Sunday, October 20, 2013

I Was Taught Judgment

As I child, I was taught judgment. I was taught my colors: black and white and the full spectrum of the rainbow. I was taught that the ABC’s progressed in a certain order; and that when placed in certain situations, the ABC’s made words; words, whose combinations did not change, always remained the same words. I was taught my numbers and how to manipulate numbers in many ways, so that I could add them, subtract, multiple, divide, and later on integrate and differentiate. I learned that I had to follow certain rules to arrive at the correct answer. My world had order, because I was taught judgment.

I was taught not to run into the street, or I might get hit by a car. First, I should look both ways; and, when I was really young, I should hold an adult’s hand while crossing the street. I was taught not to touch a hot stove, or I’d get burned. Some experiences I had in life confirmed the lessons taught. For instance, when I rode my bicycle down the street with no hands on the handle bars, and a softball hit my front wheel, my bicycle stopped, but I kept going. Good lessons on inertia and cause and effect. I also learned that there were consequences, both because of my action riding the bike and my sister’s action throwing the ball, which caused me to end up with a broken collar bone. But I also learned that broken bones heal.

Because of the guidance of great parents and good teachers, I was guided, scolded, disciplined, loved, encouraged, and taught judgment. Along the way, I was able to put together the teachings and the life lessons in such a way as to apply critical thinking skills and develop better judgment, internalized judgment. I was taught to make inferences and draw conclusions based on sound principles and my own experience and the experience of others who had proven themselves trustworthy. Yes, I even was taught to judge whom I deemed trustworthy, and of whom I should remain skeptical. I was taught to listen to and respect adults IF they were asking me to do correct things or teaching correct principles. If NOT, it was important for me to NOT do what they asked me to do, to seek help, and to tell my parents. I’m glad that my parents taught me judgment. Judgment has protected me time and time again.

I was also taught empathy. I was taught that I am a child of God, and I am important. Along with that, I was taught that every human being every having lived, living on earth, or yet to live on earth is also a child of God, and each is important. I was taught that not everyone has the same privileges that I have and that not everyone has the same beliefs or understanding that I have. I was taught that we all will make mistakes, some small, some great, and that these mistakes are part of our learning process. I was taught to feel sorrow and guilt and a desire to change and do better when I did things wrong. Sometimes I felt shamed; but mostly I was taught love. I was taught that we have a loving Father in Heaven who sent His Son Jesus Christ to be the Savior of us all. I was taught to read God’s words and to internalize them and to pattern my life as a disciple of Jesus Christ. In God’s words, I was further taught judgment, and the necessity of not calling evil good or good evil. I was taught that I should abhor sin, but forgive the sinner. Often that means that I should forgive myself as I ask for forgiveness from God and feel His Spirit changing me, leading and guiding me. I have learned that the Lord has truly suffered for me and for all of us, so He is eager for us to repent, so that He can forgive us. I was also taught that we are held responsible and accountable according to the light and knowledge that we have received. The scriptures have taught me great judgment. They, along with the words of modern-day prophets, are the yardstick by which I measure what is right and wrong and the map by which I chart my course.

Now I am an adult, and I am amazed that my conclusions about the necessity of making good judgments are not shared by many of my fellow adults. I hope that the lessons on making good judgments have not stopped with my generation because judgment is needed for our success and for the success of our posterity. I believe that in Satan’s lies, which are dispersed throughout society, one of the greatest is that all variances to true Christian patterns are acceptable, or at least that we should accept the inappropriate actions of others as an expression of their individuality and that we have no right to discriminate. Many think that because we were given agency, that we are not bound by laws, cannot make judgments, and must not make anyone feel uncomfortable with any wrong that they do. In essence, the new teaching is to accept the sin as good and as a valuable choice for the sinner, because God gave him, or her, the right to choose. In refusing to acknowledge that some behavior is correct and some behavior is incorrect, some think that they are merely being non-judgmental; when, in essence, they are being very poor judges and not exercising the powers of reason that God gave to them and expects them to use.

It seems that many have misinterpreted the scripture, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” There are multiple other scriptures that can be found, which talk of the necessity of making judgments. I don’t think that it’s appropriate for us to judge anyone in a hateful, condemning, or damning way, because Christ atoned for all of us; and, therefore, He will rightfully be the final judge. But we can, and we must, make judgments about what is appropriate behavior; and, then, be able to distinguish that a person’s value doesn’t decrease because he has or does engage in inappropriate behavior, or because he made a mistake unwittingly or willfully. We are not condemning a person because we acknowledge that something he did is wrong. We are acknowledging that the action is wrong. That judgment just shows that we have understanding of what is right and what is wrong. As far as discipline or punishment, we can leave those judgments to the appropriate channels in the land or in the churches. And, once again, Jesus will be the final judge.

I suppose Jesus’s warning when He says, “For with the same judgment that ye judge, ye shall also be judged,” can even be seen at work with those who have misinterpreted His scripture and counsel. Because in their own self-righteousness about not judging others who have done wrongfully, they are quick to judge those who have strong opinions over what God has declared as right and wrong. I have been the recipient of such kind of backlash many times as I have tried to express my beliefs, because society says that Christianity is unkind, outdated, and shows discrimination. Yes, discipleship is appropriately discriminatory, and it also shows good judgment.

I could show personal example upon example, but I refuse to display poor judgment here and reap the judgment of others, who would be quick to judge me as a person, even though my examples would be scenarios and not overall judgments on a person’s entire character. We can learn from scenarios and even poor examples as we judge and decipher what is wrong and what is right and what actions we will take in order to improve our own lives and become better examples in our sphere of influence. Practicing good judgment means learning from our own mistakes and learning vicariously from the mistakes of others. Good judgment also acknowledges that, while behavior can be chosen, consequences cannot; and while we can exercise good judgment, it is usually not up to us to deal out any consequences; but allow natural laws, the laws of the land, the churches, and, ultimately, God to impose disciplinary action or punishment. But as parents or leaders, or in our own sphere of authority, sometimes it is necessary for us to both make judgments and issue appropriate consequences.

So today I am not going to give examples of right and wrong. If you are a person who has not extinguished the Light of Christ which is inside of you, with which all of us were born, you are entitled to develop the ability to be able to judge what is right and what is wrong. This is a gift from God, whose laws are always just and right, and He has given us everlasting laws covering what is right and what is wrong, which man cannot annul. My witness and my testimony is a judgment that I have arrived at through the power of the Holy Ghost. I know that we were all born with the Light of Christ, and I know that the Holy Ghost can testify to us of all that is true, and I know that whatsoever is good cometh from God. I have arrived at this knowledge, this conclusion, this judgment, not on my own, but aided by the Holy Spirit. Whenever another bears testimony or adds his own witness, you can be assured that a judgment has been made. I am thankful that God has made us just a little lower than the angels in giving all of us the power to reason and to improve upon our reasoning abilities, so that we can all engage in good judgment.

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