A preacher preached that it is not judging to tell a scripture for it is truth. He was applying the idea to the virtual case that may happen between a Christian and a gay. His point was that to tell a gay that ‘it is not right to be a gay according to the Scripture (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)’ is not a judgment that Jesus taught not to do in Matthew 7:1. Obviously, he meant that such telling a truth is rather a responsibility for Christians to do; so I believe that he was imperatively encouraging his listeners to do so as they may be in situations that they encounter a gay. Is that right? And is the idea coincident with the teaching of Jesus Christ?
I am not sure what I would be able to do to a gay person, for I have never encountered one personally so far. So, what I would be writing is not from my experience but from my understanding of the Scripture. I will list two of the biblical rationales that, I think, apply to this case. One is what Jesus taught in Matthew 7:1-5. It is almost directly about what is judging in negative sense, that is, unrighteous judgment, and what Christians should do in regard with judging. The other is what the essence is that makes what Christians would do to others not a judgement Jesus teaches not to do. I will talk about this using a couple of passages and verses of the Scripture. I hope this discussion would help those get an answer, who are trying to figure out what to do in such situations that the preacher was concerned about, and furthermore, help the readers of this article understand about judging others in Christian manner.
It is not a purpose of this article to exposit the whole passage, Matthew 7:1-5. I will do as much as it needs to address the question, that the preacher raised, whether telling truth of the Scripture is not judging others unrighteously. It would be agreeable almost to every Christian that Matthew 7:1-5 is, partly or wholly, about judging. In the passage Jesus teaches not to judge. However, it is not right to go to an extreme to take this passage as to prove that Christians should not judge others at all. If we remember at least a couple of verses in the New Testament it becomes obvious that Christians have the responsibility to judge at least in the church, that is, to judge righteously, such as, Matthew 7:15-20, John 7:24; 1 Corinthians 5:12b and 6:2-3. However, Jesus’ teaching here is not to pronounce unrighteous judgement.
While Jesus is teaching against unrighteous judgment in Matthew 7:1-5, he mentions telling the truth to others, who also may be the victims of the unrighteous judgment. The person who judges unrighteously first sees a speck—in reality, a brother has a speck in his eye (v. 3). Therefore, it is a truth or a fact that the brother has a speck in his eye and he may need someone to take it out of his eye. Then, the person tells the brother the truth or the fact and says, “Let me take the speck out of your eye” (v. 4). However, there is a huge problem. The person has a log in his or her eye. The situation is like this, an eye doctor, who has an eye infection that he does not see properly, is trying to perform a surgery on his patient’s eye. Would anyone let the doctor do it to him or her? Nobody would.
What is the problem of the case? Wasn’t the person telling the truth or fact that the brother had a speck in his eye and he would need to take it out of the eye? What was wrong, while the person was telling the truth? The preacher might say, ‘No there is nothing wrong because the person was telling a truth.’ Nevertheless, in reality, there would be nobody who would let the half-blind eye doctor to take a surgery on his or her eye. In this crazy world, however, there may be some ones who might do so. However, anyway, Jesus is saying to this case like, ‘Do not pronounce such an unrighteous judgment, you hypocrite!’
Jesus’ teaching is absolutely right as the truth is in him (Ephesians 4:21). What one tells to a person is a truth to him or herself does neither make it nonjudgmental nor righteous. Telling a truth in some situations can work just as a stabbing the person’s heart and hindering the work of the Holy Spirit. I am not saying merely that one has to consider the situation even when what he or she would tell a person may be a truth. What I am really trying to say is that, when there is the wrong thing, even telling a truth is just judgmental and the person who is doing it is not practicing righteousness. Having a log in his or her own eyes is what Jesus means as the wrong thing. It is, in our illustration of the eye doctor, his half-blindness because of the eye infection.
Now, let’s talk about the essence that makes what Christians would do to others not an unrighteous judgment. It is what is hindered by the log in the person’s eye who would like to tell a truth to a brother, who has just a speck in the eye, in Jesus’ teaching. What is that? It is love of the brother. If one tells the brother, who may be in sin, a truth without love, it is not reviving him but it may rather killing him, and further, hindering the work of the Lord. The preacher may still argue against Jesus’ teaching, saying, ‘But I am telling the truth!’ No difference. Even if he speaks to a gay person a word of God, for example, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, which condemns the homosexuality among other sins, if he is not doing it out of love of the person, he is doing exactly what Jesus teaches not to do—’Do not say, ‘let me take the speck in your eye’, while you have a log in your own eye.’ He is judging a person as opposed to what he should not as a Christian, not because he is not telling a truth or a fact—he is—but because he is doing it not solely motivated by love of the person.
