What Is Reverse Phariseeism?

You’ve heard of reverse racism, right? That’s when a group of people, a business, or college give special treatment to someone solely on the basis of them being any other skin color but white. I don’t know why it’s called “reverse” racism because it’s really just plain racism. There have been many cases where so-called “minority” children who grew up in wealthy homes were given government aid or scholarships directly from the college simply because of their skin color while white children who grew up in poor homes were rejected because of their white skin. If we’re going to have government programs that pay for college tuition (or anything else for that matter), it should be based on economic situation and not skin color.

But that’s another topic for another day.

Today I’m talking about reverse phariseeism. Perhaps you’ve met someone who is a reverse phariseeist. The hit TV show “My Name is Earl” featured a reverse phariseeist in Earl’s former mother-in-law. She stole his car and lost it gambling at a casino. Before Earl could even react she stuck a finger in his face and said the classic reverse phariseeist catch phrase, “Don’t you judge me!”

You see the Pharisees were a religious group within Judaism during the time Jesus walked the earth. Not everything they did was bad, in fact, they did many good things, but one of their shortcomings was that they often made laws where God did not. For example, God told the Jewish people in Exodus 20:10 not to work on the Sabbath day. Because plowing is work, plowing was not allowed. The law God gave was that people not work on the Sabbath day, but the Pharisees decided to make more laws to ensure that the initial law of not working was not violated.

One of the laws the Pharisees made was that a man with a peg leg could not walk on the Sabbath because if his artificial leg were to poke a hole in the ground and a seed happened to be blown into that hole by the wind then that man would be guilty of plowing and planting on the Sabbath and therefore guilty of “working” on the Sabbath.

So that is what phariseeism is and now I am going to tell you about reverse phariseeism.

Like reverse racism, reverse phariseeism is just as bad as regular phariseeism and truly is phariseeism. Reverse phariseeism is when someone “forsaken the assembly” and are not really a Christian. That’s one extreme. Someone who is trying so hard not to be a Pharisee that they defect to reverse phariseeism would say that worshiping with the church doesn’t really matter and that we have no right to suggest that it is important because that might offend those who don’t go to church and they might think we are Pharisees.

You see, reverse phariseeism makes laws to prevent legalism (you catch the irony there, right?). It jumps to the other extreme and usually says that we should never, ever point out the wrongs of another person or group…unless they are a Pharisee and then you can stick your finger in their face and tell them they’re going to Hell in a handbag. But if someone is violating God’s law, you have no right to tell that person the truth what they are doing and that they are in danger of being punished in Hell because the reverse Pharisee would call that “judgmental.”

Someone who is not guilty of either of the “isms” but is merely trying to follow Jesus would note that the person is living a lifestyle that violates God’s commands and tell them that with love and concern for their soul. The reverse Pharisee would not tell them at all and hope that the “kindness” he showed that person might make him one day want to ask if his lifestyle is wrong. But we all know that rarely, if ever, happens, and so the reverse Pharisee could simply be allowing that person to walk straight into Hell–all in the name of not “judging.”

You see, as Christians, we know THE Judge. God is the Judge and has already told us how He’s going to rule. So we are not to judge intent or thoughts, we are merely to state what God has already stated in an effort to save a few from forfeiting their souls.

The Bible tells us to do this in James 5:19-20: “…he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”

Our culture can’t stand anyone to suggest they might be wrong about something or in need of “salvation.” It’s not politically correct to suggest that any lifestyle is better or worse than another. But tell me, who cares more for the blind man unknowingly walking toward the cliff? Is it the one who walks beside him and just says kind things to him or is it the one doing whatever it takes, even if it’s a little bit of shouting, to turn him in another direction and keep him from walking off the cliff to his death?

If you were blind–and I’m not saying that you are because that would just be judgmental, but if you were–who would you want to walk beside you if, by chance, you were walking toward a cliff?

That’s what I thought. An ancient proverb puts it this way: “An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy” (Proverbs 27:5-6 NLT).

ALSO SEE: The Importance of Being Judgmental by Dr. Rubel Shelly