Turn the other cheek…REALLY???

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By Kenneth Justice

 

~ Yesterday morning I was sitting at coffee with one of my good friends and after he said goodbye and walked away the stranger sitting next to me suddenly snarled, “Is that your friend?

The tone of the dude’s voice conveyed that he wasn’t someone I felt like talking with and although I ignored his question, the guy continued, “Your friend is a f***ing ass! You must be a moron if you hang out with people like him”.

I smiled at the guy, politely put away my laptop and walked away…..yet everything in me wanted to go on the attack and level into the guy by giving him a piece of my mind. Whatever kind of person would so randomly start talking to me like that probably ‘deserves’ me to cuss them out, but I doubt that me yelling at the guy would have accomplished anything useful.

I’ve never been very good at turning the other cheek when faced with nasty people. Biting my tongue and letting people ‘get away’ with shit isn’t something that comes natural to me at all. I’m not sure why. It’s not like I’m the essence of perfection; I have my fair share of character flaws and I often wonder why I get so upset with other people being rude and nasty when I myself am so far from perfect.

Turn the other cheek….

When I was younger I would often hear the example Jesus gave of hypocrites; people who are so quick to point out the speck in the eyes of others yet ignore the log protruding from their own. Yet it is a fine line between being a hypocrite and standing up for yourself….isn’t it? Wouldn’t I have had the right to stand up for my friend at coffee and ‘told off’ that stranger who was clearly being rude and obnoxious? But what does having the ‘right’ really mean? Do we always have the ‘right’ to respond to people when they are rude, obnoxious, and downright nasty to us? Should we always stand up for ourselves when people ‘wrong’ us?

I’ve also struggled quite a bit with people who gossip and slander; it really bothers me. I’m now in my thirties and it amazes me to no end the way in which people related to me spend so much time talking shit about me behind my back. Perhaps I’ve been naïve to think that once I got older people would suddenly begin acting nicer and more polite……because sadly the opposite is the case. I am a really busy person so I can’t understand for the life of me why anyone would waste time gossiping about me behind my back; I barely have the free time to drink my coffee some mornings so to waste it being a gossip is something I can’t really relate to at all.

Turn the other cheek…

On September 11, 2001 the World Trade Center was attacked by a handful of men who hijacked airplanes and flew them into the building with the clear intent of blowing the building up. A lot of people died on 9/11 and even worse; following the attack on New York the men and women of the United States Congress voted nearly unanimously to begin a ‘war on terror’ which all these years later is still being waged and which has resulted in the deaths untold thousands of men, women, and children.

What does it all mean? I can still remember where I was when I learned about the attack on the Twin Towers, it was an awful tragedy. Yet, after all these years and all the money and lives that have been spent……what have we really accomplished?

Is the United States safer? Are countries across Europe and Asia who have suffered from train bombings and other various attacks against humanity any safer?

I’m concerned that in the midst of all the warfare, all the arguing, all the politics and all the gossip and slander…..that something is being missed. Why are Western countries still so disconnected from other countries such as those in the Middle East? Why is there so little positive dialogue that is occurring? Why is there so little love surrounding this issue? Why do tempers flare so quickly over this subject?

Turn the other cheek…..

I often wonder what kind of perspective Jesus would have on life in the Western World; would he be proud of the decisions that Great Britain and the United States have made in regard to the War on Terror? Would he be proud of the way our countries have handled international relations?

What would Jesus do about relatives who gossip about him? What would he say to those who slander him? Would he be patient and kind or would he lash out at them and call them a ‘brood of vipers’?

Turning the other cheek is something I don’t entirely understand. When should we turn the other cheek and when do we need to stand up and defend ourselves? When she would be quick to listen and when do we need to be quick to protect ourselves from those who seek to destroy us?

I’ve been pretty open about my Evangelical Christian heritage and the mark it left upon my life. All these years later I still struggle with the hypocrisy and nastiness that often seems to effortlessly flow from my fellow ‘Christians’. For many years I grappled with frustration; how could a God of love allow those who claim to be followers, to be so downright mean and nasty? It often made me wonder if God was really there or if God was simply silent.

All these years later I still come face-to-face with Christians who don’t treat me very well. Some of them are people whom I simply can’t get out of my life and I often ask myself whether I’m supposed to stand up to them and tell them how it is, or whether I’m simply supposed to turn the other cheek.

