Seeking to Understand
As a History teacher and a 9 on the Enneagram, I attempt to see through my own biases. I usually try to see both sides to an argument and therefore may be especially adept at loving my enemies. What does this love look like in practice? It starts with seeking to understand the motives of your enemies' actions. Usually, I have a stance, and it almost always differs from that of my enemies. However, I don't know if love means agreeing with their thoughts or actions.
I believe that love of enemies means that you try to give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their motives. Understanding their motives may cause you to realize that their motives were not evil, but rather due to what you believe to be faulty logic. At times, you may conclude that their motives are evil. Loving an evil doer is one of the biggest challenges facing a Christian. Some Christian thought goes a little like this: I am a sinner, and Jesus loves me still. He calls me to love others, including my enemies. I am not supposed to judge others. Therefore, I will suppress my feelings of disdain and love my enemies.
Maybe some Christians can get rid of even the feeling of disdain, but that has always seemed impossible for me. Fortunately, I have not known any people that I believed to be pure evil. I have met some people that were broken in a myriad of ways. Some of my enemies have gone through trauma, and some were taught different mores. Broken people often break other people.
The cyclical nature of brokenness causes me to hate the cycle, and not the broken people. When an evil act occurs by a broken person, I try to do all that I can to help the ones harmed by the act. Trying to help the evil doer is a form of love, which may stop generations of brokenness. That love does not mean that you are condoning evil, but may mean that you forgive them and try to help them stop doing evil. If they were taught different mores, then the only chance you have of making a difference is through love.
People are complicated because there are way too many variables to ever fully understand them. What makes a person your enemy? How can you love this person despite their brokenness?
Dan Moore is a husband to Libby and father to Elijah and Imogen. He teaches history and coaches Scholastic Bowl at Richwoods High School.