Call me Judy and hand me a gavel

I am often criticized by finger-wagging Christians admonishing me not to judge others.

So I thought I’d take a quick moment to say that of course I judge others. I have to judge others. I’m stuck judging others. Judging others is a necessary byproduct of having a brain and a conscience.

If you can tell right from wrong, you judge.

And you can tell right from wrong. So you do judge. All the time. So does everybody.

I judge others; you judge others; everyone is always judging everything and everybody. Show me someone who doesn’t judge others about nine hundred times a day, and I’ll show you a corpse.

I don’t judge who people are; that’s none of my business. But I sure the [bleep] judge what people do. If I come home one evening and find a man raping my wife, for instance, you can bet that I will right away formulate a judgement about that man. Someone kicking a dog, beating a child, showing up at the funeral of a fallen soldier carrying a “God Hates Fags” sign?

Then hand me a gavel and call me Judy. Because I will straight away be in the judging business.

Since there is virtually no way not to, I am going to judge the actions of others (which is the sole legitimate criteria any of us can have for evaluating another). And if I judge that a person is doing something wrong—something, that is, that unfairly hurts another—then I am going to judge whether or not I can do anything to help right that wrong. If I can, then the time for judging is over, and only action remains. If I can’t help, then … well, then that’s a drag. (And it’s also pretty rare; there’s always something you can do.)

“Judge not lest ye be judged” sounds awesome. (It also sounds like what’s in the Bible, but isn’t, exactly; the King James Version of Matthew 7:1 reads, “Judge not, that ye be not judged,” which the NIV renders, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”) But I know there’s no way I or anyone else won’t judge others. Which leaves me to conclude that that famous injunction is meatier and much subtler than it ever gets credit for being.

I don’t think that “Judge not lest ye be judged” means, “Don’t judge.” I think it’s a deliciously clever way of saying that all of us, all the time, are being judged, and that we’d do well to live our lives accordingly.

"The whole thing about wives submitting to husbands opens the door for these kind of ..."

Why Pastors Struggle With Confronting Domestic ..."
"I have a stupid question for you:If you are asking someone else what to say ..."

What should I tell my child ..."

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Maybe it’s also a command to be mindful that we are flawed creatures who don’t always know all of the ins and outs of another person’s life.

    I’ve been in something of an intellectual internet argument on another blog over the last couple of days trying to justify myself to Internet-strangers… All because I decided to share a little snippet from my life as an example regarding the falsehood of a logical fallacy I perceived one of the users getting into. After that, I got a couple of other users letting me know that they DO NOT APPROVE of how I choose to conduct my inner life, even though they only know me from a few postings on someone’s Internet blog. (I actually find it weird that they’re even at the blog that they’re at if they DO NOT APPROVE of a certain thing and would argue that this certain thing always leads to this that and the other thing). I pretty much expected this, though, as soon as I set my typing fingers to my keypad, becuase I’ve lurked and posted around the blog before and know the general, oft-highly argumentative climate.

    That’s really how things are – whether it’s your spiritual life, your sex life, your food life, your entertainment life – share it with strangers and the judgements will come, perhaps even with lists as to “how you should live your life in the proscribed manner that Internet-stranger #271 approves of” when of course, they really know dip about you.

  • Nina E.

    Come to think of it, there is a real difference between judging a person, and juding an action that the person does. I feel better about thinking some people are real jerks. I mean, *act* like real jerks. My bad.

  • Great Post..

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Yes, I’m about to ask inconveniently difficult questions. I know, generally we all just sort of *know* and can agree on the difference between right and wrong. But to presume *actual* knowledge of moral things is forbidden fruit: for in doing so we presume to be like God! Forget *wrong*: such a delusion is the starting point of every *evil* in our fallen world!

    If we are to judge, I therefore judge that we ought to avoid judging in such a way as only the true Judge truly can—namely, with presumption of right judgment of things (whether persons or actions) as they seem (recognizing, however, the rights of the creator and any rightful possessor of a thing to make determinations as to what it actually is).

    How did you come to the conclusion that to violate the free will of another should be presumed wrong? Or if it’s not to be presumed wrong, by what criteria should we judge when it is and when it is not?

  • Yvonne Burgess

    If it is so that we are all judging others as part of our human nature and intelligence, then we must be more kindly disposed toward those who believe homosexuality is a gross sin. Some people, of course, are bringing their judgment from a place of fear and hatred toward a person different from themselves. But I believe there are many vociferous anti-Gay folks who are truly concerned for the “sinner” and for those of us supporting said sinner. It takes a long time for values to change. We who have evolved a little further in our thinking and understanding should be kinder to those who judge based on past misunderstandings and passed-down values. “Pray God bless,” I read today, “and intend rich and perfect blessing on those who offend you, who think differently than you do.” When we get to the time that our judgment comes with kindness and love, then perhaps we will achieve the Kingdom Jesus told us about.

  • This, to me sounds patently ridiculous.

    If we agree it’s not right or we can’t accurately judge PEOPLE, then this applies to everyone – so not especially to anyone.

    If we agree we CAN judge actions, that what those people are DOING can be judged to the hilt – as much at least as what anyone else is doing wrong.

    Where in anything of what John said did you read that people’s actions should be judged as less wrong becuase those people are all the more blind to it’s harm?

  • I think the “lest not ye be judged” has a much to do with “…by the same measure…”. There’s a warning against hypocracy there. Don’t set up standrads for others we can’t live by ourselves.

    I like that. And I imagine it getting tricky for some people – no, all of us – in unexpected ways. Some people might feel they live up to the rules they try to set for others, but then they also expect fairness of others, and, funny enough, their “rules” aren’t fair – even by their own priciples of fairness. That “same measure” thing can sneak up ya. Which is why I like. Seems like a good thing to think carefully about before judging anything.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    It’s not just “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (which, by the way, is what it actually says, whereas what is quoted in the blog post is a frequent misquotation of this verse which, at least to me, appears more favorable towards the indicated interpretation—not to say that that would be a wrong one).

