Welcome to Tween Talk for Latter-day Saints! This week, episode 18 of Tween Talk is about judging others.
Tween Talk Episode #18
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Tween Talk 18 Transcript
Have you ever wondered how to judge between right and wrong without judging other people?
Hey y’all, welcome back!
I’m glad to have you here. Before we get into today’s podcast, however, I need to let y’all know that this will be the last podcast for the foreseeable future.
I am pregnant with our fourth kid, and this pregnancy is taking a harder toll on me and my Crohn’s than we expected. As a result, I need to lighten my load for a while.
I’m hoping that after he or she is born, I will be able to start doing these again.
In the meantime, I will always be available by email or in my Facebook group. You can either of those on my blog savingtalents.com/podcast
Because this is the last one for a while, I wanted to talk about something really important.
As I’ve talked with you about all these commandments and whether or not they’re doctrine, principles, or applications, I’ve told you that it’s important how we don’t judge others for their applications, and we shouldn’t allow others’ judgments of us to affect us.
I know, that’s so much easier said than done.
One big difficulty is that the world seems to feel as if you don’t verbally approve with what they’re doing, it means you’re being judgmental of them.
So then they get angry and tell you that Christ said not to judge others.
So what do we do when we’re not sure about a commandment or how to apply it?
We go back to the doctrine.
We covered the Plan of Salvation, including Judgment Day, quite thoroughly in the first several episodes of this podcast.
On Judgment Day, it will be Heavenly Father, along with Jesus Christ, who is doing the judging.
D&C 137:9 says, “For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.”
This means it is NOT of us to judge people about where they will end up in the eternities.
That is between them and God.
This is called “condemnation.” To condemn someone means to sentence them to punishment.
So it is not our place to condemn.
But what about in this lifetime?
We’re told to make good friends – how can we choose those friends without making judgment of some kind?
Doctrine and Covenants 38:42 says, “And go ye out from among the wicked. Save yourselves.”
So we’re not supposed to condemn, but we’re supposed to figure out who is wicked.
It sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it?
Years ago, before my mission – and no, I’m not going to tell you exactly HOW many years ago this was – we had this same conversation in an institute class in my hometown.
One young man in our class said something I’ll never forget. He opened the scriptures and read Matthew 7:15–16, which says, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?”
He then said, “God doesn’t want us to judge others, but he does expect us to be fruit inspectors.”
I’ve always liked that analogy – to be a fruit inspector.
Christ Himself discussed judging others. In Matthew 7:1, it says, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”
But if you look at the footnote for that verse, there’s a Joseph Smith Translation there.
You see, the Bible has been translated from language to language over the centuries. One of the last projects Joseph Smith worked on was to read through the Bible and, through inspiration, made corrections. One of those was that verse – a few key words were missing.
According to the Spirit’s inspiration to Joseph Smith, the words Christ originally spake said, Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment.”
Then the following verses give instruction on how to make those righteous judgments:
“For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”
In True to the Faith under the topic “Judging Others,” it says, “Sometimes people feel that it is wrong to judge others in any way. While it is true that you should not condemn others or judge them unrighteously, you will need to make judgments of ideas, situations, and people throughout your life. The Lord has given many commandments that you cannot keep without making judgments, such as being aware of false prophets or going out from the wicked. You need to make judgments of people in many of your important decisions, such as choosing friends, voting for government leaders, and choosing an eternal companion.
“Judgment is an important use of your agency and requires great care, especially when you make judgments about other people. All your judgments must be guided by righteous standards. Remember that only God, who knows each individual’s heart, can make final judgments of individuals.”
Along those same lines, in the April 2010 General Conference, Elder Gregory A. Schwitzer gave an excellent talk entitled, “Developing Good Judgment and Not Judging Others.” In it, he says, “We live in a world in which many situations require us to make judgments that are often difficult. Yet the Savior gave the commandment to “judge not” our fellowman. How can we do this and still exercise good judgment in a world full of deception and corruption? We must judge well when making critical decisions in each phase of our life, such as choosing friends, finding an eternal companion, or choosing an occupation that will allow us to care for our family and serve the Lord. Although the Savior asked us not to judge others, He still expects us to use excellent judgment.”
He then goes on to give four guides to developing good judgment. I highly recommend you go read them on your own! You can get a link to the talk on the blog www.savingtalents.com/podcast
It’s important as you go through life being a fruit inspector that you stay close to these guides on good judgment.
The truth is, you’re going to make judgments and decisions about people and situations countless times. Remember those flowcharts, those blueprints we drew up?
Each time we reach a spot where there are two arrows, we have to make a judgment on what to do. And sometimes, that involves people and the choices they’re making.
We may need to look at them and inspect their fruits.
