From a discussion on "tragic" situations, when it seems there are no good options:
I see Jesus showing us that we are always free to do good, to respond with God's uncompromising love in any situation, no matter how bad it looks. Isn't that the message of Jesus' response to his crucifiers? I agree that sometimes no good option seems available. But God can make the impossible a reality through us. The miracle is being shown the truly good option that we could not see for ourselves, and being given the strength to do it.
I'm inclined to say that the popularity of the idea of tragedy is itself tragic, a sign of our despair. But I suppose we gravitate to it because it does offer some comfort. Our "lesser evil" choices then appear not as our own failure or compromise, but merely the inevitable result of the broken world we have been placed in.
I can fully support saying that we cannot always know that we are responding in a truly good, Christlike way. And sometimes we will clearly fail. (If we keep trying, though, God will help us do the good that we seek.) But that is quite different than saying that sometimes we cannot respond in a truly good way, because there are no good options available to us.
From my reading of Bonhoeffer, though, I think he crossed the line to willingly doing the "lesser evil." He seemed to think there was some moral heroism in taking the "necessary" sin on himself (and then trusting in forgiveness) if it seemed that act would lessen the suffering of others. That seems to embrace the "no good option" idea, and adds Luther's "sin boldly" idea (both serious mistakes, in my opinion). From Bonhoeffer's Ethics:
When a man takes guilt upon himself in responsibility, and no responsible man can avoid this, he imputes this guilt to himself and no one else; he answers for it; he accepts responsibility for it... Before other men the man of free responsibility is justified by necessity; before himself he is acquitted by his conscience; but before God he hopes only for mercy.I can see why this view is attractive in its heroism and apparent self-sacrifice (of the soul). But such a "responsibility" that demands our knowingly taking guilt on ourselves seems far from the teaching of Jesus. He said "follow me," and that did not include self-sacrificially doing any "lesser evil."
If we know it's not good, we should not do it, even if it seems a necessity. Jesus showed us to always and uncompromisingly do good, like he did, no matter what. That is what is most useful to God in lessening the suffering of others and making the kingdom of God apparent in our broken world.
Jesus called us to be like him, and promised that he would provide the wisdom and strength to do so. "He who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do..." Of course it is a matter of faith whether we believe such promises enough to act on them, and try to respond in the way we see Jesus doing.
This is not an easy thing, as you well know. I appreciate and encourage your study of peacemaking models. But those won't always apply (or be sufficient) just as we don't have examples of Jesus responding to every situation that we might face. So we try to learn as much as we can from the examples we do have, and through prayer and practice and relationship with other followers of Jesus deepen our faith and intimacy with God. So that when we don't see the good option the Spirit of God can guide us in this new situation. Again, this is a matter of faith, trusting that the Spirit that Jesus spoke of will be with us to show us what we cannot see for ourselves. This may not be given in advance, we may have to wait in faith for the good answer right up until the moment when action is required. Like when Jesus told his disciples: "When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious how or what you are to answer or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."
God knows how much time we have, and when action is required. I'm just encouraging us to trust God's guidance and believe that God will be there to show us the good response. It seems to me that if we settle for the "lesser evil," concluding that sometimes "there is no good option," then we're giving up on the good that God could do through us in that situation.
We all struggle. There is no certainty, only faith. And if it is faith in Jesus (not faith in our ethic, or in our strategies, or even in our own imagination, but in Jesus), there is also hope.