Is it absolutely ethical to use fear and force to lead people?


Also, did God ever used fear and force too, to lead people?


This is not the perfect way, but sometimes there are no other options. The virtious men follow the law by good will, the malevolent ones - by fear of punishment.


I don’t know about God but I can’t think of a single society in the history of mankind that has not employed those tactics.


In Catholicism,
The saints describe conversion first as happening out of fear of hell,
And then later changing to love of God.


Using fear is the least effective way to lead. Once the fear is gone, you have nothing else to use.


Juris Prudens has given a good answer for peaceful and justly-governmed countries.

Some tyrants and dictators and their henchmen do this, and steal from people their right to freedom to a gross extent or when there is no genuine danger in allowing a freedom.

Whilst noticing what is going on, how much we should express our perspective on the matter openly will depend on lots of circumstances.

Most nations have had huge trauma from this type of situation at various times.


Don’t we use force and fear to lead our children?

Albeit in much smaller amounts and doses than you seem to imply OP.

Didn’t God send plagues to lead the Egyptians to make their decision to let the Hebrews go?

I don’t see anything wrong with force in the appropriate circumstance. Fear? I think fear can come about in two ways: intentional and unintentional. For example, you can use force with the direct goal to make someone fear you, or you could use force and unintentionally cause someone to fear you. Fear is a bit more tricky. I’ll have to think more on this one.


There is another way to lead? Please do tell!


Yes, as the Holy Scriptures say, “The beginning of wisdom is fear of God.” Its mentioned more than a few times in Scripture.

Another saying, though secular, comes to mind… “There are no atheists in foxholes”. … when mortality comes into mind, people generally will turn to God as they realize their lack of control over what their fate will be.

Can’t really comment on the OP though I’ll give my best guess…

Good leadership requires prudence. Prudence is the knowledge to know if, when and how to do something- the right time, the right place, the right circumstance. Since its a ‘knowledge’, it is a wisdom- therefore, if if its not driven from fear of God and from God by the person enforcing something, then I would say its earthly… and therefore quite possibly very wrong.




I would say not only is it not absolutely ethical, it’s only ethical in a very narrow circumstance. Basically when not leading them would cause unjust harm to others, or if the are unable to lead themselves and would do harm to themselves otherwise and there is no gentler option possible. Examples I can think of for the ethical use of force would be for young children and the disabled. The use of fear is probably bet reserved for uncontrolled criminals.


All of this reminds me of what is called the Stockholm Syndrome. Frighteningly, that ‘works’ too, albeit in an unhealthy psychological way.


I agree with you not leading can also lead to harm to innocents- important point.

I don’t think uncontrolled criminals can be subdued by fear. The term ‘hardened’ criminal is a term used to describe a person that is so turned away from doing right they don’t really care what happens to them, they just want to do what they want to do, meaning, they will put up a fight. I suppose it would work for some ‘criminals’ in which their heart is not as hardened, but typically, psychologically the more harm that is done to a person the more hardened they become. Violence begets violence. No one can soften another’s heart except by the grace of God.


Yes, the carrot and stick approach.

In an unfallen society, there would be probably be no need for the stick.


You cannot lead by love. Because leaders do not love all. It has never worked in the past.


It depends on the context of where the leadership takes place. Which organization.

For example, in a family, where the husband is the leader, will he use fear and force to lead the wife and kids? How about in the workplace? Would you like to work in a place ruled by fear and force?


Fear of a literal hell and physical suffering in the afterlife are used to encourage people to come to religion, so…

If you are choosing to do something, believe in something, take part in, just to avoid any possible negative consequences, not sure that is actually faith…?


I suspect a fair few have been at least temporarily stayed by a swat team with guns pointed in their face.


I believe the catholic church uses fear to lead their people, I absolutely believe it. Listening to my father talk of his childhood (born in 1932) it was way worse back in the day. It made a profound impact on him that lasted until his death. Back then, the parenting philosophy dove tailed nicely with the church’s scare and fear tactics. My dad was absolutely convinced if you wanted someone to act a certain way the very best way to accomplish that would be to scare the people into doing what you wanted. And he saw nothing wrong with that, in fact he always wished the church would do more of it.
This mindset is slowly dying off among catholics but it still exists and is very real.

As a footnote, I’m not complaining whining or crying. I’m simply stating a fact. Personally the church does not scare me any more and I do very little in my life for the sole reason to appease the church.


Fear is a minimal motivator. We dont kill because of love or personal morals as a typical rule. We “don’t” speed out of fear… hence everyone speeds.

Adding especially cameras, say you sit at a red light aat night with a 1 mile clear view in either direction… you have no moral pull to sit there, but the fear makes it so… but largely because the fear is not overtaken by the desire to save 1 minute on your trip. But what if the result of sitting there could cause being late to lose your job? Well maybe 20-200$ ticket vs loss of thousands a month? You will probably go! Hence minimal motivator.

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