“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.
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.