    This appears as a consistent Biblical theme, from the fall of Adam and Eve to Romans chapter 2 and throughout the whole of the Bible.

  • Elizabeth

    I’m with you. I judge, to the best of my abilities, as fairly and empathetically and knowledgeably as I can, but I judge. I do not presume the Creator’s opinion is my own, but I have one.

  • I should have been a judge.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    What you said seems more ridiculous that what Ms. Burgess said, Christine.

    To begin with, since when has the standard for evaluating the accuracy of a claim become whether it is somewhere read in something John has written?

  • Allie

    I think Shadsie’s got it, that the main focus of this commandment is on humility. And let’s face it, like “do unto others,” this is a commandment that if everyone followed it, it would transform the world. Imagine a world where everyone was so focused on fixing their own sins that they didn’t have time to even notice anyone else’s. I don’t agree with John’s interpretation here; since when does Jesus not require something of you just because it’s impossible? This is the dude who said, “Be perfect like my father in heaven is perfect.”

    But I’d like to point out the specific issue surrounding most of the commenters on this site who get up in John’s face and demand that he stop judging. Almost without fail, John is criticizing people FOR JUDGING OTHERS. So it becomes rather circular and pretty stupid to complain about, much like the nincompoops who insist that it’s intolerant to expect them to be tolerant.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Excellent points, Allie!

  • Perfectly said, Elizabeth.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Hi, Elizabeth! Seems like forever since you and I last interacted!

    I don’t mean to seem like I’m *not* with you and John, but do you ever truly lack any ability to let the Creator’s opinion—the Mind of God—be what informs your own?

  • Aren’t they technically judging you for judging others?

  • Sigh.

    Yes, Matthew, I know that the quote I used isn’t actually true to the Bible’s text. But it’s the COMMON phrase: that’s the one that’s always thrown about. So that’s the one it made the most sense to refute.

  • Careful, Matthew. Just … tread a little more lightly, please. Thanks.

  • Diana A.

    Ya’ know?

  • Matthew Tweedell

    That’s.. admirably reasonable, as usual, John! 🙂

    Since my own purpose was to suggest the spirit of these words as a core principle of the Bible (one I happen to believe follows quite readily from that of loving, first God, and then your neighbor as your very self—upon which hangs the whole of the Law and the Prophets), I wanted to accurately quote what the Bible says about it and thought to explain the resulting discrepancy, noting parenthetically that, as you’ve now confirmed, you were quoting a misquote.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Did I respond somehow more roughly than is justly meet to what it is responding to, or have I conveyed anything that’s either untrue or inappropriate? (I would honestly like to know, so that I might improve.)

  • otter

    I have to say I agree, judging is inevitable, but it is not the mind space to operate in if you wish to have a productive dialogue. Sometimes it is best to set it aside, but obviously not in outright confrontations.

    Two quotes on judging:

    “You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” – Anne Lamott

    “Do you seriously think God will judge me for loving someone, and not judge you for hating someone you’ve never met?”

  • Matthew Tweedell


  • Ashley Cohea

    Matthew, I think the point is that wrong is wrong. Saying we have to be more tolerant of anti-gay rhetoric because the person spouting it thinks they are doing a good thing doesn’t work. After all, some killers think they are doing a good thing by ridding the world of their victim. Yet, most people inherently know that killing is wrong, so we do not accept that excuse.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Who’s the second quote by? I like it!

  • Matthew Tweedell

    So is that why we don’t accept that excuse?

    Why then should we not execute the criminally insane?

  • Matthew Tweedell

    You know.. not too long ago most people inherently knew that homosexuality is wrong.

  • SquirrelyGirl

    I guess I still believe when Jesus said (and this is SquirrelyGirl translation) “Remember these two things, Love God and love your neighbor just like you love yourself” he knew that should keep us busy enough that we would not have much time on our hands for judging. Judging takes a lot of energy. Plus, I am usually so outraged by the obvious wrongs humans do to each other, I am too tired to judge the common sense things you expect everyone to know. But, I do agree with you John, we are going to do it whether we should or not. It really always comes back to love doesn’t it?

  • Everything always does. Everything.

  • I find that John 7:24, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment”, to be the key to the question of judging. I agree with you John, we all make judgements every day. For the serious follower of Jesus, the challenge is to judge truly, righteously. A tall order indeed. For one thing, it means not making snap judgements; or judging by surface appearances alone. I must carefully hear/consider both sides of an issue. I must try not to assign only good motives to my side, while assigning only bad motives to the other. Life and people are complex, therefore righteous judgement requires of me serious and soulful consideration.

  • Yvonne, I think you have said something very thoughtful and wise. A kind and charitable attitude toward those who disagree with us goes a long way if our goal is to win them over to our side. This requires true humility from us–the very bedrock of discipleship.

    God bless you!

  • Leslie Marbach

    The verse that most people quote as “judge not lest ye be judged” is from Matthew 7:1. What’s important to keep in mind is the following verse. (This time from the New International Version instead of the King James) “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

    Of course we all judge others like John says here. We’re hardwired for it. But our judging needs to be fair, kind, loving, etc. That’s how we also are judged.

    If you line up these two verses with the Golden Rule (do unto others…) it makes sense. Judge others in the way we want to be judged.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    But that’s just so hard!

    …and necessary.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    But what if I don’t *want* to be judged at all?

    Or what if I *do* want to be judged, for instance, on my gender conformance?

  • Donald Rappe

    I suppose violating the free will of our wives rapist is good example of how far from a universal ethical standard this is. And how is our “free will” related to our childish impulse to have our own way about everything? But, “for freedom Christ has set us free.” Pass the bong please.

  • DR

    There’s zero difference meaning-wise between the common statement he used and the exact quote you provided.

