethic was really just another code of ethics. The "bigot," used in the current and illiterate sense, meaning anyone who believes in the timeless and obvious principles of common sense and gender roles, was never a person with too many scruples. He was only a person with natural scruples. And it turned out that the person who was supposed to have less scruples was actually someone with worse scruples.  The non-judgmentalist devalues Western Civilization because he's afraid of insulting Africans; throws away curves because others have rolls; downplays Rembrandt because he can't bash graffiti; and talks down Byron because he's better than Biggie.  He hates virtues because others don't have any; wisdom because he's afraid of blaming foolishness; success because he courts the unsuccessful; and innocence because his pet minorities are perverts.

Instead of judging the worst people among us, he's decided to let the worst people judge us.  He pretends that by refusing to judge a few minorities he's averse to making judgments.  The truth, which he's taken so many cares to conceal, is that he's now responsible for judging the majority -- and that history will eventually mock him for judging us poorly.

Your father,

*This horrible ambiguousness can be laid nowhere other than at the feet of the legislator; and if the Bible is a revelation, one wonders why the interpretation of the Law was left to a people as dim-witted and unenlightened as the ancient Hebrews.  To anyone who disagrees with my assessment, history has yet to furnish us with an example of any people who were capable of insulting God's providence -- while being led around the desert by a pillar of fire.

**Your grandfather's position on this subject, and from what I can tell the popular interpretation of the passage, is that when Jesus said we shouldn't judge, He meant that we should judge actions instead of people.  The trouble with this is that people are inseparable from their actions; and if Augustine said we should hate the sin and love the sinner, he ought to have given us some idea of how to do it.

A reasonable expectation of a person's behavior, based on nothing other than his past behaviors, is what's commonly known as a person's character.  It may be argued that the whole meaning of the Gospel is Christ giving His life for the unworthy; but I can think of nothing less humane than asking everyone to throw away their futures out of an artificial obligation to ignore the past.  Forgiveness may be a virtue when someone is sincerely asking for it -- so long as the person who is asking for it is the person who needs forgiveness.

Another interpretation of the passage is that, regarding salvation, it ain't over 'til it's over.  Conversions, like de-conversions, are surprising things -- perhaps most of all to the converted.  Although it could also be argued that when Jesus commanded us to not throw our pearls before swine, he was assuming we could tell the difference between those who love the truths of God, and those who hate them. Still, everything is proved by the end, and evangelism, at the very least, is the act of preaching to the lost.  To give up on evangelism is not the act of giving up on men, but the act of giving up on God.

***I think it was Augustine who popularized the idea that Christians only have to agree on the most important concepts in order to be Christians.  Anyone can see the problem with this.  Whatever Augustine thinks is essential becomes essential; or in other words, so long as you agree with him, you are a Christian. A fine sentiment, making Christ die only for the people who were as enlightened as Augustine; although the argument to the contrary is equally absurd: that Christianity can be said to mean anything, and a matter so distinguishing as salvation can be said to be experienced by everybody.

I'd add that the nature of "essential" and "non-essential" revelations and morals and truths is inherently self-contradictory. There has never been a moment, to any seriously religious person, when anything revealed by God Himself is unimportant; and if we rank them in importance, we pretend that things He said were almost irrelevant.  Any really sensible person will tell you that God meant what He meant when He meant it, and this much may be true.  But is it so hard to believe that each of us, in our ignorance and our interests, personalizes Christianity for himself?  Christ Himself said that saints and devils would live in the church until the world ended and the angels sorted them out.  Even with all the safeguards of Paul and Augustine, we can play at morality and pretend at belief.  Perhaps it's best to take Him at His word on the matter.

There are passages by Jesus and Paul about food which prove my point about important and unimportant truths almost perfectly.  The kingdom of God is not of eating and drinking seems to mean that it is not what goes into the body that defiles a man, but what comes out of him.  Yet each of us knows, except the most stupid among us, that our ability to do good is severely impacted by our ability to act; and that we have the ability to ruin our abilities by making ourselves unhealthy.  Too much sugar, too much wine, not enough vegetables, and our moods sour, our smiles darken, and our energy slackens.  In short, if we have a need to do anything, we have to take the utmost care to make doing it possible; and if doing anything moral is already difficult, we have to have an interest in making it easier.  The kingdom of heaven may not be eating and drinking; but try being heavenly when you're tired and malnourished!

I think the Seventh Day Adventists have already figured all of this out, which led them to attempt a series of (unscientific) dietary restrictions; and the Puritan Richard Baxter, in The Reformed Pastor, alongside prescriptions for preaching and study, ordained exercise as a heavenly duty.  All morality, when properly applied, is divine.  All recognition of truth, however small it seems, is as good as inspiration.


  1. very well written. I enjoyed your insights.

  2. Just discovered your site. Very interesting investigations of reason and emotion as well as the philosophy of the moral. Will be back