As one who has spent quite a bit of time studying the Bible, I would like to weigh in on the numerous attempts to apply the quote of Jesus “Judge not” to the issue of homosexual marriage or any other social issue that may arise.
To stand for or against a moral or ethical issue is not what Jesus was driving at. Indeed, he often denounced immoral or unethical behavior and pointed his followers to a higher and often much more difficult standard. And God’s boundary lines of human behavior are mapped out with clarity in the Bible.
What he was getting at with his teaching on judgment is the annoying human tendency to consider ourselves better or more worthy and even more righteous than others.
Jesus blasted this idea apart by setting the bar of what it means to be a “good person” so high that no one could reach it and declaring that, in the end, there is no one good except God himself.
Perhaps an analogy would help explain this.
Suppose we are all playing a game of volleyball.
We all know that volleyball has rules and boundary lines. We also know that if everyone made up their own rules it would result in chaos and the game would be a disaster. Nor would it be fun if one team decided the old rules of volleyball were out of style while the other team wanted to play by time honored rules laid down by whomever invented the game.
To insist on following the rules of the game, to call fouls and out of bounds would hardly be “judging” in the sense Jesus meant.
But, on our team we have players of various skill levels and those who, for one reason or another don’t quite understand how to play the game. We even have people with such bad eyesight that the boundary lines are blurred. Some play in great pain that they endure in silence and a few are fearful of the ball. They commit numerous fouls and often are a liability in the game, at least in contrast to some of the other players who have their act more together.
To rage on or condemn a fellow player because they have an injury that makes them slow to react, have poor vision, are confused about the rules or fearful of the ball is precisely what Jesus was warning against in the big game of life.
We can’t always know what difficulties our fellow creatures struggle with heroically just to play the game. They may be far braver than we would be in their position and we are burdened with our own inconsistencies and failures as well. To pretend that we are somehow superior to the rest of the rabble on our team is what Jesus’ words were cautioning us about.
What he was not trying to do was to suggest that there are no boundary lines or that everyone ought be able to change the boundary lines whenever they wanted to or that people who insist on keeping time honored boundaries are somehow judging others.
To prefer millenniums of human and biblical understanding of marriage rather than race toward politically correct social experiments that help alter the core elements of what it means to be a family is certainly not “judging.” It may actually be wise.
• Rick Bundschuh is a pastor at Kauai Christian Fellowship in Poipu.