  • Donald Rappe

    I think the words “Judge not” in Mathew are an admonition to not confuse who it is that will be seperating the sheep and the goats.

  • DR

    They aren’t “inconveniently difficult questions” all of the time, Matthew. They split hairs and mince words and when asked, divert energy from the general spirit and tone of a post. It’s energy that’s diverted from the primary point, that point often to defend and protect those in our culture who are vulnerable and hold accountable those who are hurting them. It’s needless argumentative discourse and while I’m sure it’s all important to you, at times it simply feels to be *about you*. Hope it was ok that I was honest.

  • Matthew Tweedell


  • Ah, yes, the bong. Some of the most golden moments on this blog were in the old days when Matthew would be elucidating on something as only Matthew can and John would caution Matthew to step away from the bong.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    That’s not true. The word “lest” contributes a certain apprehension and with it a potential implication of conditional dependence upon its presence. It looks like the King James Version (among other English language versions) consistently translates different original language expressions differently with these two expressions. What other reason could there be for this, when the Greek is independent of the English prosody in such expressions, than that they are *not* to be understood as zero-difference synonyms?

  • Okay, this is really bugging me. I don’t want to cause a cross-blog fight, but since I don’t recognize any names here that go to the place I’m talking about (though I’m on a different name there)…

    Is sending out a little prayer when in distress or worried about a person or animal in distress and kinda sorta hoping that there might be a God to listen and that things will work out… is it the moral and intellectual equivalent of the kind of “faith” that means you deny someone a blood transfusion?

    Personally, I thought they weren’t the same thing, that such things did not have an equivalence, that one thing did not necessarily lead to the other.

    Then again, I am an illogical, perhaps untintelligent person who prays over stuff, even though I go to a number of doctors….

    Argh, I’m confused. And sad. And probably reading-into things and being crazy again. And wondering why I even exist.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    That was absolutely Ok, DR! 🙂 I appreciate it.

    About the tone.. I’m not entirely sure where I depart from the tone which was set before me, though I do not doubt that I do to some degree. (I appreciate correction and ask everyone’s forgiveness and forbearance here.)

    As concerns the spirit, well, I suppose it’s the best I can do to allow any discrepancies be judged by their fruits in due season.

    Regarding the point and the focus, however…

    I avoid stating very many opinions in part so as it *not* be about me. To me, it seems that, in posing questions (ones which have no more to do with me personally than with anyone else), it’s as much, if not more, about those being questioned and those giving answers. Of course, when others have questions—or even when unspoken questions remain unanswered and the answer I feel is of key concern—I’m quite often more than willing to step into that role as well.

    Here, however, it was the questions that are of key concern, and most fundamentally so, DR.

    If we are “to defend and protect those in our culture who are vulnerable and hold accountable those who are hurting them”, it is unavoidable that we must be rightly able to judge who is most vulnerable, to what, and how to assess accountability. And the realities of these things are not nearly so clear-cut as any of us would wish to believe them to be. And so we must be held accountable for our beliefs about them—this is essential to all the rest.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    :mrgreen: I do suppose (at least in my case) seemingly drug induced mysticism ( 💡 ) is . . more golden 😎 . . than either punditry ❗ or ❓ inquisition.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    It absolutely is different, Shadsie. Denying somebody something is *not* an act of true faith: it’s an act of denial. But if there’s nothing to be denied—when there’s no other help that you should render someone—faith and hope are all that remain to love: there is no more loving thing one could do than to pray in a moment like that (which is not to say, however, that people who don’t either should be accused of being indifferent).

    [ . . . . . . . . inserted to evade duplicate comment error . . . . . . . . ]

    And you’re not being crazy: different yes, but crazy? None of your favorite pastimes involve intentionally inflicting suffering on anyone, right? And you’re aware that you aren’t George Washington, Napoleon Bonaparte, or anyone else but Shadsie, right? And everyone you’re interacting with actually exists, right? (And why *do* we exist? I’m as confused as you are. But I resolve to make the best of it!) Then you’re A-OK in my book, Shadsie 😀

  • Allie

    Your forum argument is a perfect example of what my husband calls “riding the bike past the ice cream store.” It’s a thing that extremely logic-based individuals do where they get going with an idea and they extrapolate logically past anything that makes sense. They started out going to the ice cream store, but by the time they get there, they are just so into riding that bike that they can’t stop peddling and they forget what they were originally riding the bike to accomplish and they shoot right by.

    You can carefully figure out a logical rebuttal, or you can just use the other half of the brain God gave you, the instinctive and emotional part, and say, “Bullshit, of course they aren’t equivalent.” No doubt there IS also some logical rebuttal, but it’s not necessary. You know what the answer is, and in this case, the emotional response is just fine.

  • vj

    Yes! I’ve always viewed it as “don’t presume to judge who is worthy/unworthy” – i.e. don’t condemn PEOPLE (actions are always up for evaluation – “by their fruit you shall know/judge/assess/discern them”).

  • No, it’s not at all. Even if you fully believe in the power of prayer to accomplish something all by itself, that still doesn’t mean you would deny someone medical treatment or refuse it for yourself. To me, refusing medical treatment seems like *demanding* that God give you a miracle and treating God like a vending machine.

    I think that if someone is comparing a sympathetic prayer to denying someone a blood transfusion, then they probably have some really deep-seated hostility to religion that has nothing to do with you. My guess, not having seen the conversation, is that you just pushed someone’s hot button.

    That said, if someone is *not* comforted by knowing that you’re praying for them, it’s only polite not to mention it to them.

  • That is, if someone makes it clear that saying “I’ll pray for you,” bothers them, don’t say it.

  • Ashley Cohea

    A) I don’t believe we should execute anyone. But we do remove the criminally insane from society.

