Deconstructed Faith,  Faith & Culture,  Inner healing work,  Love Wins

6 Questions. How to know if people think you’re judgmental


No Christian believes they are judgmental. The problem is, 9 times out of 10, the outside world sees them as just that.

So, the question becomes,

Why do most evangelical Christians not perceive themselves as judgmental? And, what exactly in their behavior screams they are?

Oddly enough, I’ve been on both sides of this equation. And, to be completely honest with you, I’ve often landed more on the side of being judged than the one doing the judging. Yet (due to my every-time-the-church-doors-are-open-we-go-to-church upbringing) I get the reasoning behind the one doing the judging.

So, I find myself uniquely qualified to attempt an answer to this question.

But, instead of an answer I’m going to start with a short quiz.

(OMG, I’m kinda freaking out about this blog right now. Can I just say how cool I am right now?? I LOOOOOOOVE online quizzes. Yes. Total dork. Totally owning it. Don’t even act like you don’t)

So, here’s a list of 6 questions.

(answer honestly)

Here we go:

  1. Do you believe your specific faith (denomination or personal interpretations of scripture) to be the only, absolute truth?
  2. Do you believe you know what God thinks about certain situations?
  3. Do you believe that the most Christ-like loving thing you can do, is to warn and save others from hell?
  4. Do you be-friend the “lost” for the purpose of saving them?
  5. Do you often view others (who see things differently than you) as people you should correct?
  6. Are you fully convinced that your religion/faith offers all of the answers?

Now, for the scoring…

If you said yes to three or more of those questions, I can guarantee you that the world outside of your Christian circle feels judged by you.

 What?! What is this you say??! I am only acting like Jesus!

Ah, and here we come to an impasse.

Ironically, no one around Jesus felt judged.


All of those beliefs listed above are exclusive.

Jesus was inclusive.

Jesus is truly the only one who has a “right” to hold to those beliefs and yet even he didn’t posture himself with that attitude. In fact, scriptures say that he did not come to judge or condemn anyone.

He died to end the judging thing.

Like END IT.

He stood in our place so no one could be condemned.


His behavior backed it:

A great example of this lies in the story of the adulterous woman. He said, “I don’t condemn you”.

It’s a scandalous proposition to offer no condemnation. It screams grace at the loudest of volumes. THIS IS WHY WE LOVE HIM. THIS IS WHY IT’S GOOD NEWS.

So where does all the Christian judging come from?

Well, there is one group in scripture that didn’t extend grace. That continually made everyone feel judged.

The religious.

The churched.

Or in Biblical terms, the Pharisees.

Jesus had full God-knowledge and full authority, but everyone felt loved and accepted by him. So, the question becomes, do you act more like Jesus or a Pharisee?

Well, let’s go through these beliefs and see:

You believe your specific faith (denomination or personal interpretations of scripture) to be the only, absolute truth. And, because of this, you believe you know what God thinks about certain things.

There is only one thing we can be absolutely certain we know of God: He is love.

The rest, well, there is only One who truly knows where absolute truth lies and what is in the mind of God towards certain people and behaviors: God himself.

Throughout scripture we see God continually moving, shifting, speaking different things to different groups of people. To put yourself on the same level of God in suggesting you know what he would or wouldn’t say or do, is pride at the highest level.

You believe the most Christ-like loving thing you can do, is to warn and save others from hell.

Jesus healed the masses without telling them to say a sinner’s prayer to be saved from hell first. He embraced, loved, accepted and called people friend without  constant fear messages regarding hell.

The only people he consistently warned of hell, however, were the religious.

You be-friend the “lost” for the purpose of saving them.

This attitude says you’re better than; that you are the rescuer and they are the ones in need of being rescued. But, only God can be God and only Jesus can be Savior. You are just as much in need of being rescued as the one you are trying to rescue.

Jesus befriended people, took them as they were not just for the sake of “saving”. He chose to “save” everyone regardless. Jesus befriended from a motivation of unconditional love.

You often view others (who see things differently than you) as people you should correct.

This is a tough one. Because, the Christian sincerely believes they are doing the most loving thing by correcting. Yet, if you are the one being corrected, you only feel a harsh slap of judgement.

