When I was growing up Protestant, I heard rather frequently the Biblical quote, "Judge not, lest ye be judged." Most of the time, though, I heard it when a person was defending some sinful behavior they didn't want to be admonished for. It was usually followed by the declaration that all of us are sinners anyway. I always found it rather insulting and slightly Eyorish. Why bother trying to be better or do better? After all, we are all sinners anyway. It just always seemed, well, cowardly. It never occurred to me though, that this non-judgmental attitude was not really part of of Christianity, even Protestantism. Well at least I never quite thought about. Until now.
Way back before the 1930s or 1940s, I don't think there was that much difference in the behavior of Catholics and Protestants. Divorce was neither widespread or widely accepted. Sexual promiscuity was frowned upon and birth control wasn't readily available. Lying, cheating, and stealing were viewed by just about everyone as degenerate behavior. Whether you were Catholic or Protestant, if you did something morally wrong, someone was going to admonish you for it. Period. Misbehave at school? Mother knew before you got home. Steal eggs from the market? Grocer Johnson called your Dad. Got pregnant by your boyfriend? Shot-gun wedding or sent to help Aunt Betty for a few months. Almost everyone lived by the same moral standards of behavior. Heck, our laws even reflected this moral code. Stealing is a crime. Murder is a crime. And yes, adultery is a crime. During this time, what was considered normal social behavior closely reflected Christian moral behavior. As such, if some person was criticized for their immoral behavior, no one was screaming about being judgmental. Instead, most people either corrected their behavior, or in the case of the incorrigibles, they became more discreet.
But during this time period our society was slowly progressing. What had once been considered normal Christian behavior, now seemed to be unattainable for large majorities of people. During the Depression, women resorted to prostitution to put food on the table. Protestant Christians were given permission to use birth control methods to limit their family size in the face of poverty. Husbands abandoned their wives. A lot of women were left to give birth to their babies alone. Alcoholism increased. And at the same time, psychoanalysis became dominant, and social work became an profession. These social problems didn't seem to be going away, not even with the help of priests and ministers. In fact, they seemed to get worse and the people themselves seemed to be suffering from depression, anxiety, and suicide. And then came Psychologist Carl Rogers and his Person of Tomorrow.
Now before I explain what Dr. Rogers has to do with any of this, let me give you some background. He was born in 1902 into a Protestant Evangelical family. At first he wanted to become a minister and he headed off to seminary. Unfortunately, he rejected his entire religious belief system and left. Instead, he went on to study psychology and earned his PhD in 1931. In his personal life, Dr. Rogers embraced Eastern mysticism, spiritualism, and the occult. In the 1970s he reported that he developed much of his humanistic approach theory to his study of Taoism. Fundamentally, he taught that people were basically good, and that they only needed to self-actualize. To do this, they needed to do what feels right for them. In this way they could become a "fully functioning person." As such, a therapists goal in helping his clients "self-actualize" was primarily to listen---to be non-judgmental---to make no values judgment on their behavior or attitudes---only to help them figure out what was right for them. Self-actualized individuals he called Persons of Tomorrow and outlined in a book the qualities of such a person. You can read about that here. Good people, to Dr. Rogers, make their own moral judgments, are caring and empathetic without making moral judgments towards other people, and trust very little except their own experiences. His humanistic approach was novel when he introduced it in 1951, but it is absolutely predominant today.
Unfortunately, as the Catholic Church began to lose influence in the culture, especially in the United States, the door was opened for society to become increasing shaped by modern psychology and social work. After Vatican II, priests became "servant-leaders." They became counselors instead of confessors. They began to focus on the social needs of the faithful instead of their sacramental and spiritual needs. As such they encouraged the faithful to focus on their social and mental well-being. Fraternal correction was replaced with unconditional positive regard. As Catholics, we are now chastised for admonishing sinners. Instead, we are told we need to value each person as they move through their life journey, no matter what they choose. And this is absolutely, positively UN-Catholic. In fact, it's the exact opposite of Catholicism. It is a rejection of everything Our Lord taught us, in favor of the teachings of Laozi.
Our modern society has devolved rapidly. It is absolutely NOT Christian in any form. This non-judgmental psychotherapy approach to our family, friends, and even strangers is not helping them. In fact, it is dangerous for them. And if you are a Catholic reading this, you might want to take a look at yourself if you have adopted this attitude. In fact, fraternal correction, i.e. admonishing the sinner, is an obligation. Admonishing sinners is, in fact, one of the seven Spiritual works of mercy. As Catholics, we are bound under pain of mortal sin, to perform these works! So when we are quietly "valuing" people on their personal journeys, we are committing mortal sin. When we are avoiding correcting peoples ignorance regarding Catholic teaching for fear of confrontation, we are committing mortal sin.
So, yes, when someone sins, we are bound to correct them with charity. We cannot be mean, emotional, or irrational. We cannot call them names or shun them. But we must correct them privately, gently, and lovingly. St. Thomas Aquinas considered fraternal correction a great act of mercy. But sometimes correction can not be made privately but has to be made publicly. Today, I think that probably means in a forum like this one, a blog, a newspaper article, or some other social media. When can we do this? When the offense is public, when it effects a third party or the community, or when it causes scandal. Does this give us license to be cruel, through slurs, or damage a person's name or reputation? Absolutely not. It simply means we are bound to lovingly correct and instruct them. Perhaps they don't know what they are doing is wrong. Perhaps that person doesn't really understand what they are doing. Perhaps no one has even bothered to point them in the right direction. Unfortunately though, most of the time these people just continue down their own path of destruction. What are we to do then? We are to leave them alone and pray.
While I have brought up psychology in this post, I do not want this post to be about psychological principals I addressed Dr. Roger's and his humanistic theories simply to show how modern social work and psychology has shaped our thinking, replaced Christian principals as a way of living, and confused us regarding Catholic teaching. This non-judgmental attitude is absolutely not Catholic. If you hear a priest or bishop or pope suggest that we are to ignore people's sin and simply value their life journey as persons, then close your ears. This is New Church Speak, not Catholic teaching. When you hear your friends admonish you for being judgmental, remind them that you are Christian and have an obligation to correct sinners. When they call you a hypocrite or a hater, just bear it patiently for Our Lord. But most of all pray. Pray that the Church is restored soon. Pray that faithful Catholics can save themselves from the New Church. Pray that the people you love will allow their eyes to be opened. And pray that we all remain charitable, loving, and humble as we share and defend our Catholic faith.
But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother.And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more: that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican. ~ Matthew 18:15-17
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.