Condemnation is Fun

“How dare you condemn me?! You aren’t over me! What right do you have?”

When we hear that sort of response when we are trying to show someone their need for a savior, or just stating our beliefs concerning abortion or other hot topics, we often backpedal and try to assure the person that we weren’t condemning them or their beliefs.

They won.

The above response is a classic example of equivocation: the person is redefining the word ‘condemn’ in order to give an illusion of refutation.

CONDEMN, v.t. [L., to condemn, to disapprove, to doom, to devote.]
1. To pronounce to be utterly wrong; to utter a sentence of disapprobation against; to censure; to blame. But the word often expresses more than censure or blame, and seems to include the idea of utter rejection; as, to condemn heretical opinions; to condemn ones conduct.
We condemn mistakes with asperity, where we pass over sins with gentleness.
2. To determine or judge to be wrong, or guilty; to disallow; to disapprove.
Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, we have confidence towards God. I John 3.
3. To witness against; to show or prove to be wrong, or guilty, by a contrary practice.
The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it. Mat 12.
4. To pronounce to be guilty; to sentence to punishment; to utter sentence against judicially; to doom; opposed to acquit or absolve; with to before the penalty.
The son of man shall be betrayed to the chief priests, and to the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death. Mat 20.
He that believeth on him is not condemned. John 3.
5. To doom or sentence to pay a fine; to fine.
And the king of Egypt–condemned the land in a hundred talents of silver. 2 Chr 36.
6. To judge or pronounce to be unfit for use or service; as, the ship was condemned as not sea-worthy. To judge or pronounce to be forfeited; as, the ship and her cargo were condemned.

Notice something there?

There are no less than six definitions to the word ‘condemn.’ Four include a sense of authority implied with the action. The first two do not require any amount of authority at all.

So I can condemn (and should condemn) people, beliefs, and actions that are against God without stepping outside of my boundaries. It involves no amount of putting myself over them. It is in fact merely an assertion of my independence from them to declare my own opinion and belief regarding their own.

Also notice that condemnation is not mutually exclusive with love, mercy, grace, kindness, or any fruit of the Spirit. Just because I condemn someone (in the true sense) does not mean I do not love them. God loves everyone, and yet condemns many to hell because they refuse to hearken to His call.

This is an example of why we must not only define our terms in every interchange, but also why we cannot let the world define our terms for us.

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7 Responses

  1. Awesome post! 😀 Good going!

  2. Personally, I haven’t heard anyone say “how dare you condemn me”, but I have heard people say “how dare you judge me”.

    I would be inclined to disagree with you. You say “So I can condemn (and should condemn) people, beliefs, and actions that are against God without stepping outside of my boundaries.” Where is that in Scripture?

    Forgive me for lack of specific references, but Scripture says we are to judge those who call themselves Christians, but we don’t judge the world, nor are we supposed to condemn anyone. That’s God’s job.

    Perhaps I am misunderstanding, but I would like to see where you get the idea that we should condemn.

    Now, I will go to my Bible and find the exact references! 😀

    • If you look at the first definition of ‘condemn’ you see that it is not forbidden at all in the Bible: “To pronounce to be utterly wrong; to utter a sentence of disapprobation against; to censure; to blame. But the word often expresses more than censure or blame, and seems to include the idea of utter rejection; as, to condemn heretical opinions; to condemn ones conduct.”

      In fact we are indeed commanded to pronounce the world to be utterly wrong, to reject it, and repudiate it. We are not allied with it, nor are we a part of it. Period.

      We are supposed to condemn it.

      Did that make sense?

  3. Tim, if we aren’t to judge, then no Christian should participate in business or government, because decisions in these areas must be made based on whether or not the act morally, etc. If they don’t, they get fired, or sent to jail.

    I am the owner of a coffee shop. I fire an employee because they are rude to customers and unwillingly to adjust this behavior. I just made a decision (judgment) about an employees morality and enforcement my decision (condemnation). Have I done something wrong?

    Tim, you may trip on your own words. If I cannot condemn something evil, how am I to warn others against. Suppose it is something immoral. I may says “it’s unhealthy” or “it’s not practical” but the truth is, it’s wrong, I know it’s wrong, and I need to act on that knowledge.

    Besides, we must make our judgments based on the Bible. Don’t shoot the messenger, right?

    • Very good examples there. Though I think he is referring to when we do not have jurisdiction over someone (i.e. our peers). You did address that too, though, so that is good. Thanks for the comment!

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