Matthew 7:1 and Judging

Very often, when some moral issue is raised, we are replied to with "judge not lest thou be judged" from Matthew. Is this a valid reply?

For perspective, let's quote the verse in question. It's Matthew 7:1 --

Do not judge, or you too will be judged.

Pretty simple and to the point - but not at all to be taken by itself. While some like to use 7:1, chances are they don't know much about what follows it. Let's go to verses 2-5:

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

A couple of things to notice here:

Now of course, there is a lot more that could be said about how one should go about the process of "judging", and we can discuss in this particular case the relevance to the sins of a national leader, and so on. But the bottom line is that this verse is not an outright forbidding of judging at all. In fact, it's right in line with John 7:24, "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment."