It was decided some decades ago that no one must ever feel uncomfortable, guilty, or, worst of all, judged. They especially must not feel this way at church. Church is a place where all must be welcome, we’re told.
One of the most popular songs played at Catholic churches is called “All Are Welcome.” Sample lyric: “Let us build a house where love can dwell… Built of hopes and dreams and visions.” I’m not making that up, by the way. It’s so bad that it makes the choirs of angels weep and throw down their harps in despair. But it drives home the point, anyway. This is a place for hopes and dreams and visions, not repentance and prayer and reverence.
Of course, it’s true that “all are welcome.” But the problem is that the modern American Christian insists on being welcome along with his lifestyle, his self-centeredness, and his sin. He wants all of that to be welcomed, too. And most churches are more than happy to oblige. He will not be called to repentance from the pulpit, and his favorite sins will not be denounced, because that would make the poor soul feel “judged,” and one cannot feel welcome if he is being judged.
What, then, is the result of a Christianity devoid of judgment? Well, Pew Research Center ran an article this week giving some insight into that question. Unsurprisingly, a substantial number of American Christians, across every denomination, believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. A majority of Mainline Protestants hold this view, along with almost half of all Catholics. Evangelicals have a smaller share, but still around 33% believe it should be legal to murder children. There is no denomination with a truly small number of pro-abortion adherents.
Of course on the topic of marriage the situation is even grimmer. Two-thirds of Catholics and mainline Protestants support gay marriage. Over one-third of Evangelicals are in the same boat. The vast majority of Christians see no problem with divorce, and about 75% of all divorced couples in America are Christian. Overall, a staggering number of American Christians explicitly disagree with the definitions of marriage and adultery that Christ Himself provided. It probably goes without saying that the majority of Christian men are also regular porn viewers. And none of this matters in their minds anyway, because, according to a majority of Christians in America, everyone goes to Heaven regardless. About 30% of Christians between the ages of 30 and 64 don’t even believe that Hell exists.
As I’ve already demonstrated, a huge preponderance of American Christians are outright heretics. But the heresy gets worse. Half believe that Jesus Christ is a created being, which means they reject the Trinity (though they don’t realize they’ve rejected it). Thirty percent don’t believe that there is only one true God, and over 60% think all forms of worship are equally valid. And on and on. You get the point.
I certainly blame the Church and church leaders for much of this, but I can’t blame them entirely. Individual Christians are at fault for their own ignorance and apostasy. They don’t know what their religion teaches because they’re too lazy to investigate their own belief system. Not just lazy, but cowardly. They create their own religion because they’re afraid to confront the truth and submit themselves to a law outside themselves.
And it’s cowardice on the part of the churches and their “leaders” that they don’t force their flocks to confront the truth. Frankly, they don’t seem to care if their congregants burn in Hell. What other conclusion can I draw about pastors and priests who refuse to denounce sin and call for repentance? They’re like a surgeon who refuses to perform a lifesaving operation on a sick man, instead giving the patient a pat on the back and a smiley face sticker, and sending him home to die.
This is not just a problem inside the walls of physical churches — I realize most Christians don’t go to church so it’s difficult to reach them there — but it extends far beyond the buildings themselves. For a country that claims to be “majority Christian,” there are strikingly few Christian leaders who are willing to stand up and offer some clarity and direction to the legions of lost sheep bumbling around and casually apostatizing. All we hear is the same refrain, as millions of Christians slide smiling into Hell: We must not judge. We cannot allow these precious, sensitive souls to feel uncomfortable. We must be welcoming and inclusive and tolerant. Or, as the Pope would say, we must “accompany” them.
But include them in what? Welcome them into what? Accompany them to where? The destruction of their eternal souls, it seems.
If I’m lost and moments away from walking over a cliff, I’d much prefer that you point me in the right direction than “accompany” me over the edge and “welcome” me to my demise and see that I am “included” at the morgue. That is all very polite, I guess, but your pleasant manners won’t be much help to me when I’m a pancake. And what if I’m very lost? What if I’m distracted in my wandering, and obstinate, and arrogant, and unable to hear or unwilling to listen to your gentle reminders and subtle nudges? Well, then maybe you’ll have to shout. Maybe you’ll have to get in my face a little. Maybe, God forbid, you’ll have to cast harsh judgments on my chosen path and make me feel bad and icky inside. If that’s the only way to get my attention, I should be grateful that you took such a “harsh” and “judgmental” approach.
This indeed is the state of most Christians in this country today. We are lost, distracted, obstinate, arrogant, foolish, stubborn. We are cowards. We would rather walk gently into damnation than have our course rudely corrected. We would rather you whisper sweet nothings in our ears, convince us we can fly, and encourage us to walk over the cliff, than scare us with talk of gravity, falling, and broken bones. The moment you speak the truth to us — the full truth, unvarnished — we will automatically feel “unwelcome” because it will cause us to look critically at ourselves. We will whimper and complain that we’ve been “attacked.” If you won’t welcome ourselves along with our sins, we’ll stomp our feet and run away crying like toddlers.
So be it. Let the cowards flee. Let them disavow the faith. It would be better for all concerned if they publicly renounced and became open enemies of the Church. At least then we’d know where everyone truly stands, and they’d know where they stand, and perhaps some progress could be made. But as long as millions of Christians who reject Christianity in substance are still made to feel “welcome” and “included” and not-judged, there is no hope.
“Judged” is exactly how Christians should feel. We should also have joy, but the “joy” that prevents us from feeling shame for our sins is a false joy. It’s a joy from Satan, not from God. God wants us to feel judged because we are being judged. He is judging us. When we sit in church or listen to any so-called “Christian leader,” we need to be reminded of that fact. And it’s this judgment — the Divine judgment — that’s really feared by all of people who constantly complain about “judging.” They may call you judgmental for talking about sin and denouncing evil, but they don’t care about your judgment. When they lash out, they’re lashing out against the judgment of the Eternal Judge, whom they’d prefer to forget so that they can continue sinning in peace.
The Church does them no favors by obliging. Because one day they’ll stand in Judgment all the same, and their whole lives will be set before them, and they won’t be able to escape this time with the “poor me” act. There will be no homilies about tolerance, no church bands with acoustic guitars strumming little ditties about dreams and hopes and kittens, no rationalizing, no equivocating. They will have to face their own wickedness, once and for all, and it will do no good to scold God for being judgmental about it.
Better, I say, to make them aware of God’s ever-watchful and judging Eye now; better to make them feel His presence now; better to make them feel judged now, while there is still opportunity for repentance. This is what churches and leaders of the faith ought to be doing. They should welcome everyone, yes, but welcome them to repent, to obey, to humble themselves before the Lord. Welcome them to pick up their cross and follow Christ. If they decline the invitation, that’s on them. They’ll have made their choice. But at least they’ll know exactly what they’re choosing.