….there are only three possible positions: you are either a violator, a protector, or an enabler. The violators are the attackers, and whatever their justifications, their aim is to impose their will on others. The protectors are driven to defend the weaker and neutralize the violators. The enablers are the largest and most diverse group. Their spectrum, from least to most culpable for the violators getting away with what they do, span those who are afraid and silent in the face of evil to those who justify or worse, lend support to evil.
Protectors generally just are the way they are, and have been protective towards others most of their lives. Many are shaped by personal suffering and empathize with others who suffer. Often they are strong yet identify with the weak. I remember reading the book, The Blind Side. Michael Lewis, who is unusually perceptive, pointed out that the huge, strong protagonist, Michael Oher, was a natural protector despite the very hard life he had lived. This drive to protect made him a fit for the position of left tackle, the protector of the quarterback’s blind side.
Violators are perhaps the mirror image of protectors. Personal suffering, which might have forged empathy in a protector, instead forges a desire to dominate others and forms much self justification for hurting others. Whether they are using violence to improve their own circumstances, or to avoid the weakness they equate with their own suffering, after awhile they come to identify with and even relish it.
Some enablers rarely like the violators and often fear them. That kind of enabler is usually silent about the violence, though if they are confronted about their silence, they will usually either lash out at the questioner, or find a way to justify the violent. Whether the justifier enabler is trying to avoid guilt or actually believes that violators are responding to their own hard circumstances, they do more damage than the violators themselves. But the worst kind of enabler is what I call the “noble” enabler. They feel so ennobled by their compassion that they forget justice. Or maybe they don’t know what justice is or what it requires.
King Solomon of Israel was the wisest man who ever lived. His wisdom was from God. In Ecclesiastes 8:11, he says, “because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the hearts of the children of man are fully set to do evil.” The sentence against an evil deed is justice…but only if carried out, and not simply that, but speedily! So what is the effect of failing to apply justice? What is the effect of allowing endless appeals against a sentence? There is something inside the human heart that demands justice for others (and too often leniency for self), and when that justice is delayed or set aside, evil flourishes.
Compassion without justice enables evil, but justice without compassion…..well, that isn’t really justice, it’s just something to give cover to violators. No one ever showed true compassion like Jesus Christ. In John 8, when a woman was caught in the act of adultery, the justice lovers called for her death by stoning, but Jesus confronted them with their own sin, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
When Jesus suffered the most painful death possible for the sake of others, he prayed “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Yet he drove the usurers from the temple with whips, and called the self-righteous hypocrites. He is the perfect example of justice, mercy, compassion and the perfect protector.