Cleanliness is Next to Godliness, but Judging Others is Not

17 Feb

There is nothing better than being clean.  Keeping your house clean and your body clean does have a way of keeping your mind clean….and, in my opinion, the cleaner your mind is – the more connected to G-d (or The Life Force of the Universe) you can be.

But…..when someone says to another person “cleanliness is next to Godliness” and proceeds to dictate how clean the person should be in order to fulfill the meaning of this saying, I doubt that judging another person’s cleanliness is what this phrase is trying to teach us.  Furthermore, to use God as a reason to judge others (especially in trivial matters), probably isn’t the best idea since none of us have any idea what God’s intention is for another person besides ourselves – and to presume that we do, I think, is a drop egotistical.

And I doubt that God intends for us to be egotistical.  Just saying.

Not only that, but the saying “cleanliness is next to Godliness” isn’t even a real “Biblical” saying and “don’t judge another until you are in his shoes” has a lot of Biblical sources…..take a look….

Source for “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”

It does not come from the bible. In fact, until the time of the renaisance, bathing was oft seen as sinful, regarding the body as more important than the spirit. Bathing was also strongly associated with the “decadent” Romans. It’s origins seems to be in the writings of Francis Bacon. In his ‘Advancement of Learning’ (1605) he wrote: ‘Cleanness of body was ever deemed to proceed from a due reverence to God.’ Near two centuries later John Wesley in one of his sermons (1791) indicated that the proverb was already well known in the form we use today. Wrote Wesley: ‘Slovenliness is no part of religion.’Cleanliness is indeed next to Godliness.'” From “Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins” by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988). There are a couple more details in “Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings” (1996) by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996): “.According to the fourteenth edition of ‘Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable,’ it is an old Hebrew proverb used in the late 2nd century by Rabbi Phinehas ben-Yair. First attested in the United States in the ‘Monthly Anthology and Boston Review’ (1806). The proverb is found in varying forms.” (Yahoo Answers)

Read Cleanliness is Next to Godliness – the Talmudic Source if you are curious to see the original source and how this phrase became known as a “Biblical” saying.

SOME  sources for “Do not judge another unless you are in his shoes”

In the book of Matthew chapter 7 verse 1 the reading starts by saying “Judge not, that you be not judged”.

Verse 2 “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you”.

“You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, My decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with The Father, who sent Me.” (John 8:15-16)

“So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.” (Romans 14:1-13)

As well as in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), a tractate of the Talmud;

  • “Judge every person favorably” (1:6)
  • “Do not judge your fellow until you have stood in his place.” (2:5)
This idea applies not only to phrases like “cleanliness is next to Godliness”….we can use this philosophy anytime we get the urge to tell someone what to do, when to do it, why they should do it and how they should do it.
So, the next time you feel like telling someone how to be “Godly”, trying being “Godly” yourself and butt out of other people’s business and stop judging other people.
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6 responses to “Cleanliness is Next to Godliness, but Judging Others is Not

  1. Cheryl Baumgartner

    February 17, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    I have marveled over the years at how people judge others by ‘cleanliness’.

    I have been in churches where the idea of ‘cleanliness’ is measured by how fancy your clothes are.

    I have visited homes where the idea of ‘cleanliness’ is judged by how closely your home compares to a photo spread in Better Homes and Garden’s etc.

    Sad comparisons if you ask me.

    • Peaceful Controversy

      February 17, 2012 at 8:30 pm

      Very sad…because they have to live up to their ideals. If there is a crumb on the floor it does not matter that the rest of the house is immaculate – the crumb is all they will notice.

  2. Miss Lego

    February 18, 2012 at 4:12 am

    Wow… you always impressed me with your post, I like your logical and they way you express things, you give us something to think about. Nice read.

    • Peaceful Controversy

      February 21, 2012 at 12:52 am

      Thanks..I am glad that you are getting my blog. My intention is to attempt to adjust the “I am better than you” attitude that we all have in varying degrees. We are all great and no one is “better” than anyone else – no matter how much money they have, no matter how thin they are, no matter how beautiful they are, no matter how smart they are and no matter how religious they are (etc.)
      Thanks for the support and Peace!!

  3. Mollie Player

    February 20, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    I LOVE being organized. But I’m not the cleanest, necessarily.

    • Peaceful Controversy

      February 21, 2012 at 12:53 am

      Same here. I am quite organized but you will definitely find a few (or more than a few) dust balls in the corners occasionally……but so what?


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