The famous author J.K. Rowling once said: “I’m interested in that drive, that rush to judgment, that is so prevalent in our society. We all know that pleasurable rush that comes from condemning, and in the short term it’s quite a satisfying thing to do, isn’t it?” And she’s right! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ranted and raved at the TV news reports, or some post on Facebook with some asinine political opinion, or even in a conversation with someone who disagrees with me, that I’ve felt that pleasurable rush in my “righteous condemnation” of their “wrong ideas!” Even now we even have to contend with the “cancel culture” that immediately punishes when we say something that is deemed “politically incorrect.”
And yet, we do ourselves and the Faith a disservice if we allow the wrong notion that the Truth is about “being right” or even “condemning wrong.” In fact, the scriptures declare that God the Father did not send the Son to the world to condemn the world! To be sure, Light and Dark won’t ever co-exist, but that isn’t the Light’s fault!
Look at our Gospel Lesson today in John 3:16-21:
The Lord said to his disciples: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that these deeds have been wrought in God.”
You see, the Son doesn’t HAVE TO condemn. The one who rejects the Life offered by God condemns himself! Instead of condemning others, we should pity them and have compassion on them in their self-imposed prison of their own condemnation! The mercy God the Father shows His world in sending His Son to destroy sin, death, and Satan, is an act of total love and with no condemnation at all. What possible good would come from the Father condemning the world? Does God need some self-satisfaction that He’s right and we are wrong? Is God “afraid” we won’t realize how right He is if He doesn’t condemn us? How can someone actually worship and love a deity like that? That idea of god has more in common with the pagan view of the gods in Greek Mythology than the Christian belief of the God of the Scriptures.
No, just like the Father, we who say we follow Christ are called to forgo condemnation for love and pity and faithfulness. Now before you misunderstand and say that this excuses unhealthy behavior, please remember WHY condemnation is both unhelpful and unnecessary: those who reject the wisdom of Christ and His Church “are condemned already.” Their condemnation doesn’t have to come from outside themselves, they condemn themselves. There is no Christian virtue in “piling on” someone who is already their own worst enemy! The least we can do is practice a silence that doesn’t help the Piling On mentality of today’s “groupthink.”
Today, why not abandon the condemning of others? Since God Himself refuses to do this, we who follow God should join Him in His wise and loving ways. It’s better to seek where my own heart already condemns myself, where my own rejection of the Light of the Son condemns me before His Light and Love. To seek first to remedy that self-condemnation is the very focus that will make me Orthodox on Purpose!