Then, what is the log that the person who is telling a truth thinking that it is not pronouncing an unrighteous judgment? It is the fact that he or she does not have genuine love of the person but instead that he or she is thinking of him or herself as a protector of God’s truth. But unfortunately, it is classic—it is exactly what Jesus is teaching in Matthew 7:1-5 against the Pharisees and scribes of his day who did it so stubbornly (cf. Matthew 23:2).
Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 13:1-4 to verify this biblical principle. Whatever we may do, even with a pretty good intention, if it is not out of love, it is no good to ourselves and we do not gain anything for our salvation. Rather, we may be sinning against God by hurting those for whom Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, the Son of God, died on the cross (1 Corinthians 8:11). For this reason, what we would tell to a person, who may be a sinner, is a truth, a fact, or even a scripture, if we do not have genuine love of the person, we had better shut up and just repent of our sin not to have such love. This is a principle that the Bible teaches. Ephesians 4:15 also says we have to grow up in every way into Jesus, “speaking the truth in love.” Christians are to speak the truth; that is right. But it has to be in love; it is because, again, without love, whatever we may do may be a sin against the Lord or at best nothing.
Finally, what would we wish that Christians would do to us if we were gays or homosexuals (Matthew 7:12)? This could be the conclusion that Jesus makes in the section that we have to apply to us too. Would we wish them to tell us ‘the scripture’ with no genuine love of us? One might say, ‘Teaching the Scripture is the highest love for sinners.’ Yes, that sounds right apparently. However what does the Scripture after all teach? “As I loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34). What is the problem of the one who persists so then? It is that he or she may not know what the love is that Jesus did to us, sinners, and taught us to have. It is the log in his or her eyes. People like the one do not see the truth that is in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sinners (cf. 1 Timothy 1:15) and just think hastily telling truths according to their belief is practicing righteousness even as they do such a harsh thing to others. They need to see the point that the Gospels commonly make. Pharisees accused Jesus according to the scripture regarding Sabbath law (e.g., Mark 2:23-3:6). Even though they were thinking they were saying a truth of the Scripture according to their belief, it was not the truth of God according to Jesus, the Son of God. They believed telling something from the Scripture makes them righteous but it was just out of their lack of understanding of the Scripture and evil, lack of mercy, in their heart (cf. Matthew 9:13). The truth is that we ought to love our neighbor as ourselves and it is the fulfillment of the law of God (Romans 13:10; Galatians 5:14; cf. Matthew 7:12).
As we have seen so far, that what we tell to others is a truth, a fact, or a scripture does not make it not an unrighteous judgment, but only genuine love of the person out of which we would tell them God’s truth does. In other words, whether a thing we would tell a person is a truth or not is not the sufficient qualification that makes what we would do to others, who may be sinners, righteous. Without genuine love of the person, telling a truth may be just a hindrance of the work of the Lord. It is because we have been being loved with and were saved by the love of Jesus—he loved us as we were sinners and died for us to redeem us as we were sinners. If he just told us the truth without such love, we would have been just condemned but not have had hope to be saved. Therefore, righteous judgment, Christians ought to make, has to be based on pure love.
Telling the truth, which is actually not God’s truth but one a judgmental person believes it is, is not a righteous thing at all. As what the whole Bible teaches is for God’s people to love as God is love, in this matter too, love is the essence that distinguishes righteous judgments from unrighteous ones, even as it may be telling a truth, fact, or scripture. If one tells a truth without love, it is nothing but a disguised form of an unrighteous judgment. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 condemns homosexuality, so gay marriage also, but reciting the scripture to gay people, not out of love, is not what Jesus teaches his disciples to do. What he teaches is to restore ourselves to the love he showed to us and in which he saved us—“First take the log out of your own eye”—and we will surely be able to help them to acknowledge the truth—“And then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).