At thirty six years old it is strange to me that I’m still trying to figure these things out. I thought that by now I’d have all the answers; yet I’m beginning to realize that the older I get the more questions I seem to have as opposed to answers.

Turning the other cheek seems really hard. I’m reminded of what Jesus said,

“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”

Holy cow, doesn’t that seem a tall order? I still gotta figure all this out. For now I’m just going to finish my coffee this morning,

Kenneth



Categories: Culture & Society

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76 replies

  1. I’ve pondered this a number of times myself. I’d always been quick to turn the other cheek- not for the sake of being a better person, but for the fact that I was (until recently) largely a non-confrontational person. There are times when turning cheek is the better route of course, but there are other times when standing up and taking the bite is just as much a measure of who we are as declining a confrontation is. Truly, knowing the difference is as much a pain in the neck as the person who puts you in the predicament in the first place!

  2. “At thirty six years old it is strange to me that I’m still trying to figure these things out. I thought that by now I’d have all the answers; yet I’m beginning to realize that the older I get the more questions I seem to have as opposed to answers.”

    I reckon that people who have “all the answers” are kidding themselves. Seems to me that answers are not the real deal. Questions are. Sort of like here and now: are your right or wrong? Because if there is just one answer – on a very small scale – one of us is unlikely to be convinced. Just taught that one of us doesn’t matter much. And if I don’t matter much … and you think your are right … common ground and connection is hard to find. If neither of us know – wow – the connection just connected! Maybe.

  3. I think the essence of turning the other cheek starts with starting to realize the rude guy to your friend was screwed up and you feel compassion for him, because it turned him into a jerk.

  4. The key to this question is: is it really all about you? So much of our decision-making revolves around protecting what we think is our image, public or private. It’s somehow easier to muse about concrete results when it’s entire nations than when it’s our vulnerable self-image.

  5. Kenneth,I’m twice your age and still. Debating this with mysrlf!

  6. I think God allows this kind of behavior because we were all created with Free Will. So, those that choose to be wicked & nasty will be wicked & nasty and those that choose to be kind and loving will be kind and loving. Jesus was a roll model. I think the best we can do is to try to be like him. Sometimes silence is not turning the other cheek, in many ways it is quite the opposite. God Loves You and have a Blessed Day!

  7. I do not pretend to speak for God. Ref. Job he rebuked those that attempted it. But, recent study leads me to believe that God allows all human behavior because we were created with Free Will. Behaviors fall into categories and in short you are either with him or not. I think Jesus is our role model and the best we can do is to try to be like him. I think he deserves it because of the sacrifice he made for us. And, sometimes silence is quite the opposite of turning the other cheek. God Loves you and have a Blessed Day!

  8. The paradox of free will and God’s sovereignty will be a constant tension. What use are a group of people who have a robot brainwashed way of following God, God gives us free will and so we follow Him imperfectly. Some claim to be followers and truly are not. I suspect many of the nasty Christians you mentioned really aren’t Christians if you got to the bottom of their heart. There are may days I’m not proud of how I have responded to people around me. Thankfully I’m a work in progress, but I need to daily let His Spirit do a work that I am unable to do.

    And so to fight or let it go is a constant puzzle. I tend to let it go when it involves me and my rights. I tend to fight when it involves the safety or rights of the innocent or those God has given me to protect.

    • What use are followers of any kind to an allegedly perfect being?

    • Mutual enjoyment in loving relationship. The allegedly perfect being of the Bible reveals Himself to be relational by nature.

    • Sorry, contradictory. Perfect means nothing can be added. That it says so in the Bible is not proof, it is the source of the issue.

    • Agreed. Perfect = whole/complete. There’s no contradiction at all with with reference to the God of the Bible as He is portrayed. His triune nature implies that He has always enjoyed eternal loving relationship and is in need of nothing. That He would invite us to the party does not suggest He is lacking anything.

    • Well, it does, actually, since he supposedly created us. And he’s not just inviting us, he’s saying if we don’t come, we’ll burn forever. His idea, of course. Odd kind of love. But this discussion will no doubt go nowhere. Thanks for the interest.

    • Your call, bro. I will attempt to be like God and not force further discussion. Thank you as well!

  9. The “turning the other cheek” thing refers to standing up to one’s opponent and daring them to hit you again. It’s frequently misunderstood. If you run away and avoid confrontation, you’re not turning the other cheek: You’re being a coward. Christianity generally looks down on cowardice.