    B) Not that long ago, people “inherently knew” that letting African Americans drink from the same water fountain was “wrong”. Are you honestly going to argue that they were not incorrect? Society has the ability to grow and change and realize the error of their ways. Hurting people is wrong, killing people is wrong, and anti-gay rhetoric does both of these no matter how “lovingly” it is put. Being gay, on the other hand affects no one but yourself an your partner. How, from a reasonable and rational level is that wrong? How is it especially wrong enough to justify inflicting pain and death on others?

  • I cannot stand when I’m told “judge not…” It’s the mother of all red herring arguments, and one that even liberal Christians rely on too often. But then again, I have this silly idea that the Bible is a little deeper than a Golden Book, and That literal interpretation of it is almost never correct.

  • DR

    You’re just choosing to find disagreement.

  • DR

    And the realities of these things are not nearly so clear-cut as any of us would wish to believe them to be. >>>

    They are clear cut.

  • Lymis

    Yvonne, I think there’s a misunderstanding in there.

    You seem to be conflating being more kindly disposed toward people who have wrong and hurtful ideas with bing kindly disposed towards those ideas themselves.

    We can most definitely condemn wrong and hurtful ideas, and work to change them, without taking mean and hurtful action towards those people. But that doesn’t mean we have to pretend to agree with them or that their ideas have any validity. And it also doesn’t mean we can sit by and let them continue to hurt other people based on those wrong ideas.

    Like many other people, it seems like you are putting all this completely in the realm of ideas, and treating this as though opposing anti-gay views is just a rhetorical or theoretical exercise.

    I can certainly agree to disagree with someone who thinks that Jewish people are going to hell for not accepting Jesus. But as soon as they take that view and start passing laws denying Jewish people civil rights, defending people who bully young Jewish students, shutting down synagogues, and all the rest of what is being done to gay people in the name of these “views” then the rules change.

    They can take all the time they want to evaluate their values, and they have my support and permission to do so. What they don’t have is permission to keep hurting people while they work on their own issues.

  • Lymis

    I’ve always seen this as part of the same fabric as the part of the Lord’s prayer where we ask that God judge us by the same standards we use to judge those who have trespassed against us.

    Not that we can’t make judgements, but that by doing so, we’re signing up for being held accountable by the same rules we apply to others.

    Frankly, I think anyone who takes any of this seriously should find “forgive us as we forgive others” to be one of the most humbling, if not terrifying, things in the Bible. And yet, people toss it off mindlessly all the time.

    Or, as some deeply wise and enlightened people have phrased it, “Karma’s a bitch.”

  • Lymis

    Like the “vengeance is Mine” quote – which is so often interpreted as “I can do really vile things if I claim to be acting for God,” when I’ve always seen it as, “If there is any vengeance to be handled, I’ll do it myself, so don’t worry about it and don’t try to do it on your own.”

  • DR

    I’m struck with the tragedy of those of you who continue to keep the treatment of the GLBT community at this conceptual level as though it’s just a matter of “thinking differently”.

    We’re all familiar with the abusive Christian parent who is beating his child with a belt repeatedly because he’s very concerned with how she is dressing immodestly. though he cries when he beats her because he loves her so much and hates to see her in pain, he knows this is for the best. He’s in such a fog, he’s so entrenched in the frantic desire to make sure she’s right in God’s eyes that he’ll do *anything* to make sure she’s ok. He’s terrified he’s letting her down as a Godly parent.

    There are those of us who get the dad on an intellectual level. We get that he’s entrenched in deeply held thinking and beliefs that he’s been taught. We get that education and awareness come slowly if he chooses it.

    But for many of us, you have to understand. In that moment where the child is being beaten? We just don’t care about the dad as much. It doesn’t mean we don’t care for him at *all*. But we care about the daughter’s health, her physical, emotional and spiritual safety. We yell STOP IT. We tell him “You are abusing your child! Stop it! You’re a bad person for doing this! Stop it!” It’s a *wake up call* to this behavior.

    Christians who hold this view of gay men and women are the abuser. Period. They don’t *mean* to be. They aren’t even aware of it! But please, at a certain point, you have to stop thinking in the moment, you can just gently spar with the dad as he is beating up his kid and agree to disagree if he doesn’t stop doing it, and just walk away.

    Our thoughts stem from our beliefs. Our beliefs are deeply-rooted and don’t easily budge, they are not gently nudged. They are difficult to challenge when we need them.

  • DR

    The link to your site appears to be a phishing site. Do you know how bad that is for computers? Why haven’t you changed it?

  • Allen: Fix the link associated with your name.

  • I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent privately reflecting on how endlessly deep and fascinating are all the ramifications of exactly the phrase on which you’ve here focused: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

    The moment in that sentence where all the action lies is in that tiny “as.”

  • I made my last response along the lines of “I’m misreading you, aren’t I? Surely, you aren’t really arguing what I think I’m reading, if so, I just need to back away in shock. I’m sure I’m misreading you.” and am leaving it at that.

    People don’t like it when you point out when they are getting into logical fallacies, especially if you’re someone whom they’ve labeled or who has admitted “less logical/smart than thou.” Hopefully they’re tired enough of the conversation now and I think I’m goinig to be putting that blog I watch on lurker status rather than trying to speak to people there anymore.

  • Oh, I don’t. I know that some people would literally rather *die* than have a single prayer said over them.

    Granted, I once told a guy that I’d “Pray for him” as a bit of snark in an Internet fight. He was seriously treating me like a sub-human so I snapped at him. Not one of my finer moments, as I really shouldn’t weaponize something like that.

    (He was actually an article writer/blogger author on HuffPo, but seeing as I haven’t seen him around in over a year, I wonder if he was … not longer invited to the party for being a foot-stomping pants-pisser about certain topics).

  • Lisa

    I agree Donald. It is God who will judge. We tend to think that we should go point out the sin of others, to them. We all have sinned. Yet we think ‘our’ sin is not as bad as ‘their’ sin.

