Why is Our Default Tendency to Focus on “Fixing” the Evil Person Rather than Helping His Victim?

Deu 13:6-10 “If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, (7) some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, (8) you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. (9) But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. (10) You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

If you have experienced being the target of a wicked person – a domestic abuser, sexual abuser, sociopath, narcissist, etc. – or if you have followed the stories of abuse victims then you know what I am about to say here is absolutely true. Here it is:

When a case of abuse is exposed, there may initially be some short-lived empathy for the victim, but quite soon the focus of most people familiar with the case will shift. It will shift from the victim to the abuser. It is the evil one who is pitied, counseled, prayed for, and even comforted. And when the victim refuses to enter into that new focus, she is made into the culprit who is standing in the way of the poor abuser being restored.

It’s true. You have seen it over and over and so have I. A great rotation occurs so that north becomes south and south becomes north.

Now, consider what the Lord says in the verses quoted above. Take careful note of what he tells us NOT to do in regard to the evil person:

  • Do not yield to him
  • Do not listen to him
  • Do not pity him
  • Do not spare him
  • And do not protect and conceal him

The Israelites, under the Old Covenant, were in fact commanded to put such a person to death. And EVERYONE was to be in full participation in doing so.

We do not live in that Old Covenant theocracy, and therefore we leave the execution of punishment to the civil authorities God has ordained. Nevertheless, the Lord’s commands to the Jews are also commands to us. Do not listen to him, pity him, spare him, or conceal him. Yet this is exactly what most all people do when evil comes among them and is exposed. And this error (this disobedience of the Lord) is especially common among professing Christians.

“Let’s get him some counseling. Let’s forgive him. Let’s listen to his story of how he was so abused himself as a kid. Let’s not report his evil to the police. Let’s permit him to keep being a congregant in the church.” And on and on it goes.

This is rank rebellion against God’s clear commandments.

Why, we ask, is the lay of the land in such cases sloped toward pity for the abuser? Why is that the direction most everyone drifts toward? Let me suggest that this happens because it is the easy road to travel. Furthermore, helping the guilty one is a way to gain personal acclaim – “just look at how loving and gracious those people are in forbearing with that fellow.” The Apostle Paul rebuked the Corinthians for doing this very thing (see 1 Cor 5).

I saw this very thing happen in our own church a decade ago when an evil wickedness occurred among us. Initially all eyes of pity were on the victim and the victim’s family. But that was quite short lived. Soon the empathy and energy swung over to the perpetrator. Far, far more energy was expended for him than for the victim. And ultimately in fact people left our church in a huff when, in their opinion, we did not show enough “mercy” to the guilty one.

Standing with a victim is far more costly than to conceal and protect and stand with the perpetrator. And I suppose that this is the fundamental reason that it is the perp who gets the pity party rather than the victim.

So, if your eye is on the abuser or the liar/deceiver or the sociopath or molester, it is way past time for you to get your eye off of him and turn your gaze upon his victim. Your eye shall not pity him. THAT is God’s true Word which we are to obey.