    Turning the other cheek and saying “try that again, mofo” is part of what makes one who really lives the Christian ideals a very rare and precious thing. Most people who call themselves Christians don’t really bother. It’s a social club for them. They run off and snivel in corners and hate, hate, hate when they should be confronting and praying and loving.

    I don’t know how many times I’ve called “Christians” on their ill-will towards friends, coworkers, and even family. I hear them go off on some hate-filled prose-blow begging for vengeance and schadenfreude. And I, the agnostic-deist-if-anything ask them why they aren’t praying for the person who’s upset them so.

    That’s not isolated to Christianity. There are hypocrites of every stripe everywhere. No one has the strength of their convictions, it seems. Even atheists.

    • There’s another aspect to this as well… though thanks billabrie for mentioning this whole thing about standing up again when someone slaps you down… its not quite ‘try that again’- there’s the bit about turning the OTHER cheek- why the other cheek?

      I’ve understood that if you slap someone with the back of your right hand, then they’re socially beneath you… if you use your left hand then you’re losing your social graces (who would use their left hand?), while if you slap someone with your open hand (palm side) then they’re your equal…

      soo- if you turn the other cheek then your effectively saying ‘either recognise that I’m on the same level as you, or that you’re someone with no manners or sense, and now would you like to try that again’…

      Its one of those teaching where Jesus was subverting things- like the idea (from just a few verses along) that if a soldier forces you to carry his pack for a mile, you carry it for two… he was the oppressor, forcing you to his will, but now you’re going beyond what he’s imposing- saving someone else and also taking control of the situation… and the soldier is either forced to accept he’s not in control or to look like an idiot as he orders you not to carry his pack… it doesn’t overthrow the empire, but it shows there’s another way of living..

    • That’s an interesting take: The difference between left and right. Adds context.

      The way it was put to me was like this (just further): If someone hits you, your first instinct is to likely to either kill the assailant or run away. Neither of those is suitable for the Christian. Showing the other cheek is a sign of courageous restraint, which is probably ideal. I wish more people did it.

    • courageous restraint- I like that phrase. might borrow it some day!

    • If you care to find my comment somewhere below here, I presented a similar understanding to yours about “turning the other cheek”. I’m glad to see someone else with that perspective. Even if it is from an “agnostic-deist-if-anything”! 😉 (In all honesty, I often find the most reasonable points-of-view in agnostic types. I don’t see how anyone who spends much time thinking could *not* have a tremendous amount of doubt about what is True.)

    • I share your interpretation of turning the other cheek. Before I became a Christian, I was taught about the culture and politics of Jesus’ time in a secular humanities class. It actually opened me up to Christianity — but I’m getting away from the point.

      I still think Kenneth’s question is still valid, even if it could be expressed differently. Maybe it isn’t a question of walking away vs. saying something vs. even doing something. He/we/all have to decide in every situation just how much to protest. Like “marginal” decisions in economics. I think everything we say or do in adversarial situations falls somewhere on a spectrum of passivity/activity. Just like we read about Jesus’ life. Sometimes he had to straight up call ’em out. Sometimes he said nothing. Sometimes he slipped away because it wasn’t his time yet.

      What I wish more Christians would understand (ESPECIALLY in the United States) is passive resistance…. But this comment is long enough already. 😛

  10. This is a very good point. The bible is full of violence and the calling of God to destroy the “face” of evil (meaning people kill each other of course in barbaric violence) yet Jesus professes to love one another and turn the other cheek. I think don’t think “evil” is someone making that ignorant comment though. That’s just an ass lol. I think ignoring was the best thing to do in that case. I have hard time with that also and I’m 55! It was harder for me to be silent when I was younger. It gets easier as you age haha. But then I think of the wars in the world that have been going on for thousands of years. Are some legitimate fights against “evil”? If so which ones? Or is that ever right? My brain hurts. I need coffee.

  11. I’m a half a century and I still have more questions than answers. Although, I do know a lot, but I also know I don’t know everything. 🙂

  12. I’m an atheist, so I’m not going to speculate on what Jesus would think about our Western World or how we have conducted the War on Terror. And, like you, I sometimes have a hard time turning the other cheek.

    But, I do want to comment on something you wrote. You said, “Why are Western countries still so disconnected from other countries such as those in the Middle East?” Well, I would turn the question around. Why are countries in the Middle East, the Islamic countries, so disconnected from the rest of the world…the modern world? And, why do they feel they must declare jihad on those who do not support and practice Islam?

