Someone recently quoted the Bible to me with the following explanation:
“Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
The explanation was: “It doesn’t mean I’m any more perfect, but it does mean I’ve been down in this hole, and I know how to get out.”
I’m not sure I agree with this understanding. There is certainly another interpretation of this passage. In another context, Christ said “Let he who is without sin among you cast the first stone.” The logic of this was, first, no one was without sin, and secondly, even if anyone was without sin, why would they wish obtain sin by casting a stone? Would such a person (an ideal self) really be casting stones at people? Likewise let us enter the parable of the beam in the eye. First of all it has been pointed out how absurd the image of a beam in the eye really is. And this is not just an issue of translation; the original is also means “really huge piece of wood”. It has been suggested that Christ used this ridiculous image of a beam in the eye intentionally. What would a person look like with a really huge piece of wood in their eye? Blind. And after removing said beam from their eye, how well would a person see? Would they really be worried about motes in other peoples eyes? Would they really be in a position to fish them out? To me the point of the parable is not that once you have removed a beam from your own eye you are suddenly ready to start working on other people’s motes. Rather, the point is that there are better things to do than fish motes out of other peoples eyes, and Christ is suggesting that we come to recognize this.