    It is not up to us to beat people over the head with the Bible. I think we should tell others of our belief, and why we believe it. There is no need for hate filled debates. God gives us a voice to give our testimony, and those that need to hear it, will hear it. Spewing anger and trying to force our belief on others, only closes the ears of those that have yet to make up their mind. (WBC is an extreme example of this.)

    It is God who will pass judgement. We should try to live a good life, and not take away the freedoms of others. God gave us the USA, so that we could all be free in religion and have a better chance at life. Now we tend to have the same attitudes as those we escaped from.

  • You probably shouldn’t be deciding who goes to Hell unless you, yourself, really like hot weather?

    I regard many people with guarded suspicion, which is probably how most people see me as a result.

  • Diana A.


  • Diana A.

    “I regard many people with guarded suspicion, which is probably how most people see me as a result.”

    Words of wisdom from an eleventh grade teacher of mine: “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean the world isn’t out to get you.”

    I too have tended to regard most people with guarded suspicion. Stems from having been a school outcast from 5th to 12th grade. As I get older, I’m finding it easier to take the risk of loving others even if I get (metaphorically) slapped in the face as a result. This coincides with me becoming more solid within myself, coming to see myself as a worthwhile and lovable person. So I just don’t take it as personally anymore when people are nasty. One of the benefits of growing older, I think. Thank God there are some benefits, right?

  • Being the picked-on kid in school sure messes you up for life, doesn’t it?

    For me it started in 1st Grade and lasted though High School, and I haven’t yet been able to “make up for it” in life.

  • I absolutely agree. We place so many demands on childred to learn and be this way and that, when all the while many of these precious children are just trying to survive another day. I also agree about the long term effects of this.

    Can you imagine if we, as adults, should suddenly start having to live in the world that kids live in, all over again. The constant name calling, the physical abuse, and all manner of evil harassment, all the while dreading when the next round of abuse will begin. I know many of us have been through it, but can you imagine having to go through it again? It would be like your own personal war zone, where all the soldiers are attacking you. And believe me, for many, many children, school is much, much closer to being a war zone than an educational establishment.

  • mptw

    The first thing your supporters say to anyone here who disagrees with your pov is “bigot”- for having a differing point of view. lol

  • Well, mptw, do let me know when that’s happened, and I’ll be sure to put a stop to it. Just contact me via the Contact tab atop this blog. I don’t want anyone’s respectful opinion to be disrespected.

  • Melody

    We don’t call someone a bigot simply for having a difference of opinion. That title is earned by those whose views are hateful and perpetuate intolerance and oppression in the name of belief. If you tell someone he or she is going to hell because he or she is attracted to the same sex, then I’d say you qualify as a bigot, because you’re prejudging that person’s morals based solely on their sexual preference rather than their character. I hope you don’t qualify for that label, although you’ve already lost points with us for using “liberal” as an insult. That’s often a telltale sign .

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Perhaps you need to step back and take another look at who was choosing to disagree with whom regarding this point, DR.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Wow.. look who’s just choosing to find disagreement.

    No matter to me personally though. I know you’re wrong (otherwise, you’d be able to answer such questions as I’ve posed), and you will be held accountable for all the weightier matters you neglect in your obsession with—your idolatry to—vain thoughts and the rightness of your own understandings, above even fundamental truths, and pet causes and the righteousness of your championing them, above even those which concern the truly least among us.

  • WtFFFF, Matthew??

  • DR

    Can I get a translator?

  • Ashley Cohea

    Lymis, this is exactly how I feel and very very well put!

  • DR

    Is it me? Has Matthew seemed very difficult to understand lately?

  • Judy *hands gavel*

  • I took her to be refuting what John said.

  • Sorry… tired. I took her to be agreeing with John, but with what I saw as a misunderstanding of what he meant. I was marvelled that she could read what John wrote and draw the conclusion she did.

    I also, independently of what John said, believe her to be absolutely wrong. I does not follow from the fact that people think they are doing right that their actions should be judged less wrong.

  • And what if our goal is first to protect the marginalized, vulnerable and persecuted?

  • Matthew Tweedell

    While I am aware that I am a bigot deep down inside, I’ve often disagreed with John’s POV and have yet to be called on my bigotry! I have had lots of other allegations thrown my way though, so I do understand how you might get the impression that people here routinely use ad hominem to counter strongly held beliefs. But what other tools are there against the stubborn that seemingly (to us, though the reality, if we are not careful, may be precisely the other way around) refuse to see? I try to use ridicule (which is more effective and valid than true ad hominem), which differs in targeting the idea(s) instead of the person. But such distinction is regularly lost on those whose judgment is clouded with the passion of heated discussion, owing (besides perhaps to the terseness of a debate and hence the lack of complete elaboration) especially to the involvement of pride (a sin I myself am liable to commit a thousand times daily). Anyhow, I understand that it can require a great deal of patience to express and maintain views that disagree with the predominant ones around here and yet keep coming back, but if anyone seems to have called you or another commenter a bigot, your best bet is that you are reading into it something that isn’t really there (don’t worry: it’s a rather common perceptual error and is readily correctable by detaching oneself a bit and applying a bit of dispassionate reason).

  • Matthew Tweedell


  • Lymis

    This is a very common ploy for visitors here who think they have a “gotcha” with this idea. It’s right up there with “Oh yeah, well if you want people to be tolerant, why are you intolerant of my intolerance? Nyah, nyah.”

    You know, somehow, Christians manage to feel that Jews are making the wrong religious choice by not accepting Jesus Christ, without feeling the need to pass Constitutional Amendments in 31 states forbidding them to marry or fighting civil unions, workplace protections, and anti-semitic anti-bullying campaigns, or propose laws that make it illegal to mention Judaism in public schools.

    Somehow, Christians manage to feel that people who commit adultery, have premarital sex, or are in open marriages are making bad or illicit sexual choices without feeling the need to strip away their rights to insure their spouses, have parental rights to their own children, and visit their partners in the hospital.

    Somehow, Christians manage to feel that “the purpose of marriage is procreation” without constantly having sermons about the evils of knowingly marrying someone who is infertile, making it illegal for someone post-hysterectomy or post-testicular cancer, or post-menopause to marry by rewriting the Constitution or claiming that allowing the infertile to marry destroys the meaning of marriage for everyone else, putting civilization at risk.

    Somehow, the parts of the Bible about eating shellfish, stoning non-virgins, not allowing women to speak in church, and stoning disrespectful children to death don’t get constantly quoted or used as the basis for civil law.

    Find me someone who is actually saying “I disapprove of homosexuality, but I adamantly insist that LGBT be treated equally in every respect under the law, including access to every civil right and benefit,” and we can talk about not being bigots.

    “I think they’re wrong, but they have every right to be, and nobody should get in their way” is a disagreement about point of view. That’s not what people who come here to condemn LGBT people are doing.

    But you knew that, didn’t you?

  • I think he likes it that way. I don’t get the sense that his goal is to make himself understood to those he converses with. He makes sense, but like he’s trying to find the most obcure way possible of expressing his ideas. Someone need to feel smarter than your average blogger much?

  • otter

    It was a facebook poster with no author….glad you like it…

  • Matthew Tweedell

    In answer to your last two questions: it’s not, and it’s not. But not on the basis of its affecting no one but oneself and one’s consenting partner. (That is simply not the case. No man or woman is an island.)

    African Americans could indeed drink from the same fountain. It was simply not the fancy refrigerated fountain that whites could drink from. (You see, your euro-centrism was showing: one must entertain a presumption of whites as the default and African Americans, though often in the old South a majority, being “others”, in order to understand this the way you clearly intended it.) In any case, it was you, Ms. Cohea, who seemed to argue that as a sizable majority “knows” something is right and another thing wrong, we can presume that this is indeed the case.

    Now, how do you know that hurting people is wrong? Is it even always wrong in fact? Sure, it’s consistent with our opposition to the death penalty to say so, but how are we to remove people from society (which, by the way, is just not what the ultimate intended purpose of truly punitive measures, from which we do exempt the insane) and to keep them behind bars, if not somehow to hurt them when they resist it?

  • Lisa

    Matthew after reading several of these posts, I noticed that they seem to ramble on and on. It seems as though it’s one run on sentence after another. If you were you truly trying to make a point, and sway opinion, you could make your point without enlisting the thesaurus. After a while, it’s all a blur….

  • It’s not just you. I get a kick out of Matthew and his responses, but I seldom understand them. You are wrong though, about Matthew seeming to be very difficult to understand lately. Matthew has always been very difficult to understand, at least for me. I think the best you can sometimes hope for is to just get the main thought of what he’s saying and let the other thousand or so words in the rest of the sentence just wash over you.

    I do not say this critically at all though. Like yourself, Matthew is one of the special people that make this site a hidden treasure for many.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    If there is any way that I could be meaningfully clearer without using over twice as many words, do forgive me, for I simply do not see it.

  • Now that I have learned what a “hikkomori” is, if I had to go through grade school all over again, I’d become one.

    Hikkomori…not sure I’m spelling it right, it’s a Japanese term for a shut-in, particularly, it s a phenomonon among young people in that country. A lot of the freaks, the geeks, the nerds who are bullied in school and crack under the pressure to conform and whatnot just basically go “hang it all!” and hole themselves up in their rooms with their anime and videogames. It’s actually something of a severe mental health problem…

    I’m practically an adult American hikkomori now…

  • DR

    Matthew, I’m sure you have areas of opportunity in how you communicate like we all do – sometimes patterns of feedback, while difficult, are exactly what we need to hear.

  • otter

    Let’s explore the premise that humans don’t love themselves or others enough. This lack of self-worth sets up the perfect storm where people project the criticisms and judgements they have of themselves onto their hapless companions, neighbors and family. It’s basic psychology. You can’t treat someone else well if you don’t believe you are deserving of such treatment yourself. This sucks you into a descending spiral of self-hate and in the paradigm, we are driven to compensate, to attempt to build ourselves up in your own eyes.

    And how do we do that???? Simple! We consciously or unconsciously find a reason to feel superior to someone else. E.g. we judge and or criticize them. But this is like trying to quench your thirst with seawater. The more you drink it, the worse you feel.!Judgement always- always- always cuts the both the critic and the victim.

    So how do we break this cycle? Allow me to speak from the crossroads of Buddhism and Christianity, having been taught both . I don’t mean to be disrespectful of this blog,and ask your forbearance in speaking from my reality. I have abandoned the notion that I was born a sinner. What a powerful tool to make people feel unworthy ! And it does no good. Quite the opposite, in fact. It deliberately it starts the spiral of judgement which arises from belief in our own flaws. And this depressing view echos all over the world.

    I believe the essence of my being is Buddha nature. And while I may obscure that light through my errors, my growth through in wisdom and compassion over many lifetimes must inevitably end in rejoining that perfect state of being. What need do I have to tear others down when we are all a spark of the same perfection??? Much easier to cherish our companion’s perfection and forgive the occasional transgression when I adopt this paradigm.

    Also Buddhism teaches that all beings have at one time been our child, our mother, our father, our spouse, or our friend. Evil done to anyone is therefore evil done to those you may hold dear. This this belief that everyone we encounter has been or will be dear to us is a very powerful antidote to judgment.

    Of course the trick is to stay is this meditative space while taking shots…I have a long way to go with that ability.

  • otter

    Lymis, Nice recitation of the routine hypocrisies of hetero-centrists who use Christianity in unchristian ways.

    In addition considerthe absurdity that our legal system does not prevent batters, sociopaths or pedophiles from marrying. Now there’s a sick joke.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    I knew I shouldn’t have passed the bong to Don! :mrgreen: Suddenly the whole blog is smoking up my stash!

    A lot of wisdom right there though, otter! And I’m right there with you on that last point especially!

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Oh, it’s not that there’s much difficult about the patterns of feedback themselves, to me. However, a pattern lacking in specificity and detail is indeed somewhat difficult for me to apply productively, and this understandably makes it difficult for others, reading what I am writing.

  • Diana A.

    I second Lisa’s motion.

  • So … is the vote to keep him?

  • Diana A.

    Yes, indeed!

  • For me the answer is yes. You know as well as I do John, that if Matthew leaves, so goes the bong. And with me being 1/32nd of Native American ancestry, I always vote to keep whoever is in control of the peace pipe.

  • Diana A.

    Speaking for myself, it’s primarily the rambling that I notice. So many words that I have trouble figuring out what you’re trying to say. I’d like to see you develop a little more directness in your writing style.

  • Diana A.

    Okay, so this was a response to one of Matthew’s comments that has now disappeared. Man I hate when that happens!

  • Matthew Tweedell

    To whatever extend you wish to ensure that people feel more secure in the understandings they express and be given over to brief dismissiveness in the event that any disagreement arise, to the same extend I must recommend voting to get rid of him.

  • DR

    Matthew when I’ve been specific with you, you attack me (like you did above. ). Which is fine , I don’t care but when receiving feedback that’s a pattern, arguing that it’s valid is going to keep people from clarifying, more than likely.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Thanks, Ms. A!

    I suppose I could give it try.

    Previous experience had led me believe that people don’t like it when I’m too direct.

    Plus I myself don’t like it when others are too direct but under the surface have little idea what they’re talking about really; so I am careful, on the off chance or the overwhelming probability, as the case may be, that I myself might fall into that category.

    But how about a more mixed style like this? Is this comment better?

  • Matthew Tweedell

    In some things (typically matters of fact rather than manners of communication), I’m in no need of further clarification. In all else, I see no better way to elicit clarification than to question. Do you?

  • DR

    It’s awesome that you’re willing to give it a go!

  • DR


  • DR

    Apparently if you aren’t nice while doing so, you’re doing it wrong.

  • DR

    You seem pretty closed to anything but your own point of view on how you are communicating and it’s effectiveness, so that’s that.

  • DR

    The internet is a really easy place to over invest. We have no idea who people are, really but it’s often super imports t to be understood online. The Internet is an excellent mirror at times but I e learned to not give people I interact with too much power. Xoxo

  • NO! Matthew, I know I speak for everyone here when I beg you: BE EXTREMELY DIRECT! You can do it, dude. At least TRY it. Thanks!

  • otter

    “Bigot” may not be the right word, and I don’t think ” homophobe” is quite right, either. For those who rationalize denying LGBT people civil liberties, I propose the term “Hetero-centrist”. Definition: A person who believes that love must be ruled by the shape of one’s junk

    It’s not outright insulting, until you add the right adjective…

    “Knee jerk heterocentrist” or ” Redneck heterocentrist”,etc.

    “Sanctimonious Heterocentrist ” is my fave.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    DR, the only reason I bother *talking* about it at all, is that I am open to—ok, practically begging for—your input. If you *disagree* with my point of view—that my communication is too often too ineffective—please let me know.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    I love it!

  • SquirrelyGirl

    Otter, I love it when someone opens my eyes to look at something a different way..thank you.

  • Lymis

    I’ll add “heterosexist” to the list of possible alternates as well as heterocentrist. Slightly different focus, an potentially useful. The definition would be someone who assumes that heterosexuality is always not only the norm, but behaves as though it is the only thing that exists (or matters.)

  • Lymis

    I remember a sermon when I was young where the priest pointed out that for some people, the challenge is loving ourselves as much as we love others – not wallowing in guilt or shame over something we would freely forgive in others, for example. Both sides of the equation have to balance. Treating others as badly as you treat yourself isn’t the intent of the message.

  • I think part of not being judgmental is that we do judge actions–we have to, to function in the world–and we make decisions about people based on those actions, but we should do it with a humble attitude.

    Like, for example, I’m in a difficult situation right now. My husband and I foster dogs for a rescue organization. A couple family members adopted a dog, on our glowing recommendation, and then changed their mind. We were just as much the wrong home for the dog as they were, so we were hoping not to have to take her back. (She’s full of energy and lacks manners and is too much for my shy, timid dog. And we’re constantly trying to stop her from chasing cats.) The rescue didn’t have another place for her, and the family members weren’t willing to hang onto her any longer, so we did.

    I’m still working on not being judgmental about this situation, because in my mind, they knew exactly what they were getting into. They saw her at our house tons and knew that she was bouncy and prone to jumping on people. They also knew that they had a baby and they knew they wanted to move soon.

    But I think the thing is, I don’t have to like or agree with their decision to accept their right to make it. I’m not the stay-at-home mom trying to train a year-old dog (i.e., a puppy brain and puppy energy in a full-grown dog body) while caring for a nine-month-old baby. I don’t like their decision, but I don’t know that I would’ve handled it any better if I’d been in their shoes.

    I think there’s a line between “I think X is a bad call,” and “I would *never* do X.” (I’ve also said a few “I would *never*”s that I’m pretty sure God laughed at, because I ended up doing them.)

    As far as judgment toward people who are anti-LGBT, Lymis pretty much said it all. Disagree all you want, just stop hurting people.

    I also think people create a false equivalency where they feel like they’re being “bullied” if someone so much as disagrees with them or says a harsh word. And yet at the same time, they excuse all sorts of bullying when it comes from their own side.

  • This was supposed to be a general comment, not a reply.

  • It’s alright, I’m replying anyway.

    I’ve learned to be careful about saying “I would never” just because I’ve found that life takes you to strange places. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately because I’m going away this weekened for one of my guy’s relatives’ college graduation and, upon remembering my own high school and two-year college graduations and how the future is/was open — I’m wondering what happened to my life. (I wish the kid better luck than I had, then again, his is a science degree rather than art, so he’ll probably have it).

