There are two gospel principles that seem to be in opposition to each other, and have caused much confusion. Confronting this doctrinal paradox will birth us into a state of understanding that will really help us become more like Christ and have the power of his love.
The issue is judgment. Countless times I have heard it preached that we should never judge. The scriptural record seems to support this when the Lord’s words recorded in Matthew are to “judge not, lest ye be judged.”
But we also have the doctrine of Moroni chapter 7 that not only teaches us how to judge, but that it is given to us to do so.
“For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night” (v. 15).
How do we reconcile these conflicting teachings?
Perhaps by making a simple distinction.
For clarity sake, let’s consider that what Mormon chapter 7 is inviting us to do is discern. Discernment is a type of judgment of recognizing light from darkness.
We are suppose to judge (discern) others. In other words, we are supposed to discern light and darkness.
So, what is unrighteous judgment? Because clearly there is great danger in judgment as well (and this is why “never judge anyone” doctrine is now such a popular thing to teach).
What is the type of judgment that we are too cease – the type that Moroni warns that to “not judge wrongfully; (because) that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged”?
I believe it is really simple. Perhaps unrighteous judgment is when we judge someone, and then withhold love because of our discernment.
When I judge someone (unrighteously) what I am really doing is withholding love.
Then I make a case against them. Because, since I am a spiritual being, with a divine nature, withholding love is sort of a big problem. It is to violate my nature. It is to resist the command that is imprinted on me from my beginning: I am to love and to impart to all of creation love.
When I stop doing this I must make a pretty big case. There must be at least the illusion of a reason.
And this is how a self-deception is formed. I have to absolve myself of the eternal responsibility of loving others and loving God.
How are we to judge? Most of us feel that it is completely against the spirit of the Lord to ever judge. The Lord even says “judge not, that ye man not be judged.”
The nature of what “judging” is quite simple. It is loving or not loving. Period. That’s it. That is all it is. Everything after that is a justification of extending or withholding love. But judgment, the type that we are all (hopefully) trying to rid ourselves of, and dislike when we receive from others, is really simple. It is a decision to love or not to love.
This is why all withholding of love is really just a lie. Because self-deceptions are lies. They are the lies we tell ourselves that give us justification in pitting ourselves against our eternal nature. They are the lies we tell ourselves to justify pitting ourselves against God.
God’s nature is to love us unconditionally. That could be the very definition of what makes God, God. Anyone who argues otherwise is in danger of being anti-Christ.
Why the harsh reality of challenging the eternal disposition and nature of God?
Because if you can make the eternal love of God a conditional matter, then you can accuse his Children both day and night. This is the fundamental work of the Adversary. He is the great Accuser. His judgments are an affront to God. He brings us into a state of self-deception by inviting us into judgment. By denying the love of God.
When Christ condescended and provided the great Atonement his love flowed to all of creation with the eternal invitation of redemption. Creation, in all of it’s various orders, has agency to receive the redemptive love of Christ, but that love is unconditional and eternal. Receiving that love is conditioned on the receiver, not the giver. This is why God’s love is both unconditional, but not unconditionally experienced. A critical distinction since deceivers will teach both that God’s love is not unconditional – or the variant and equally deceptive teaching that love is received by all no matter the willingness or compliance of the receiver of that love.
When we withhold love in any degree we devolve into a state of judgment. That is to say, our beings retract in hardness, darkness, and dissonance. We experience enmity. Withholding love is pitting ourselves against someone, and making them into an object worthy of lesser love. This is where the actual experience of “judgment” occurs.
In other words, judging others is a fruit of something deeper. It is a result. Something we can’t avoid. As soon as we withhold love, for whatever reason, we must enter into judgment about that person in order to justify the violation of the eternal order of love.
What is the eternal order of love? It is that it must be given without condition. It must be given to all and in its fullness.
When we withhold love from someone we are also making an eternal statement. We are declaring someone unworthy for the atonement of Christ.
Because all love flows from Christ in mercy and grace to all those that receive it. We, too, are called to be of the same order.
The way I see others is a reflection of my view of God. I can’t love him and not love his creation. I can’t worship the Redeemer without being passionate about what he redeems.
And so I have to personally face deep repentance regarding the unrighteous judgment I hold in my heart – the withholding of love.