I recently came across this excerpt from the fine book I read some years back and thought others might enjoy reading it.
Excerpt from “The Church Effeminate”
by John W. Robbins, pages 654-657, published by The Trinity Foundation
Now this is a very important matter. The lack of discernment in today's churches, the reluctance to make distinctions, the antipathy to rendering moral judgments — all of this means that proper distinctions are not being made and righteous judgments are not being rendered. It does not mean that distinctions and judgments are not being made at all. Insofar as anyone thinks at all, he must make distinctions and render judgments. Just as the irrationalist is fatally ignorant of the fact that he must use rationality to propound irrationalism, so the moral agnostic — the man who is opposed to making judgments — is fatally ignorant of the fact that he must make moral judgments in order to state his position. The judgment the moral agnostic unwittingly makes is this: “Judging others is wrong.” But the moral agnostic does not stop with that judgment; he eagerly adds another: “Those who judge others are wrong.” And in these two moral judgments we can see clearly the self-stultifying, self-contradictory nature of the notion that one ought not to make moral judgments. If those who judge others are wrong, as the moral agnostic asserts, then moral agnostics are wrong, for they judge those who make judgments. That is why the Bible neither condemns nor commends those who make no judgments — for there are no such people — but instead condemns those who make false judgments, who call good, evil, and evil, good:
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who put darkness for light, and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight.” (Isaiah 5:20-21)
By refusing to distinguish good from evil, right from wrong, true from false — that is, by attempting to abandon logic and rationality — a person merely succeeds in making evil judgments. He calls good, evil, and evil, good. It is the man who makes perverse judgments that the Bible condemns. Ironically, the most censorious men are those who condemn anyone who makes a moral judgment.
Scripture repeatedly commands Christians to “test,” to “try,” to “judge,” and to “prove” all things. For example, in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, Paul commands us to “test all things; hold fast what is good.” Isaiah commands us in these words:
And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the Law and to the Testimony! If they do not speak according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:19-20)
John tells us, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1) And in his Gospel, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:24) In Proverbs we are commanded: “Open you mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:9) Paul, giving instructions for church meetings, says, “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.” (1 Corinthians 14:29) Scripture commands us to be skeptical of everything except the written Word of God, and to judge all things by that Word. The Bereans were commended for testing even an apostle’s preaching by the written Word.
In all this, Christians are exercising their rationality. In his letters, Paul repeatedly makes moral judgments. For example, in Romans I Paul writes: “professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” In 1 Corinthians 5 he writes, “And you are puffed up.” In verses 11 through 13 he gives further instructions:
But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore, “put away from yourselves that wicked person.”
Here Paul’s command to judge – to distinguish and evaluate certain persons in the church as fornicators, covetous, idolaters, revilers, drunkards, and extortioners – is followed by a command to separate from such men. It is a command to exercise church discipline. But the moral agnostics in the churches, because they are opposed to rendering moral judgments, are opposed to discipline and to separation as well, a point to which we shall return shortly.
Paul continues his discussion of judging:
Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters [now]? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more [then], things that pertain to this life?” (1 Corinthians 6:2-3)
Here Paul expects Christians to judge; he demands that they judge. Paul himself calls men “foolish,” (Galatians 3:1) “dogs,” (Philippians 3:2) and “evil workers,” (Philippians 3:2) as well as “saints.”
But what is the motivation of the moral agnostic who urges us not to judge others and who condemns us for doing so? It is not benevolence or tolerance. One motivation is quite clear: The moral agnostic wants to escape judgment himself. He thinks that if no one is permitted to judge others, then he himself will escape judgment. Paul explains in Romans 1 that sinful men suppress the truth (which they know innately) in unrighteousness, for they do not like to retain God in their knowledge, because the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness. Men, “knowing the righteous judgment of God, that they who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” The proscription of moral judgment is a futile attempt by sinners to escape judgment. Paul says that moral agnosticism is futile, whether one condemns or approves the sinful practices of others:
Therefore, you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge, practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?” (Romans 2:1-3)
One motivation that lies behind moral agnosticism is the desire to escape the judgment of God for one’s own beloved sins. Its purpose is to allow the unrepentant sinner to escape uncondemned and unpunished. When a moral agnostic argues that we must not judge between good and evil, his advice, when followed, benefits only the evil and harms only the good. To refuse to judge righteous judgment is not neutrality or tolerance; it is an attack on the good and a sanction to the evil.
There is a related but slightly different motivation as well: Whenever a person makes a judgment, that judgment discloses his own values, his own standard, and opens him to judgment by others. If a man would not judge, the moral agnostic believes, then he would not reveal his own values, and he would escape the judgment of others in this way as well. The Bible's statement of the principle that in judging one discloses one's own values is found in the Gospel of Matthew:
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:35-37)
Once again Scripture teaches that the moral agnostic cannot escape judgment by refusing to judge, for he cannot refuse to judge. Rational creatures must judge, and we will all be held accountable for the judgments we make, the words we speak, the thoughts we think. The moral agnostic condemns moral judgment because he hopes to avoid responsibility for his own sins. He does not want to be held accountable by God or by anyone else. He desires to be a law unto himself, a completely irresponsible, a completely lawless, being.