Several years ago I did a post entitled “Judge not, lest ye be judged” that covered what Christ really meant when he spoke those popular words often quoted by those who hate even the most constructive of criticisms. Tied to those words of Christ that are quoted out of context is the notion that since nobody’s perfect, we should just shut up, live and let live, and stop criticizing other people. Is that argument valid?
Criticism is the act of pointing out what’s wrong or bad or faulty about someone or something. When we take an honest look at society, whether the society is advanced or developing, criticism is everywhere. I especially get a kick out of Christians who use such bad logic with the “nobody’s perfect” argument since Christianity itself is based on the criticism of human misdeeds so we can recognize the remedy for those misdeeds.
Let’s take Paul, for instance. He was formerly Saul, a persecutor of Christians who was responsible for the deaths of some of them. Then he was confronted by Jesus and got saved. Even after he got saved, he still had struggles. He was unforgiving toward John Mark, who abandoned him on a missionary journey. When John Mark’s cousin Barnabas wanted to take John Mark on another missionary trip with him and Paul, Paul and Barnabas had a heated argument about it and went their separate ways.
Paul admitted in Romans 7 that he had two natures struggling for dominance within him. In Philippians 3, he said he had not attained or apprehended his ultimate spiritual goal of sinless perfection that only comes by resurrection. He was still pressing toward the mark. Nevertheless, God by his higher authority entrusted his perfect words to Paul for Paul to spread them around.
The same thing can be said of Peter who had many faults also. Peter was so bad that one time imperfect Paul had to confront imperfect Peter about how he was acting when he snubbed Gentiles to impress some Jews who were visiting a congregation (Galatians 2:11-14) since Peter’s hypocrisy would have weakened the church at Antioch. Still, God used Peter to write down his perfect words in 1 & 2 Peter.
These men were far from perfect, but God gave them license to criticize just as he does for us after we humbly show ourselves ready and willing to do his will.
Societies that will not accept criticism devolve into chaos. The biggest collection of criticisms any nation has is the system of laws and regulations they set up to govern the nation. Laws are set up by imperfect men to criticize certain behavior. When the citizens of a nation are caught committing behaviors the laws call faulty, then the person is brought before an imperfect judge and/or an imperfect jury to be criticized by an imperfect prosecutor whose case is criticized by the imperfect defender of that imperfect defendant.
As I mentioned in a recent post about the 10 commandments, we all have a sense of right and wrong built into us by a Higher Authority based on his laws so that most countries have laws or morals set up that agree with at least some of the commandments, and those commandments are essentially criticisms. When we set up laws that reject the Higher Authority’s criticisms, then chaos will result (e.g. the Bolshevik revolution or Hitler’s Germany).
Now if we apply the “nobody’s perfect so don’t criticize” argument to how we govern, we would have to get rid of the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches at the local, state, and federal levels since they all criticize with their policies and procedures.
Our workplaces would also have to be shut down since managers wouldn’t be allowed to criticize employees and procedural manuals or professional associations or regulations wouldn’t be allowed to criticize businesses to ensure they run properly.
Essentially, the “nobody’s perfect so don’t criticize” argument is unsustainable and impossible to carry out since criticism is vital to all aspects of life, whether material or spiritual. And the statement is itself contradictory, making it null and void based on the Law of Non-contradiction since the moment a person makes the statement, they have just criticized.
Harry A. Gaylord