Every once in awhile atheists will take a Christian to task for “judging” the atheist. Some of them will even say, “Look at Matthew 7:1.”
In a case like this, it’s context, context, context. Yes, Jesus is recorded as saying, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” This is true on many levels. One of the levels I see in counselling all the time. Those who judge others FEEL that others judge them just as harshly. So that’s one possibility that fits the secular paradigm.
Taken in context however, the meaning is not exactly as atheists would like it to be. While Jesus is saying that I have a plank in my eye, He is also recognising that my neighbour does indeed have a problem in his eye as well. Jesus is not telling us to not help others with moral problems. He’s saying in the process of helping others. We need to be aware of our own moral struggles - first. It’s a case of helping others while maintaining an attitude of, “There but for the grace of God go I.”
Now, while I’ve called Dawkins an idiot, and that’s flat out judging, just a few verses later Jesus is calling people pigs and dogs and wolves in sheep’s clothing. I’ll admit to being wrong in calling Dawkins an idiot, but obviously Jesus is not telling us to not point out what is wrong.
As well, we need to ask the atheist, “What do you mean when you say, “Don’t judge”?” Because the atheist is obviously judging me by telling me that I’m wrong to judge others. Of course the atheist could say, “Your God’s rules don’t apply to me,” and technically at least, s/he’s right. The atheist lives by h/her own rules and s/he makes them up as s/he goes.
Nevertheless, Jesus tells us to be discerning. He doesn’t say, “Don’t make any judgements.” He says to make right judgements, good judgements, judgements based on truth and not to be used as a tool for controlling others. I was called self-righteous this morning by an atheist and if that COULD be true, then that kind of judging would in deed be wrong. Romans 3:27 and Ephesians 2:8-9 touch on this subject. The only reason that an atheist would make this kind of judgement is because an atheist cannot conceive of holding to a moral truth without looking down on or judging someone who holds to a different moral standard. This is similar to differentiating between accepting someone’s sin and tolerating someone’s sin. To be tolerant means that I disagree with you BUT I will treat you with respect regardless. I believe that in most cases, when an atheist says she is tolerant, she really means that she accepts the other person’s sin as though it is not sin.
So, an atheist who gets upset at another person’s “truth” is a very strange creature. When atheists preach, “What’s right for you is right for you, and what’s right for me is right for me,” then they have no option but to allow others, including Christians to live their lives as they see fit. And if my judging others is wrong, then your judging me is also wrong.