What does the Bible say about judging others and Hell?

UPDATE: I thought I’d better explain what’s in this post at the top. First, I show where Hell is mentioned in the gospels. Second, I talk about whether can Christians should judge non-Christians. Finally, I talk about why judging can actually be the loving thing to do.

Where is Hell in the New Testament?

Here’s a few Bible verses where Jesus talks about Hell.

  1. Matthew 5:22
    But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca, ‘ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
  2. Matthew 5:29
    If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
  3. Matthew 5:30
    And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
  4. Matthew 10:28
    Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
  5. Matthew 18:9
    And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
  6. Matthew 23:33
    “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?
  7. Mark 9:43
    If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.
  8. Mark 9:45
    And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.
  9. Mark 9:47
    And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell,
  10. Luke 12:5
    But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.
  11. Luke 16:23
    In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side

I don’t mind if people disagree with those verses on historical grounds – maybe because they are not early enough or not multiply attested enough, although I think they are historically reliable. What bothers me is when a person throws verses out because they just don’t like them, because of intuitions and emotions.

Who to judge and how to judge

Did you know that it is forbidden to judge non-Christians on Christian moral standards?

1 Cor 5:9-13:

9I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—

10not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.

11But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

12What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?

13God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

I think this text explains what judging is. If you “judge” someone, it seems to mean disagreeing with them or it could even mean avoiding them. For example, I often speak against single motherhood and day care in front of people who are single mothers and who use day care, for example.

I think that Christians can vote for political candidates who are pro-life and pro-marriage and pro-liberty. But the verse above says that but you can’t force individual non-Christians to act like Christians against their own free will. You can judge other Christians, but be careful how you do that if you actually want them to listen to you. Have a relationship with them first, and then talk about moral issues in the abstract. People get defensive unless you make the discussion about the evidence, not about their personal lives.

And of course you can disagree with people of other religions about which religion is true when tested against history and the external world, but again, it’s best to appeal to logic and evidence. E.g. – the big bang, which falsifies a whole stack of world religions and cults, and is testable scientifically.

Why judging is wonderful and you should do it, too

I wonder if you all remember a while back when I linked to all the chapters of Theodore Dalrymple’s famous book “Life at the Bottom”, which is about the worldview of the British lower class. It’s also about how rich, well-meaning secular leftists hurt the poor by enacting public policies that reward bad behavior and punish good behavior. Dalrymple is a psychiatrist in a hospital, so he sees it all firsthand.

This is from the introduction to the book:

The disastrous pattern of human relationships that exists in the underclass is also becoming common higher up the social scale. With increasing frequency I am consulted by nurses, who for the most part come from and were themselves traditionally members of (at least after Florence Nightingale) the respectable lower middle class, who have illegitimate children by men who first abuse and then abandon them. This abuse and later abandonment is usually all too predictable from the man’s previous history and character; but the nurses who have been treated in this way say they refrained from making a judgment about him because it is wrong to make judgments. But if they do not make a judgment about the man with whom they are going to live and by whom they are going to have a child, about what are they ever going to make a judgment?

“It just didn’t work out,” they say, the “it” in question being the relationship that they conceive of having an existence independent of the two people who form it, and that exerts an influence on their on their lives rather like an astral projection. Life is fate.

I think that young people today prefer moral relativists as mates, because they are afraid of being judged and rejected by people who are too serious about religion and morality, especially the old kind of morality that was focused on chastity, sobriety, worship, charity, etc. The problem is that if a young person chooses someone who doesn’t take religion and morality seriously, then that person can’t rely on their partner to behave morally and to exercise moral leadership in the home.

Here’s another one of my favorite passages from the “Tough Love” chapter, in which he describes how he easily he can detect whether a particular male patient has violent tendencies or not, on sight. But female victims of domestic violence – and even the hospital nurses – cannot or will not recognize the signs that a man is violent.

All the more surprising is it to me, therefore, that the nurses perceive things differently. They do not see a man’s violence in his face, his gestures, his deportment, and his bodily adornments, even though they have the same experience of the patients as I. They hear the same stories, they see the same signs, but they do not make the same judgments. What’s more, they seem never to learn; for experience—like chance, in the famous dictum of Louis Pasteur—favors only the mind prepared. And when I guess at a glance that a man is an inveterate wife beater (I use the term “wife” loosely), they are appalled at the harshness of my judgment, even when it proves right once more.

This is not a matter of merely theoretical interest to the nurses, for many of them in their private lives have themselves been the compliant victims of violent men. For example, the lover of one of the senior nurses, an attractive and lively young woman, recently held her at gunpoint and threatened her with death, after having repeatedly blacked her eye during the previous months. I met him once when he came looking for her in the hospital: he was just the kind of ferocious young egotist to whom I would give a wide berth in the broadest daylight.

Why are the nurses so reluctant to come to the most inescapable of conclusions? Their training tells them, quite rightly, that it is their duty to care for everyone without regard for personal merit or deserts; but for them, there is no difference between suspending judgment for certain restricted purposes and making no judgment at all in any circumstances whatsoever. It is as if they were more afraid of passing an adverse verdict on someone than of getting a punch in the face—a likely enough consequence, incidentally, of their failure of discernment. Since it is scarcely possible to recognize a wife beater without inwardly condemning him, it is safer not to recognize him as one in the first place.

This failure of recognition is almost universal among my violently abused women patients, but its function for them is somewhat different from what it is for the nurses. The nurses need to retain a certain positive regard for their patients in order to do their job. But for the abused women, the failure to perceive in advance the violence of their chosen men serves to absolve them of all responsibility for whatever happens thereafter, allowing them to think of themselves as victims alone rather than the victims and accomplices they are. Moreover, it licenses them to obey their impulses and whims, allowing them to suppose that sexual attractiveness is the measure of all things and that prudence in the selection of a male companion is neither possible nor desirable.

Often, their imprudence would be laughable, were it not tragic: many times in my ward I’ve watched liaisons form between an abused female patient and an abusing male patient within half an hour of their striking up an acquaintance. By now, I can often predict the formation of such a liaison—and predict that it will as certainly end in violence as that the sun will rise tomorrow.

At first, of course, my female patients deny that the violence of their men was foreseeable. But when I ask them whether they think I would have recognized it in advance, the great majority—nine out of ten—reply, yes, of course. And when asked how they think I would have done so, they enumerate precisely the factors that would have led me to that conclusion. So their blindness is willful.

Just remember not to judge people for the purpose of hurting them. Judge others for the purpose of helping them to set up boundaries that will protect them from actions that might hurt them or those around them, and impose costs on the whole society to repair the damage. The best thing to do is to discuss moral issues in the abstract.

One thought on “What does the Bible say about judging others and Hell?”

  1. 1 John 3
    King James Bible
    1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
    4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. 6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. 7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

    11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

    13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. 22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

    23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

    Just wondering how you can continue to claim that we are all sinners in light of this verse? And how you can continue to condemn others in light of the commandment to love. I will say it again, I have been on this blog for several weeks and there is great support for seeing the worst in people and very little in seeing the best. As one of your posters said a while back, when you do this, you miss the fullness of God. You miss purifying yourself, even as he is pure.

    As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.

    I awake with his likeness. And so do you.

    Like

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