Bags of Bran


Obfuscation Texts: Part Two, Matthew 7:1a (KJV)
March 18, 2014, 8:14 pm
Filed under: Destined to get me in trouble

Judge not…

Matthew 7:1a

Verses like 1 Samuel 16:7, if you are willing to ignore context, can be truly handy in certain situations. For example, if you were inclined to show up at a nice, formal American evangelical (first) wedding in a sleeveless surfboard company t-shirt, a cowboy hat, swim trunks, and roller skates (I hope you would be disinclined), you could cite 1 Samuel 16:7 and deploy an impenetrable force field of pious fog against which any objection would be seen as scurrilous and narrow-minded. If that didn’t stop the pestering Shimei dead in his tracks, you would unsheathe Excalibur: the first two words of Matthew 7:1 (KJV).

“Judge not.” That particular citation, even from an interloper dressed for comic effect, would so drastically turn the tables that the critic would suddenly be perceived by his peers as a harsh and peevish builder of little empires of spiritual acceptability according to his elitist tastes. This, you will agree, is a fate worse than the thousand deaths of a coward. But I would not be hasty with this tactic: I would reserve Matthew 7:1 (KJV) for only the most aggressive of critics: it is much like the Scarlet Letter to be tarred with the epithet “judgmental” among their tribe, and could render my critic suspicious in the eyes of his peers for a long time. Chivalry demands restraint in such cases.

It is unfortunate for those looking for silver bullets that “Judge not” in Matthew 7 comes at the head of a whole chapter that assumes that the reader is committed to the idea that making right judgments is a key component of the religious life. For example, if you read the rest of Matthew 7, it appears that you need to be able to discern who are the dogs and swine among humanity, unless you honestly think that Jesus’ monologue had taken an unexpected turn toward the husbandry of domesticated mammals. Furthermore, if you do any collateral reading on the matter, is not difficult to discover that those early verses in Matthew 7 condemn hypocritical judgment, such as fellows joining the bandwagon of online deprecation when a popular celebrity teacher lapses morally or ethically, while those same bandwagoners cultivate scandalous computer habits in the same browsing session. For example.

But if you are so inclined as to dress in the abovementioned manner in the abovementioned circumstance, I would not worry much about that (you would have plenty of other things to worry about!). Just say “Judge not” at people. There is a good chance that if you’re among people where “Judge not” still works like garlic on vampires, you’re in little danger of being called to account on frilly matters such as the context in which words are found.

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2 Comments so far
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This post has the tone of judgmentalism.

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Comment by David

“Judge not.”

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Comment by christopheram




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