Hey, I’m judging …
… the immodest dress of that newly-endowed bride.
(Now that I’ve got your attention, allow me to explain.)
You make judgments. I make judgments. We all judge. We’re supposed to. And in my opinion, this “don’t judge me” philosophy has gone a little off the rails.
It is not unloving or judgmental when we see a temple endowed bride, clearly not wearing her garments, and think, “That isn’t in harmony with the covenants and instructions we’re given in the temple,” while acknowledging a poor choice that reflects her understanding or frame of mind. It’s okay to find it sad and hope for something better for her in the future.
There is nothing in the above sequence of thoughts that is unkind, condemning or uncharitable. On the contrary, there is love and hope for something better.
The line is not when we assess people’s choices for their moral value. We should always be refining our sense of right and wrong by judging. We should be doing that a dozen times a day. It’s part of living the gospel. The line—the unrighteous judgment line—is in holding malice, feeling superior, concluding they’ll never change, and so on.
Recently, my son Andrew was asked to give a talk in church. As a young millennial, the whole “don’t judge!” subject has come up a time or two, so he did some studying on it. The following are excerpts from things he has learned:
The natural man judges unrighteously. Such judgment seeks to condemn and is conquered by pessimism and a desperate search to find fault in others.
Righteous judgment is when Heavenly Father helps us see the true potential of others, while also giving us, through the light of Christ the ability to know right from wrong the second we see it. To condemn the sin and love the sinner.
While unrighteous judgment robs us of our being able to understand and love others, righteous judgment allows us to see a brother or sister as one who can improve, loving them as Jesus does and as you would wish to be.
God’s quintessential command is that we love Him with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind- and to love our neighbors as ourself. The Savior does not require his saints to be people–pleasers over standing up for the truth.
Elder Holland said once in an address that, “The Savior makes it clear that in some situations we have to judge, we are under obligation to judge—as when He said, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine.” A judgment is required there. He continues, “The alternative is to surrender to the moral relativism of a deconstructionist, postmodern world which, pushed far enough, posits that ultimately nothing is eternally true or especially sacred and, therefore, no one position on any given issue matters more than any other. And that simply is not true.”
I just went on one of the most enjoyable vacations of my life, to Disney World with my productions company at the high school. I roomed with a good friend of mine and we’d often end the day by telling one another about the experiences we had. In this friends group there was a boy that we both really love and enjoy, however some of his emotional and behavior skills struggle; seeming to have missed out on a few lessons on being polite. He would often become angry and lash out at others unnecessarily. My friend was being incredibly tolerant and patient with this friend of ours, however it got to the point where many innocent hearts were being wounded. My friend pulled him aside and explained that he was done, and that the behavior needed to change. He reproved with sharpness, truly seeing and understanding his potential, demanding that he leave their company to regain composure. Upon his return the behavior changed, and this individual was grateful for his sincere friendship. Often times those who are without boundaries cling to moral stability, yearning for absolute truth presented with love.
As disciples of Jesus Christ we must love our brothers and sisters, and to truly do so we must warn, correct, and judge righteously. As we work for and access the savior’s perfect love he unleashes that wealth of understanding, sympathy, kindness, and courage that is required for us to become like him and truly recognize others’ potential. Elder Palmer stated in this last conference that, “As we learn to see others as the Lord sees them rather than with our own eyes, our love for them will grow and so will our desire to help them. We will see potential within others they likely do not see in themselves. With Christlike love we will not be afraid to speak with boldness, for “perfect love casteth out fear.” And we will never give up, remembering that those who are hardest to love need love the most.”
I have a testimony in these truths, as a youth in this church I need to be able to stand up for what I know is right. Satan’s efforts are becoming more encouraged, and the society of my future will be one of few to no moral absolutes. As an Elder I want to be bold and loving, striving to make sure that the truths of eternity are not simply left up to opinion. I have been raised by a good ward and a faithful family, I know the truth of this gospel and I have a responsibility to share it.
So, I’m sharing it too. I will notice a newly endowed bride’s strapless gown or scooping back side. I’ll judge it to be an immodest choice based on the high standards we are taught before we enter in the House of the Lord, and the accompanying covenants she so recently made. I’ll notice when a young man is struggling—and make a judgment that he’s likely searching for answers. I’ll hug a sweet, young bride as I walk through her reception line and extend a hand of fellowship and testimony to her and the young man struggling.
I won’t pretend that abandoning covenants is okay. I won’t look to the world’s standards for answers as a way to bring peace and happiness. Why? Because I know better. Because I recognize their potential. And because I love them.
I’m judging—because they’re worth it.
Author Carol Rice is the Director of Communications and Outreach for a an NGO who works to defend faith, family and religious liberty at the United Nations. Her career in sales and marketing has specialized in training and using the power of story. She has helped thousands of organizations and individuals share their stories. For over ten years she ran her own, successful on-line publishing company and has worked with prestigious storytelling organizations in the country, Carol and her husband, Scott, have five children and two grandchildren.