Judge not

Judge not
Simon Arscott
Simon Arscott Simon has been sent by the International Presbyterian Church to lead All Nations Church, Ilford. Born and bred south of the river in Camberwell, London, he studied in York.
18 January, 2024 2 min read

I reckon the best-known verse in the Bible today is ‘Judge not’. It’s a nifty, two-word response to almost any moral criticism. Are you meant to be on a diet and your friend sees you tucking in to a big bag of crisps? ‘Judge not!’, you retort.

The church minister preaches a sermon from the Bible about a common sin in society; at the door, on the way out, an upset listener collars him: ‘Doesn’t the Bible say, “Judge not?”’ A politician is explaining the damage that extra-marital affairs do to society: ‘Judge not!’ the newspaper columnists say.

These two words serve as a convenient moral force-field that shields us from anybody’s disapproval. It is, of course, a rather silly misuse of the verse. Try putting it on the lips of a war criminal. ‘You’ve just killed innocent Syrian civilians,’ says the judge. ‘Judge not!’ says the army officer. The police arrest a youth for stabbing someone to death; ‘Judge not!’ is his defence.

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