Caitlyn Jenner made headlines this past week and reaction, both supportive and not-so-much, was swift. Not surprisingly, Rush Limbaugh was among those who immediately weighed in against Jenner’s identity (“mental illness”) and publicity surrounding her (“everything the media wants to do in terms of turning the culture upside down.”) In the name of “morality” Limbaugh and his allies are quick to judge Caitlyn Jenner.
Here’s a sampler of Christian teaching on judgment:
• Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment. (John 7:24)
• There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. So who, then, are you to judge your neighbor? (James 4:12)
• [Jesus said:] I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. (John 12:47)
• Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. (Romans 2:1)
• Do not speak evil against one another, brothers and sisters. Whoever speaks evil against another or judges another, speaks evil against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. (James 4:11)
• Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:37)
• Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. (Matthew 7:1)
But Limbaugh does judge. As a matter of fact, so do we all—routinely. What to do?
The gold standard for Christian ethical behavior is not judgment. It’s love. Where love is missing, something else is dictating terms of behavior. Probably fear, since it’s fear that our tradition describes as the opposite of love: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. “ (1 John 4:18)
It’s certainly the harder path but in any discussion of moral behavior, love is always a better choice than a “Rush” to judgment.