Tuesday, May 23, 2006

To Judge or Not To Judge

Linked in one of the posts I put in my weekly tour is an article on "The Postmodern Challenge" for evangelicals.

That is certainly my problem. However, they present four scenarios which should make for an interesting discussion about our presuppositions about what can and cannot be judged. I am linking the article so that you can go look at it first if you want to make sure I am not "sneaking up on you" - although it might have been more fun to just spring it cold.

In which of these circumstances would you feel comfortable making a judgement:

  1. Your white workmate is helping an African-American workmate to unravel a problem in the computer database. You overhear the white worker in his frustration call the African American a dumb N____. She looks up with hurt on her face. You denounce the white worker for being prejudiced and for hurting her feelings.

  2. Your other friend at work announces she is getting divorced. She has fallen in love with another man, and although she has two children, she has told her husband she cannot continue to live a lie. Her husband and children are crushed, but she feels she must be true to herself. You charge her with selfishness, lack of loyalty, and willingness to hurt others' feelings.

  3. You visit an African tribe during their female circumcision ritual and behold a teenage girl receiving a clitorectomy. When you complain to your tour guide, he points out your Eurocentric values are interfering with your judgment.
Finally, do you agree with this move or not:
  • In New Guinea, where for centuries tribes have hunted members of other tribes and taken their heads as fetishes, the government, under the influence of western colonial culture, has outlawed head-hunting.

1 comment:

  1. I think before you can address any of these, you have to take a step back and think about what is meant by "judging." To me, it's not a matter of which of these scenarios is okay to judge or not okay, it's a matter of what it is you're judging.

    I see no conflict in judging the action. What we're forbidden from doing is judging the person. I'm no longer a Christian, but I used to be one, and my understanding of my duty as a Christian was to try to help the person see the wrongness of their actions and show them the correct way. That is, to help them remove the speck from their eye.

    What we're not allowed to do is to decide that the persons doing these objectionable actions are inherently bad people. That sort of judging is to be left to a higher power.

    From a non-Christian perspective it's a bit simpler. I see no reason why we can't judge people according to various standards, as long as such judgment is limited in scope and rationally justified.


How to debate charitably (rules are links to more description of rule):
1. The Golden Rule
2. You cannot read minds
3. People are not evil
4. Debates are not for winning
5. You make mistakes
6. Not everyone cares as much as you
7. Engaging is hard work
8. Differences can be subtle
9. Give up quietly