Sunday, November 1, 2015

"Don't Judge Me" - Whiny Excuse or Generational Subtext?

Generational differences and generational communication gaps intrigue me, especially as an obstruction of harmony between Christians and towards those outside the church. Often these misunderstandings result in blaming and complaining instead of cooperative progress.
One of familiar negative stereotypes about our generation is their propensity to scream "don't judge me!" in response to having their flaws pointed out (by anybody, in any context).
Although the phrase is sometimes used as an excuse not to engage in positive change, it is still worth listening to in such situations because it indicates a need for support and compassion. People who ask not to be judged clearly feel they are being rebuked coldly by someone who does not care for their wellbeing. 
I believe that what is often viewed as a secular attitude of moral ambiguity may actually be more of a crying-out for a true Christian response that overrides the legalism of much of the Christian population. People who use the phrase "don't judge me" may think they are asking for moral ambiguity, but actually they are just expressing a human need for compassion and understanding that they should be receiving from the church at large and on an individual level, but are not.
Often we look at the culture's moral downfall as a problem of the culture itself. We might imply or say outright, "Why can't you stop being so sinful? God will send you to hell for your rebellion." But not only will the suffering find such antagonism irritating and degrading, they will frame their own negative attitude as a result of our own failure to represent Christ properly - and who can blame them?
I believe it is God's job to convict people, while we recognize the turning of a culture to sin as an answer to questions and anxieties inside themselves as a problem that we as representatives of Christ's message should be addressing, but are not.
Moral ambiguity in the culture and manifestations of it like the "don't judge me" attitude are not, as they seem, a request for a lack of accountability. Nobody truly wants to be free from standards of good behavior, and if they think they do, they soon find out just how far their new "freedom" will take them. Rather the plea to avoid judgment is a recognition of common humanity and an expression of the need for a safe place in order to grow.

If we represent the joy and peace that God brings instead of the antagonism and angst that the actions of others provoke, I believe God will have space to work in the hearts of the "don't judge me" generation.

They will find the earthly image of Him attractive instead of repulsive. They will begin to see belief in God as an answer to their problems - of identity, of helplessness, of insecurity, of aloneness - all these feelings that contribute to the need to cry "Don't judge me, I'm still figuring it out" - instead of an aggravation of these issues.
When the voice of the church says "I will judge you because that is what God tells me to do so you can get over it," then individuals who feel they cannot define themselves and who are searching for answers will not come to the church.

They will go somewhere else. They will go to politicians, or doctors, or social movements. This is a tragedy, because these groups and individuals largely end up exploiting people and their ideals in order to accomplish their own agendas; little true healing occurs, and more bitterness grows in the hearts of those seeking meaning for their lives.
When the voice of the church says "We will live and learn with you. We love our community and we will love you" there will no longer be a need to snap "don't judge me." Because the fearful, closeted, insecure, confused will know they have a safe place in the church. They will not feel they have to leverage politically to attain a safe place. They will have one already and they will have it in the place where they really will find answers.

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