Opinion or Judgment?
I have been mulling over a topic for quite some time now, so I decided to blog about it. I am wondering what the difference is between opinion and judgment. I looked up the definitions of both “opinion” and “judgment” and found each word used to help define the other. Thus, I was no closer to understanding the true difference.
When I googled this topic, one claim stood out to me over and over again:
“All judgments are based on opinions, but not all opinions are judgmental.” In other words, you need to first have an opinion of something to form a judgment, but merely having an opinion does not mean you are being judgmental.
If this is true, then what makes an opinion turn judgmental? I am convinced that there is no clear line one may cross from opinion to judgment. I may share an opinion with one person and it is perceived as nothing more than opinion, but then I may share the exact same opinion with someone else, and it is labeled judgmental. I think (my opinion) that whether or not an opinion is deemed judgmental depends on the perception of the person on the receiving end of the opinion. In this case, we can not really do a whole lot about whether or not someone thinks we are being judgmental. What we CAN do is search our own hearts to know whether or not we are seeing clearly. We can also decide whether or not our opinion needs to be shared.
An opinion is a way of seeing. It is a choice to look at a topic from a certain perspective. Jesus warns us not to judge (Matthew 7:1). He also warns us to see clearly (Matthew 6:22). The Kingdom of God operates differently than the world in which we are currently living. The person who is operating out of the Kingdom of God (and not from the eyes of society) sees through eyes full of love and seeks redemption and life for everyone they encounter. Their opinions are based on the good of the other person, not necessarily what is best for themselves.
With that heart in mind, I feel compelled to bring up a “hot topic.” With all of the legislative battling that is currently ensuing regarding abortion, my heart has been particularly burdened. As I stand as one who has battled infertility for a total of almost 6 years, I recognize that I am clearly seeing this issue from a different heart than those who are struggling with the fact that they ARE pregnant. Regardless of my personal struggles, I can not comprehend how someone can look at a “fetus” that was aborted at 20 weeks, that looks completely like a baby, that moves and even tries to breathe and think it’s only a blob of tissue. I can not comprehend this. I have also seen too much to believe that abortion turns out well for the woman.
As I understand it, the abortion issue does not really come down to whether or not a person thinks it’s a baby or not – it becomes about a woman’s rights. (Defining “life” is part of the argument, but the argument is aimed at protecting women’s rights.) I am all about women’s rights. I was basically raised to be a feminist. I truly believe women are powerful and can do anything a man can do. At the same time, I recognize that women were not meant to do everything a man can do. We were not designed to be men, we were designed to be women. It is not a blessing to a woman if she tries to do things that were designed for a man to do. That does not mean she can not do it – it just means it is not necessarily best for her. On man/woman issues as well as others, she has a “right” to do anything. She can choose – but that does not mean she will always choose wisely.
When it comes to the abortion issue, why are those who are pro-choice, so opposed to educating women? If they really believe a woman should have the right to a “choice,” then if they were really concerned about the well-being of women, they would want her to be able to make the best, most educated choice possible.
Most people have made judgments, not opinions, on the big issues facing our society: gay marriage, abortion, gun control, etc. Opinion is open to modification, whereas judgment is not. Here is the great tragedy I see unfolding in our society. For the most part, especially with the big issues, those who stand with strong opinions (or judgments) do not have the desire to truly understand the other side. What would happen if debates became a quest for understanding instead of a quest to make the other side look bad or wrong? What if, instead of laboring to prove just how right we are in our opinion, we took a couple deep breathes and tried to step into the shoes of the person who seems so opposite us in thought?
I have an opinion about the hot topics, but I can also see why people choose to see differently. That is why I find it indispensable to be sure that the opinions I have formed are in alignment with the Kingdom of God. Would Jesus agree with how I am seeing? He is the one we all need to agree with because one day he will return and pronounce Judgment on all things. I try to continue to dig into God’s word to be sure that I am accurately representing his heart with what I believe and the opinions I carry.
It is difficult to disagree with someone, but in the end God’s word says, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out” (Proverbs 10:9). The only way to know whether we are seeing straight or crookedly, is to look to Jesus.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders (our opinions) and the sin (judgments) that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2, parentheses added).
If we fix our eyes on Jesus, and not on the opinions of everyone around us, our faith will be perfected and we will see clearly, having opinions without judgment. I long (idealistically) for a world where there really is unity and we all see clearly. Changing the world begins with how we see. May we choose to see through the eyes of the Kingdom of God: love and understanding and truth. Lord help us.