It was just supposed to be a cute little tweet:
Then my brain asked me an annoying question: When did ‘who are you to judge me?’ become our cultural rallying cry? This led me to reread the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8).
Fear of Judgment has been at the heart of our human condition ever since we gained the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden. What is new is how our culture is trying to address our FEAR of JUDGEMENT.
The first act of the newly “woke” Adam and Eve was to sew fig leaves and cover their nakedness. Then when they heard the Lord God, they hid from Him. Adam explained that “I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” Fear entered the Garden. They were afraid of being judged. Once Adam and Eve gained the knowledge of good and evil, they sought to hide themselves from God and each other. This Fear of Judgement has plagued our relationships ever since.
However, over the past century we have sought a new way to diminish this fear. Rather than seeking to address our FEAR, we have tried to lessen the JUDGMENT. As a result, what has emerged is what sociologists call Moral Relativistic Non-judgmentalism. At its core is a desire for autonomy and independence, like Adam and Eve. We want to be sole arbitrators of good and evil. However, this autonomous relativism fails to define any substantive virtues within a person, but rather it has resolute determination to not have any substantive values. Therefore, “Who are you to judge?” attempts to challenge any singular thread of moralism. It deconstructs everything saying that there are no values that are universally true within the human condition. It never reconstructs.
Back to my original tweet; any preteen daughter, however, knows that is not true. My middle-aged man attempts to be cool are appropriately met with judgmental eyes and snide comments. She is right, I really shouldn’t use words like “woke” or use emojis or try to sing Old Town Road.
So rather than trying to attack this Fear of Judgement by perpetuating the myth of moralistic relativism by saying “Do Not Judge” we should join the Biblical witness that lessens this by focusing on the repeated biblical phrase “Do Not Fear.” Instead of minimizing the judgment, we should aleviate the fear.
For those of us who are in Christ Jesus, we have nothing to fear, because Jesus Christ came to take the judgment for us.
It is not that the wrath of God, the scorn of our sin, and the humiliation of our lives has gone away; it is that Jesus took that wrath, scorn and humiliation upon Himself for our sake. This is why we do not need to fear judgment. Not because the judgment is gone, but because the judgment has been satisfied.
Therefore, rather than saying “who are you to judge,” we need to be constantly reminding ourselves to have no fear because of grace.
In John 8, a woman caught in the act of adultery was brought before Jesus while he was teaching in the Temple courts. Unlike Eve who hid from God in the garden beneath fig leaves, this woman is dragged out of hiding before the Son of God having been caught in the act of sex outside of marriage. Her sin has become apparent.
There she stood feeling the weight of her sin, the scorn of her community, the humiliation of her nakedness, and the community’s wrath-filled desire to stone her to death. All eyes are upon her, when Jesus simply squats down and starts drawing in the dirt. He takes the attention off of her and onto Himself because He knows one day He will be dragged naked, beaten, mocked, spat upon, humiliated and nailed to a cross through this very same Temple Court. He humbles Himself by taking the judgment she felt upon His shoulder, then He rises up and:
…said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
Notice three things
- Jesus does not ask “who are you all to judge her decision?” He does not diminish the judgment; he simply states that the sinless one may stone her. He allows the Law of Moses to remain intact.
- The sinless One–Jesus–is the only one who has the moral right to stone her to death for her behavior. He, however, chooses to show her grace; grace means “getting what you do not deserve.” In order to fully comprehend the depth of grace, however, it requires that we realize we do not deserve it. The only way to fully comprehend that depth requires that we do not diminish the impact of sin in our lives through moralistic relativism.
- This is why Jesus never says, “Oh, what you did isn’t that bad” (minimizing sin); “Oh, at least you weren’t like Bar Jonas” (comparing sin); “Oh, adultery isn’t a sin” (denying sin). Rather Jesus never shies away from calling sin sin. Instead, he defangs the power of sin in our lives through His Grace.
Therefore, I invite you into my life to judge away my friends because I live under the banner of Grace and am no longer afraid: