(in Christian contexts) discernment is perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual direction and understanding. In other words, discernment is without judgment but seeks to transcend judgment with understanding. If you are shaking your head now, you should be. This is a false idea of discernment. Discernment is not the suspension of judgment but precisely the judgment that discerns truth from error. This is its simplest definition. Discernment is nothing more and nothing less than the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong. Discernment is critical thinking, making careful distinctions in our thinking about what is truth. For the Christian, to think with discernment is synonymous with thinking Biblically.
Legitimate discernment is never open-ended but begins with truth, in distinction against error, and moves to its application within the life of the Church. But this is not how it is being used today. Those who plead for the ordination of women ask for discernment -- even though Scripture, tradition, and the universal consensus has already said no. Those who ask for consideration of the wants and needs of the GLBTQ community are not asking for the pastoral application of the truth but a suspension of that truth, an absence of judgment, and an openness to considering a different conclusion than the one Scripture and the catholic witness have given.
When legitimate discernment becomes the highest goal and standard for the leaders of the faith, the Church will hold together, built upon the promises of God and His Word that endures forever. When false discernment becomes the method of operation within the Church and by her leaders, the Church will devolve into a faint echo of the will, desire, and judgment of the world. We do not need to discern what God might be saying. We need to hold to what God has said. Those who want us to pay attention to what God might be saying, imagine a God who speaks with a forked tongue, who changes His mind, and whose will and purpose are open to conjecture and change on a whim. This is not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, not the God of the Scriptures, not the God incarnate in Jesus Christ, and not the God of the apostles, prophets, and martyrs.
People of the pews and pastors in pulpits should rightfully be wary of the push to discern where God is saying/leading. Underneath all the pious sounding words, the direction is generally away from what God has said and done.