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Sunday, May 30, 2010

When Do You Stop Turning the Other Cheek?

We sit mesmerized by preachers who have told us that we should allow bullies to keep striking us. Somehow it seems virtuous. Jesus certainly allowed men to keep striking Him without stopping them. Thus, in the name of our faith we have encouraged women to stay in abusive homes. We have encouraged children to keep silent about the horrible nightmares from which they never awaken. We keep the bullies in power for the sake of our faith.

Do you really believe this is what Jesus intended? Was He advocating that we do nothing or say nothing? Was He saying that we should go back for more? I don't think so.

We must take Jesus' words before this statement to understand. He was telling them that their law allowed an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. They were making sure that they equaled the pain that was given to them. This was a cause for always exacting how much damage should be done to those who had damaged you.

Jesus told them to give up that idea. Their law would not be adequate. He was not making a new law which required asking for more pain. He was not telling us to stay in abusive homes or allow bullies to go without being brought to justice. He was attacking an attitude of self right which cause so much conflict.

My life will be consumed by bitterness if I try to exact pain for every pain I have received. I allow much of it to go by. I don't allow it to continue. There is a difference. I turn my cheek but I also have a boundary which will not allow this to continue. Turning my cheek means I will not retaliate. It may mean that I seek justice.

Where is that line? For me, it is when I believe it will continue if I do nothing. I would report (and have done so) any abuse to children that I have detected. I have encouraged wives to go back to their husbands when they were repentant for striking them. However, I also have given wives permission to get out of the home when it appears the husbands are doing nothing to curb their anger. I have encouraged husbands to take their wives back after adultery and have explained to others that the pattern is so set that I can't see why they would stop having affairs.

Yes, I do believe you stop turning the other cheek. No, I don't ever believe in retaliation. Yes, I believe in justice. No, I don't believe you can give equal pain for equal pain.

And, yes, I believe you should overlook most of those things which caused you pain. I believe you always forgive no matter what has happened to you.

Matthew 5:38-42 (NIV)
38 "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' 39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

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