“I saw her the other day and she was wearing short shorts. Obviously, she’s not practicing modesty.”
“Oh, is this a new thing in the Church? We gossip and condemn people who we think are slipping? I didn’t get that memo.”
A few months ago, I was on Facebook when another friend and I began to banter back and forth. In the exchange, I called him a jackass…without typing jack. I reasoned it was perfectly suitable for me to use that name because, well… he was being one. (You call a duck, a duck, right?)
Long story made very short: someone decided to be offended (not the person who received his new nickname though. I think he thought it was a compliment.) and in our conversation it was mentioned that I was losing my testimony and “What would my children think if they read that?”
Losing my testimony? What would my children think? Okay, this is confession time: I have probably said that word around my kids many times, usually with the word ‘Smart’ in front of it. If using that word meant losing my testimony, then sadly, I lost it a long time ago.
Obviously, the entire thing was an over-exaggeration and probably had little to do with my name choice. However, I felt condemned and judged and that wasn’t the first time I had felt that way.
In my two years of being a member of the church and my twenty plus years of being a Christian…my paths have crossed with the critical, the over-the-top zealots, and the condemners…all in the name of Jesus Christ.
As a new Christian, it can often take the wind out of your sails when you feel persecuted by your Christian brothers and sisters. When we see someone slipping away or having difficulties living the principles of the Gospel, how do we help them? How do we lift their spirits and provide encouragement without condemnation?
Refrain from passing judgement: That sounds easy enough, we all know Christ’s teachings about judging others. Yet, it is something we often forget.
I am guilty of passing judgement. I find myself tsk tsking people’s church attendance, their parenting style, and their understanding over certain church doctrine. I have also been on the receiving end of being judged…anywhere from my choice of movies, my tattoos, my ‘tell it like it is’ attitude and my parenting style. (Probably because I use that word around them. What do you think?)
When it comes to people who have slipped from the church, we should remember one simple thing: Free Agency.
“Agency is the ability and privilege God gives us to choose and to act for ourselves. Agency is essential in the plan of salvation. Without it, we would not be able to learn or progress or follow the Savior. With it, we are “free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil” (2 Nephi 2:27).”
Everyone’s spiritual journey is unique. We all have our own path and we all have our ups and downs. Being a Christian is not about developing a life of perfection. We are going to sin, it is in our nature. However, we can repent and ask for forgiveness.
It is not up to us to judge anyone. We are not God.
I have a hard time with people who claim to be unable to partake in certain things because of their roles in the Church, but do partake in hateful gossip and judgement Your position in any Church doesn’t give you a free pass to condemn others. If anything, you will be held to a higher standard, because whether you like it or not, people are looking to you for an example.
As Christians we should always be aware the world is watching us. Whilst we are not perfect, we should always try to live in a Christlike manner, refraining from gossip, judgement, and reckless living. If we see a fellow Christian slipping, instead of judging and whispering behind their back, how about calling him up and asking if there is anything we can do for them. Chances are what they really want is to be welcomed back. Or maybe not… but at least they know there is at least one person who cares and would be welcoming them back with open arms.
Judge not, that ye be not judged. ~Matthew 7:1
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. ~Exodus 20:16
The Parable of the Lost Son: Luke 15:11-32