the hipness of judgmentalism

i decided something today: judgmentalism is the easy seduction of the hipster (or progressive) christian. i’ve been so convicted recently about my own judgmental attitude. god has been just nailing me on this — not by showing me god’s wrath or something like that, but by revealing to me that i’m hurting the heart of god. and the frustrating part of this is that god is showing me how i’m doing this to people in the opposite direction that i’m heading: people more conservative than me. i mean, really, wouldn’t it be easier if god showed me how i’m hurting his heart with my judgmentalism toward people who are adherants to frameworks of faith that i wish i could possess? wouldn’t that be neat? but, no. god has to go and show me the hurt being brought on the kingdom by my judgmentalism toward those who’ve hurt me, those who taught me legalism, those who were even more extreme than i in their devotion to structure and rules and answers.


and today i was confronted by it from some friends i love very, very dearly.

[[update: i have decided to delete the story i had here. it was very personal, involving people i love; and it’s not right for me to “put it out there” without their permission. so, to neuter the story: some people i feel a strong amount of kinship to, people i choose to be with because of their lack of legalism and abundance of grace to me, showed, today, the dark underside of judgmentalism. it was toward a young guy new to our collective experience, who’s doing what young guys do: showing some great passion while making a few decisions someone who’d been around the block a few more times would not make – call them rookie moves. i think that’s all i can tell and still have it be neutered.]]

but here’s the point. a big part of why i love these people so much is that they really understand grace. they have been burned by legalism and judgmentalism in the past — every one of them. and they want nothing to do with it.

i’m not trying be holier-than-thou here — i’m sure plenty of stones could be cast at me. and, ironically, if they weren’t so set on judging, i would likely be going there myself — they just got to it first, so i’ve been offered a reprieve. it just seems to me that judgmentalism is a muck of quicksand that we humans can’t quite seem to get ourselves out of. me and my friends in the emerging church are just as prone to judgmentalism as first-fundie-baptist church down the street (though the emergent response to our critics is an absolutely stellar piece of non-judgemtalism).

the most enlightened so easily slip into dismissing the “un-enlightened”
the most progressive so easily slip into dismissing the non-progressive
the most mature so easily slip into dismissing the immature
the most hip and culturally-creative so easily slip into dismissing the less hip and less culturally-creative
the most whatever so easily slip into dismissing the un-whatever


lord, save me from this.

9 thoughts on “the hipness of judgmentalism”

  1. escaping judgmentalism is hard…even when it’s something you detest, that repulses you. as much as i desire to be accepting, hospitable and gracious, to look at change with an open mind if not able to fully embrace it, it is sometimes hard to not to default to one of the first defense mechanisms i learned when faced with change–judgementalism. for if you judge something to be wrong, you can’t accept or go along with it because it violates something in you. and if you don’t accept the change, then you remain in control… it’s a deceptive trap. lord save us all.

  2. i personally have a problem with the grace-less. i can feel the pain of those willing to own their stuff, but put me near a pharisee and i become that judgemental, ignorant person i’m accusing them of (in my mind). i think it has to do with the concept of receiving the grace that you give to others, and because they offer so little, i offer them little, but i’m not so sure.

    all i know is i want far more grace offered to me than i offer to a pharisee.

    i also think that those of us who, in the past, ‘bought the whole hog’ of fundamentalism or strict adherence to ‘doctrine’ and realize that we missed a lot of truth in doing that have become much more critical in our thinking. and when i start to think things through critically i become more critical as a rule, and it can tend to flow into areas i’m not meant to be critical of (people and their motives), instead of just looking for truth.

    it’s early and i haven’t had coffee yet, so this may make no sense, but i think you’ve touched on a nerve that i need to look at more closely. thanks.

  3. Marko-
    Thanks for sharing this story. I so much identify with [the young guy in your story]. This is so common especially for us young guys. Gosh, please just love the snot out of him and walk with him through his growing up. One of my best friends and mentors Karen has loved me through my growing up (still) when others wrote me off and I can honestly say if it weren’t for her and a few others I would have probably been running from my calling, working in a Starbucks somewhere.

  4. Marko,

    Let me first of all tell you that your purpose is inspiring to me. In your entry I indentify with the young guy “rookie” that has been burned a few time. Here is a brief discription of where I am. I am 28 with a masters degree in Social Work. Previously served in youth ministry for 4 years and steped into a position as a project manager for an innercity gang prevention program in Houston, Texas. I feel the effects of the fire already. My postion is not secure for the coming year because of recent cut backs in federal funding. So my passsion takes over. This is where you come in. I watched a video for one life revolution that I got for free at a ys conferance last year. When I return from these conferances my resources are packed and it takes over a year to pick them up agian because I return back underwater and have to pick up where I left off. I wear my onelife shirt all the time and challege people in ministry to add this as a program. It inpires me, I am judgemental as well. But I have a purpose which brings a balance. I feel called to open my mouth and be a voice for these opressed people. Here is an example of my judgementalim. I had a conversation about the AIDs epidemic and a persons respones was, Why should we give access of meds. to a person with AIDS, it is a death sentance? He belived that it was a waste of money to help some once on the way to death….Man I was pissed. I was enrageed and Judgemental…..I feel I had the right to be. So here is where I am headed. I thought about going to seminary and studing global missions. But I realize that I have a advanced degree in administration, and I am a man with a mission. Why study how to be a missionary when I am a person of mission with a servents heart. I am going to tap into a platform that is willing to bring change to hurting people. I am in the process of developing a foundtion to help with the AIDS Epidemic in Africa. Every time I turn on the TV I here more and more people talking about it. Now I feel called to give them an opportunity to put forth action…..Sorry to flood your blog with a huge dose of my passion, but I want you to know that it is ok to be judgemental at times…Listen to those convictions and know that you are listening to God. Thanks for your inspiration. Peace -Sam
    [email protected]

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  6. “…the most mature so easily slip into dismissing the immature…”

    An oxymoron? Yes, if one defines ‘maturity’ as having reached a state of awareness, understanding, and tolerance for the plight of fellow human beings; non judgmentalism.


  7. its really tough the dealing with this, but it is mandatory in order to stop attacking what could actually be a God’s move in the life of someone, or some random ministry around. Its quite nice when God takes you to this reflections; oh my how much he loves us, right?
    Ive been having some mixed feelings with the emerging-church movement due to that; i feel that it criticizes some concepts of a regular church, like the pastor figure for example(a veru well-known emergent-church leader from latinamerica was here –Panama– a couple of months a go, and refused to be called “pastor”; eventhough he IS a pastor and worked AS A youth pastor before!).
    I understand that Jesus called us a body, for working through things like judgmentalism and be really united, as a body is supposed to be. In my country unfortunately the existent emergent churches arosed from internal conflicts and they ripped away students. Personally I think that if that the emergent move is delicate because of results like this. Even with that, I understand that they have a role to develop, and would like them to be fruitful with it.

    blessings from Panama!

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