Three Traits of Judgmental People

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A judgmental person is like a porcupine. If you get too close, you could get hurt. Judgmental people have three common traits: They are overly critical, they show no respect for the person they are critical of, and they justify what they say because they believe it is true. People can become judgmental due to their pride, their hurt and anger at being wronged, and a lack of love for others. Three ways to overcome being judgmental include self-reflection, forgiveness, and seeing the whole person.

Some people will accuse you of being judgmental if you criticize them. However, the word judgmental is defined as “having or displaying an excessively critical point of view.”1 The first trait of a judgmental person is they criticize too much.

No one can handle being criticized all the time. It puts a strain on a relationship because the person being criticized feels unloved. Further, when someone is too critical, it is human nature not to like them. A judgmental person repels others, and will have a hard time forming long-term relationships.

Judgmental people are offensive not only because of their words, but also their tone. They will speak to (or about) a person with hatred, contempt, or disrespect. Instead of speaking calmly and rationally, they can be highly emotional—hurling insults, or using profanity.

A judgmental person will often justify the harsh things they say because they believe it is the truth. However, the truth should not be used as a weapon to hurt someone, or destroy their self-worth.

Every human being has value and worth simply because they are human, not because they are good or bad, a success or a failure. A judgmental person often bases an individual’s worth as a human being on their character traits, or some other criteria. They are unable to separate a person from their actions, to recognize that everyone has equal worth as a human being.

Judgmental people will act like they are superior to you. People who believe they are superior have illusions about themselves. They see themselves as more than they are. In looking down on others, they have an ego problem: a heart filled with pride.

In addition to pride, a person can become judgmental when they are angry at being wronged by someone. Hurt and wounded inside, their heart can grow cold, and they harshly judge the person who mistreated them.

Whatever the root cause, a judgmental person has a heart that lacks love and respect for other people. The danger in being judgmental, is that once you feel hatred, contempt, or disrespect for one human being, it becomes easier to transfer these feelings to another.

One way to stop being judgmental is through self-reflection, by recognizing that we have faults of our own. The more we self-reflect, and realize our own shortcomings, the easier it is to love and accept people as they are.

Another way to stop being judgmental is to forgive the person who wronged us. Forgiveness doesn’t change what the person has done, but it will set us free inside, so we can let go of being hurt, angry, or offended.

A third way to stop being judgmental is to open our eyes and see the whole person. A judgmental person will often hyper-focus on someone’s negative traits, making them blind to their positive qualities. If we can see the whole person, it is much easier to love them.

Instead of being judgmental, we need to be selective in our criticism. When a person does something we believe is wrong, we have two alternatives: say nothing at all, or speak the truth in love. Sometimes it is better to say nothing, to overlook people’s minor flaws and shortcomings. The more you criticize others, the more you will be criticized, and the less likely people will listen to you.

Nonetheless, there are times when we have a duty to speak. For instance, if a person is hurting someone else, it is right and just to speak the truth to make them stop. We may even have to be bold and direct. However, before we correct someone, we should show them love and respect. When a person feels loved and respected, they are more likely to listen to us when we tell them the truth.

Notes

  1. Oxford Dictionaries, s.v. “Judgmental,” accessed October 27, 2016, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/judgmental

Why the Devil is the Destroying Angel

Lucifer_Liege_Luc_Viatour

One mystery in the Bible is the identity of the destroying angel. In the Book of Exodus, Moses said, “the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.”1 The “destroyer” is the Hebrew word shachath, and it is a verb, not a noun.2 Even if the verse is mistranslated, the destroying angel was still there because the verb “allow” suggests that someone other than the Lord killed the firstborn. By examining verses from both the Old and New Testament, the identity of the destroyer is revealed: He is the Devil.

Everything that God is, the Devil is not. God created the Devil as the archangel Lucifer,3 but he rebelled and was cast out of heaven along with many other angels.4 His destructive nature is revealed in the Book of Isaiah: The Lord God says, “I have created the waster to destroy.”5 God is a creator, but the Devil and his fallen angels are destroyers. In the Book of Revelation, the locusts “had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit; whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon.”6 Apollyon is either the Devil or another demon. The Greek word for Apollyon is Apolluón, and it means destroyer.7 In the Gospel of John, Jesus contrasted Himself with the Devil when he said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”8 Unlike Christ who brings life, the Devil wants to bring death and destruction upon humanity.

