Group study black and white

Should Christians be Judgmental?

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The question I’d like to address in this article is whether being a Christian means a person must be judgmental when interacting with others.

What prompted this post was something that happened in my life yesterday. I purchased something from an online second-hand clothing website, and needed to discuss the sale with the seller.

In the seller’s picture, he was making the devil gesture with his hand (you know the one). What occurred to me was that Christians might react to this guy’s photo in different ways.

Christians are concerned with moral conduct, because good moral conduct is unquestionably demanded of Christians in the Bible. This means that Christians are often hyper-aware of anything which they don’t consider God-honouring. I imagine some of my Christian friends looking at the devil hand gesture and feeling strongly provoked by it.

Would it be right for a Christian to rebuke the guy for making the gesture? Or would it be more loving to maintain a respectful distance from the gesture, and simply act with love, being friendly to the guy and not mentioning it? Is it more loving to rebuke, or to just be kind (or would rebuking be the kindest thing to do?)

My experience leads me to believe that different Christians would react differently in this situation. I think of my Christian friend Lisa, who I know would take the approach of showing love and non-judgment. But then there are pastors and theologians I know who would say it’s better to challenge the person and intervene for the sake of their soul.

Perhaps either of these two approaches can be considered godly and Christ-honouring, but if this is the case, we would have to appreciate that people express love in different ways, so love of neighbour is not a black and white issue. And if love of neighbour is not a black and white issue, how can we know we are acting with moral integrity?

I hope you followed my line of reasoning in this post. My intention is to help people see that this is a complex issue which is open to interpretation; and that this is the case with much religious doctrine. I think Christians can often be so intent on living rightly that they become aggressive and dismissive, and this does more harm than good. I hope to challenge that attitude in this post.

I don’t have a computer at present (I’m writing this post on my phone) so it would be a little tricky for me to publish a detailed study of relevant Bible references in this post. But I invite you to undertake such a study yourself, and to resolve the issue in your own mind. You can answer the following question:

How would you respond to someone showing you the devil hand gesture, and why?

12 comments

  1. For me the deciding factor is based on the following: 1. Are they claiming the same belief system that I am and the same God that I am claiming? 2. Have I earned the right to “speak into” this person’s life? 3. Do I need to speak out no matter who the person is in order to protect someone else. 4. Does God care? In other words, is it really about breaking a commandment by someone who claims to know God and is taking His Holy name in vain, or is it merely something I think God wouldn’t like because maybe I am uncomfortable about it. 5. Do I have any hope / faith that I can make a difference maybe today, maybe down the road in that person’s life for Good — no matter our relationship? Okay — that’s my thinking today on this really important issue, I think. Shalom, Jane

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  2. I had a pastor once tell me, “Why do you expect unbelievers to behave any differently?” He said this to me after I told him about some sinful behavior directed toward me by an unbeliever. I do believe God gifts us differently so some are compelled by the Spirit to confront and others approach it more relationally. Both require God’s wisdom in how we confront others.

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  3. Hi Steven! I think judgment and confrontation are two different things. Christians are not allowed to judge people, but we should judge actions. Example: The recent Ravi Zacharias scandal. Christians should condemn Ravi Zacharias’s actions, and take care that these types of things aren’t allowed to happen in the church. However, it is not our place to make conclusions about the man himself (such as: he was a wolf, he was never a Christian). The Satanic hand gesture situation is really asking whether we should confront unbelievers, and I don’t think there is a right or wrong. I like to talk to people about faith, so I might ask the guy, “What does that hand gesture mean to you?” It may be that it means nothing to the guy, but he just thinks it’s cool. Or, if it is meaningful to him, it might be the start of a great conversation. Thanks, Steven!

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  4. I agree with CG. It amazes me that many Christians expect godly living from people who have not made him Lord (yet!). I don’t get offended by gestures or even bad language as many of my Christian counterparts do. It just gives me a reason to show the love of Christ more and pray for them. I honestly would look past it and just pray for them.

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  5. Thanks for sharing this Steven! This is something that I’ve noticed in some Christian people that I know and tbh, have always bothered me. I agree with most of the comments here especially about not being judgmental to the person’s character and personality as a whole. Coz even us, sometimes we do things out of character. So I believe we need to understand first why the action was taken, and take it from there. Really interesting post!😊

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    1. Yes, I think that’s such a good point, to look at the reason behind the action. Often, once we understand that, we can empathise with the person. Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

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  6. As an ex occultist I would definitely share Jesus with them, perhaps not mentioning the gesture, like I would not mention someones anti Christ clothing, just share the truth in a loving way.

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  7. Christians shouldnt be judgemental. But we shouldn’t be ashamed to bring up Christ in any conversation either, ease him/her into it; explain the sign if its origin is for sure evil, and that where sin abounds, grace abounds so much more afterall thats why He died for us. But if the Holy spirit says otherwise then leave it be, because in the Bible at Acts 16:6-7 we see Paul and his companions forbidden to preach the word at Asia, because the inhabitants were not ready to accept the word, while others elsewhere were ready.
    Let me use an analogy, if you saw a vehicle with a mother and her two little girls heading towards a collapsed bridge would you
    a.stop them and warn them of the collapsed bridge or
    b.pretend you havent seen them.
    Ofcourse you would undoubtedly pick a, because you might be just what they need to save them , but if we get this insistent feeling to pick b, it would be because, she is not ready yet, the mother might be too angry to listen/ irritant/ absent-minded, but she will later on meet a stranger a couple of miles ahead that will undoubtedly convince her otherwise.
    My sister says I’m bad with analogies😅, but I do hope you get my point

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