The Heresy of "Don't Judge -- Be Nice"

Rocco Marconi - Christ and the Adulteress, circa 1525

It's a popular narrative from the eighth chapter of John's gospel (John 8:1-11). A woman is caught in the very act of adultery. She is dragged before Jesus by the scribes and Pharisees, so as to put Jesus to a test. They wanted to see what he would do with her. The Torah (Law of the Jews) from the Old Testament dictated that she be stoned. (My question is: where was the man she committed adultery with? They're both guilty.) Contrite and broken, the woman lay prostrate before Jesus, obviously sorry and penitent for her sin. He told the scribes and Pharisees they were right. The Torah does command that she be stoned to death, for that is the lawful penalty of adultery, and that he who is without sin should cast the first stone. Jesus then began writing in the sand. The Scriptures don't tell us what he was writing, but many believe it was the Ten Commandments, which of course all of us have broken at some time in our lives. One by one, they all dropped their stones and walked away. Then Jesus asked the woman: "Where did they go, has no one condemned you?" She answered: "No one, Lord." Jesus replied: "Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more."

It's that last phrase that is the key to the whole thing. "Go and sin no more." With that one statement, which he used many times, Jesus made it crystal clear that sin is a real thing, that he does not condone it in any way, and that if people are truly penitent, they should stop doing it. Sadly, it seems that this one point is lost on a growing number of Catholics today.

It's a term ChurchMilitant.Com has been using for many years now -- "The Church of Nice" -- but I don't think I fully understood it until recently. The Catholic Church is in the midst of the greatest crisis it has seen since the Arian Heresy. I do believe what is going on right now is catastrophic, and could very well result in a massive schism in the very near future, outside of some kind of divine intervention. When I say massive, I mean MASSIVE, such as the likes we have not seen since the Protestant Reformation. It may even dwarf that schism in comparison.

I am talking about the Church of Nice here. What is the Church of Nice? Well, let me tell you. It's not Catholic. Unfortunately, however, it is currently joined at the hip with the Catholic Church in the United States. What is it? Well, here it is in a nutshell...
The Church of Nice consists of those Catholics who believe, in the most sincere way, that the message of the Gospel is simply "don't judge others and be nice." 
That's it. That's the Church of Nice in a nutshell. The whole concept of sin, atonement, redemption, repentance and sanctification mean absolutely nothing to these people. They truly believe, in their heart of hearts, that the only thing Jesus really taught us is to never judge anyone or anything, and just be nice to people.

So that means we never judge sin as sin. We never tell people they're doing anything wrong. We never speak of anything as being wrong. And we are always just sweet and syrupy to each other, all the time, and pretend everything is fine. That is the Church of Nice.

Would it shock you if I said that MILLIONS of Catholics in America actually believe this? What if I told you that number was actually in the TENS OF MILLIONS? What if I told you that no less than HALF of all Catholics in the United States are full, active and participating members of the Church of Nice.

Now what if I told you the Church of Nice is built on an absolute heresy called Moral Relativism. What is Moral Relativism? It's a heresy that says that there are no actual God-given standards of absolute right and wrong. Morality is rather defined by social norms. So whatever society views as socially acceptable, that is considered "right." While as whatever society views as socially unacceptable, that is considered "wrong." Because society is always changing, so is morality. Therefore, there can be no moral absolutes. A good example of this is when people scoff at a traditional Christian virtue, and say something like: "Come on! It's the 21st century!"

Since when is morality determined by looking at a calendar?

Nevertheless, that is exactly what moral relativists want us to think. The calendar says 2017, so therefore we are supposed to change our moral standards now?

Of course, time isn't the only thing that relativists use as a moral compass. They also use geography. Standards of right and wrong can be determined by where you live too. For example; in Western countries its okay for a woman to leave her head uncovered, but in the Middle East, that's morally unacceptable. So therefore Western women should cover their heads when visiting there. These are the two big things moral relativists use to determine morality. Culture might be another one. But after all is said and done, the moral relativist subscribes to the notion that what is right for you may be wrong for me, and vice versa, what is wrong for you may be right for me.

Moral relativism is an extremely common and pernicious heresy which is widely believed outside of the Church, but inside the Church it has an equally powerful influence. It manifests itself in the ever popular "don't judge" mantra as well as the equally popular "be nice" mantra. Why is it so pervasive within the Church? I'll tell you why. Because too many priests use those exact same words, and repeat them constantly, as their own mantra. I've heard it with my own ears folks, from the lips of many priests, more times than I can count. Pity it's a heresy.