If you read certain passages in the Bible literally, you might conclude that the Lord God is a destroyer like the Devil. However, as James Macknight explains, “Active verbs were used by the Hebrews to express, not the doing, but the permission of the thing which the agent is said to do.”9 In Exodus, the Lord gave Moses instructions concerning the Passover: “And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”10 Read literally, this verse says that it is the Lord who will “strike” the firstborn of Egypt dead. The verse, however, is an idiom. According to Jackson, “It is fairly well known among advanced Bible students that there is a common idiom (figure of speech) in sacred literature, by which God is said to actively do that which, in reality, he merely allows…”11 While many verses in the Bible can be read literally, reading every verse literally will result in a wrong understanding of the nature of God.

God’s nature is that He is fair and just. He brings forth justice on the Earth by working through human beings who do what is just. Tim Keller states, “The Hebrew word for ‘justice,’ mishpat, occurs in its various forms more than 200 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. … But mishpat means more than just the punishment of wrongdoing. It also means giving people their rights.”12 In the Book of Exodus, Pharaoh denied the Israelites their right to be free and kept them in slavery. This was an act of injustice, but the punishment—the killing of the firstborn of Egypt—was not fair or just. The firstborn received the death penalty for the sins of Pharaoh. To punish someone for another person’s actions is not justice; it is an act of evil.

God’s perfect will is that no one would do what is evil; however, His permissive will is “what He allows.”13 He allows human beings to choose good or evil, and He allows the Devil to do evil, tempting14 and deceiving15 human beings. God allowed the Devil to kill the firstborn so that Pharaoh would set Israel free from slavery. The Lord brought nine plagues upon Egypt, yet Pharaoh rejected the plea of Moses to “Let My people go!”16 Consequently, the Lord permitted a tenth plague. This was the only way that Pharaoh would relent, and Israel, the Lord’s “firstborn son”17, was set free with more than 600,000 adult males leaving Egypt.18  

God allowed the Devil to kill the firstborn of Egypt to fulfill His plan and purpose for Israel. Further, events in the Old Testament often foreshadow what happens in the New Testament. The deaths of the firstborn of Egypt foreshadows the crucifixion of Christ, “the firstborn of all creation.”19 God allowed His only Son to be crucified, but He did not directly cause His death. The Devil killed the Son of God by working through Judas, the Pharisees, and the Roman authorities. Jesus, who was guilty of no crime, died on the cross, an act of injustice. Just as the deaths of the firstborn of Egypt resulted in the Israelites being set free, Christ’s death and resurrection redeemed all of mankind.

Notes

  1. Exodus 12:23 (New King James Version).
  2. Strong’s Hebrew, s.v. “Shachath,” accessed November 6, 2015, http://biblehub.com/hebrew/7843.htm
  3. Isaiah 14:12 (New King James Version).
  4. Revelation 12:9 (New King James Version).
  5. Isaiah 54:16 (King James Version).
  6. Revelation 9:11 (New King James Version).
  7. Strong’s Greek, s.v. “Apolluón,” accessed November 6, 2015, http://biblehub.com/greek/623.htm
  8. John 10:10 (New American Standard Version).
  9. James MacKnight, A new literal translation from the original Greek, of all the apostolical epistles (London: Thomas Turnbull, 1809), 79. https://archive.org/stream/newliteraltransl01mack#page/78/mode/2up
  10. Exodus 12:13 (New King James Version).
  11. Wayne Jackson, ” Does God Send Delusions? Can a Person Harden Himself Beyond Hope?” Christian Courier, accessed November 7, 2015, https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/589-does-god-send-delusions-can-a-person-harden-himself-beyond-hope
  12. Tim Keller, “What Is Biblical Justice?” Relevant, August 23, 2012, http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/practical-faith/what-biblical-justice
  13. Emily Stimpson, “Discerning God’s positive and permissive will,” OSV Newsweekly, June 13, 2012, https://www.osv.com/OSVNewsweekly/ByIssue/Article/TabId/735/ArtMID/13636/ArticleID/2585/Discerning-Gods-positive-and-permissive-will.aspx
  14. Matthew 4:1 (New International Version).
  15. Revelation 12:9 (New American Standard Version).
  16. Exodus 9:1 (New King James Version).
  17. Exodus 4:22 (English Standard Version).
  18. Numbers 1:45-46 (New King James Version).
  19. Colossians 1:15 (English Standard Version).

The Ancient Practice of Blood Revenge: Underworld (2003)

underworld_ver2_xlgBlood feud is “avenging the killing of kin by the taking of the life of the slayer by the victim’s kin.”1 In the opening credits of Len Wiseman’s Underworld (2003) we learn of a centuries-old blood feud between vampires and lycans. The war between the vampires and lycans parallels the practice of blood feud in ancient history. A blood feud based on a single murder could lead to a war between two tribes or clans with each side wanting to exterminate the other.

