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July 15, 2010

The Other Cheek

I've frequently wondered about what Jesus meant when he said "if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." Did he mean that abused wives ought to subject themselves to domestic violence? Did he mean that we ought to deliberately seek dysfunctional and emotionally abusive relationships?

I think not.

I think the concept had more to do with keeping our focus on long-term, rather than short-term success. It's about not losing emotional control in the heat of the moment ... even when you've been wronged. It's about attracting bees with more honey. It's about killing badness with kindness. 

It's about retaining a poker face ... it's about using one's grit and discipline to stay focused on the long-term. To control our emotions rather than have our emotions control us. To out-maneuver, out-play, out-wit, and out-last. Strategies for long-term success. 

Easier said than done.

(Artwork by Linda Warlyn.)


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I always thought the slap stood for an insult, if your not insulted, it has no power.

amen. It is easier said than done. Every thing that you said is true...looking at the bigger picture and being able to see the good over the bad. And where it is possible, speak the truth in love and not letting someone steal your dream or your peace, for that matter.
By the way, how are things going with your son?

That's my undersanding of that phrase, too.

As for abused wives...that's why my mother is my hero. She got out early in the marriage, even though she lost custody of me. Later on, when I saw her again, she said: If I hadn't left, he would have killed me, and you wouldn't have had a mother at all.

Some in this debate believe that Jesus was suggesting that turning the other cheek was an alternative to the then-existing moral code of "an eye for an eye . . .", i.e. suggesting that following foul with foul was not the only option. The passage in Matthew, which includes reference to an evil or wicked man (whose intent might not be deflected simply by turning the other cheek), also suggests more than passive indifference. Taking action by going a step further and offering not just your coat but your shirt, too, i.e. sorting out and redressing the wrong, may change the emotional imbalance. At the time, "an eye for an eye" was the legal construct (Hammurabi, etc), and it remains so in some cultures today.

One of the best pieces of advice my pastor ever gave me was that being Christian DOES NOT mean being a doormat. I think I blurred the two for too long in my life!

I believe, as you wrote, that this scripture speaks to us about how we behave in relation to how others behave. If we only had to behave Christian when it was easy, then it would be empty. All too often I lose it when others push me to the brink. I try to pray each morning "Lord, help me to act and RE-ACT Christian in all circumstances". It's the re-acting that usually brings out our true character and defines who we are, isn't it?

LOL... When my children are fighting amongst themselves, I typically hear "but she started it". To which I respond... "So who will be the Christian and END it?"

not easy indeed...


Well understood, well said, and well, there's the rub, it's easier said than done. Thankfully, we don't have to rely on our own goodness to do it, but seek God's grace and strength to do so. Thanks for the encouragement to look at the big picture!

Someone once said that if we are only filled with goodness when we are bumped only goodness can come out.

Regarding domestic violence I choose to believe that turning the other cheek means seeing from another angle. As you know, when abuse is present patterns of behavior are being repeated over and over again. (This is described as insanity.) It's about transcending the badness, preserving soul/spirit with intelligence and self care. Sometimes the only way you can love someone (or not hate, or not harm even) is from afar by turning the other cheek and walking in that direction.

If this is in regard to someone I trust, I think turning the other cheek is rising above the negative emotion with faith and confidence, as you said. (I'm also living long enough to understand that my negative responses can also be caused, not by the other person pursay, but colored by my own angst from the past and is completely unrelated to the other person.)
Rising above can be a beautiful, loving, living example of grace ultimately consciously understood by the other person.

Trust, and levels of trust, that's the crux of it all.

Best, Colette

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