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?