Blood feud, or blood revenge, is an “immemorial custom.”2 If a member of a tribe was murdered by someone from another tribe, a surviving member of the victim’s family (the blood avenger) was obligated to hunt down and kill the murderer. Once the slayer was killed, the feud was supposed to end. However, it could often lead to war “because every man killed began a new request for revenge.”3 Also, if the blood avenger could not kill the slayer, “war would be waged by the one tribe against the other.”4 In ancient Israel, blood feuds that led to war “were the order of the day among the neighboring peoples of the time.”5

In Underworld, the war between the vampires and lycans began when Viktor (Billy Nighy) ordered the death of his daughter Sonja (Jázmin Dammak) who was the bride of the lycan Lucian (Michael Sheen). Sonja’s execution started a war that lasted for six centuries. Instead of Lucian seeking blood revenge against Viktor alone, the entire lycan clan went to war with the vampires.

The desire for blood revenge was common in the Old Testament. In the Book of Samuel, Joab killed Abner “for the blood of Asahel his brother.”6 Although no one had the right under the law of Moses to seek blood revenge, it was an accepted part of the culture, and cities of refuge were established to protect a slayer who killed a man unintentionally.7 If two witnesses testified that the slayer was guilty of intentionally killing someone, the elders were to “hand him over to the avenger of blood, so that he may die.”8 When the elders handed a guilty slayer over to an avenger, blood revenge was not an act of murder, but the means of capital punishment.9

In Underworld, when the vampires and lycans kill each other, it is not considered murder, but an act of war. As a death dealer, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) must “hunt [the lycans] down and kill them off one by one.” Kraven (Shane Brolly) says the lycans have been hunted “to the brink of extinction.” The death dealers have a similar mandate as Joshua when he attacked Jericho: “They utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old.”10

Under modern rules of war, killing unarmed civilians is a war crime, and exterminating an entire tribe is an act of genocide. However, 3,000 years ago, because of the cultural practice of blood revenge, if a tribe was attacked, the surviving sons, once they grew old enough to fight, would be obligated to go to war against the tribe that killed their fathers. This is why, in certain battles, the Israelites killed everyone. Like the vampires in Underworld, they did so out of self-preservation: to prevent a cycle of bloodshed that could last for generations. In Underworld, the blood feud between the vampires and lycans is like an Old Testament war.

Blood revenge is a barbaric form of justice. Without a fair trial and proof of guilt, it could result in an innocent person being killed. Today, we recognize that it is the role of the state to imprison (or execute) a murderer. However, in ancient history to seek blood revenge for a murder was a cultural norm. It is also a cultural norm for the vampires and lycans in Underworld. In the climax of the film, Selene slays Viktor, an act of blood revenge for the murder of her parents. For Selene, killing Victor is not murder; it is justice.

Notes 

  1. Pamela Barmash, “Blood Feud and State Control: Differing Legal Institutions for the Remedy of Homicide During the Second and First Millennia B.C.E.,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 63, no. 3 (July 2004): 185. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/424770
  2. Walter M. Patton, “Blood Revenge in Arabia and Israel,” The American Journal of Theology 5, no. 4 (Oct. 1901): 703. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3152697
  3. Patton, “Blood Revenge,” 708.
  4. Patton, “Blood Revenge,” 707.
  5. James Frederick McCury, “The Moral Evolution of the Old Testament,” The American Journal of Theology 1, no. 3 (July 1897): 685. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3153246
  6. 2 Samuel 3:27 (New American Standard Version).
  7. Numbers 35:11-12.
  8. Deuteronomy 19:12 (New American Standard Version).
  9. Numbers 35:19.
  10. Joshua 6:21 (New American Standard Version).

Obsessive Love: Romeo and Juliet (1968)

Romeo and Juliet 1968Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet (1968), the most critically acclaimed film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play, is the tragic story of two teenage lovers whose relationship ends in a double-suicide. Various characters have been blamed for their deaths; however, none can be held directly responsible. The direct cause of Romeo and Juliet’s death is their obsessive love for each other.

Romeo (Leonard Whiting) has an emptiness in his heart that he hopes to fill with romantic love. In his first scene, we see him carrying a flower and pining for Rosaline: “not having that, which having makes [days] short.”1 Later, when he tells Friar Laurence (Milo O’Shea) that he wants to marry Juliet (Olivia Hussey), the Friar asks him: “Is Rosaline that thou didst love so dear, so soon forsaken?”2 Given that Rosaline has taken a vow of chastity, it is understandable that Romeo’s affections would switch to Juliet. But the ease with which he lets go of Rosaline suggests that he was only in love with her beauty.

When Romeo meets Julia, he falls in love at first sight. Upon seeing her he says, “Did my heart love till now? For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.”3 Not knowing anything of Juliet’s character or personality, his love is based on physical attraction. Romeo’s conception of love is evident to the Friar who says, “Young men’s love … lies not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.”4 Love at first sight may later become genuine love, but it could also prove to be an illusion. In Romeo and Juliet’s case, no one would dispute that their love for each other is genuine and true. Nonetheless, their initial attraction is based solely on each other’s physical appearance, for they know little of each other’s character. The danger in falling in love at first sight is you may only be in love with how a person looks.

Love at first sight is rooted in a pagan conception of love—the idea of finding your soul-mate who will make you a complete person. According to Greek mythology, human beings originally had four hands, four legs, and a head with two faces. Zeus cut humans in half, and “the innate desire of human beings for each other … draws the two halves of our original nature back together… Each of us is a matching half of a human being … and each of us is looking for his own matching half.”5 Love at first sight is “the striking moment of recognition … the apparent recovery of a perceived loss.”6 Falling in love at first sight is when you recognize your soul mate.

The idea that you can only have one soul-mate has a serious flaw. What happens if your soul-mate is dead? If there is only one person who can complete you, and that person dies, then are you destined to live alone as an incomplete person? After Romeo and Juliet fall in love, they feel whole and complete. Romeo’s belief that he cannot live without Juliet is why he commits suicide. He decides to join her in death so they can be re-united beyond the grave.

As a counterpoint to the soul-mate mythology (in which two incomplete individuals become whole), the biblical definition of marriage is two whole individuals becoming one. When Friar Laurence agrees to marry Romeo and Juliet, he says, “holy church, incorporate two in one.”7 The Friar is alluding to the teaching of Christ: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”8 The Christian view of romantic love is that although a man and a woman become “one flesh” after they are married, they are still whole individuals when they are apart. Human love is inherently unstable and is often marked by times of division and separation. The biblical view is that romantic love cannot make a person whole. A person becomes whole in their relationship with God, not through an obsessive attachment to another person.

For Romeo and Juliet, romantic love is a substitute for God. The night they first meet, Romeo believes Juliet’s kiss can take away his sin, which from a Christian perspective is something that only Christ can do. He then equates their kiss to hands pressed together in prayer and likens Juliet’s love with the Christian sacrament of baptism, saying to her, “Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized.”9 Romeo regards Juliet as his spiritual salvation.

Juliet speaks to Romeo in similar terms. After Romeo’s marriage proposal, she tells him, “Swear by thy gracious self, which is the god of my idolatry.”10 By definition, Juliet’s intense love for Romeo is a form of idolatry: “image-worship … paid to any created object.”11 For Juliet, romantic love is her source of spiritual and emotional strength. Before drinking the vial that will put her into a death-like sleep, she kneels in a position of prayer and says, “Love, give me strength.”12 For Juliet, romantic love is her path to completion as a person, a substitute for God’s love.

Romeo and Juliet’s obsessive love for each other is unhealthy. The tragedy of their relationship is that they each lose their independent identity. Unable to live without the other, they take their own lives, and consequently are directly responsible for their own deaths. Their relationship reveals how an obsessive attachment to another person is dangerous. If we make another person our “all”, we may no longer have a reason to live when that person is gone.

Notes

  1. Romeo and Juliet, DVD, directed by Franco Zeffirelli (1968; Hollywood, CA: Paramount, 2000).
  2. Romeo and Juliet.
  3. Romeo and Juliet.
  4. Romeo and Juliet.
  5. Plato, The Symposium, trans. Christopher Gill (London: Penguin Books, 1999), 24.
  6. Dympna Callaghan, ed., William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet: Texts and Contexts (Boston: Bedford / St. Martin’s, 2003), 4.
  7. Romeo and Juliet.
  8. Matthew 19:4-5 (English Standard Version).
  9. Romeo and Juliet.
  10. Romeo and Juliet.
  11. Easton’s Bible Dictionary Online, s.v. “Idolatry,” accessed October 26, 2014, http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/eastons-bible-dictionary/idolatry.html
  12. Romeo and Juliet.