Just because someone has different applications than you do does NOT mean they are putting forth bad fruits.
But if they’re trying to insist you are wrong in your own applications, then that IS bad fruit.
A few examples specifically come to mind.
We moved one summer to a new town and a new ward. Our stake Girls’ Camp was the following week, and it was the first time meeting the girls in my new ward. As we walked from the tent to the lake one morning, I was surprised to hear their conversation riddled with profanity. My face must have shown my feelings, because one girl turned to me and demanded, “Do you swear?”
I told her no, I didn’t, and she rolled her eyes, then proceeded to link arms with the other girls and walk quickly ahead of me on the trail, leaving me behind.
That was the start of quite a bit of bullying that occurred from the girls in the ward – all because by sticking to my own standards, they felt I was judging them, and they were punishing me for it.
A few years later, when I was in high school, we moved again – this time to a completely new state. I was the only member of the Church my age in our entire high school, and one of only two in the entire county.
There were a few girls in the Young Women’s group, but none that I really got to know well. I was forced to look outside my ward for friends, and I learned some valuable lessons.
Interestingly enough, I found that the “good” kids actually pressured me to do things I didn’t feel comfortable with, while the “bad” kids – those who did drugs, dressed all in black, skipped classes, etc – were the ones who were the most supportive of my standards!
I remember one Friday at lunch, one of them turned to me and said, “Hey, Tiffany, we’re having a party this weekend. There’s going to be a lot of drinking and some drugs. We know you won’t want to go, but we wanted to tell you about it because we didn’t want you to think that we left you out because we didn’t like you or something.”
It was actually very touching to me that they cared enough about my feelings to not only respect my standards, but help me enforce them for myself.
A few months later, a new kid moved into the school. It was a rather small high school – I think my graduating class had only about 200 kids in it, so someone new was a big deal. This kid, with his goth clothes and his chains, immediately joined our group – you could kind of tell by the way my friends dressed that this was probably the group with whom he’d fit in best, as opposed to the cheerleaders and football players on the other wide of the cafeteria.
Partway through lunch, this kid started telling a story that was laced with quite a bit of profanity. He only made it a sentence or two before one of my friends punched him in the arm and motioned to me, saying, “Hey! We don’t talk like that in front of the Mormon!”
Again, I was so grateful that I had found a group of friends who supported me in my values. My choices to not swear or do drugs didn’t once make them think I was being judgmental.
Like Christ said – by their fruits, ye shall know them.
Now, this doesn’t mean the “bad” kids are better than the kids at church. It simply means we need to make judgments about our friends and those with whom we associate with by how they support us and make us feel about our own desires to choose the right and grow closer to God.
In a speech made at BYU by Elder Dallin H. Oaks entitled “Judge Not and Judging,” he talks about making these kind of fruit inspections, only he calls them Intermediate Judgments.
The entire talk is incredible and gives clear direction and supporting statements from the Savior and the scriptures about how we SHOULD be making intermediate judgments. In each statement, however, the Savior makes it clear that we should be judging righteously.
If someone at church is wearing a spaghetti strap shirt or is passing the sacrament in a green shirt, we have no right to look at them in judgment of their desires to follow the Lord.
However, if that person then makes fun of you for trying to wear shirts that cover your shoulders, then you DO have the right to make an intermediate judgment that that person isn’t one you want to have as a friend.
In this speech, Elder Oaks – now President Oaks – gives xxxx principles of what makes a judgment righteous.
1 – a righteous judgment MUST be intermediate. It is NOT a condemnation, where a declaration is made that the person has forfeited their eternal salvation. To do so is to deny the Atonement. And remember, the judgment you use to judge will be used against you. If you state that someone cannot repent, then you deny yourself access to that same repentance.
2 – a righteous judgment will be guided by the Spirit of the Lord, not by anger, revenge, jealousy, or self-interest.
3 – to be righteous, an intermediate judgment must be within our stewardship. If you see someone taking the sacrament that you feel is unworthy (like you saw them doing drugs earlier in the week), that isn’t something you should worry about unless you’re the bishop.
4 – righteous intermediate judgment of a person means that we should, if possible, refrain from judging until we have adequate knowledge of the facts.
5 – a righteous judgment means that, whenever possible, we will refrain from judging people and only judge situations. For example, if a teenager decides to choose to start smoking, the parents have the right to ask them to not smoke in the home or in front of younger siblings. That is judgment of the situation, not the person.
6 – the last principle of righteous judgment is that it will apply righteous standards. This means that it is based on doctrine and principles that have come directly from the prophet and apostles, not the applications we have received for ourselves.
One example of this is Mary and Martha. You remember the story, right? Jesus was at their home teaching. Mary sat at His feet to listen, and Martha went about cooking and making preparations. She turned to the Lord in frustration, asking Him to tell Mary to help her.
