4 Comments

The Gospel According to Scoot #1 – Judgment

My last post, Conversations with God #12,  elicited some questions from someone who is having trouble reconciling my “theology” with their understanding of the gospel.  Each question asked is so deep that it elicits a thoughtful response.  This may become a series.  I hope so.  I guess we’ll see.  One of the most prominent, repeated questions seems to focus on how we can love without judgment…

************************************

“Love Others Without Judgment” was a statement given to me by revelation during one particularly pleasant communion with the being that I recognize and honor as Jesus Christ.  It’s hard for us to think about loving without judgment.  Some people that I have encountered believe that, if we truly love someone, we do judge them, even admonish them – as if it’s our duty; that we judge their actions as either good or evil and tell them about it.   This judgment is a manifestation of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  A question commonly stated is, “How can we choose between good and evil if we don’t judge”?

What, then, does it mean to “love others without judgment”?  We certainly need to judge actions, as to whether they are good or evil – not only the actions of others, but our own actions.  But perhaps it’s not as important that we judge between good and evil, for that implies that we understand good vs. evil, which introduces a set of values which are necessarily determined by our life experiences, our culture, and of course, the resulting jealousies and fears as mentioned in D&C 67:10. (“Jealousies and fears” is an inspired description of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.)  Perhaps, instead, we should be judging between love and fear.

It is largely accepted that, by partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, we became separated from God.  Whereas before we walked with Him and talked with Him, now we were separated from His presence.  I believe this is a powerful metaphor – not a literal story – but it is a very, very powerful metaphor or parable and, if understood correctly, an excellent description of our relationship with God.  I believe that this separation exists not because we are able to discern between good and evil, but because we choose to focus on avoiding the evil, rather than pursuing the good. In other words, we act in fear, rather than acting in love. It’s a “glass half full / glass half empty” situation.

Besides D&C 67:10, another of the cornerstone scriptures of the theology that has evolved in my understanding over the past few years is 1 John chapter 4 – particularly verse 18, which says:

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

The whole chapter is powerful, and expounds the idea (fact?) that if we do not live in love, but live instead in fear, we are necessarily separate from God, or we “know not God”.

What does this have to do with judgment?  Judging based on our perceptions of what we observe around us – whether it is love-based or fear-based – is essential.  But we must constantly be aware of the fact that our observations are strictly our perception, and seldom, if ever, represent the whole truth.  This is fine, of course.  We can do no more.  But if we allow our judgment, based upon our imperfect perception, to create separation either between us and God, or us and others, then we perpetuate the fallen state, the state of living in fear, and we cannot return to “dwelling in His presence”.

This separation, then, is perpetuated because we judge in fear.  We judge things as being evil, and we seek to avoid them. We are focusing on the fear rather than the love.  We have already established in 1 John chapter 4 that “God is love” (verse 8), and that there is no fear in love, so if we choose to entertain fear in our hearts, we cannot be one with Him.

Furthermore, when we judge others, or even ourselves, in such a way that we create an hierarchy of being – in other words “I’m better than or less than him” – we deny the atonement, which is the principle, or fact, or idea, that we are all perfect creations of God; but that in our fallen state we have lost the understanding of that fact, which fact nevertheless is truth, and can never be denied, only misunderstood.  In other words, I am no better than you, nor you better than me, and we are all one in Christ, and we are all in our unique way learning to recognize that fact.  Taking this idea one step further, Christ’s love for us is unconditional.  Should our love for each other be any less?  1 John 4: Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.  Therefore, if our judgment induces us to love anyone either more or less as a result of that judgment, then that judgment perpetuates this separation, perpetuates the fall, and keeps us from being one with God; one with Christ.

None of this is easy.  I struggle with it constantly.  But I have prayed, asking Christ to help me; that this – my comprehension and understanding – might become my reality.  That I might overcome my own weakness, my own fears, and simply become love, living without fear, in oneness with Christ.  The process is incomplete, to be sure, but it is manifest enough that my joy increases on a daily basis as I practice these principles in my day-to-day actions, drawing ever closer, ever more one, with Christ.

4 comments on “The Gospel According to Scoot #1 – Judgment

  1. Hi
    Thanks for the post and the previous ones.
    Lately I’ve been discussing with the Lord because I received the same kind of commandment from the Lord. Don’t judge. I discussed with Him the meaning of that because from what we read in the scriptures judgment is everywhere and necessary for us to know how to choose between good and evil.
    I asked Him how can I do then ?
    He told me that what it means is that we should not judge with our own intellect, knowledge, traditions, customs, wisdom, with our flesh. We need to let Him be the judge and receive the mind and will of the Lord.
    Thus the Lord may pronounce a judgment on a person/people/institution and we might know the judgment but we should still love them.
    Take care

    • Thanks for reading, Pierrick. You’re from France, right? My wife and I served an LDS mission in Paris in 2009-2010. I think there are a lot of us who are being taught truth. It typically gets expressed in different ways, but the underlying truth is detectable, so when we share, and we recognize the underlying truth, it is affirming and assuring.

      I don’t think the Lord actually judges, nor does He punish. I think the universe is governed by laws, and when we learn those laws (love) and live by them, we experience peace, harmony, joy, and love. To the extent that we do not become one with the Lord through obedience to those laws, we experience less of those – which are our inheritance – our nature, the “nature of our creation” (quoting the LDS Temple endowment). So, if there is judgment, it’s because we bring it on ourselves by choosing to not be love. If we choose love, we choose eternal life. If we don’t, then we are at odds with the universe, which is love, and we experience death, which death is simply not eternal life. In other words, I’m not talking about dying, I’m talking about not living. Choosing love is choosing eternal life, not choosing love is not choosing eternal life. There is no punishment, there is only NOT eternal life.

  2. Pierrick and Scott, I agree that judgement follows from our actions. There are number of passages where Paul talks about this idea:

    “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another” (Rom. 2:14,15)

    He makes similar points about believers in other passages. But, note the use of “accusing” here and “judgement” in Scott’s piece. Both are legal terms. In our system, a DA accuses someone of a crime. If the court finds them guilty, judgement is then passed.

    As individual believers, we’re not in the position of the DA or the Judge. We can look at the evidence and make reasonable inferences from it. But, actually accusing someone (before the court) and judging (punishing) them is reserved for others. Granted, it’s a distinction that would really take a lot more than comment to tease out. For instance, how does it apply to those in authority within the church or out in society or how, as a parent, do you handle ministering to someone in need but who’s also a convicted child sex offender. But it’s a metaphor that has tended to work for me.

    • Great thoughts, Tim. As you know, I have someone in my family that I choose to protect myself from – as their actions have proven toxic in the past. I do not understand why they act the way they do. It seems unconscionable TO ME – but I’m not in their shoes, dealing with their fears, working with their toolbox. So – I might choose to protect myself and my children from the actions of your “convicted child sex offender” (is that a sex offender under the age of , say 12?), but if I stop trying to love them, then I’ve gone too far.

      As I’ve told YOU before, TIm, what is my definition of “love”? It is to engage with someone with the intent of encouraging or enabling them to realize all of their righteous desires – righteous being desires that are not motivated by fear. It also would mean that I do not seek to hurt them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: