There is a verse in the Bible about judging others. Both Christians and non-Christians alike absolutely love to throw it around as the final mic drop to any argument.
The problem is that one can’t simply use one verse out of context and apply it willy nilly. The underlying theme of that passage continues in subsequent verses. The point of Jesus’ teaching here is “speaking out against the kind of hypocritical, judgmental attitude that tears others down in order to build oneself up” according to my Life Study Application Bible.
You may be wondering, “MC! When did you become a thumper of the Bible?!”
Well, to be fair, I’ve believed in the Bible for as long as I can remember, but that isn’t the point of this post.
On June 4, I shared a story on my Facebook page from the Alabama News Network about a mom that had police stage an arrest of her son after he was “constantly disrespectful” and “misbehaved in school”. The post asked if folks felt this was “tough love” or “too far”.
One of the comments on my thread read:
Can’t say too far or not, I’m not there. I don’t judge others for the choices they make. It is their life not mine. Who am I to judge others.
That was one reader’s opinion, but it got me thinking. That last sentence…”Who am I to judge others”? I basically get a bi-monthly paycheck to do that very thing.
Now, I’m not actually a judge. I don’t have a weird black robe fetish or anything. The only robe I do own is green for one thing. But when you stop to think about it, don’t we want our police officers to judge folks? Do we not make judgment calls day in and day out?
Those calls can range from the simple infraction and whether or not to issue a citation to making the decision to take another person’s life.
The penal code allows for latitude in many respects. There are certainly what we call “must take” (read: arrest) crimes in which any discretion is removed from the officer and then there are crimes that are “may take”.
For example, domestic violence calls? Someone is most likely going to jail…even if the victim decides they don’t want prosecution. But a shoplifter? We can simply cite those people out (read: write them a ticket) and cut them loose.
The judgment provided to police officers by the laws of the land allow us a great bit of latitude. It’s one of the things that drives my buddy, the Happy Medic, nuts…the fact that I can arrive at the same crash scene and decide whether or not Fire/EMS is needed, but if they show up and someone wants to go the hospital for a paper cut, they are required to take them.
Returning to the original thought in this post regarding Jesus’ discussion on judging, we must keep in mind that (and I’m paraphrasing here), Jesus was more concerned about us making sure we have our own shit together instead of judging other people’s ability or lack thereof in handling their own shit.
He sums it up nicely by saying:
…First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
Are cops judgmental? Yup…call it an occupational hazard. At the risk of evincing images of Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, not only do you want us to be judgmental, you need us to be.
Do we always make the right judgment? Of course not…that is the risk you run when you put fallible humans in charge of enforcing laws. Most of the time, though, not only do we get it right, we get it right while remaining professional, compassionate, and forthright.