Now, Martha didn’t make the wrong choice in showing her love for the Lord. But her problem was trying to force HER application of showing her love to the Savior onto her sister.
So now that we’ve thoroughly covered how to not judge individuals, what do we say when people claim we are being judgmental when we vote or express our opinions according to our beliefs or standards?
Two common arguments for this include same-sex marriage and abortions.
If we aren’t trying to impose our applications onto others, or make judgments, then why do we have such a strong voice against these?
That’s a valid question. We know from the 11th Article of Faith that we should allow all men to worship God (or not worship Him) how they wish.
So doesn’t that contrast with us voting to make abortion illegal, or fighting against laws that make same-sex marriage legal?
Unfortunately, those are complex situations, and the questions do not have simple answers.
I was on my mission when California put Proposition 8 up for vote, which would allow same-sex marriages to be performed legally. For the first time that I can remember, the Church involved itself in politics and encouraged members to vote against it.
Elder Bednar, who had only been an apostle for a few years, came to Puerto Rico and did a question-and-answer session with the stake I was serving in. One brother raised his hand and asked why the Church was getting so heavily involved in the debate when it normally chose to remain politically neutral.
I will never get Elder Bednar’s response. He said, “We [meaning the First Presidency and the Twelve] are prophets and apostles. But we are not prophets and apostles for just the Mormon Church; rather, we are prophets and apostles for the entire world. We are the only men on earth with the authority of God to speak in His name. So if we will not stand up for righteousness and tell the world what God’s laws are, who will?”
As we discussed during the last several episodes with the Law of Chastity, violations of the Law has far-reaching consequences. As Alma the Younger told his son in Alma 39:5, Sexual sin is the most abominable of all sins, except for the shedding of innocent blood and denying the Holy Ghost. People can entirely remove tremendous portions of their blueprints and eternal possibilities.
Living a homosexual lifestyle, creating a family that has absolutely no chance of being together for eternity, has heartbreaking, eternal consequences.
And as for abortion – what is more innocent than an unborn baby, who is entirely dependent on its mother for protection and nurture?
In the October 2008 Ensign, President Nelson wrote a very clear article entitled, “Abortion: An Assault on the Defenseless.” In a very clear, direct manner, he proclaimed abortion to be a war on the unborn.
One may argue, then, that we should allow people their agency to make those choices. However, is it really agency if people don’t understand the stakes?
When God was about to flood the earth because of their wickedness, He first called Noah to proclaim repentance and warn about the dangers that were ahead if they continued on their way.
How is this any different? God has called a prophet to warn the world about the very eternal dangers and consequences of the choices they are making.
If Noah had chosen to just save his family and not warn people, wouldn’t we label him as selfish?
In the next life, when everything is unveiled, those who made those choices in this lifetime will turn to us, those who knew, and ask, “Why didn’t you warn me?”
There is a very big difference between judging someone for wearing a tank top (which is an application that is individual), versus sharing the consequences of decisions people are making to warn them.
When you drive on the road, you’ll notice all kinds of warning signs. If you’re coming up to a sharp turn, there will be signs telling you to slow down. If there is a bridge that gets icy in the winter, there will be a sign telling you to be aware of that.
Whether or not you believe the signs or follow them is up to you. But the signs are put there by those who have knowledge about what is ahead and what the dangers are.
God has called a prophet to give us those warnings. And those are for the WORLD, not just members who believe He is a prophet.
We should NOT try to force our beliefs on others. When we state that we don’t think abortion or same-sex marriage should be legal, we are not telling others they HAVE to believe it. But we are doing our best to set up warning signs to help people before they make a decision with tremendous eternal consequences.
I used those two social issues as examples, but there are so many more out there.
When you’re accused of being judgmental, it’s okay to stop and ask yourself if you’re being judgmental, or if your making a good judgment.
Someone choosing to be offended or feeling judged isn’t your responsibility. They all have the Light of Christ, their conscience, and more often than not, that’s what’s causing them to feel judged.
If you follow the principles President Oaks outlined about making good judgments, then you can feel confident in standing for what you believe is right without forcing it on others.
I know this isn’t easy, especially when there are so many big issues that are facing those of you at such a young age.
Which is why I started this podcast, and I’m so sad that this is the last episode for a while until after my baby comes and life gets a bit more stable.
Until then, please keep thinking about what we’ve discussed. Not just in this episode, but in all of them. Focus on developing your testimony in the Plan of Salvation and developing your relationship with Heavenly Father and the Savior.
I promise that as you do so, you’ll find strength to overcome even the most difficult of challenges.
And until we meet again, you will be in my prayers. I’ll see y’all next year.