Yes, we do have the right to judge!
I see countless memes and comments from people who always says “I don’t judge”, “Don’t be so judgmental”, “you don’t have the right to judge” or “only God can judge me” etc. It is a pet peeve of mine when people create unnecessary semantic disputes and give more power to a word rather than the context. The power of the word “judgement” seems to have come from the incorrect interpretation of the bible quote “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1-3).
According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary judgment is defined as:
- an opinion or decision that is based on careful thought (1)
- the act or process of forming an opinion or making a decision after careful thought : the act of judging something or someone(1)
- the ability to make good decisions about what should be done (1)
To corroborate the definition according to dictionary.com:
- the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion (2)
Based on the definitions above, it is almost impossible not to be judgmental.
You would have to have no convictions, feelings or morals. Judging is a subconscious behavior. A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience shows how the brain immediately determines how trustworthy a face is before it’s fully perceived (3)
Whether we make a logical, prejudicial or fallacious statement, we are judging all the time. Now depending on the context of the statement, you can judge the person or the action of the person. Most people online will judge the person since that is all they have to go on. It is assumed that if you are the original poster, you would lay it on real thick and show your best side. If you can’t make yourself look good, how do you expect others too?
In the bible, the book of James said it best “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1). We should all follow the unwritten rule that when you post something online “prepare to be judged on that act and that act alone.” First impressions are everything. Two studies by Society for Personality and Social Psychology in Austin, Texas show how easy we form impressions and how it is to change it. (4) “It takes only seven seconds for us to judge another person when we first meet them,’ says Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist, and author of Straight Talking.
“It’s not a conscious process, so we don’t even realise we’re doing it – but it goes back to our primitive roots when we couldn’t afford to make wrong decisions” (5). Granted these studies were about physical appearances but absent physical appearances, the first thing we see is someone’s writing. This can be seen by statistics showing that “1 in 10 young people have been rejected from a job because of the content of their social media profiles” (6).
According to the Christian bible, we do have the right to judge.
If you read the entire quote by Matthew “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, butdo not notice the log that is in your own eye?”(Matthew 7:2). As you can see, the bible is talking about hypocrisy, not judgement.
If we don’t discern and rebuke others to follow what God says, then it will just be an ordinary book. “Everyone will be doing whatever they think is right, just like the Israelis did in the time of the Judges. In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit”(Judges 21:25) (7).
For example, the book of Corinthians says, “… you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man from among you'” ( Cor. 5:11-13). These verses clearly show us to be vigilant, judgmental and to banish if necessary. “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9) I don’t know how this is possible if we are not able to judge (7)
Now just because we all judge and have the right to does not mean we should do so without due process and research. The bible says to “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly” (John 7:24) If not you will be viewed as ignorant and uneducated. “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13) (8).
(1)”Judgment.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 12 June 2016.
(2)Judgement. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved June 12, 2016 from Dictionary.com website http://www.dictionary.com/browse/judgement
(3)Sifferlin, A. (2014). Our Brains Immediately Judge People. TIME.com. Retrieved 14 June 2016, from http://time.com/3083667/brain-trustworthiness/
(4)Even Fact Will Not Change First Impressions | SPSP. (2016). Spsp.org. Retrieved 14 June 2016, from http://www.spsp.org/news-center/press-releases/even-fact-will-not-change-first-impressions
(5) You’ve got 7 seconds to impress me: How we size up men in next to no time. (2010). Mail Online. Retrieved 14 June 2016, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1338064/Youve-got-7-seconds-impress-How-size-men-time.html
(6) Facebook costing 16-34s jobs in tough economic climate. (2013).Ondeviceresearch.com. Retrieved 14 June 2016, from https://ondeviceresearch.com/blog/facebook-costing-16-34s-jobs-in-tough-economic-climate?utm_source=On+Device+Research+newsletter&utm_campaign=060ae12252-YPCC_Index_May_20135_22_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_9d4e76bb4b-060ae12252-330128889#sthash.F2xfgFzu.6nCZDFs7.dpbs
(7) The Bible Says That Christians Must Judge.. (2016). Christianissues.biz. Retrieved 13 June 2016, from http://www.christianissues.biz/judging.html
(8)What does the Bible mean that we are not to judge others?. (2016). GotQuestions.org. Retrieved 13 June 2016, from http://www.gotquestions.org/do-not-judge.html