You know what is weird to me?
It’s weird to me that the church is so anti-legalism and anti-judgmentalism……that they are judgmental about it.
I have always found that ironic.
Growing up, we frequently had people accusing us of legalism and judgmentalism. Looking back, I can understand more of why they perceived it that way, although I still think that in many cases they were wrong.
What they were definitely wrong about though? They were definitely wrong about a couple things
1. Lumping us all together. Because our family as a unit did or practiced certain things, therefore all of our hearts were legalistic and we were judging all other people who did differently. This doesn’t even make sense. All people are unique individuals and all people are at different points in their walks with God. Maybe we were all legalistic. Maybe half of us were. Maybe only one of us was. Maybe none of us was. To say that all of us were legalistic is a huge assumption.
2. Judging our hearts. I have seen this so many times. It hits me pretty hard because I have been personally attacked so many times. It hurts a lot to be accused and it can be so hard to get false accusations out of your head and heart. Judging the status of people’s hearts before God is going a bit far.
People assumed the motivation behind our choices.
People were upset at us for judging them.
People talked about us behind our backs and said painful things.
People wouldn’t even talk to us to ask why we did what we did. They assumed.
In short…people judged us for our conservative choices. Our whole family was a taboo. My husband had a couple people telling him he should not marry me because of a few specific things. That weren’t even true. I thank God that the Pilot didn’t listen to them and instead got to know me and got to know the truth.
Did I have legalism in my life? Yes. But I think that the situations in which I was legalistic would surprise most people. I still have people who have painted me into a box and refuse to see any other colors on the canvas. Preconceived ideas and notions keep people from getting to know me.
Why are people labeled as judgmental and legalistic just for being conservative?
And why is it ok to judge people’s conservative choices?
And why is it ok to judge conservatives for judging you?
I get that it is a complicated issue. I get that a lot of times conservative choices can be legalistic. (News flash: Choices made in the name of “Christian liberty” can also be legalistic!) I get that there is a lot of baggage surrounding the whole issue.
But judgment isn’t the answer. To accuse someone of legalism, especially without knowing the facts or the state of their heart, is judgmentalism.
If you are concerned about someone, by all means talk to them. Please do not make accusations. Do not talk behind their back. Do not assume.
And please be careful casting the first stone. Legalism comes in many forms, and so does judgmentalism.
Standards, conservative or not, come down to a person’s personal relationship with God. We ought not judge “liberal” people or “conservative” people simply for making choices that are different from ours.
I understand this post could seem ironic. I don’t intend to judge others in my comments about judging. 😉 I merely hope to spark conversation or perhaps cause each of us to stop and think about our thoughts and words toward others.
Interesting. I grew up in a rather legalistic family too. We judged others and maybe we were judged as well… as an adult, I’ve come to realize how much judgement can hurt others and I try to be aware of that tendency to judge others and to stop it. However, I agree with you that lumping people together and judging them that way is always wrong. I’ve experienced that as a homeschooler (all homeschoolers are, of course, poorly socialized and blah blah) and as a Catholic (before I joined the Church, I had my judgements about what they believed – and I was wrong). I think you’re right that we need to get to know others and to view others as unique individuals, and to put aside the judgements in favour of relationships. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.
“If you are concerned about someone, by all means talk to them.” – This right here. And frankly, I would go past if you are just concerned. to you hear a rumor and would like to know if it’s true. Talk to the person- they might not even know that rumor is going around because no one has talked to them! (A couple years went by before I learned that ‘most’ people thought I was dating a certain individual from our church. I was furious, no one had asked *me*! And they were just spreading it and assuming it and to this day, I have never dated that person. Ahem- rant over)
A great reminder post, and so I just don’t keep ranting going to stop there.
Great thoughts, great reminders.
I think it’s important to realize that ALL our hearts are both legalistic and lawless. Sometimes we swing one direction and sometimes another, but our hearts are eager to anything but to willingly submit to God (both His law and His grace). The judgment comes in when we forget that *I* am prone to wander, that *my* heart is desperately wicked.
I know past experiences play a definite role in how we interpret other people’s choices as well. I grew up in a moderately conservative church, but one with definite taboos – alcohol, “non-Christian” music, spaghetti strap tops, two piece swimsuits, dating. These were not publicly declared to be a basis of our right standing with God – and, if confronted, everyone would completely deny such a suggestion. But if someone was engaging with any of the taboos? They were definitely not in right standing with God. (Which, of course, brings up the question of what the fruits of salvation are…) Because of my experiences there (for example, a parishioner who was appalled that we danced to non-Christian music at my brother’s wedding – we were charismatic, so dancing was okay, just not outside of church :-P), it’s sometimes hard for me to see past that to the many reasons people do or do not engage in those practices.
Another example of past experience affecting current perceptions is how I view Bill Gothard’s seminars. I attended both the Basic and Advanced Life Seminars in my early teens, when my legalistic heart was just begging for rules to follow to make me feel like I was in good standing before God. As a result, I zeroed in on rules and have no memory of the gospel being declared or grace extended. Does that mean the gospel wasn’t declared or grace not extended? I don’t know. A part of me wants to go again so I can listen with a different heart (another part thinks I don’t have time for that!)
So…after all that. Judgment, yes. It is definitely a problem in the church (myself included). Which is just another reason why we all need to constantly be reminding ourselves of the gospel – that we have been saved by grace, not because of works, but because of God’s great love. That we are sinners, ever wandering from God. That nothing we do can change our standing before God – because that is established in Christ rather than us. If we are continually steeping in the gospel for ourselves, I think it makes it easier (although even then, we still fail) to apply the gospel to how we view others.