Luther once observed
… you may deal harshly with the liars and hardened tyrants, and act boldly in opposition to their teachings and their works, for they will not listen. But the simple people, whom they have bound with the ropes of their teaching and whose lives are endangered, you must treat quite differently. You must with caution and gentleness undo the teachings of men, providing them a defense and explanation, and in this way gradually set them free. This is what St. Paul did when, in defiance of all the Jews, he would not permit Titus to be circumcised [Gal. 2:3], and yet he circumcised Timothy [Acts 16:3].
You must treat dogs and swine differently from men; wolves and lions differently from the weak sheep. With wolves you cannot be too severe; with weak sheep you cannot be too gentle. Living as we do among the papists today, we must act as though we were living among heathen.
Indeed, they are heathen seven times over; we should therefore, as St. Peter teaches [I Pet. 2:12], maintain good conduct among the heathen, that they may not speak any evil of us truthfully, as they would like to do. They are delighted when they hear that you make a boast of this teaching and give offense to timid souls. This affords them a pretext for denouncing the whole teaching as offensive and harmful, for they have no other way of demolishing it; they have to admit that it is true.*
Luther is always so… engaging and insightful. A true man for all seasons.
*The Christian in Society II, (LW Vol. 45, pp. 73–74).