If you are an avid reader of newspaper editorial columns, you can’t help but notice two reoccurring themes that come around with nauseating regularity. Both of them deal with supposed teachings of Christ. Both of them are warped, Orwellian interpretations of the whole passage understood in context. Both offer a Christian pretext, but actually marginalize Christian ethics in favor of a contrary worldview.
To set up the first theme, it is usually a negative response to someone who bemoans some aspect of the trend in cultural morality. The rejoinder is that Christians are not supposed to judge others. That assertion is taken from Matthew chapter seven in the NT. But the context reveals an entirely different message. The point being make is that if one judges others, they will themselves be judged by the same standards they use in their own evaluation. Jesus then teaches his followers how to make a “righteous judgment” in order to avoid this liability. First take the impediment from your own eye.
The real issue is about the condemnation of hypocrisy, not the forbidding of discernment or legitimate criticism. Jesus concludes the section of instruction by telling his followers not to give holy things to dogs, or cast pearls before swine. The dogs and swine are metaphors for people who will not embrace spiritual things. Obviously Jesus himself is rendering a judgment against certain people, and requesting others to do the same.
The implication of the “Judge not” admonition, is that people, particularly Christians, are not permitted to criticize what they perceive as immoral. Such an assumption is patently absurd. The point Jesus made is that we should not condemn anyone when we are even more guilty of the same offense. The actions of Jesus himself were replete with judgment against those he discerned as doing wrong. One example would be his act of overturning the tables of money-changers in the temple.