    I know that the Western World has interests in the Middle East (i.e., oil), but I don’t believe we hold any animosity toward Islam…or would not if they hadn’t conducted violent, terrorist acts upon those of us who don’t embrace Islam. Would we feel the same way we do today about Islam had there never been a 9-11? Had there never been attacks on our embassies? Had there never been other terrorist attacks? Maybe, but I don’t think so. Would the U.S. have engaged in this War on Terror if radical, fundamentalist Muslims not perpetrated all of the terrorist acts of violence. Maybe, but I don’t think so.

    On the other hand, there was the Crusades a while back.

    • Good points but I think your comment about Crusades illustrates the weakness. I think perhaps as a country, we wouldn’t hate quite so strongly, but certain fundamentalist Christian types certainly would still hate Islam and the countries where it dominates. Too many people aren’t willing to live and let live.

    • Fundamentalists of all religions tend to make it difficult for the vast majority of us who are moderate in our beliefs, ideologies, and politics. It’s the squeaky wheel syndrome.

    • If you’ve ever studied anything about population genetics it’s clear that the Crusades were a resource war as well. Too many nobles with no land to manage, too many peasants with no place to farm, too much chance for rebellion on the European continent. No, I’m sure the popes who declared the Crusades had no idea what motivated them other than a call from God, but there you go.

    • Well, no doubt that what’s going on in Iraq today is, to an extent, also resource war, except in this case the resource is oil.

    • Actually, the crusades were defensive conflicts – to regain Christian lands and protect Christians. Granted, some of the crusaders went too far in that, but, that doesn’t change the reasons.

    • That’s a 21st century revisionist rationalization. The main goal of the Crusades was to take control of Jerusalem away from the Muslims. Christianity considered itself the True Faith, therefore the lands where it all started, where Jesus walked, were, Christians felt, theirs by right. So they had to remove the “infidels.”

      There were other motives as well, such as greed for land, wealth, and power. But its origin was religious.

  13. I am nearly twice your 36 yrs. and don’t have answers to life’s hard questions. I do have a lot more observations about human nature. I’m not surprised at much any more. Some things don’t seem to change about people. They gossip, talk about others, are prejudiced, hypocritical, and cheat. They also are kind and generous, respectful, trustworthy, and fair.

    Fortunately, we usually get to choose which group we want most in our lives. I choose the latter.

  14. Kenneth – you and I are so on the same page on this in so many ways. Regarding my sister whom I recently cut ties with, I finally said enough is enough because I felt that turning the other cheek repeatedly meant letting her think it was okay to bully me; that I think it’s okay to use her children as “weapons” as a means to bully me and that part I really decided I couldn’t go for anymore. I tired of her threatening to keep my from my nephews over things that should never mean keeping me from them. Where you draw the line depends on the situation, the person and your own standards. The guy in the coffee shop, wasn’t worth it. Standing up to some family member who repeated “abuse” you in some fashion – not okay. I’m still figuring out just where to draw lines and how to do so, but ultimately you do need to draw them and I feel that doesn’t mean you’re not still turning the other cheek. All it means is that you’re not willing to take abuse. If you were to retaliate then that would be not turning the other cheek. Retaliating and standing up for yourself aren’t necessarily the same thing. To me retaliating means returning the favor or being just as nasty back. I’ve been a pushover for so long but that just beats you up in addition to someone else treating you badly. I think there is a way to say ‘hey…it’s not okay to treat me like that and I won’t accept it’ and that’s okay. You may not have said something to that guy but in some ways just smiling at him and walking away was your response. That guy walked away dissatisfied with the fact he couldn’t bait you. As for God, He’ll take care of this in His own time. He’s the type of “parent” who lets His kids figure things out for themselves but provides guidance when needed. He’ll step into individual’s lives when needed – you yourself said you were like that once and yet you’re nothing like that now – I’m sure God stepped in when He felt He had to and will do so again with others. 🙂 Life is hard – trust me. Life here has not been anything that I expect at all as of late but there’s a part of me that’s growing a lil’ stronger daily and it’s about faith. Keep the faith Kenneth!

  15. It’s not easy for me, and I always work on it – and I think that frequently I’m failing at it as He keeps putting people in my path that make it difficult! 🙂 I don’t have any answers, either, I just try and keep myself and line!