Every time you step into the ring to “correct” someone with your spiritual wisdom, you are picking up a stone – not love. Remember, Jesus defended the ones being “corrected”; He didn’t join in throwing stones (eh, scripture) at them.

The only people Jesus did continually correct were the religious who said they spoke for God and went around telling everyone how they should behave.

You are fully convinced that your religion/faith offers all of the answers.

I think a better question might be: do you believe that every answer pertaining to God and the human race could be contained by a religion or denomination?

If so, that would make God quite small. That would make the indescribable, describable. And the infathomable, fathomable. That would make his thoughts that are higher than ours, obtainable.

I prefer to believe God to be bigger than that. MUCH bigger.

Answering yes to those questions is common in religious circles. And, for that reason, I’m now often an outsider.

Years ago, I answered yes to many of them myself (and if you knew me 10 plus years ago felt judged by me, I am SO sorry) but I could not reconcile those beliefs with the way God interacts with me. I just couldn’t.

So, I let go of that and decided to just be a Jesus follower.

I want to love others the way he loves me.

I want to talk to others the way he talks to me.

My sweet friends, that is why I am invited to sit in a Hindu woman’s livingroom and weep with her over her baby who passed, without her fearing I will try to convert her to “my way”. This is why I can walk inside a strip club and love on the women there without an agenda other than just love. This is why I am able to talk to a transgender friend and treat them like a NORMAL HUMAN BEING without acting weird about it. This is why I am invited to sit with a mom as she exposes every failure while I hold her hand and she cries. This is why I can sit with both conservatives and liberals and not feel like I am better than, know more, or am more “right” than any of them.

I’ve let go of needing to have all of the answers.

Instead, I believe God holds every answer a human could need.

And I believe him big enough to speak to and connect with anyone and everyone.

Even without my help.

I believe our role is to love unconditionally.

As Jesus did.

To defend the ones dodging stones. To speak out for the vulnerable, weak and the outcast. To not attempt to play judge and jury. To not assume we know what God would think about other’s choices, lifestyle or behavior. To admit that God could say or do something we wouldn’t think he would.

By doing this, we embrace our own humanity.

True Christ-like love, is birthed in humility. Where we see ourselves as less. Where we position ourselves low and place others high. Where we view the greatest act of love not as correcting others – but as this:

The greatest love one could have is to lay down their life for a friend.

Lay it down means just that: get off the spiritual platform. Lay down on the ground. Know that all of us came from that same pile of dirt. ALL OF US.  Yet, He chose to rescue and love us anyway.

I’m not perfect. I’m still learning. I still share my personal beliefs with those who ask. But, it’s a conversation; not a dictation. And, if I’m going to be in error, I choose to error on the side of love.


If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

Author. Blogger. Speaker. Momma to 4.


  • Keith

    Anna, I greatly appreciate your approach here. As a Christian, I am a believer in a big tent God, where all our welcome. I feel religion is at its finest when it is inviting and inclusive. In my view, this gets to the heart of Jesus’ teachings as you note. On the converse, when I see religion exclude people, I find it at its absolute worst. To me, we often overlook the larger messages of treating others like we want to be treated and helping our neighbors and focus on some specific negative as a way to judge or exclude. Great post and thanks for inviting my comment. Keith

    • Anna McCarthy

      Hi Keith! I always love hearing from you! I don’t always get the chance to respond, but know that you and I have been having conversations in my head for quite some time 😉 Hugs and thank you again for sharing your thoughts.

      • Keith

        Anna, many thanks. I appreciate your response. I was reading Tammy’s comment and she hit the nail on the head. One of my pet peeves is what I call bigotry from the pulpit. To me, a faith leader should not be using religious text to divide and exclude. In my humble opinion, I believe that is a dereliction of duty. There are many welcoming ministers, rabbis, imams, priests, etc. that if someone feels unwelcome at one place, they should ask around a find a welcoming church, synagogue, etc. Thanks again for the wonderful post, Keith

  • tammy314159

    Oh man, this hits so close to home for me. As a transgender woman, I was told again and again over a period of years, countless variations of this message: “Here’s some good news about God: He hates you and you’re going to burn in hell, and you don’t DESERVE His love and grace.” Is it any wonder it took me until just a year or two ago to find a path to Him?

