Great Stuff — Why Doctrinal Churches Seem So Judgmental

From Rev. Paul L. Beisel over on Lutheran Pastor:


Churches that maintain traditional stances on various and sundry doctrinal and moral issues are increasingly looked upon as judgmental, not only by the secular culture (which as doubtlessly always thought as much) but by Christians as well. This article in the Des Moines Register Sunday illustrates this well:

Missouri Synod Lutherans in particular are seen as being too rigid, narrow-minded, and not open to dialogue by many both outside and inside the Church. But why are we surprised by this? There was a time when there was some general agreement between the Church and the culture in moral absolutes. Christian or not, it wasn’t right to sleep around. So, it is only natural as the culture itself has grown more permissive and more tolerant of aberrant behaviors and philosophical views that any church that does not change and adapt will be viewed as judgmental and strict.

Over a century ago, poet William Butler Yeats saw the writing on the wall in his poem “The Second Coming:”

TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of i{Spiritus Mundi}
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Yeats describes what he saw happening in the human condition in his day: “the centre cannot hold.” How prophetic, in a way. Which brings me back to the initial point of this post: why doctrinal churches seem so judgmental to people today, well, it’s obvious. God’s Word does not change. And, as long as there was some sense of absolute truth and morality in the culture, the Church didn’t seem so counter-cultural. Now that there are no moral absolutes, any church that says there are is going to be labeled as judgmental, strict, and rigid.

Of course, this is not an excuse for the Church and her members to look with disdain and hatred at others. It is no excuse for Christians to act in a “holier-than-thou” manner. Actually, if a person is truly a Christian, he will look with some pity upon his fellow citizens, as those who have been deceived by the prevailing culture, as one sinner to another.

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord,, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at


Great Stuff — Why Doctrinal Churches Seem So Judgmental — 10 Comments

  1. And yet, most Missouri-Synod Lutherans are far less judgmental than most other people, because most of us recognize our sinful nature, thanking God for His grace and mercy.

  2. In this case isn’t judgmental just another way of saying honest?

    Anyway, “liberal” churches and “liberal” theologians are hyper judgmental. They just don’t use a biblical basis to judge. They judge very harshly any who do not agree with them and their innovations. Just try crossing them, and you will quickly feel the harsh and underhanded way they seek retribution against you. They are anything but magnanimous or generous.

  3. I love turning their “superior” attitude back onto them. Like this:

    “Despite all your tolerance and “love,” I notice that you have a negative attitude toward promiscuity. How narrow-minded! How rigid! How judgmental of you! That man has so much love to share that he can’t possibly be expected to limit his love to only one woman — or man! What right do you have to limit all the love he has to share among all those people being loved? How unloving of you! How terribly judgmental!”

    OK, it’s partly wicked glee on my part, because it is so much fun to watch liberals squirm when they’re on the receiving end of their own words, but it is also the Law at work on their hearts when they start to see how asinine their own words sound.

    Here’s another one: “That alcoholic was born that way. We should affirm his drunkeness and not expect him to deny the natural inclination God gave him. How can you impose on him the awful restriction of going through life pretending he prefers sobriety? How unloving of you! How judgmental of you!” (This one can be applied to everyone who has a natural inclination to sin, that is, all of us. Of course, God did not give us a sinful nature — or same-sex attraction — but the facts never get in the way of liberals demanding that we believe what they want us to believe.)

  4. Just what do you expect? We now live in a culture that defines “Christianity” along these lines. How can these people think any thing differently from what they do not know and will not be taught?

    When Are We Going to Grow Up?

    The Juvenilization of American Christianity
    We’re all adolescents now.

    “The house lights go down. Spinning, multicolored lights sweep the auditorium. A rock band launches into a rousing opening song. “Ignore everyone else, this time is just about you and Jesus,” proclaims the lead singer. The music changes to a slow dance tune, and the people sing about falling in love with Jesus. A guitarist sporting skinny jeans and a soul patch closes the worship set with a prayer, beginning, “Hey God …” The spotlight then falls on the speaker, who tells entertaining stories, cracks a few jokes, and assures everyone that “God is not mad at you. He loves you unconditionally.”……………………..

  5. Longer thread title: “Why doctrinal churches seem so judgmental to people who have been brainwashed for decades through the fifth-column media, NEA-fed propaganda, and advertising jargon, which have drugged their brains to the point where it is difficult to synapse verbally even a simple rational thought.”


    “I hated the (political) subculture of church. I just couldn’t take the people. I didn’t like the hypocrisy. I didn’t like the judgment.”

    “I feel I’m a little less judgmental than a lot of Christians often are… My church is more about facilitating thoughtfulness. Let us come to our own conclusions. Let us decide.”

    Is it any surprise these Eloi flock to schwarmerei-saturated churches like to the siren call of the Morlocks?

    “Judgmental”? It’s their codeword for “having to think.”

  6. Time to start from the beginning and teach why LCMS Christianity is based on moral absolutes. Please explain to the under 40 crowd WHY moral absolutes are doctrines based on the bible and are not rigid, man-made rules based on tradition. Do people who leave the LCMS and other mainline churches for the non-denominational churches understand the difference.

    “Love and tolerance” sound like something Rob Bell, Joel Osteen, or Rick Warren would preach. Politics and personality clashes can be found at any congregation. Perhaps you know of fickle “church shoppers” who constantly bounce from one church to another. Most do not change churches out of disagreement with doctrine.

    I am more interested in learning more from someone like Ryan Galloway: The pews are empty, he said, or the churches “are not taking strong stances on anything”. The newspaper article was written with a liberal bias, as Mr. Galloway’s testimony was a paltry four paragraphs nonsensically sandwiched in the middle of the report. It would be refreshing to read additional testimonies from young people who grew disillusioned by the watered-down doctrine preached by non-denominational churches and have decided to join or return to traditional churches.

    Perhaps Mr. Galloway is starting a new trend?

  7. Carl Vehse @ #5,

    “Judgmental”? It’s their codeword for “having to think.”

    Thanks for the laugh (hopefully my keyboard will be ok from the spillage caused as a result).

    “You say I’m judgmental? Oh, how ‘un-judgmental’ of you!”

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