    I might say “I’d never kill anybody,” but then, I sometimes find myself talking to an online friend about the human dark side and I’ve said “Oh, I know if Dark Shadsie had her way, she’d see the destruction of every member of the human race.” I feed this dark side by watching post-apocalyptic films…

    I seem to remember feeing bullied by some people online some years ago over something I’ve come to see in hindsight as “my deserving to be bullied,” yet, is it weird that I *still* disagree with the tactics and still think it was bullying despite knowing I deserved it?

  • I think I’m a little too soft-hearted and a little too much of a perfectionist, but I’ve come to realize that even in the most civil of Internet conversations, people will say things they never would in real life. It gives me a dwindling faith that humans are ever going to be able to truly get along with one another because we seem to have an inability to truly see one another (those with whom we disagree) as true, full moral and intellectual equals… And I think that’s instinctual.

    In the end, I’m a “Psah! So the mighty Internet stranger doesn’t approve of how my mind works? Well, he/she/they don’t have to live in it like I do. Hell, they aren’t even anyone I need to impress to stay comfortably alive – Not my boss, not my signficant other, not any relatives, not any neighbors, not my landlord…” I scan say “Screw it!” and go look at a cat video or something.

  • This is going to sound weird, but I think I’ve learned a little bit about Buddhism from the media I like alone. I’ve watched a lot of anime and it shows up there from time to time. My favorite video game series borrows from basically any religion it can play with to craft its own mythology and Buddhist themes aren’t hidden any more than the quasi-Christian ones. I’m almost ashamed to say that I’ve think I’ve been subtly learning stuff from freakin’ “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” The sequel series “The Legend of Korra” has been playing with that reincarnation-to-right to friends and relations bit in that the protagonist of that series is the reincarnation of the protagonist from the last series and is being trained in their world’s elemental magic by the last incarnation’s widow and son, respectively.

    I don’t know, I just thought I’d share that for some reason – The East is creeping into the West at a steady cultural pace.

    In my own line of thought, I’m sad to say that I kind of lean toward Chrisitanity’s “humans are inclined toward evil/ego/malice instinctually” thing, but not without some good and some innocence. I don’t think you’re really accountable for “sin” until you realize what it is, and even then, I like to think that everyone has some good in them, and potential for good. All the same, all I have to do is think of Milgram and Stanford and sigh. I make it a point to make sure I never get so proud that I don’t think, under the “right” circumstances, that I’m capable of doing something horrible.

    And yet, I think, Bin Laden was a child once and may have become a good person if his life had gone differently. Who knows?

    Maybe it’s my being bipolar, but I tend to think each of us has a good side and a dark side and to deny that you have either one leads to disaster.

  • *incapable

    I like to think that if my life were a piece of fiction, that I’d be a “good” character, perhaps even a “chaotic good” like characters I admire, but I don’t think I’m immune from becoming a villain.

  • Diana A.

    “…I tend to think each of us has a good side and a dark side and to deny that you have either one leads to disaster.”

    I tend to agree with you. Isn’t there a Native American story about each of us having a good wolf and a bad wolf within us and the wolf who wins is the one we feed?

  • Diana A.

    This comment is better. As for people not liking it when you’re too direct, that may be because they actually disagree with what you’re saying, which is their right just as it is your right to stick to your guns.

  • I think you can be direct without being arrogant. There are ways to caveat things (“for me…” “maybe it’s that…”) that don’t involve obscuring the message. I think if you intentionally makes things less clear people will just get frustrated, whether you know what you’re talking about or not.

  • I agree we need the two. A heterocentric view could be held by people who still agree with equality under the law. You need the “ist” part before it’s clear that the prejudice translates into discriminatory actions.

  • Yeah, winning people over would be nice. I’m just not going to put everything else on hold waiting. There will always be at least a few that don’t come around.

  • Allie

    Am I the only one who isn’t seeing whatever people are complaining about? This post is pretty translucent and I have no trouble keeping the ideas in my head long enough to finish reading his sentences.

  • otter

    I disagree….the negative emotions and their expression as harmful actions arise from an incorrect understanding of the the true nature of existence. This s not easy to define, and I am certainly not up to the task….

  • vj

    LOVE this analogy, DR 🙂

  • vj


  • No, I don’t think that’s weird. I also don’t think that anyone deserves to be bullied. Maybe I’m splitting hairs, but I see bullying as ganging up on someone for the purpose of hurting them. It’s not to protect yourself or others from something bad that they did, or to teach them something (although “that’ll teach them!” is used as a justification).

    But, yeah, I don’t think that someone deserving a certain consequence necessarily equates to the person providing the consequence being right. Partly because it isn’t our job to be handing out consequences to people we’re not in that kind of authority over. (And even when we are in that role–teacher, parent, boss, etc.–there are limits.) Like, someone might say something so hateful that it really truly merits being punched in the face, but it would still be wrong to take it upon yourself to hit them.

    As another example, if I’m listening to my iPod and jaywalk without looking, it would be reasonable to say that I fully deserved to get hit by a car. But it certainly wouldn’t have been okay for a driver who could have stopped or swerved to hit me deliberately because I had it coming.

  • Andy

    Here’s the difference — You, John, don’t extend that to speaking ex cathedra and tell people that they are going to be eternally damned. Even when those you judge are doing so, and are happy to say so to each and every one of us.

    Judge on, Brother!

  • Candi

    Always thought the words should be: “Condemn not, lest you be condemned.” You have to judge, every minute of your life!

  • Jill

    Oh my, I’m so glad I got to read this now. I’m right there with you, otter. Buddhism rocks my world, even as I find how well it plugs me into Jesus.

  • James

    You’re actually agreeing with the stated intention of the passage, which is “do not judge others”. It’s not “do not judge other’s actions”, and there’s the difference. The injunction is against judging someone evil/damned, not judging a particular action as bad/wrong.