We all owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. William Petit who, in his extreme hour of grief, taught us a valuable lesson about the nature of evil, forgiveness, and the problem of suffering.
No, not what you would expect. In speaking of the man convicted of killing his wife and two daughters, Petit did not deliver an amoral, slobbering speech about forgiving his wife and daughters' murderer and how all suffering teaches us some valuable lesson, enriching us in the process. On the contrary, he said that the murderer deserved his sentence of death and that the loss of his family would leave a gaping hole in his heart that would never close.
What a relief. Finally someone who does not excuse gross evil, who refuses to forgive monstrous acts of human cruelty, and who says that suffering is not only not redeeming but leaves a permanent wound that never heals.* * *Over the past few years many of us have lost our moral bearings on the subject of evil and human suffering. Many of my Christian brothers and sisters take Jesus' teachings about forgiving our enemies completely out of context.* * *
Yes, Jesus said 'turn the other cheek.' But is anyone so morally lost as to suggest that he meant if someone rapes your wife, give him your daughter to rape as well? Of course, what Jesus meant was to forgive the petty slights that people enact against you. If a friend pretends not to notice you at a party, forgive them. If your husband loses his temper and yells, yes he must apologize. But be quick to forgive. But Jesus never meant that we should not dedicate ourselves to fighting evil.
Psalm 97 makes it clear. "Let those who love the Lord hate evil." It's repeated again in Proverbs Chap 8: "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil." Yes, hatred has its place, but only under a single condition that was met in the terrible Petit murders: the human confrontation with extreme evil.
Straight Talk on Evil
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has this op-ed in the WaPo: