Judge Not

head-in-hands-sculptureThere was a couple I vaguely knew in college. They got married shortly after graduation – young, beautiful, headed for glory.  After just a year or two, the young wife suffered a terrible accident leaving her brain damaged.  And shortly after that, the young husband divorced her and went on his way.

Passionate debate ensued among us twenty-somethings, especially among those of us who barely knew them.

Pro-Divorce:  This is not what he’d bargained for.  Who wouldn’t divorce someone in his situation?  He was only 25 years old.  He had his whole life in front of him.

Anti-Divorce:  What about “in sickness and in health as long as we both shall live”?  How could he leave her when she needed him the most? 

The truth is that we have no idea what we would do in such circumstances.  We might think we know exactly what we’d do, but we don’t.  We honestly don’t.

[I remember the Pro-Life-Parade-Marching Mom in my first church who phoned me late one night and begged me to take her 15 year old daughter to get an abortion.]

As my brilliant 20-something TBC recently reminded me upon discussing the most valuable things she learned in college:  We Cannot Take Things At Face Value.  We cannot know what someone is going through.  We cannot know all the factors involved in their making very personal life decisions.  We cannot possibly know every back story, every consideration, every secret circumstance.

Perhaps we’ve even had to make a similar decision, and yet the details of our particular decisions are never the same as the next person’s decision.

Only God knows.  And God loves us.

And so next time we see someone whose toddler is throwing a fit in the shopping mall, or we hear about parents who send their child to a boarding school, or we have a neighbor who sends her mother to a mental institution, or our sibling moves to the other side of the country from his ex, or a church friend makes a choice “we would never make” – consider the fact that we may not know exactly what we would do.

We pray for grace and ask for cosmic guidance.  And when our friends make choices we say we would not make, we offer grace to them as well.  Jesus died for this.

Image source.

In loving memory of DES (1967-2014)

4 responses to “Judge Not

  1. amen and amen.


  2. Given that the “the Pro-Life-Parade-Marching Mom in my first church” might very well be an easily identifiable person to someone from that church (or, just as bad, someone might think they know who you are referring to, even if they don’t), do you really think that is an appropriate thing to say? Is maligning pro-lifers really worth betraying pastoral confidences?


    • I really appreciate your pastoral concern. Excellent question.

      That first church & those involved would not be identifiable & to say more would make it more so. But, more essentially, I was not maligning that mother. We are all called to choose life. Sometimes choosing life is not the same for different situations and it’s not our job to judge people.

      God’s grace and love save us – even if we make the wrong choice.

      Reminds me of The Merton Prayer:

      “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”


  3. Pingback: This Week’s Links « Timothy Siburg

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