If it is not fresh on your mind, please read my previous post "Right Living or Right Thinking?" before proceeding with this series.
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged." (Matt 7:1)
This is the favorite verse in the Bible of a pluralistic and relativistic society. It is quoted so many times in an effort to keep Christians from making judgments on others for their behaviors. Today, I'm going to start a short series of discussions about judgment. I'll start with what "judgment" means.
The first meaning is "to discern". A "discernment" takes place when an individual observes (or perceives) something and makes a decision (or action) about it based on those observances. For a simple example, I may observe a ball. Based on its color, shape, and texture, I can discern that it is a football. Further, I can observe a player using the football and discern, based on my observations of his playing and my understanding of the game of football, whether or not he is a good player.
The second meaning is "to condemn". A "condemnation" takes place when an individual uses a discernment to pronounce a punishment. Let us go back to the example of the football player. For this, let's say that we discerned that the football player sucks. As a result, we decide to kick him off our team. This would be a pronouncement of punishment. "Condemnation" is a reasonable extension of "discernment".
The third meaning is "to exonerate". A "exoneration" takes place when an individual uses a discernment to pronounce a release. Back to the football player. Here he is discerned to be a valuable player. As a result, he remains on the team. This would be a pronouncement of release (from the possibility of being cut).
Both "condemnation" and "exoneration" are reasonable extensions of "discernment". But is condemnation or exoneration ever appropriate? If so, when? I will tackle those in Part 2.