  16. I think that whether you turn your cheek or not depends a lot upon the situation. I believe God gives us discernment to understand what battles we should fight and what battles would be a waste of our time. Just as this morning you realized that going off on that man wouldn’t change anything. Also I think that if you are going to respond to someone you have to ask yourself if it is coming from a place of kindness or a place of judgement and feeling more self righteous than another person. I believe that for the person you are responding to, it is really easy for them to tell if you are saying something out of love or out of judgment.

  17. Reblogged this on Peaceful City Life and commented:
    I might need to read this post over a few hundred times.

  18. Great article, Kenneth!

  19. Kenneth, while I miss seeing your posts on other days of the week, Tueaday is now special for me because it is THE Coffee with the Culture Monk Day. Thank you for yet another thoughtful and thought-provoking post. Also, I am hoping you might have a chance to drop by my blog today, because of the first appearance of a type of animal you really like.

    Thanks for all you give us, Kenneth.

  20. Kenneth another good post. There are so many things I want to comment on but at last I shall choose only this. I believe that turning the other cheek should always lead to life. So what ever action will be true life into the situation that is the action we should take.

  21. I have read every comment so far and I can see the point of every one, and some repeated by more than one persons. The older among them could have written that article for you and not left out anything you‘ve said. The Atheist comments makes the point of an earlier blogger.But I contradict another. Rudeness to me or witnessed by me however mild or obnoxious is about me. I now engage as if the rude person is my most beloved child and use the softest voice to start asking questions with a ‘sincere’ view to
    -understanding- the aggressor. Sooner than you’d think, they calm down and open up and dialogue can begin. And a lot of times ends up with an apology, after an aggressor sees the idiot that he is in the mirror of my curiosity and compassion for their ‘rudeness’ or ‘hostility’ It’s the benefit of overdosing on Humble Pie. As for terrorists. I’ve done my share of mowing them down in another country in another time, and feel even more strongly about them today

  22. Looking at this from the outside, I don’t see that God is any help at all. Everyone either just goes with their inclination and pretends it’s what God wants, or pines away in indecision and remorse. Hell, an atheist can do that just fine. What I do see is a lot of people using God as a cudgel, to foist their ethical opinions on others.

  23. I’m pretty sure life is always going to have haters. Life always presents two opposing sides to almost every situation…love/hate, peace/war, freedom/slavery, etc. Some people like to be victims, some people like to hate. I used to think I could change people…change the world. Now I think I can change myself and create a better world for me. Is it selfish? Absolutely! But, I do not need the approval of others to exist…I only need to be happy with who I am and how I deal with life. I choose to surround myself with people who like to create, have integrity and are genuine. In doing so I have reached a balance that allows me optimum survival. It’s not a matter of turning the other cheek or even wearing rose colored glasses. It’s choosing the quality of life I want to live and not enforcing my reality on others…I can walk away if I don’t like/agree with others…and so can they.

  24. But, isn’t it true of humanity in general?

  25. This is something I to also struggle with. It’s a big problem of mine, to not say something, I don’t have to go off on the person, but to be disrespectful, and worse, to do it behind my friend’s back when they were just sitting there? UGH! Well, the problem seem so to be with that person speaking ill of your friend, versus the other way around. Nevertheless, good for you for walking away.
    When you said you thought you’d have it all figure out by now reminded me of a TED talk I saw recently by Dan Gilbert where he says, “Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.”
    Great read, as always. 🙂

  26. Wow, so much there to respond to! And so much of it mirrors my own point of view. As far as whether we have the “right” to respond… I think whether we have the right is an independent thing to whether we oughtta. Yes, I think we have the right to stand up for ourselves and our friends. But I think we only ought to when it would accomplish something to do so.

    Regarding your questions about turning the other cheek, I once read a perspective on that group of Jesus’s teachings that really stuck with me (Turning the other cheek, giving your tunic when they take your cloak, walking an extra mile if someone makes you walk one with them). I’ve never seen the perspective anywhere else so I don’t know how accepted the idea is. I just know that it sounded *right* and settled a lot of those questions for me. It went something like this.

