When Pity Is Wrong

"But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you."
LUKE 6:27-28
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When Pity Is Wrong
It is necessary carefully to distinguish the teaching that pertains universally to each individual person from the teaching that pertains to persons in an office, whether it be spiritual or secular, whose task it is to punish and to resist evil. Therefore, even though personally they may be gentle, yet administering justice and meting out punishment is their official work; and it has to go on. It would be wrong if their pity moved them to neglect this; for that would be tantamount to helping, strengthening, and encouraging the evil. It is as if I were to say to our enemies . . . who are persecuting the Gospel and trampling its poor adherents underfoot: "Gentlemen, may the dear God reward you! You are pious people and holy fathers"; or as if I were to keep quiet, pay them homage, or kiss their feet. No, dear brother, this is what I ought to say: "I am a preacher. I have to have teeth in my mouth. I have to bite and salt and tell them the truth. And if they refuse to hear, then in the name of God I have to excommunicate them, 'lock them out of heaven, consign them to the fire of hell, and turn them over to the devil."

From The Sermon on the Mount (Luther's Works 21:123-24)
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