Judging Others and Scapegoating Sins

Judging others is usually a bad deal. I have noticed that religious people (myself included) tend to judge other people a lot. Also, we often scapegoat certain sins, and judge those things more harshly.

What I mean by scapegoating is that if I can find something that someone else struggles with, but I don’t, I can judge that person all day long, without worrying about myself. It makes me feel better, because I don’t struggle with that particular problem. (I struggle with something else, which I try not to talk about.)

I think this is part of the reason why some religious folks judge people who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual so harshly sometimes. Heterosexuals tend not to ‘struggle’ with gay sex. It’s one thing that someone else is dealing with, but they aren’t. So heterosexuals can judge all day long, and feel better about themselves.

In the United States, we tend not to talk too much about the teachings of Jesus about money or giving to the poor. Most of us are so rich compared to the rest of the world; the finger of judgment would be pointed directly at us. There’s no way to scapegoat that sin, so we just try to ignore it. It’s the same thing with gluttony, gossip, and a whole host of other common struggles. It’s difficult to look honestly at our own stuff. It’s much easier to scapegoat something we don’t personally deal with.

I think Jesus understood this tendency to judge others and scapegoat sins, which is why he had such strong words about judging others. Here is what he said: Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:1-6).

Don’t be one of those people pointing out the speck in your neighbor’s eye, when you have a tree branch growing out of your own eye. We each have our own journey and struggle. Work out your own stuff, and let other people work out their own stuff.

Discussion: Do you have a tendency to judge others harshly, or scapegoat certain sins? What do you think of Jesus’ command to not judge others, but instead work on our own stuff?

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