Like all military personnel, those in the Church Militant need to make decisions on when, where, who in terms of engagement.
Now, strategists have different views than those on the ground, sometimes. And, sometimes, armies have to deal with invasions not predicted.
In the spiritual world of spiritual warfare, the rules of engagement are simple, really.
Do not go into enemy territory, (sin and occasions of sin), and once defeated in an area, be wary.
Those who engage the enemies of God are usually our prayer warriors, such as the contemplative orders of Benedictines, Cistercians, Carthusians, etc. who are on the front lines.
Sometimes we are brought into situations which we did not intend to enter by friends or family.
Number one rule is that one cannot be alone in the fight. Christ sent out the disciples in twos for a reason.
I have written about this before here.
But, sometimes we have to walk away from evil.
Christ told us this:
13 And if that house be worthy, your peace shall come upon it; but if it be not worthy, your peace shall return to you.
14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words: going forth out of that house or city shake off the dust from your feet.
15 Amen I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.
16 Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves.
These are hard words. and how long should we wait for results in a situation of either evangelization or conversion to walk away?
Some people cannot walk away, such as those who are in a family to which they are committed, or in a marriage.
But, the rules of engagement from Christ are clear.
1) Bring peace but if those in the house do not want this peace, it will rebound on you.
2) Those who immediately turn away or do not heed your words, need to be left alone. If such people are fallen away Catholics, they need to hear the truth of their situation. If they do not change, walk on.
3) Wisdom is given by God as well as simplicity of heart.
So, some of you are thinking, this post has not yet addressed the question of time.
God will tell one either by circumstances or by discernment.
Example: a person close to me had to leave a job where those in authority over him were engaged in theft. After he told the company, and the company refused to listen, he left in order not to be supporting the evil therein. Later on, others in the company found out and left as well. The problem was not dealt with and years have passed. But, those who left are no longer cooperating with evil. The problem may have been dealt with..I do not know. Those Christians had to leave otherwise, they would have been cooperating with evil.
In another situation, a woman witnessed child abuse in her family by her husband and her father. She had to report these horrible sins and then, she had to leave. Those who had to face the law did not need her support, as she had been abused as well. Such a story has been repeated over and over in rural areas. There are times one must stop talking and do something. She needed to tend to the healing of her own soul and those of the women involved. She is a faithful Catholic now.
Leaving sometimes is the only correct response.
Some families are so caught up in evil that the only way one can save one's own soul is to separate one's self from that evil. I have known people who had to leave husbands who refused to repent of serious evils or wives who refused to repent. One couple I know broke up after the wife refused to stop using contraception. The man got an annulment, and then had a happy marriage with children. That was a long time ago and the Church acknowledged the unrepentant wife as breaking the commitment of marriage.
To dust the dust off one's feet sometimes takes tremendous courage.
Many people are confused, but here is the number two rule of engagement. If one's own soul is in danger, or if members of your family souls' are in danger, if the situation causes one or more people to sin, one must dust the dust off one's feet and move on.
I pray for those today who need to courage to do this activity. Being a solider of Christ means blessing those who want to be blessed with the Truth, Who Is A Person.
One does not have to befriend those who are caught up in evil, if those people have no intention of changing..
Another example: a friend of mine years ago married a Catholic man who fell away from the Faith. He began to out to brunch at the same time he use to join his wife at Mass. He joined his family, who had also all fallen away. The wife went to Church alone for years and years and years. Now, he had come back, waking up to the fact that it was his family who had led him into years of mortal sin. They are in a new relationship, now, in their marriage. She did not leave the marriage, but prayed and prayed. She also confronted the husband and eventually, he changed, he repented. She has shared this story of grace, and her friends rejoice.
God gives people a certain level of discernment in order to know when to leave bad situations.
Too often we protect others from conversion, we protect others from the grace of God.
We stand between God and the other person because we have not left them to God's Justice and Mercy. We play God.
Pray and know when to stay and when to leave.