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Pastor Frank Nolton: There is a difference between judgment and discernment

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Posted: Sunday, August 25, 2013 3:00 am

The News-Sentinel asked: Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, recently said “Who am I to judge?” when asked about gay members of the church. Do you agree with his statement? Do you think it will bring any changes?

It is very popular today to quote Jesus in Matthew 7:1-5 (“Do not judge so that you will not be judged…”) as the reason for not saying anything against homosexuality. However, those who use this verse conveniently ignore what Jesus said a few verses later: “Beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits…” (Matthew 7:15-20). In these verses, Jesus is telling us to evaluate what people say and do, and make a judgment call on whether or not to follow them.

As human beings, we make judgments every day. To not exercise this innate ability we were created with is to cease to be human. In 1 Thessalonians 5:21 the apostle Paul says “Examine everything carefully, hold fast to that which is good.” In this verse we are told to use the cognitive abilities we have to say what is good and what is bad, i.e.: to have discernment and to make a judgment call.

There is a big difference in judging others, which is to set ourselves as the standard of right and wrong, and having discernment, which is to look at issues and behaviors and to determine what is right and wrong. Judging is to set ourselves as superior to others. Discernment is to declare, according to God, what is good or evil.

As followers of Jesus, we use the Bible (in its proper context) as the standard human behavior, including sexuality, and the Bible is very clear on what God has set as acceptable sexual behavior - one man and woman in the context of marriage, period.

It is not “judging” to say that homosexuality is wrong, it is just having an understanding of God’s word and using discernment to declare that it is wrong according to God. Pope Francis, as other Christians do, compromise to the political correctness of our culture in their attempt to avoid opposition or persecution. We need more Christians to stand up for God’s moral absolutes and not bend to popular opinion.

Pastor Frank Nolton leads New Hope Community Church in Lodi.




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