    Jesus wasn’t telling people to be a doormat and not fight back. He was actually advocating a radical and subversive way of fighting power. Maybe the first instance of peaceful resistance. Roman soldiers were legally allowed to press someone to carry their pack for a mile, but only a mile. So when the mile was up, if the pressed person refused to give up the pack but kept walking, the soldier is now in violation of the law and is forced to beg the person to give the pack back. I don’t remember the details on the cloak/tunic but it seems like it pertained to a situation where the person had the right to take your cloak (maybe a tax collector?) but not the actual clothes off your back.

    The turning the other cheek thing was this. If a “superior” wanted to be dismissive or punitive of someone beneath them, they would backhand slap them. (“whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn and offer them the other”). Since most people, especially then, are right handed, to be slapped on your right cheek would involve them backhanding you. If you turn and offer them your left cheek, you are forcing them to slap you with their palm, which was (supposedly) something only done between equals. So you were forcing them to treat you as an equal.

    Like I said, I don’t know how much validity the interpretation has, but it took away a lot of these doubts for me. If Jesus was telling people to stand up to evil authority similar to what Ghandi and MLK were up to, then he wasn’t telling people to back down at all. He was showing an effective way to accomplish something. I personally believe that an awful lot of the Bible, especially parables and such, meant something very different to the original hearers because they had context that we don’t have. Forcing someone to walk a mile doesn’t make much sense as just a general, run-of-the-mill action, so the interpretation given here makes sense to me. As does the slapping bit – why mention the right cheek in particular unless that was important?

  27. Thanks for the thought provoking post.. I am sure this topic is one which resonated with many and you aren’t the only one who wonders when turning the other cheek is the best action choice. Well written post.

  28. This is a tough one! I believe that we should do our best to be life-giving. If turning the other cheek isn’t life-giving, then what shall we do? I don’t have the answer on this hot, summer afternoon. A very small thing that I have started doing is responding to the middle-finger of other drivers (so popular in California, for some reason), with the peace sign. This would be “But I say unto you, when your enemies give you the middle finger, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and give them 2 peaceful fingers to those which despitefully use you and persecute you.” (Hope I’m not offending anyone…)

  29. ah, if everyone would ask the question “What would Jesus do?” this world would be a much better place. One day we will all exactly see what he will do in person, not just by faith.

  30. You bit off a lot with this discussion…sticking to just the relatives gossiping: I remember my Mom having a discussion with me at your age about that very thing. With 4 siblings all two years apart, I always seemed be the brunt of it. I was encouraged to “turn the other cheek” and take the high road….she also reminded me….happy people don’t tear (gossip/slander) into other people. It comes from their own feelings of inadequacy and jealousy. Hard lesson and difficult, but all these years later I have a very close relationship with all but one and his pattern mirrors what my mom said. When he’s been happy in life…I’m his best friend…when he’s unhappy…he’s not as vocal as he was, but you get my drift. I have passed this lesson on to my three adult daughters. Keep up what you’re doing….it’s good stuff!!!!!

  31. Ya…good one my friend.

    Some thoughts…..
    The reason people engage will most likely remain an enigma simply because we are not that person, nor do we know or understand why they do such things. No doubt engaging people feel that they are qualified to take the bull by the horns and pronounce mountains of scorn upon unsuspecting individuals they feel are in error…of course we, on the other hand, may feel the same toward them.
    Its the same conundrum concerning the cultures of the east and west. Who’s to say which one is right…perhaps both are wrong!
    With that in mind, perchance turning the other cheek, as Jesus commanded, simply means to give no credence to worldly issues that divide us. After all, Jesus said that His kingdom was not of this earth and therefore it stands to reason that if God’s kingdom is perceptively different, then, the things that concern us here (as Christians) in this kingdom are really nothing to get too excited about. Jesus said to render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar, and render unto God that which belongs to God. Two Kingdoms, two values, two very different systems. That’s why we find it so hard living in this kingdom to turn the other cheek because this kingdom demands judgment and justice. God’s kingdom offers perfect love and forgiveness. So, doing things God’s way, I think “turning the cheek” in essence is saying I’m not qualified to judge you for your action, and it is freeing in the sense that it releases you from judgment and allows the offender to be judged by God through his own conscience…something that may be far more effective in the long run. A guilty conscience can bring a person to their senses far easier than a smack in the head from you, or I (but nowhere near the satisfaction). God is the perfect judge and judges perfectly and justly…humans do not!

    Anyway….just some thoughts as I sip my evening coffee. ~ Dave

    ps…and I’m not saying that I think we should let people walk all over us. There is a time and a season for everything under heaven. When God calls for action…then it is right.

