This past year (I think) there was a viral video of a big Australian kid being picked on by a scrawny one. The latter had been tormenting the former all year, and finally the victim snapped, slamming his tormenter to the ground. Most comments were supportive of the big kid, because it finally put an end (to my knowledge) to the bullying.
Somewhat more recently there was an article about a certain “Christian bully”, but many of the comments were harsh— because the commenter was allegedly harsh (another instance of what I frequently cite as deep irony). And though I don’t agree with the writer’s response to the bully’s response (here) based on the idea that forgiveness does not require repentance (in spite of Luke 17:3 and the fact that God makes repentance the condition for forgiveness), the point seems proven in this: a bully does not respond positively to nice words but only to forceful opposition.
Appeasement never worked in politial history any more than it ever has socially. A bully is a bully and they only back down if their victims fight back. Diplomacy is enablement and encouragment, not deterrent. You just can’t be “nice” to a bully and expect them to stop bullying. In fact, to do so is to further punish the victim and consign them to being passive entertainment for the bully. Where is love or compassion then? Why do people want to pamper criminals but punish victims? It makes no more sense than giving an unborn child the death penalty because of someone else’s crime or stupidity or selfishness.
This harmful and hypocritical passivity is why the Body of Christ has been repeatedly ravaged by every wolf and roaring lion that comes along. We as a group, when we tell victims to just suck it up and take it lying down while the bullies are soothed and affirmed, are responsible for the pitiful state of the “church” today. Why are women still being lorded over? Why are some notorious teachers of harsh child discipline not denounced and renounced? Why are “pastors” ruling like little gods and extorting tribute from the serfs? It’s because the few who will call out the bullies and stand up to them are the only people the “passive” will oppose. Again, the deep irony.
But it isn’t entirely the fault of the hypocritically passive; those who know this is wrong have to be willing to absorb their wrath. It isn’t fun, and it can be overwhelming and cause us to withdraw from battle for healing and rest. Even then, some will follow us to our place of rest (subtle reference to recent events here in this blog). But after the callouses form we have to get up again and find out where God is directing our steps. Yet at the same time, we can’t let other believers condemn us for those calouses, some of which they themselves caused to form.
I’ve lamented before about not finding fellowship, but perhaps that isn’t what I should look for. Although it isn’t the way I would prefer, maybe the way to build up the Body is simply to do my best to keep others from tearing it down (see Nehemiah, esp. ch. 4). While others put up the bricks, I’m supposed to shoot arrows at the marauders— even as the builders throw their bricks at me for it. Not fun... but then, neither was the cross for Jesus.