Turn the other cheek means not to compromise on what is important


I believe that a great misunderstanding of Jesus’  words involves the notion that he meant to give in. If someone strikes you, and in this day and age that usually happens in  figurative sense, they are trying to get you to do something. Jesus understood that, and I think he is really saying not to give in to a show of force. He wants you to do what you believe is right. He also forces the question  are you really in danger? So often we are not. We often could handle more pain and we should try if that is what it takes to do the right thing. If you can’t handle it, and turning the other cheek means you will be less equipped to do the right thing, then don’t turn the other cheek.

The bigger question is – what is the right thing? It isn’t always easy to know, but we are expected to do our very best.

The bar has been raised.

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4 Responses to “Turn the other cheek means not to compromise on what is important”

  1. oldfussbudget Says:

    Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

    Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

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  2. oldfussbudget Says:

    I wish I understood WordPress’s formatting conventions. There were attributions up there enclosed in angle brackets which simply didn’t show up. And there’s no preview or edit arrangement. Ah well. On to the substance. That’s Matthew 5, verse 30 et. seq., the section of the Sermon on the Mount that treats on loving your enemies.

    I can’t agree with your premise that evil (or harm) is only done for coercion. Often it is but I think also often not.

    But I agree with your main point, though perhaps not in the way you meant it. If you allow that our purpose here is to, with God’s help without which we are quite helpless to achieve it, transcend our human and passionate nature and show forth as a clearer and clearer image and likeness of God…then by having the courage to return love for hate and accept wrongs done us *with gratitude* we in fact overcome evil — within our own soul and in a cosmic sense as well.

    >If you can’t handle it, and turning the other cheek means you will >be less equipped to do the right thing, then don’t turn the other >cheek.

    I’d like to restate this for your consideration. If you can’t *honestly* turn the other cheek, whatever that means in context, don’t pretend, especially to yourself. If turning the other cheek means not being angry, then strive to be not angry. But don’t stifle anger and pretend that you’re not angry. Don’t feel ill-used and think you’ve achieved something, because the point is to not mind. And if you can’t do that, you’re laying up all kinds of trouble by thinking you can.

    In the Orthodox Church there’s a saying “Be careful what you pray for, because you’ll probably get it.” A friend of mine with a very difficult wife said to me a few years ago “You know, you don’t think that when you pray for humility you are specifically asking to be surrounded by people who will revile you and kick you and spit on you *for as long as it takes.*”

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  3. diddly Says:

    Hi D,
    Thanks for your thoughts.
    I wasn’t even really thinking about the evil/good aspect of having pain inflicted on me by another party. Uninvited use of force is good if someone pushes me out of the way of an oncoming car. But come to think of it, often they might inflict pain without any intention of doing it. Turning the other cheek would help me to find out if they really did intend to inflict pain the first time if they jump all over the second opportunity. .
    I especially like this directive by Jesus because it puts me in charge of the pain qoutient. I am deciding to subject myself to more pain. I’ll take a known pain over the uncertain fall out of other emotional reactions. Chaos is scarier than pain, often. Honestly, I never WANT to turn my cheek, and getting hurt will often provoke emotions esp. anger. but I will turn it to buy time to try to benefit myself and the other party.

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  4. oldfussbudget Says:

    You and I (speaking personally)…we like things complicated.

    I agree with what you say, pretty much; but I don’t think it has a lot to do with the sermon on the mount, which is radically simple. You can’t just take the words “turn the other cheek” and put Christ’s name on them without also attaching His meaning of accepting real evil being done to you in hate, and returning love for it. This isn’t something any of us but saints want to hear, which is all the more reason to leave it in all its brutal, shocking clarity.

    To go back to your original point on which I meant to comment more directly earlier: I completely agree, because turning the other cheek in Christ’s meaning is *not* giving in. It’s turning the paradigm on its head. It requires faith and courage way beyond what most of us possess; but in the face of it evil is baffled. How can you inflict on someone that which he welcomes? How can you steal what he freely gives?

    From where I stand I can just about see all this with a telescope.

    Now if you want to leave the sermon alone and be complicated with the other stuff, I’m happy to do that with you. 😉

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