I have been thinking quite a bit the last week about why we Christians are being progressively labeled “judgmental.” It is a word that seems to erupt out of the very fabric of society, smothering the voice of Christians in the public square, and offering a sanctuary for those who openly oppose, do not understand, or simply do not care to comprehend Christianity.
This is not a political blog, nor do I like mixing politics and the Christian faith. Too many Christian blogs and Web sites inextricably link the two and I wish to avoid that. Still, since politics is so critical a means of expression for many of those who do not side with Christian thought, it is a necessity to speak about this issue with some level of politics involved.
We live in an age when people are defined by what they are for or against. Nihilistic postmodernism has created an odd human, though, who seems to be more “against” than “for.” This last year drove that point home. Many politically-charged people argued vehemently against some person or issue, but when pressed were unable to articulate what they were actually for, or how to make the reverse of the thing they were against a reality. When the political season had run its course, we saw in those same people a new psychosis labeled “Post-election Stress & Trauma Syndrome” or (amusingly—no matter which side you are on) “PESTS.” This syndrome manifested in those who were largely against many things, but once they had wound up on the losing side of politics were unable to cope with the fact that their “against-ness,” once broken, left them nothing to be for. Their subsequent bout with PESTS being the natural outcome of having no positive ideas apart from their negative ones, they lived solely out of their anger toward what they are against.
When Christians spoke into the public square this year, the “judgmental” label was tossed around with abandon. I cannot ever remember hearing the word “judgmental” attached to Christians more than I did this year. Being a presidential election year surely made some of that true, but I think another force is at work here. It is the force of postmodern nihilism, the very heart of PESTS, and the core of what is left in people who dwell solely on the negative.
2004 will be remembered as the year in which postmodernism reached full flower. With its blooming comes a time when what we are for and against can no longer be assigned values (at least in the minds of proponents of postmodernism.) Relativism, so inherent in postmodern thought, has resulted in this resurgence of nihilism. That bleak outlook on life informed much of the discussion in politics this year. What the new Nietzsches accomplished in 2004’s discourse was to successfully stigmatize anyone who was actually for something, rather than being merely against something.
As a people who are defined by what (and who, especially) we are for, Christians drew the most attacks. Unable to understand that a worldview exists that does not merely state what it is against, postmodern voices in the public square operating solely out of a negative worldview successfully used the “judgmental” tag to label all opponents to their cause, opponents who actually stood for an issue. Nine times out of ten the ones labeled were Christians.
We should recognize this twisting. It is the same force that brands love “hate” and calls truth a “lie.” While this affords us Christians the proof we need that the world is hellbent on our destruction, we should not wear this with pride, but humility. We should not counter this opposition with noses in the air, but should instead become more humble in our recognition that the light of Christ only shows the darkness to be what it is. And we know how Mankind loves darkness.
In 2005 I believe we will see this labeling by those on the other side of Christ intensify. While we recognize the spiritual battle, our response should always be one of Christ the Servant. Our enemies are conquered by the burning coals they heap on themselves when we serve them out of true love. Our reminder for this year is to seek first the way of love while holding true to what is good, noble, and pure. No concession is needed to be what Christ has called us to be, but neither should we forget that the servant heart is what overcomes the world. For this coming year let us remember to always seek the way of servant love so that our enemies have nothing they can hold against us. We may never depart the judgmental label, but our enemies will look all the more foolish for using it.
Blessings for 2005.