On Good Morning America today, there was a discussion about a viral image circulating social media. The image in question shows a young mother breast-feeding her son at the same time that she is breast-feeding a close friend’s baby. Different reporters were weighing in on the image and the issue, and they shared the public poll indicating that over 60% of people feel it is wrong for this woman to breast feed someone else’s baby. However, as they reported the facts of the story, the viewers learned that the friend is unable to breast feed her baby for a variety of reasons and that the baby boy is experiencing difficulty with formula. Essentially, the woman graciously offered to breast feed her friend’s baby for his health and well-being. The final vote came from the “expert” who is an OBGYN. She explained that this practice goes on frequently in other cultures and that if the woman and babies are all healthy, it can actually be beneficial for everyone involved.
She closed her segment with the statement, “This should be a judgment free zone.”
As the program continued, the reporters referenced that statement many times about a variety of other issues as well; one adding, “People should be free to do whatever is best for them. Everything should be a judgment free zone. That should be our new hashtag.” Everyone on the panel agreed, nodded their heads, and shared sentiments like, “So true!” and “Absolutely!”
It’s a beautiful sentiment. Judgment free — freedom from condemnation about our choices or the influence of other people’s opinions about what we do or how we live. It’s a good thing, right?
This whole discussion unsettled me, and I had to think about it for a long time. Is this a good thing?
In these days of divisive language and vitriolic spewing of ideas on all sides of any issue, I am always hesitant to offer my two cents. I haven’t always been this way, but time and failure have taught me that it is better to listen, to wait, to think, and then to speak if my words will add to or improve the discussion. (As a disclaimer, I’m still working on this in my personal life. I am a work in progress and I know it, just in case anyone who lives with me might be reading this). Essentially, I do not participate in the social media discussions.
However, as a follower of Christ, I believe that many who identify themselves as Christians need to consider a perspective that I am only recently beginning to understand.
To illustrate my thought process, I start at the place where many Christians and non-Christians will agree. We often point to Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:1 — “‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (NIV).
This is true, and I completely agree. However, allowing this statement to be our default response to any form of disagreement is also misguided and does not align with the rest of scripture. God’s Word is clear about a few issues that completely debunk the theory that everyone should be allowed to do what he or she deems best. I believe that the enemy of God and His people has successfully permeated the truth with some subtle lies.
Lie #1 — People are essentially good.
At first blush, this seems like a loving and Christ-centered statement. However, it is completely contrary to scripture.
Jeremiah 17:9 — “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it.”
Psalm 14:3 — “All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
Romans 3:23 — “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
People are not essentially good — people are sinful, deceitful, selfish, and in need of God’s grace. If we didn’t need God’s grace, Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross was meaningless.
Lie #2 — Allowing each person to choose what he or she thinks is best will result in peace.
Again, this seems at first glance like it allows for tolerance of various beliefs and for unity. However, God’s Word offers a radically different perspective.
1 Corinthians 3:19 — “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.”
John 3:19 –“‘This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”
Judges 21:25 — “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” (If you are at all familiar with the stories in the book of Judges, this statement is repeated several times as a way to illustrate the reason that the people of Israel suffered so much war and famine and violence).
When each person does what he or she deems fit, there is often confusion and even destruction. Even those who don’t value scripture’s perspective could point to numerous examples in history. Without a standard, there is destruction.
Lie #3 — The best way to show love is to stay out of other people’s business and just allow them to make their own choices.
Although it may seem loving, scripture charges the followers of Christ with a much higher calling.
Ezekiel 3:18 — “When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die, and you do not warn him or speak to him to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood.'”
Romans 10:14-15 — “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'”
Matthew 28:19-20 — “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The truth of scripture is that God has a standard and a plan, and He longs for people to know Him and to be reconciled to Him. He doesn’t want us to just keep the Good News to ourselves for the sake of avoiding awkward conversations.
If I were to stop here, I believe that many would use my words to justify the ongoing condemnation that spews forth on social media from well-meaning Christians who are disheartened and discouraged by the state of morality in our country and our world. However, this is NOT my goal. I believe it is essential to know what God’s Word says so that we “will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good pleasing and perfect will,” but God’s Word is not intended to beat people up and condemn them.
I am only recently beginning to understand what Jesus meant when he cautioned us about judgment in Matthew 7. He was showing us that there is a judgment free zone — a place where people can find freedom from condemnation; a place that silences the voices of those who would criticize and demean.
This only happens in one place — at the foot of the cross.
At the cross, there is no hierarchy of sin or list of policy items or agendas. There is no pundit from the opposing side ready to prove to me point by point how my perspective is wrong. There is no judgment or condemnation. There is only grace and mercy. We all kneel shoulder to shoulder in the shadow of Christ’s sacrifice and receive true freedom.
Romans 8:1 — “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me from the law of sin and death.”
I believe that the morning news panel was right — people long to experience a judgment free zone where they experience true freedom from condemnation and release of guilt from past mistakes. The focus should not be on the rules or the requirements or the varied opinions of experts. As a follower of Jesus, my focus should always be on the cross and the amazing grace of Jesus.
John 3:17 — “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Jesus already received the judgment that we all deserve.
When Jesus rose from the dead and conquered sin and death for us, he came to each person with his arms open wide and said, “This is a judgment free zone.”