    And how did I get there? Not through the clanging cymbals who spoke judgment and condemnation and rationalized that they were “speaking truth” to my “shameful and sinful existence”. No, I got there through friends and pastors who offered me love. Unconditional, unvarnished, humble and kind, patient and gentle love. The kind of tender love that said “I may not understand why God made you with a female soul and a male body, but you are His daughter and I love you.”

    I still struggle to understand how someone could say “God hates you and you don’t deserve His grace” to another human being and believe they are speaking from a place of love when they do. I’m grateful that I’ve found a path to knowing Jesus’s love that doesn’t pass through that kind of soil. But my heart aches for those who suffer, and sometimes die, because they weren’t fortunate enough to find people who could offer them the kind of love that I’ve recently experienced. That’s why my practice of my new faith, so often comes down to just one, so simple and yet so rich, piece of scripture: “Wear love everywhere you go.” (Colossians 3:14)

    • Anna McCarthy

      Oh sweet friend, I can’t even imagine the journey you have endured. But, I’m glad you found your way here! Love hearing your perspective and voice. Know that there will always be a seat for you at this table. Hugs.

  • Lark1010

    Thanks for your post Anna, I appreciate how you often speak things on my mind as faults of the church and how we need to correct those faults. After reading your posts I often think it’d be great to get coffee and brainstorm how to change the world.
    In this post I wonder if you have considered how the Pharisees felt? Jesus was not inclusive with them and I would think they felt pretty judged by him at times. Now, to those who acknowledged their sins he was gracious, to those who were prideful, like the Pharisees he was hard on them. Jesus told parables that revealed their hypocrisy and he called them out (often publicly!). They decided that the Messiah was going to be like X and when he told him things like Gentiles would be in the kingdom they were outraged.
    So I’m praying that you will consider how much our culture influences your view of Jesus. Our culture says that to be exclusive is wrong and that it’s not fair for anyone to claim to know absolute truth. You of course know that Jesus said he was the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through him and those are absolute statements and claims to the truth.
    I think you really want to be a follower of Jesus and you have potential to be a really powerful voice for the church, to call out believers to follow him. Be careful that you are not falling in love with the Jesus our culture has created that holds love as it’s highest value instead of holiness. The Pharisees were guilty of creating a picture of what the Messiah was going to be like and then didn’t recognize him when he stood in front of them. Make sure you are worshiping the Jesus of the scriptures who made people so mad they wanted him killed and loved people so well it changed the world.
    Would love to chat more with you if you are interested. Your thoughts challenge my perspective and I’d love to dialogue with you. Love and prayers.

    • Anna McCarthy

      Hi there! Yes, let’s change the world! (and I love coffee)
      You brought up a point I have often thought about pertaining to the Pharisees. How did they feel? Over the years, I’ve given this much thought and here’s where I’ve landed.
      I think it’s clear (by their behavior) they often felt “right”. Although Jesus was harsh with them, I don’t believe he excluded them; I believe they excluded themselves. They wouldn’t be caught dead with the kinds of people Jesus was loving on. Sad, but still very true.
      I thank you again for your thoughts…and perspective. I’m pretty crazy about Jesus. And, I like to believe love is the greatest form of holiness – after all, God IS love. Hugs to you.

      • Lark1010

        I do agree with that, Jesus wept as he looked over Jerusalem saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Matthew 22: 37-39. So he certainly would have included them but they would have none of it, they excluded themselves. He would have included any Pharisees that turned from their pride to follow him (Nicodemus?). Do you think the Bible teaches that the Pharisees who did not turn from their sin will be saved?
        I agree also that love is very important, and it’s not just a feeling we have towards God, it’s a motivation from which we act. 1 John 5:3 says that one way to show our love is to obey his commands. How do you think that relates to how we love others and how they love God? Like the Pharisees could not be a follower of Jesus without repenting of their pride and turning from it, what role does repentance play in how we love others?

      • Anna McCarthy

        Hello again my deep thinking friend 🙂 I looove all the questions and convo. So good.
        I think repentance is not an act, but a state of being. Here’s what I mean. When a person realizes that it is only by grace being extended that a menace such as themselves could be given a free pass – well, I think that’s when humility and love become their state of being. When we live there, we live in constant communion with LOVE. That kind of love changes a person. With God love flowing into us, it will naturally flow onto others. So, we don’t have to go around repenting, thinking we need to be changing our behavior – we know our behavior will never be enough. But, we’re chosen, loved and accepted anyway. Just as we are. And out of that, our heart changes.
        I’m rambling a bit. But, in summary, I understand repentance to just be a constant state of being connected to God’s love.
        So, in the example of the Pharisees…well, when one doesn’t feel loved, accepted or enough, they try to point the finger at everyone other than themselves. That is why they were the number one stone throwers. There was always an opportunity for them to receive love, grace and acceptance – even in all of their mess. Had they received it, it would have changed them. They would naturally change after experiencing an encounter with a love like that.

  • Nehemiah Project

    There are not enough “likes” to put on this!
    When we begin to understand what love is and how it works and place it as the nucleus of what we say and do, judgment takes a backseat.

  • Julie

    Hi Anna,
    Your post today sounds a lot like what God has been showing me too. It’s good to see Him speaking the same words to others. Sometimes those judgmental ways of thinking that we grew up with in church are so ingrained that we are afraid to think differently..: like we are a bad person if we do, or we are being deceived. But I have felt God leading me to love above all else and not judge and I have crossed paths with many He is telling the same thing too and that encourages me. One of those friends shared a couple books with me. The first is called Chasing Francis and the second is called Love is an Orientation. Both are in the same vein as your post today and really were a blessing to me.

  • Laurie

    Well, I actually answered no to all questions. At first it made me think that I didn’t have enough commitment to my faith (not particularly the denomination to which I associate). But as I thought about my answers prior to continuing reading I came up with these ‘excuses’ for my answers. Christ loved people regardless of their particular walk in life, He never condemned them, only their sin; however He did so in such a way as they felt His love and concern for them. I would never feel comfortable condemning someone else’s sin when I have many of my own to work on, but I could share how much Jesus has done for me and the love I feel from Him, and how my relationship with Him has improved my life (not necessarily my circumstances!). I also feel very strongly that it is up to God to convict people’s hearts, my job is to live in His love and walk with Him daily. So then I finished your article and felt better about my choices!

    I, too, have been on the judgemental side and that position truly doesn’t bring one even close to wanting to get to know Jesus or God! It was only through the love of faith-walking friends and pastors who introduced me to the loving Father whose Son died for ME that I could begin a healing process of the spirit and a relationship that has influenced all other relationships in my life. Thank you for ‘testing’ us and for sharing your journey!

  • wallflower27986

    I needed to hear this. I try not to be judgmental but I gave some wrong answers to your questions so I guess that puts my “non-judgmental” tag in the trash. Thanks for the reminder. I am praying that I will follow Jesus more and my own importance less.

  • Carol Henderson

    I love, love love this blog post. May I just say that I wish every Christian I know could read, understand and embrace this way of being a human being. This world would be just a wonderful place if we could act like this. I am sharing this with everyone I possibly can. Thank you for this post.

  • csf6347

    Anna, thank you for this post. I did answer ‘no’ to all of your questions, but it was when I read what you had written that I realized how sinful I am and how I slip in judging others all too often – even though I truly try not to. I recently made some judgmental comments to someone I love deeply, and I have lost some relationships I truly value as a result. I have asked God’s forgiveness, and the forgiveness of those involved. However, restoring these relationships will take more than just asking for forgiveness. This slap-down proves what I know in my heart, but clearly am not good at practicing. Our love for God and for one another appears in our behavior, and my behavior showed something quite different. I am grateful for the wake-up call and seek God’s guidance to restore what was once a strong bond between me and those I love.

  • Derin

    I agree with NP, there are not enough likes for this post! I have been on the judgemental end for so long…until I failed enough for God to catch my attention…, and re-introduce himself to me. I am not the fire and brimstone, rule-keeping God you think I am,… And then I start all over again, from the gospels,(Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), and I get to understand his heart…his purpose! (permit me to say). I’m all about RELATIONSHIP…with ALL! Lost, broken, drunken, thief, greedy, adulterer, liar, outsider, you. You’ve been an immense blessing with this post Anna, you have no idea. Thanks so much!

  • Proclaiming His Goodness

    Great post, this is an issue that is not addressed enough. I believe that the issue behind our judgmental attitudes is that we are not serious enough in our relationships with Christ. He is the only One who loves perfectly, so therefore, the only One who can teach us to love well, and we can only learn from Him when we sit at His feet and get to know Him and His ways. 1 Corinthians 13 is really a blueprint of the way He loves each of us every single day.

  • Jo

    Jesus is the only one that has the right to judge us. If we are His we will be judged by what we’ve done, including judging others. Something i have been learning about this whole issue. Jesus says in the same way we judge others He will judge us(Matt 7:1-2). That usually ends up in our becoming like the one we judge.
    There are times, however, that we are asked to make a judgment call such as the man in 1 Cor. 5:1-3. In these times, however, we need to ask Abba for wisdom.

  • Lucas Harris

    But what if I’m like, so much of a better person than other people? I can’t help it if I’m super spiritual. Just kidding. This post is right on. For most of my life I’ve been entrenched on the judgemental side so I know it well. The fact that people of different religions and lifestyles trust you enough to confide in you is really amazing. Sounds exactly like what Jesus would do – spend time with the “others.”

    • Anna McCarthy

      Hi Lucas! I literally laughed out loud when I read your first sentence. SO FUNNY. I too know the judgmental side all too well…it’s such a freeing experience to see others without that filter. I once heard someone say, “if you really take the time to see someone, you will love them”. When we see people, we can’t judge them. We just can’t. Because love is all that comes out.

  • Brother Glenn

    You have hit the theological nail on the head. Trying to love as Jesus did is all we can do. We cannot condemn anyone to Christ. All we can do in our fallen state, is try to love others as Jesus loves us. Thank you for sharing. Somewhere along the way we have separated being a Christian and following in his footsteps. I will always err on the side of grace and love.

  • Angela

    I agree with most everything you wrote here. I think my one concern is how do I point others to Jesus, who according to His own words is THE Way, if I don’t fully believe that truth. Love is central to this thought for me. If I truly believe that He is the only way, isn’t the loving thing for me to share that truth with others? I don’t have all the answers, and I am still trying to figure it all out myself. All are welcome, but it is a gift. You can’t own whatever is in that package unless you accept it. I truly feel like as a believer it is my calling to let others see Jesus, and He will do the rest. To do that, I believe, means at times we have to speak truth in love. I guess fundamentally it comes down to what we believe is truth. The only thing I know to use in order to determine truth is God’s Word. I’m not saying that isn’t the same for you, but it was unclear as I read this specific post if that makes sense?

    • csf6347

      What you are talking about, Angela, is evangelism. Some people are naturally called to do that work. Others of us are not. The way I try to show God in my own life is not by telling others about Him, but by living a life that reflects him and what he has commissioned us to do. Love one another. Care for one another. I am not perfect and, of course, do not model this perfectly. However, I do the best I can, with God’s strength, and I always remember that when I fail it is because of my humanity. This is a good time to remember that Jesus took on our human form so that he would experience first-hand what it is like to be fallen. He knows, He understands, and He loves us in spite of our humanness. His is the model to follow. Being able to quote Bible versus means nothing if you are not allowing His spirit to work through you, in all you do.

      • Angela

        I think you’re right evangelism is a calling. I think love and showing Him in me is the best way to do that. It is just a fine line that we struggle to walk as we do love as Jesus did. I also believe it’s possible to show love and still speak truth about right and wrong. At the end of the day if we have standards of any sort there is some part of us that is judgmental. That’s not always a bad thing. Some things we should call out as wrong and blatantly evil. I don’t know anyone for example who wouldn’t say a child abuser was doing wrong. That’s obviously meant as only an example to show that we all draw some lines at what we see as right or wrong. Jesus did not condemn the adulterous woman, but He did tell her to, “Go and sin no more.” So the struggle we have is that we are called to do both.

  • Nicole

    I loved your post. Your my better 🙂 I used to be really judgmental and your stereotypical Pharisee. I thought I knew all the answers and was ready to give them to people. I’ve had trouble writing lately, but your post says it all.

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