How much time do you spend on social media each day? Each week? Each month? The time spent on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter may not be much on their own, but soon, it adds up. Every comment and message takes but a few moments, but by the end of the day, we’ve spent hours wrapped up in the judgment and evaluations of other people’s lives and decisions. What is so captivating about social media that keeps us locked in? What about social media allows decent human beings to express their vitriolic judgments so openly? And have these caustic habits leaked into our real lives?
Recently on The Inner Life, Josh welcomed Father Peter Armenio onto the show to talk about the ways we evaluate others, the psychological aspects of judgment, and what Jesus tells us about it.
Josh presented the Sermon on the Mount as the primary example of Jesus’ teaching. In it, Jesus says that we will be judged according to the manner in which we judge others. He asked Father Peter to clarify just exactly what Jesus meant when He said we will be judged.
Father responded, saying that Jesus means a couple of things. Firstly, He means that if we judge others harshly, others are bound to judge us harshly in return. Secondly, if we judge others harshly without remorse or leniency, God may judge us with very little leniency. He said rash judgment can be looked at in several different contexts, including a psychological one. “Usually, at least psychologically, rash judgment or harshness with others is a projection. It’s kind of…you don’t want to recognize your own faults and defects, so you dislike intensely your own defects and if you notice some strains of that same defect in others, you project it onto somebody else.”
Undue judgment of others acts as a sort of self-imposed handicap, disallowing us from being able to change our ways. The more we get caught up in the evaluation of another’s faults, the further we get from looking inward. Without self-evaluation, we’ll never change our own faults and thus others are likely to take notice of them. Additionally, when we give in to judgment, we are allowing the imperfections of someone else to govern us. We are becoming slaves to our pride. But it’s never too late to start over and try again, said Father. That’s why we have Confession.
Josh brought up an observation that he made about members of his own family. He noticed that at times, relatives would be wary of him judging certain aspects or behaviors that they exhibited in their own lives. It was almost like they were judging themselves through Josh, just waiting for him to say something so that they could get defensive about it. Josh asked Father why that happens and why people feel the need to lash out in the first place.
Father Peter suggested that there is a disconnect between God and people who are always on the defensive. When people lack God and they see someone else who is living personal holiness, growing closer to God, and practicing the Faith, they become envious and bitter. They, who subconsciously recognize their own emptiness, see someone who embodies everything they are opposed to but is truly happy. Most of the time, that triggers a hostile response.
The godless popular culture would like to prove that the theistic way of life does not work. It doesn’t want to see Christians and Catholics live happily because that flies in the face of their contentions. That would mean that having a strong family foundation, being open to life, working hard, dying to self, praying, and loving God works. And that doesn’t fit into the godless plan of secular culture.
As Father Peter mentioned, the term “judgment” is a very loaded phrase these days. To many, it means minding your own business and not expressing opinions about the morality of anything. It means turning a blind eye to abortion, scandalous behavior, and overindulgent lifestyles. When Jesus said to avoid judging others, He meant that we should not be quick to rebuke others for their faults or imperfections. He did not mean that we should allow immoral behavior to go unchecked in our society.
So how do we battle the bad habit of rashly judging others’ flaws? As St. Augustine said, we should first turn inward to analyze ourselves. Once we remove “the log” in our own eye, we will see much better, and it will be much easier to remove “the splinter” from our brother’s eye. In fact, once we remove or diminish the fault in ourselves, it often makes it impossible for us to see the fault in others.
Listen to the full talk below:
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