So did Jesus really tell us: "don't judge and be nice?" Well, not exactly. You see, it's actually a bit more nuanced than that. On the one hand, Jesus did say the following...
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgement you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. 
-- Matthew 7:1-5
This is the verse most commonly cited to back the "don't judge" mantra. But what exactly was Jesus talking about here? Was he saying we can never judge anything at all? Well, that would be silly! How could we know what is right and wrong if we can never judge anything? While "don't judge" Catholics are so quick to point out Matthew 7:1-5, they fail to see what Jesus said about judging in John's gospel...
Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement.  
-- John 7:24
So in Matthew's gospel, Jesus told us not to judge. But in John's gospel, he specifically told us to judge, and judge righteously! What gives? To judge or not to judge? That is the question. Or is Jesus just contradicting himself?

John's passage makes it clear that we are not to judge according to appearance. In other words, we're not to make judgements based on insufficient information. St. Paul elaborates on this in his first epistle to Timothy...
The sins of some men are conspicuous, pointing to judgement, but the sins of others appear later. So also good deeds are conspicuous; and even when they are not, they cannot remain hidden. 
-- 1 Timothy 5:24-25
In other words, St. Paul warns us that sometimes things are not always as they seem. People can hide their sins, but they can't hide them forever. Just as good deeds will reveal themselves eventually, so will people's sins. Sooner or later the truth catches up with us all. So we shouldn't judge prematurely, or with insufficient information. Nevertheless, we are still expected to judge, both by Jesus Christ and St. Paul.

So from this alone we know that we can judge, but we must judge righteously, not prematurely or with insufficient information. So what then was Jesus talking about in Matthew's gospel when he told us not to judge at all? Again, St. Paul elaborates...
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, whoever you are, when you judge another; for in passing judgement upon him you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. We know that the judgement of God rightly falls upon those who do such things. Do you suppose, O man, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgement of God? 
-- Romans 2:1-3
Hypocrisy is the key here. If we look at Jesus' words in Matthew 7, and compare them with St. Paul's words in Romans 2, the whole passage against judging starts to make a lot more sense. Jesus is condemning hypocrisy! He did this so many times in his ministry. He's not condemning judging per se'. Rather, he's condemning the ever popular practice of condemning others for something you yourself do. You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. In other words, you can make a judgement about another person, provided you check yourself first, and make sure you're not doing the exact same type of thing. But wait, there is more.

We also should not judge people in matters of private opinion...
As for the man who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not for disputes over opinions. One believes he may eat anything, while the weak man eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains pass judgement on him who eats; for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgement on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Master is able to make him stand. 
-- Romans 14:1-4
Actually, this is a pretty big problem. While men are not innocent of this, I do personally find that this is a particular problem among women. Women often tend to judge each other over the most petty things: clothing, makeup, mannerisms, hairstyles, jewellery, personal habits, talking too much, not talking enough, shyness, boldness, etc., etc., etc.. Yes, men can be guilty of this too, but let's face it ladies, it's usually the fairer sex who do this more often.

Still yet, the Church of Nice, meaning the "don't judge" Catholics, will use Jesus' words in Matthew 7 to condemn anyone attempting to call out another for blatantly sinful behaviour. Today, this is most prevalent in the Homosexualist Movement, as we saw recently in The Paprocki Affair. They hold Jesus' strong prohibition against judging as a shield to cover their evil deeds. "Don't judge me" they wail, "you hateful bigot! Jesus said not to judge!" As I've already pointed out above, while he did say this in regards to hypocritical judging in Matthew 7, he also commanded his followers to "judge righteously" in John 7. So clearly Jesus DID NOT prohibit all judging. Again, St. Paul helps to clear this up...
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 
-- Ephesians 5:11
Here St. Paul explicitly tells Christians to "expose" works of darkness. What else could he mean by this than to point out when others are doing something wrong? What else could he mean but judging? Indeed, that's exactly what he's talking about. We most certainly can judge, and we should judge, but when we do so we should judge actions not people. So let's look again at Jesus' words in John, and compare them to what the Torah has to say about the same subject...
Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement.  
-- John 7:24
You shall do no injustice in judgement; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbour. 
-- Leviticus 19:15
Here both Jesus, and the Torah, tell us to judge. But they're both very specific about the kind of judgement we are allowed to do. Normally, I don't cite the Torah often, because Christ is the Christian's Torah. Nevertheless, when Christ speaks specifically to a topic like this, and it matches what the Torah says, we can see the total consistency in approach, and it gives us a great context. When we judge, we are to judge people's actions (their sins or good works), but we are not to judge the person's soul, nor his state in life, background, heritage, etc. That is God's business. We cannot know what is really going on in a person's heart. People will often do evil things for reasons that are not apparent. Often times there is more to the story than meets the eye. Good people do bad things all the time. We must judge the action as wrong (sin), but at the same time, we must not judge the soul of the person doing it. We cannot know what is really happening inside his heart and mind. We cannot always know what sort of horrible circumstances might have led to this evil act (sin). We judge the act, but not the man/woman doing it.

