Judge Not By Appearances

In Fall 1843, John Taylor reprinted a story from the Christian Messenger, which I sense he wanted to share with BCC tonight.


With that introduction, here is the story:


Reprinted from Christian Messenger, “Judge Not From Appearances,” Times and Seasons 4, no. 20 (September 1, 1843): 318.


  1. Very good story. I am pretty open and still have found it very difficult to keep from judging based on appearance-especially a person I haven’t met. That would include the person who appears better than they are and the person who appears worse than they are. I like what Eyring said – to treat everyone as if they are in trouble when you meet them and you will be right most of the time. Theoretically this could be done independent of appearance.

    And even more important than worrying about others, I think the goal is to become a person with no guile. To me this would include my appearance – presenting my actual self to the world so as not to deceive others. Then my behavior and beliefs would all align without any deception toward myself or others.

  2. Aaron Brown says:

    Yeah, but this obviously has no application to those who don’t wear white shirts to Church on Sunday, or who have long hair, or multiple piercings. No heaven for them.

    Aaron B

  3. Yeah, but this obviously has no application to those who don’t wear white shirts to Church on Sunday, or who have long hair, or multiple piercings. No heaven for them.

    I only have the colored shirts and hair. Can I at least get some terrestrial glory?

  4. Stephanie says:

    Yeah, but this obviously has no application to those who don’t wear white shirts to Church on Sunday, or who have long hair, or multiple piercings. No heaven for them.

    And what of the women who have the audacity to wear pants to church?

  5. Stephanie (#4),

    As long as they aren’t sporting any facial hair, they will be fine.

  6. In the late winter of 1971 when I was still deciding whether to embrace the faith of my ancestors, my friend picked me up for a Sunday drive. It was the day after the high school basketball season ended and so my friend and I, both of us basketball players, still had the short haircuts required by the coach but we were finally no longer required, at least by the coach, to live the training standards. My friend had a case of beer in his car when he picked me up.

    In my little Mormon hometown we had an 11th commandment we lived by “Thou shall not drink in town” so my friend and I departed for the country roads to consume our liquid refreshment. Even when I was a drinker I was not a BIG drinker and so it only took 2 or 3 beers for me to decide to slow down or stop. All of a sudden a tire blew on my friend’s car and he simultaneously remembered that his spare tire was flat. So we were stranded until an elderly couple happened along and stopped to help. We explained that we needed a lift into town – with our flat spare to repair – and they obliged. We were not falling down drunk but we were intoxicated. As I stated before, we had “respectible” haircuts and we both had sunglasses on. As we got into the back seat the woman in the passenger’s seat said to us, “Now if you’d had long hair we wouldn’t have picked you up!” If only she had known.

  7. #5 – epic ftw…

  8. Okay, I get the judging by appearances bit, but as I read Taylor’s clipping, it’s taking a shot at professions of faith (saved by Grace alone) vs faith and works.

    On the other hand, I remember well shortly before getting married in the early 70’s, my folks, living in Nevada, would send me letters and $5 to get my haircut, as it was obvious that no “nice girl” would want to go out with me.

    I married my wife in the temple 6 months later, still with the long hair, having used the $5 on pizza.

  9. I think the preacher’s nickname was Clodpole, not Cudpole.

  10. After my brother died, my mom regretted every time she ever had a fight with him over his long hair.

    Some things just aren’t important.

  11. KF, well-observed. The secret agenda was the highly complex interactions between early Mormons and evangelicals. Simultaneously they were attempting to fight against establishment Calvinism and the evolving evangelical offshoots and criticisms. Mormons as Arminians and primitivist critics of excessive formality, all that jazz.

    I also liked the picture of driving to heaven with a cart full of stolen corn. Trying to imagine the celestial border crossing.

    Finally, interesting that we haven’t pushed toward the more vexing problem of our equation of material success with the protestations of faith criticized in this piece. How often does wealth serve as the surrogate for salvation when in fact we’re driving a cartload of stolen corn (think Marriott and porn or the exploitation of workers by Mormon businessmen)?

  12. I so appreciate those of higher intellect than me pointing our my unsophisticated interpretations even if thier attempts to do so are only partially veiled.

  13. Steve Evans says:

    lamonte, that is the raison d’etre of BCC. Glad to serve!

  14. Steve – touche’!

  15. SMB,

    Not to get snarky about evangelicals, but when you watch them on TV, they make John Edwards haircuts look like a budget job with a lawnmower, and the suits would make any professional athlete green with envy (or maybe that’s just the steroids).

    Judging by appearances aside, this appears to be a basic human instinct. If someone is well dressed and well groomed, we tend to equate that with success, and wouldn’t we want to be follow a successful looking preacher than the prophet in camel’s hair with locusts in his beards?

    Stake Presidents notwithstanding, our bishops for the most part are not coming off the covers of GQ when they stand at the pulpits on Sundays. Hopefully, we understand this a little better in our culture, but I suspect we still have a ways to go.

  16. One of the first things certain multi-level marketing companies require of those who want to take a lead role is to lease an expensive vehicle – a Cadillac Escalade in the case of someone I know here in Ohio. There is no reason other than that the appearance of success attracts people who want to be successful.

    Yes, kevinf, I hope we understand it better than the norm in our culture, and I think that holds up fairly well out here “in the mission field”, but I am concerned about what I see when I visit family in Utah County. I see far too much emphasis on keeping up financially with others.

  17. I don’t suppose this has any relationship to the use of religion in politics either. It seems rather prescient of the Christian right in that regard.

    To be fair, it is a job to evaluate candidates, if only we could find a way to do so without the shallow sound byte, thruth twisting, sliminess we see all around us.