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People who misquote Jesus’ teaching on judging people. (Matthew 7:1-2)

[Card Talk]

“Only God can judge me” 

Dear good christian friend,that’s a great FB quote, tweet, email signature, tattoo you have permanently inscribed into your body.  But we have a question: Only God can judge you?  Really?  Where did you get that stupid, stupid, stupid idea from? Tupac?

[Please tell us it wasn’t Tupac. Not that there is anything wrong with Tupac, but if you are basing your concepts of epistemology and ultimate eschatology on an (admittedly dope) hip hop lyric, then we clearly don’t pray for you enough and this conversation is going to be more painful than we thought. And if it was Miley Cyrus, just stop breathing. Now.]

Mostly we hope you’re not one of those people who actually misquote Matthew 7 as justification for this position: “Don’t judge me man! Even Jesus said that.  Matthew 7:1 says do not judge, so that you may not be judged. So don’t judge me bro: It’s in the Bible!” Let’s read the passage in context (as one always should), which means we need to start in chapter 6.

Jesus says:

 “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.  (Matthew 6:2-4) 


 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:5-6)


 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:16-17)

Notice who the word “hypocrite” keeps coming up? Now we arrive at our Card Talk passage:

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.  For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.  Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.  (Matthew 7:1-4)

Jesus doesn’t say “don’t judge.” He says don’t be a hypocrite, judging people by a different standard than what you hold yourself to. Don’t be like the people (the hypocrites) in the previous passages who also held a double standard of behavior.

Why do we even take the time to point this out (other than our general annoyance at people using the Bible for bad cultural cliches)? Because the most disturbing thing about the bastardization of this passage is that this phrase is usually used to excuse the exact type of behavior that needs to be judged: the times where a person who loves someone with a “don’t judge me bro!” mentality, should step in with a rolled up newspaper, swat them on the nose, and say, “No. Bad.”

Christianity is based on community: a group of people called to a common cause of loving God, each other, the world, and themselves. Community requires making judgments about the actions of members of the community, because those actions affect that one community member, but also the other members in the community. Judgment requires saying, “this is not okay” at times.

And judgment is not the same as condemnation, it’s love. Love requires judgment. And judgment, love, sometimes requires telling someone:

You really shouldn’t wear that in public. Or in private. Burn that. Right now.

For the love of everything holy, golf balls were not made for that purpose.

You said you were sticking to your diet this time. What’s the deal?

You’ve had way too much to drink: give me your keys.

You’re a drug addict and you need to get help.

You really need to reconcile with  …  

Your actions are hurting  …

You were wrong.

Those things require judgment.  Saying them requires love.

Perhaps you should worry if your repeated series of bad life decisions are what fuel your need to tell people to not judge you.

Perhaps you should worry about what happens when the people who love you, your community, stops judging you.

But what do we know: we made this game and you probably think we’re going to Hell.


Casting the first stone (John 8:7)

[Card Talk]

The death of Fred Phelps has been met with every emotion from exuberant joy to abject sadness. (Did you forget that Fred had a family who loved him, and that there are people in the world, good people, who mourn with those who mourn, people who grieve the death of all who bear the image of God?)

Between the calls for ironic protests of his funeral, and the cries against such protests, we’ve been thinking about the words of Christ in John 8— “he who is without sin, cast the first stone”— esp. since we have a card about it.

When a woman was caught in adultery, and the religious leaders told Jesus that the Law required her to death, Jesus was the only one with the needed credentials to cast that first stone, but He didn’t. Jesus, the fullness of grace and truth (John 1:14), told the woman to “go and sin no more:” He called her actions sin (truth), but did not sentence her to death (grace).

Like we said, with the passing of Phelps we’ve been thinking about this card in light of “good christian” responses to his sins. But then we remembered we had another card based on this same passage of Scripture: Jesus writing something in the sand (probably what type of an asshole you are) [John 8:1-11].

Because the woman caught in adultery wasn’t the only sinner in the story: Jesus calls the assembled, ready-to-throw-stones masses on their crap as well.

Why is Fred’s sin worse than yours? Worse than mine?  Don’t you have hate, malice in your heart at times, which you rationalize as righteous indignation? In your car, at the dinner table, over drinks, don’t you spout the good and godly reasons you have for utterly despising “those people”?  The people with their selfish agendas. The people causing the downfall of this country. The people with eye-gouge-worthy, insipid screeds. The mean, the ugly, the inhospitable. The self-centered bastards who are nothing like you.

[Jesus shakes His head and continues writing in the sand.]

From Jesus’ perspective, what kind of an asshole are you? What would He write in the sand about you? Which sins would He enumerate? What words would you read to drop the stones from your hands, turn away, and perhaps get your own house in order?

Perhaps we should all pray that Jesus remains more loving, more forgiving than we seem to be.

But what do we know: we’ve accepted the truth that we’reassholes, sinners who made this game— yet saved by Grace— and you probably think we’re going to Hell anyway.


Bread freshly baked with human dung (Ezekiel 4:12)

[Card Talk]

While we don’t want to take shots at other Good Christians, “Ezekiel bread”?  Really?  While others have commented on this in the past, we still have a few questions.

First off, when you were putting the ingredients together, citing Ezekiel 4:9,[<-link ] why did you leave off the human dung? You know you read your Bible, so there is no way you missed this. It says it right there in vs 12: You shall eat it as a barley-cake, baking it in their sight on human dung. (Though some scholars argue over whether this means that the bread was baked on human dung fuel instead of animal dung, or if the human dung was kneaded into the dough. We’re pretty sure it was the former)

Also, why did you leave this off of your FAQ section:

Q: Do we need to bake the bread over bricks of our own shit like the Bible says to get the full, divine benefits?

 A: No. An conventional oven at 300 degrees will suffice.

In your defense vs 14-15 does record that God (being a good God) allows Ezekiel to talk Him out of the whole “eat food with heated particles of your own fecal matter” thing, but still it was a part of the original recipe.

But larger than the whole “you left out the shit” issue, we’re more troubled by the bigger oversight: the context, the point, the purpose of this so-called “Ezekiel bread”.

Ezekiel was asked to perform a spiritually serious and physically strenuous demonstration, one in a series of other symbolic acts that showed that the nation is going into Exile as a result of their sins.

Ezekiel was representing, in the presence of the whole community, that they would be eating unclean things in the land of their oppressors: that the starvation and thirst that accompanies siege warfare and the death march of exile was soon to be upon them.

Ezekiel was asked to only eat 8oz of “bread” and 1 pint of water a day for almost two years, not as health food or a nutritional supplement, but as a sign that things are about to get really shitty, really fast.

It was a symbol of punishment and despair: that in this forced wilderness journey, YHWH would not be providing any manna from heaven. It was not an ancient method for looking good in an appropriately modest swimsuit, or divinely appointed roughage for a angelically clean colon.

Perhaps the marketers of E-Bread, and the various Christian blogs, recipe sites and cookbooks should consider this.

Perhaps it is important to remember that “man does not live by bread alone.”

Or perhaps we’re just cranky and need more wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and fitches in our diet.

But what do we know: we made this game and you probably think we’re going to Hell.