By: Brittany Ann
According to this study conducted by Barna Group, 87% of 16- to 29-year-olds believe that that present-day Christianity is judgmental.
In all fairness, the study is a few years old now, and the results may have been different if the researches asked people of all age ranges, but honestly, I’m not surprised.
I would have answered the same.
Christians (just like most of the rest of the population) ARE judgmental.
Sure, sometimes it comes from a passion for the truth. We want to see God’s laws upheld and we’re not afraid to fight for what we believe in.
But not always.
Sometimes (often times), it’s because we’re prideful, stubborn, and ignorant about what life is really like for other people both inside and outside of our church walls.
The Difference Between Judging and Being Judgmental
Before we dive into why being judgmental is a problem and the practical steps we can take to stop being so judgmental, however, we have to make a distinction.
You see, there is a BIG difference between simply judging/discerning a situation and being judgmental towards another person/situation.
Both the Bible and common sense tell us we should judge — in the sense of using discerning right/wrong or making wise decisions.
We do this when we teach our children not to get in vans with strangers, when we steer clear of co-workers who constantly cause drama, when we stage an intervention for friends and family members who are making poor choices, and when we bring alleged criminals in front of judges for sentencing.
This is judging (discerning), and this is wise and good.
I have a whole article on why this type of judging is right and necessary (complete with lots of Bible verses) here: Yes, Christians Should Judge.
Furthermore, it is NOT “being judgemental” to lovingly, yet firmly warn friends and family that they are making unwise decisions that could get them into trouble.
We SHOULD confront friends and family members who are making poor choices — when it is appropriate to do so. And the video above has TONs of great advice on when you should/should not say something.
Today, however, I’m talking specifically about “being judgemental” in the sense of: “Regarding someone as ‘less than’ — either because of choices they have made or attributes/situations they have no control over.”
This type of judgement IS a problem… and it’s one many, many of us are guilty of way more often than we’d like to admit.
Are You Too Judgemental?
So, are you guilty of being judgemental when you shouldn’t be?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does it make you uncomfortable when others make choices you don’t agree with?
- Does it make you angry or uncomfortable when others believe differently than you?
- Do you ever offer unsolicited advice or feedback?
- How is your advice/feedback received? Do others appear receptive, or do they appear uncomfortable or defensive?
- Do you become upset when others don’t follow your advice?
- Do you ever have negative thoughts about people you don’t even know in real life?
- Do you ever assume someone is “good” or “bad” based on very little information? (ex. they don’t take their kids to church, so obviously, they’re a “bad” mum)
- Do you justify your evaluations because “well, it’s true” or “well, God’s Word clearly says…”
- Are you more likely to view others negatively than positively?
Sure, you may be doing it because you love and care about the other person and only want what’s best for them. Maybe because you’re very passionate about God’s Word. Or maybe it’s just a bad habit you’ve developed.
Either way, it’s important to remember: The only person you are 100% responsible for is yourself.
Yes, you may have an obligation to love and care and speak up when necessary, but if you’re trying to control others’ actions or beliefs, you aren’t being loving, you’re being self-righteous and controlling.
And no one wants that!
How to Stop Being So Judgemental
Okay, so let’s say you realise you have a bad habit of being judgemental…
You expect others to follow your advice, your opinions, or your personal interpretation of right/wrong, and now you want to stop.
Here’s how to do just that…
1. Pay Attention and Call Yourself Out
Because judgemental attitudes can often start from a place of caring or from a passion for certain values, you might not even realise just how judgemental you’re being.
This is why, the FIRST thing you need to do is to start paying attention to the behaviour, noticing when you act judgemental, and looking for patterns.
- Are there certain people or types of people you tend to be more judgemental of? (Perhaps a certain race, income level, profession, disability, hobby or interest?)
- Are there specific places or situations where you tend to be more judgemental? (Maybe at church, school, volunteer opportunities, or people in the media?)
- What specific negative thoughts are popping into your head?
Start paying attention. Depending on how often you have these judgemental thoughts and attitudes, you may want to take note for a couple of weeks or even a couple of months to really figure out the patterns.