Political pundits love to use the phrase “the War on Women” every time they believe women’s rights are being restricted in the workplace and in society. Yet, the more I look around me, I’d argue that there is indeed a war on women, but it’s a war we often rage against ourselves.
I recently heard about two women at a Bible study that got into an argument about whether Christian women should go back to work after having a baby. Neither had a child or were even married, but both were certain they were right. Although the disagreement eventually died down, both women left angry and determined their opinion was correct. But besides this, we also judge each other for a whole string of reasons…
She’s too bossy. She’s too introverted. She makes poor financial decisions. She’s pursuing the wrong career. She initiates toward guys too much. She allows her boyfriend to “walk all over her.”
I tend to lean very traditional in matters of life, work, and home, but I don’t often get into open disagreements with other women about it. However, I have silently judged them.
I’ve thought my friend who wanted her husband to stay home with their kids because she made more money was emasculating her husband. I’ve also (silently) criticized women who decided to return to work for being selfish after having a baby. Or (not so silently) asked whether that was the best decision.
Then again, I’ve had friends tell me they’ve criticized other women who choose to be stay-at-home moms and homemakers. They judged them while believing these women were throwing away their education and talents, but the Bible has many warnings against this.
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” (Matthew 7:1-2)
In other words, if you are judging others wrongly, or in cases that the Bible does not speak on (differences and gray areas), by that same unfair measure you will be judged, too.
That’s not to say there isn’t a place to judge or speak to your sister about her sins — but make sure it is a sin and not just because you disagree with her choice. Here are four guidelines the Bible offers on appropriate judging:
1. Examine yourself first before judging others.
Are there sins you need to repent of and get right with God about before you are able to approach your sister or brother about theirs? Consider Matthew 7:5:
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
2. Judge only other believers.
It’s easy to judge non-Christians. They’re sinning all over the place! But the Bible clearly states that we are not to judge nonbelievers. First Corinthians 5:12 says,
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.”
It should come as no surprise that nonbelievers do not obey God’s Word, but we are still called to live life with them. After all, aren’t we sinners ourselves?
3. Judge based on Biblical principles.
We’re told in 1 Corinthians 5:11:
But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister [Christian] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.”
These are the people who are defiant about their sin, knowing they’re wrong but not caring. We can see their faults and judge them as wrong in their behavior, but always with pure motives. We must think about how we would want a friend to approach us about our sins.
4. Be willing to let others speak into your life.
Do not judge, or as Christians like to say nowadays, “speak the truth in love,” unless you are willing to let others speak into your life as well. We are quick to see someone else’s shortcomings — and tell them about it — but heaven forbid someone points out our not-so-Christ-like habits. Let’s allow others to speak into our lives, and they will be more willing to listen to us.
I know at times God has called me to speak the truth with more boldness to people in my life, but at the same time I have learned to check my heart first. As women, let’s stop the war against ourselves. Let’s stop comparing ourselves to each other, stop assuming others are judging us and stop trying to prove we have it all together. Let’s create allies, not enemies.