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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.