Judgment is a Substitute for Intimacy

I’ve written before about my judgment of others, and how next to watching college football, it’s pretty much my favorite pastime. But my beautiful and wicked smart wife made this remark to me as I was about to, you guessed it, judge someone. According to her, judgment is based on lack of fact. We presume something to be true about someone, and we judge them for it.

Here’s how it works in my mind. I see someone driving a nice car, and I immediately presume they are in debt up to their eyeballs. Then I begin to evaluate their entire lives and spending habits, all the while trying to make myself feel better because my air conditioner doesn’t work. But I’m a better person than they are because I drive a beater and they drive a Lexus. What I don’t know is the truth of the situation. Did they win a contest? Have they saved every penny and paid cash for that car? I don’t know, and I’m content not to know.

So let’s take it a step further – maybe judgment is a substitute for intimacy. If it’s true that judgment is based on assumption, then you would have to acknowledge that those we know most deeply, most truly, we are least likely to judge, simply because we know them well enough to not make assumptions about them. So is judgment a substitute for intimacy? I think it is.

It’s easier to judge, to assume, to fabricate a story in your mind, than it is to go through the messy process of actually listening and knowing others. It’s much easier to know them on a surface level, one that leaves room for us to fill in the details of their personage with our own minds. So maybe the cure for judgment isn’t to just try harder not to judge; maybe the cure for judgment is intimacy.

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14 Comments

  • Amy Wright says:

    I get such a kick out of your honesty. Not because it’s funny, but because you say what I think. In fact, I thought that you must be rolling in the money because you speak at beach resorts. Just kidding…but it’s true. I do judge less when I know the person more. And I constantly have to tell myself that I don’t really know the heart of man.
    By the way, could you PLEASE delete my comment about the homeschool kid?? I tried a million times and don’t think that I can. I was in a bad judging mood that day.

  • Michael K. says:

    It’s true that beach resort ministry is hard work, but someone has to do the tough stuff.

  • Amy Wright says:

    Ha ha Ha!!! Now that I re-read my comment, I made it look like it’s true that I do believe you are making all that money at resorts. I meant…”It’s true…I do judge less when I know the person more.” Oh, email. We can mean one thing and it comes out a totally different way when it’s read. Hey, that could be a whole other sermon! 🙂

  • Robbie Russell says:

    So, were you judging me and my lexus?!

    So you can put a face with name… I led worship this weekend. I am not sure that our relationship was intimate enough to share last names 🙂 But I did enjoy our brief conversations.

    Subscribed to the blog and look forward to keeping up!

  • Michael K. says:

    How did you know, man? It’s unfortunate that I got to see what a nice guy you are, so I can’t continue to judge your sweet ride…

  • taylor says:

    true – true

  • Anna W. says:

    Hi Michael, it’s Anna– you know, John/Frodo’s wife! I really like what you have to say in this post– not that I have disliked other posts; I just thought I ought to comment every now and then since I read your blog (and your family’s) regularly 🙂

  • Michael K. says:

    Thanks for reading, Anna.

  • Josue says:

    We were just having this exact conversation a few nights ago. It is so easy to to judge and stereotype when I haven’t stepped into someone’s world.

  • Lisa says:

    Thank you so much. My husband judges all the time–we think it is because he wants to feel better than other people or at least feel equal to them–and all our daughter and I can do is get mad about it. Now I have something constructive to say to him on the next occasion.

  • Great thoughts on this!

  • melissa says:

    i think you are right on about this…i think so many of us go to great lengths to avoid true intimacy. even to create ‘fake’ intimacy (i believe there is such a thing) in relationships. sad, isn’t it?

  • Ross says:

    I disagree with you. i have found that the closer we get to people the more we are likely to judeg them. Have you never heard that saying familiarity breeds contempt. The more we know about somebody the more information we feed our deparved minds to condemm them. We see all their flaws and regardless of who we are the closer we get the more we have wrong with us.

    I think the key is getting close to somebody wthout judging them in a sinful manner. That is only a work of the Holy spirit.

  • Michael K. says:

    Thanks for the thoughts, Ross. I appreciate the perspective and agree that is often the case. Though I might judge people on the other end, I don’t hold the patent on judgment… yet.

    I especially agree that the point is getting close to someone without judging them in a sinful manner. Regardless of when that judgment occurs, it keeps us from continuing to live closely with others.

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