Why the western world…chose to tear itself apart in 1939 is a story not so much of accidents, miscalculations, and overreactions…as of the carefully considered decisions to ignore, appease, or collaborate with Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany by nations that had the resources and knowledge, but not yet the willpower to do otherwise. [The Second World Wars by Victor Davis Hanson, p 16]
I continue to have parallels to domestic abusers (and other kinds of abusers) in our churches leap out from the pages of Hanson’s excellent book. I have to write about them. We can all learn and be greatly affirmed by these things because after all, evil is evil. Whether it be on a worldwide scale like the Axis powers in WWII, or hiding in our churches behind the disguise of piety.
Being neutral is by design, a choice, with results that either harm or hurt the particular beligerents in question — with neutrality almost always aiding the aggressive carnivore, not its victim. Or as the Indian statesman and activist V.K. Krishna menon cynically once put it, ‘there can be no more positive neutrality than there can be a vegetarian tiger.’
Evil cannot be appeased. Evil lusts for power and control and will not stop until it has it, or until it is totally defeated in its attempts. Evil men consider offers of appeasement (just give him what he wants for now and he will leave us alone) not as satisfying, but as marks of weakness. Appeasement marks us as ripe targets for assault.
Think for instance of the terrible mass murders we are seeing today. Where are they occuring?
In other words, these wicked people select their targets for the most part by zeroing in on groups of people who are defenseless. On people who lack the means or the will to shoot back, as you might put it.
Therefore, when we deal with the wicked, with abusers, with tyrants, it is a grave error and a very dangerous error, to convey the message that we either lack the means or the will to use those means to oppose an attack. And I probably don’t even need to tell most of you that local churches today, pastors and members, Bible teachers and counselors, for the most part are announcing loudly and clearly that when it comes to dealing with abusers, they want to appease, to love, to be kind, to reason with, and certainly they never want to have to use the weaponry Christ has given to His church such has putting the wicked man out from among us and standing firmly with the victim. Make no mistake. Abusers can smell the scent of the kill very quickly in such an environment.
To use pre-WWII illustrations again:
The Germans sensed that the Allies had lost the power of deterrence, which is predicated not just on material strength but the appearance of it and the acknowledged willingness to use it….Almost every public proclamation that the Allies had voiced in the 1920’s and early 1930’s projected at least an appearance of timidity that invited war from what were still relatively weak powers….All sought international agreements…to limit arms on land and sea, to pledge peaceful intentions to one another, to showcase their virtue, to profess invincible solidarity, and even to declare war itself obsolete–anything other than to rebuild military power to shock and deter Germany.
I am not trying to draw you into the realm of contemporary politics (though I hope you can see that there is timeless wisdom here for that arena), but I am attempting by way of illustration to enable all of us to see how professing Christianity has been doing really the very same thing when it comes to the evil ones who creep into the churches. Christians talk and talk and talk about “spiritual warfare.” They hold conferences on the subject and write books galore about it. But in fact, in practice, most have declared this war to be obsolete. To be beneath them. To be far too barbaric. Surely we have become so elite and sophisticated that we must never be so ruthless as to think that evil must be met with the force of “remove such a man from among you and hand him over to Satan.” Can you hear the enemy licking his chops in such an environment?
When I lived in Alaska I always carried a firearm out in the woods. Doing so saved my wife and I from a moose attack (they are actually more dangerous in the number of attacks than grizzly bears) on the outskirts of Anchorage once. Another time we were up by Fairbanks hiking on a trail. That time I carried a short-barreled shotgun loaded with slugs and buckshot. We met some people on the trail who were going the opposite direction and there was no mistake about the look on their faces when they saw my shotgun. They looked at me in disdain and disgust. How dare I violate the sacred ground of their temple with something so barbaric as a shotgun!
And yet is this not exactly the attitude that is causing victims of abusers in our churches to continue to be oppressed and sometimes even killed? I have seen it and so have you. When I tell pastors how to confront the abuser, I am most often met with that same look of disdain. How judgmental I am. How unkind. Surely I am being too harsh when I say that abusers are not to be coddled or counseled. They are to be put out from among us. I have no doubt that these kind of pastors and “christians” would have been quite irate at Jesus for driving the moneychanger crowd out of the temple.
Well, there are more parallels in Hanson’s book that I want to share with you but this is enough to digest for now. I close with this…well, accusation: These very kinds of denials of evil resulted in millions and millions of people being slaughtered in WWII. How many victims are suffering at the hands of the myriads of little Hitlers who hide in our churches today and who are being enabled by people with the very same foolish and sinful attitudes?