One of the most common things we here from people all around us, young or old is “Don’t judge me”. Whether it be a man whose embezzled thousands of dollars from his employer, he will throw up, “Don’t Judge Me!” Or lets take the college student who finds himself in a pattern of nightly keg-stands at frat parties. As soon you begin to help him see the destructiveness of his sin, he will throw up “Don’t judge me!” Or how about the woman who cheats on her husband, leaves him, and goes to live with another man. as soon as you begin to say that Adultery is sin out of her mouth comes “Don’t judge me!” How did we arrive at this “Don’t judge me” culture? How did we get to the point where we have become so offended and sensitive in our lifestyles? How did we arrive here?
Well the issue is complex and I can’t answer that completely in one blog post. As a result this is probably overly simplistic, but there are two main driving forces about how the world evolved into a don't judge me culture. The one led into the other. The first change is a radical personal autonomy. The second is moral relativism. Lets talk about the first.
Radical Personal Autonomy
After the time of the reformation, rationalism began to dominate the thinking of the day. Rationalism taught that the only way to discern what is true or what is right comes through my mind. Think of philosopher Rene Descartes now famous statement, “I think, therefore I am”. What does he mean by that? Well my thinking defines who I am. It is the identity and the mark of my existence. My mind is the sole determiner of what is true. If I can’t discern it with my mind or test it with science I dismiss it. So what began to emerge is a radical autonomy, disconnected from any divine revelation or even the existence of God.
What emerged from rationalism eventually became the radical autonomy we see in our world today. What do I mean by radical personal autonomy? I mean the idea that the individual finds purpose completely and totally from within himself. It means that we become the gods of our own realties. It means we become the judge and jury of our lives and that no one, not another human being and surely not God has the right to challenge my radical personal autonomy. So in a sense, we have done exactly what Adam and Eve did in that garden of Eden. We become the deciders of what is right and wrong. We put ourselves over God and therefore we decide what is good for us, not God. We decide what is right and wrong.
So this radical personal autonomy eventually led to the a moral relativism. As man began to place himself as the arbiter of truth, this eventually began to clash with the existing and absolute truth that all of human civilization has been built on until this modern era. Since each person becomes the decider of what is true and right, what happens when those ideas begin to clash? With each person deciding what is right, what if two peoples definition of what is right is wrong? If you challenge that persons position on matter you begin to infringe on their radical personal autonomy which is not permissible. So what began to happen? Well we began to enter into moral chaos. If no one has the right to correct you, truth itself became an amorphous indefinable blob in this system. Thus we have arrived into an age of moral relativism. Where there is no right or wrong at all. There is simply what is right for you and what is right for me.
This gets thrown around in a lot cute, but meaningless phrases like “It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you believe” or “Follow your heart” or “We each must decide our own way”. What do these phrases we hear so often really mean? It means you a the god of your life. You decide what you wish to be true, then it becomes true for you. The result is the moral insanity all around us today. This is how we have arrived in the “Don’t Judge Me” culture.
Jesus is Lord and Judge
So you see this “Don’t Judge Me” culture attacks judging as discerning right from wrong. In the eyes of most of the western world, there simply isn’t an absolutes, it is all relative. So we are told that we must tolerate all view points, which does not mean respect other view points but we are commanded to embrace them and even celebrate them though we may disagree. Therefore to claim something as wrong, evil, or sinful becomes the only intolerant act in a culture in which tolerance is its only virtue. Is it not ironic that the tolerance of todays world isn’t very tolerant of those who disagree and who refuse to fall in line with the moral insanity around us?
Yet, Jesus is Lord. He is a great threat to the radical personal autonomy of our day. He is the great slayer of moral relativism. Jesus is Lord which means he is king. He is authoritative, he speaks truth as the judge over all. A culture that says “Don’t judge me”, will one day find themselves before Jesus at the great white throne of judgement. You see, you are not the arbiter of truth, Jesus is. I realize what I just said flies in the face of everything our culture values. Yet, there is a God and he is not silent. He has spoken and has revealed himself to us. You are not the god of your world, Jesus is. The issue is whether you will accept his authority over your life, or if you will continue to rebel in your sin.
A Longing Not to Be Judged
As we look at a culture that says don’t judge me, we find ourselves being able to relate don’t we? No one wants to be judged. Innately, no matter how autonomous we think we are, we know that we have done wrong. We know that we have sinned. We know that we are rebels and that there are eternal consequences towards our actions. No matter how much we try to cover it up our hands and hearts are stained with guilt.
They cry of every human heart is a desperate plea to God "Don't Judge Me! Don't let me bear the penalty for my own sins! Give grace and mercy!" And this is the good news of the Gospel: The judge makes judgement on himself in your place. Jesus, the just judge, takes on himself the judgement you deserve. He bore your wrath on the cross dying where you deserved to die.
As we live in a culture whose desperate cry is "don't judge me" we must point them to the judge who brings judgement on himself. We must point them to Jesus who bears our sin. Then we can boldly hold to that glorious truth, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom 8:1)
This is a collection of excerpts from my recent sermon on Matthew 7:1-6. You can listen to the audio of this message here.