And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? … Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.Matthew 7:3-5
The Lia Thomas saga, would most certainly draw a lot of Christians back into deeper considerations of Matthew 7:1-6, the onerous topic of judging and the arduous business of cutting across the divide among popular Christian opinions, and trying to make sense out of what exactly the Bible laid down for mankind in this contentious subject of finding fault in others.
Some of us in Asia may not be familiar with this episode or even know who Lia Thomas is, therefore allow me to provide a little background information.
Lia Thomas is a transgender, born a biological male as William Thomas. He is an American swimmer on the women’s team and a student at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2021 and 2022, his athletic achievements as a trans woman became a point of public debate. Thomas followed NCAA and Ivy League rules since he began his transition in 2019 by starting hormone replacement therapy. He dominated NCAA’s women’s championship, which subsequently sparked public outrage from those who oppose allowing biological males who identify as females to compete on women’s sports teams. You can find several Christian blogs covering the story, for instance here and here.
To Judge Or Not To Judge
Lia Thomas became an overnight target for admonition and snubbed by the responses from the public sphere and the Christian communities in the United States in particular, how by clever exploitation of confirmed rules and regulation, he emerged as the dominant swimmer in the women’s category. Logically, Thomas did no wrong and in fact, he complied to every prescribed, governing terms of the NCAA and Ivy League rules. The rules said a transgender must undergo hormone suppressant prescription for at least a year, and he did just that, complied to the rule and thus qualified to compete.
And so Thomas was meticulously judged and called a joke to women’s sporting history. The outcry against the unfair advantage retained by Thomas’ physical attributes of being born a biological male, is resoundingly harsh; with many parents of other women in sports calling for the ban of transgenders to participate in women’s sporting all together.
Christians are not silent in this subject either, as they too took on the role to judge and to condemn. This is partly so because Thomas is a transgender, a recognition that is widely opposed by most Christian denominations, as unethical, ungodly and unacceptable by basic Biblical standard in regards to God’s creation of man and woman. The commotion spread like wildfire on social media, resulting in all sorts of name-calling and opinions sprouting from every corner of the nation, as if Christians themselves have totally forgotten that they have been taught, never to judge others.
The Hypocrisy Between The Lines
Whether to judge or not to judge, the concerns that stood out from this mess, is the gravity of injustice posed to women sports. As if the injustices alone is sufficient to warrant a full, all out judging to be meted against Lia Thomas, while Christians are still being taught the fundamental principle of forgive and forget, and that all whom are in Christ Jesus ought to be the beacons of public morale, in not judging one another. So, it appears that what is spoken by Christians is not translated in their actions; them telling the crowd at large not to judge, but conveniently doing so when they felt something is not perceivable right.
But inside the churches, if anyone causes injustice or committed wrongdoings, the same matter is not supposed to be raised or questioned. This not only includes obstruction of justice, but also to other basic non-compliance to the commandments in stone, resulting in hardship, pain and suffering to victims. The negative consequences of sin, if we were to undertake closer examination under the light, is no different from the injustices and unfair advantage introduced by Lia Thomas in women’s sports, per se. So why do Christians have two different standards of morality, one for themselves and one for others? With this Lia Thomas saga, it is as though Christians found themselves in new unfamiliar territory of the dilemma; if they don’t let others know how they feel therefore how will others know.
For the record, I’m not against judging. In fact, I’m very much for the doctrine of judging as judging is the key that keeps us in check in our fallen world, to establish and to draw the line between what is right and what is wrong, what is fair and unfair and so on and so forth. And judging others cannot be a sin, because our heavenly Father Himself is a Judge above all other judges (Psalm 75:7), and if judging is a sin, we would then be explicitly stating that God Himself is a sinner.
What Went Wrong?
To find out, there’s no other better way than to go back to the Scriptures and to see for ourselves what it says. Let’s begin with the classic principle taught to many, as found in Matthew 7:1-2. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” These verses are by far two of the most misinterpreted passages of the Bible and on the premise of Matthew 7:1-2, a lot of believers have been taught that judging others is not a good thing, while some even expounded that judging another person is in itself a sin that must be avoided.
But if we were to consider the rest of the Scripture in context from verses 1 to 6, we’ll find that Jesus went through arms length to explain to the people, that first we should remove the plank from our own eye before we tell others to remove the speck of dust from theirs. Does Jesus sound like a teacher who is prohibiting acts of judging others or is He opening the minds of the people and showing them how to judge correctly? This is precisely my point.
Jesus never told us to stop the due process of judging. How can a God who loves justice stop doing what is in essence the very thing that is critical to the justice that He loves? And not only God said He loves justice, He also expressly said He hates wrongdoings (Isaiah 61:8). It does not add up at all, for a Judge who loves justice, who would do the very thing that causes justice not to prevail.
By quoting out of context Matthew 7:1-2, believers have for centuries been misled into doing what is contrary to the desires of God; that is not only we must judge but to judge correctly and to let justice and truth not become suppressed. God’s justice is not a legalistic ride that takes people for a spin without reason. By divine principles, justice is the pillar of hope that enables loving kindness, truth and righteousness to become firmly rooted on the foundations of Christian living. Without justice, there would be no voice from the graves of the righteous or the saints. In the absence of justice, plain injustice would leech the seeds of the devil, of lies and deception, that leads to more destruction and death. Justice therefore is what keeps us and our nations intact.
It is true that the injustices created by Lia Thomas must be corrected. In Proverbs 29:2, when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan. And unless the Christians themselves come to terms that justice must take its course in all aspects of humanity, the contrary outcome of injustice will continue to linger, causing pain and groaning among the people, including to those who taught others that judging is wrongful.
Thus, in their blindness, they might continue holding on to unbiblical beliefs that judging is sinful and when the ramifications turn against them, they persevere and soldier on in pain, formulating their own theories to explain why bad things are happening to good people and teaching other believers to accept the outcome of judgment against their own miscalculations, as acceptable part of the process of not judging others. Sadly so, we’re seeing this happening in a lot of churches today, many still grappling with what to do with sin, judgment and God’s wrath, but never moving forward to anything that frees them from the clutches of eternal destruction.
Judge And Judge Correctly
Run through and read Matthew 7:3-6 again. Jesus taught us the correct way to judge others righteously is by first putting ourselves into training of doing what is right. What He is saying is, a thief cannot become a teacher to teach others how not to steal, unless he himself first stop stealing from others. Jesus did not even remotely suggest that ex-thieves should not be involved in the business of teaching. But rather, He placed us on the dot, to do what is correct, so that not only what is correct is being done by the teacher but also taught to the rest as well.
But if we were to take what is correct and turn them into something else other than to promote deeds of righteousness, as in of teaching, rebuking and training others in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17), but instead telling others that we should be tolerant with sin among us, then someday we will certainly find ourselves in awkward situations, with others trampling our beliefs under their feet and tearing us up into pieces.
And the Lia Thomas saga is one such immaculate example, demonstrating that as a result of false teachings of not to judge others, the Christians technically no longer have the moral standing to speak up against injustices in the public realm, other than to make themselves a subject of mockery and to be called utter hypocrites.