It has become commonplace to hear the refrain “the Bible says don’t judge, so why are you judging me?” on the lips of, well, pretty much anyone who wants to have a free pass to do whatever they want without Jimeny Cricket chirping in the form of a person calling them out for their actions. And not judging is good advice, strictly speaking. I mean, our Lord Himself gave it, as recorded for us in Matthew 7:1-5. But is Christ teaching that we should not make any judgements about whether the actions of another are right according to the Law He has given us? If that is the case, how does one confront his brother at all – something Christ also told us how to do? (cf. Matt 18:15-17) The point is not that we should “turn a blind eye”, as it were, to a given wrong – but rather that we should always be conducting self-examination and guarding against sin, lest we become hypocrites by condemning another for what we ourselves practice (cf. Rom 2:17-24).
And yet those who raise their voices to the “judge not!” chorus, loudly demanding that the plink, plinking of the chords of caution play a more approving tune are less concerned with keeping us from being hypocrites (though they somehow feel called to point out that particular speck in our eyes, come to think of it) than with throwing up the smokescreen that is “Tu Quoque“.
Yes, Tu Quoque, that great get-out-of-jail-free card, which states that “I cannot be in error if my accuser is doing it too”. This is the argument – spoken or unspoken – behind the “do not judge” appeal to Scripture.
But one must recognize the error here: namely that just because an adulterer might accuse a gay man of sexual immorality, this does not make the judgement less true. What it would mean is that the adulterer is a hypocrite, and will be judged to the same severity as he applies to the gay man. (cf. Matt 18:21-35) What it would not mean is that the gay man does not need to repent and turn from his sin. The indictment is accurate regardless of who makes the observation.
Let me say: “Judge not” is never an appropriate response to someone calling you out on a sin. You may notice that when Jesus spoke those words about judging, they were directed at those who judge, not those who are being judged. This is because he was not speaking to provide a defense for those in sin – His blood alone does that – but to call the accusers to repentance themselves, that all involved may turn to Him for forgiveness, and that by acknowledging their need for it may in turn forgive one another.