So therein lies the heart of the matter. When the "don't judge" Catholic says "don't judge," he should be corrected with the Biblical context. What Jesus really said was "don't judge hypocritically" but we should "judge righteously."

The Church of Nice is dangerous, because in the end there is no limit to the amount of evil that can be justified under the mantra of "don't judge." Likewise, the sister mantra of "be nice" is equally pernicious, because it invokes the idea that we should never confront anyone for anything. It invokes the idea that we have to put on a phoney smiley face, pretend that everything is okay when it's not, and let our fellow man commit spiritual suicide by persisting in his unrepentant sin until death.

Now having said that, we certainly shouldn't go around like prudes, judging every sin we see. That's not the point. The point is, we should be as generous as possible, cutting people as much slack as we can, realising we can't always understand the circumstances that make people behave in the ways they do. We should be joyful, forgiving, and never judge another person's soul. However, at the same time, that doesn't mean we pretend there is no sin at all. When people do things that are clearly sinful, and they refuse to acknowledge it as sin, we are morally obligated (in true Christian charity) to point out to them that it is sin and they should repent. We don't judge the person, because we're all sinners here and there. But we do judge the action as sinful and wrong.

The Church of Nice is teaching a false gospel. That gospel goes something like this...
  1. God loves you just the way you are, and would never condemn you.
  2. Jesus died for our sins, so now God condones them.
  3. Sin is relative anyway, so it doesn't really matter.
  4. Don't judge at all, just be nice.
The real Catholic Church, the one currently being invaded by the Church of Nice, teaches the real gospel, which goes something like this...
  1. God loves us but sin is real, and it separates us all from God.
  2. Jesus Christ died to forgive our sins, not condone them.
  3. Now anyone may be forgiven of sins, if only we will sincerely try to repent of them, and continually ask for forgiveness as needed.
  4. Show true love for others by judging the sin but not the sinner.
Granted, this is all an oversimplification, but you get the idea. There is a radical difference between the Catholic Church and the Church of Nice. Sadly, in our society, the two are joined at the hip. It's going to take some really good priests and bishops, along with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to surgically separate the two. One way or another, there is going to be a schism eventually. Perhaps, with enough prayer, and enough clergy willing to wake up to reality, that schism might be limited to minimal damage.

Regarding the woman caught in adultery, the problem with this story was that the scribes and Pharisees were not interested in saving the poor sinner's soul or trying to rehabilitate her. They just wanted her dead. But more then that, they wanted to see if Jesus would condone her execution. Jesus changed the game. Instead he confirmed they were right, and she should be stoned, but that only the one without guilt should do it. Nobody threw a single rock, and in that one analysis, Jesus changed the paradigm. He pointed out that while sin is real, our goal shouldn't be to judge sinners for the sake of condemning them, but rather our judgement should be to call them to repentance, so that hopefully God can rehabilitate them, and heal their wounded lives. Once rehabilitated, they are no different than the rest of us, and we cannot ever judge them for the previous lifestyle they repented of. In other words, judge the sin but not the sinner. Judge the act but not the actor. Judge what is wrong but not the wrongdoer. So it's not "don't judge and be nice," but rather "judge righteously and be merciful."

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Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books and a columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'CatholicInTheOzarks.com.' Your support is what makes essays like this possible. This essay and all of Shane's Internet resources come to you (ad-free) thanks to the generosity of benefactors. Please consider becoming a benefactor.

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Comments

Arminius said…
Shane,

Excellent article. Thanks for your analysis and forthright conclusions.
Agree. This article points out the foolishness of the do no judge, anything goes in today's society where there are no moral standards nor even the proprieties necessary to conduct a polite society.
Therese Wildman said…
I am so glad to read more and more articles distinguishing between judging behaviors and actions vs. hearts and motivations. WE are called upon by God to judge behaviors: parental discipline, laws, Ten Commandments, school grading, etc, etc, etc. Read Ezekiel (I forget which section, sorry) for a condemnation of those who don't speak up when they should. The quote from St. Ambrose is also telling: "We will be judged as much by what we did not say, as by what we did say." Of course, we should assume the best of motivations - but that does not mean the action is free and clear of any correction.
JJ said…
Judging others, from Matthew Chapter 18:
A Brother Who Sins.*
15
h “If your brother* sins [against you], go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
16
* i If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
17
j If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.* If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.

Note this is to correct the sin and the sinner. If they are not removed from the church they can become like a cancer, destroying the whole body.