  32. ‘Turn the other cheek’ seems to have become a phrase more associated with ignoring an issue rather than countering it productively. When faced with someone who makes comments that strike a nerve, isn’t it an opportunity to forge a connection with that person? Take a moment to understand their point of view which should in turn allow you an opportunity to share yours. This may not result in any immediate agreement, but it allows for the possibility of greater understanding.

  33. I’ve always been the person who got offended and (if possible) retaliated, but over recent years I’ve found that standing up for one’s beliefs and retaliation are two different things. I no longer feel compelled to stand and fight anyway. Some people have blinkers on and no matter what one says, the blinkers will still remain, so I’d rather walk away with a knowing smile on my face and not engage.

    That way there are no ‘winners’ or ‘losers’ (and no war). It’s easy to make war.

    But peace takes greater skill and self restraint and ultimately, both sides win.

  34. I have pondered several times what would have happened if instead of responding with war, the US had responded with forgiveness and love after 9/11?

    Of course the country would not have stood for it, but what if? Could it have changed history? Brought in an era of true peace instead of yet more wars?

    At the time I like most thought that war was the only reasonable response, sadly I think it may have been the wrong choice. All we did was keep the cycle going, at the exact opportune moment that history’s generational curses could possibly have been broken.

    Or maybe there I go living in an idealistic dream world again 😉

  35. I prefer the idea that rather than letting them get away with it, I’m not lowering myself to their level. And this guy only saw a brief moment in your life and that of your friend, so he knows nothing.

  36. Kenneth,
    I connect with all the things you are questioning.I don’t know if any of this will help you, but here’s a few of my personal beliefs: First, I am not a fan of organized religion. As you know, it is full of hypocrisy, which to me has nothing to do with my beliefs. On the other hand, I do believe in God and Jesus and have a deep personal relationship with them. I believe great tragedies are allowed to take place because we as a nation or world need a wake up call and a chance to step up and act like Christians. I believe the folks who are sacrificed in the events are well taken care of, the sadness is on us who are left behind. As for the way you are treated, especially by those you would expect to be kind, such as family – as I believe in God and Jesus, I also believe in a force of evil – call it the devil or whatever, I prefer just to say evil. I believe the harder you work at being a good person, respond to the world as Jesus would have you respond – the harder evil will work to stop you. If evil must go to the lengths to use everyone it can find, including close family, to try to get at you and make you stop – then you must be doing something extremely right. The closer you get, the harder it will try to stop you. Do not let the negativity of the world (evil) get to you. In fact, the best way to piss it off is to laugh at it, spit on it, keep on being the best most kind individual ever – no matter what it throws at you. To know it has no effect on you is a crushing blow to evil.

    I have nothing to offer regarding the United States responses and interactions with other nations. I have too many conflicting thoughts to make much sense of it all. In cases like this I must just give it to God and pray those making decisions are given proper guidance.

  37. It seems to me that you did turn the other cheek. The stranger’s criticism of your friend was equally a criticism of you, yet you accepted it and did not fire back. You avoided a useless conflict. If it had been someone you had an ongoing relationship with, it would have required a different response, but you made the right decision.

  38. I had a conversation with a Buddhist monk once in which I was discussing about handling people in situations such as this, rude people that just for some reason that just appear out of no where and seem to be in your face for no apparent reason, and to put it simply, all you have to say to yourself is “It is none of my business. It is there business”. In essence, turn the other cheek. Just look away, walk away. It has nothing to do with you. Smiling and walking away was the best thing to do.

  39. Great post, Kenneth. The older I get the more I realize how much I don’t know. But as you get older you release the compulsion (at least I did) to know and control everything. You don’t waste energy trying to correct those who don’t want correction.We turn the other cheek as not to get pulled in the craziness of others. At least I do. I’ve got my own share of crazy as it is.

    Turn the other cheek and trust God to do the rest. B Blessed! 🙂

  40. I think Gandhi, who had a lot of respect for the works of Jesus Christ gives us an answer on how to both fight and turn the other cheek at the same time. I think there are ways to engage other people, even those who we vehemently disagree with and who may be nasty or cruel to us without reacting violently in return. Gandhi literally turned the other cheek and let people strike both sides to expose their cruelty. Through passive resistance Gandhi also stood up for himself as well. He communicated to the world what he thought was good and stood up for it without being violently confrontational. What if you had responded to the guy in the coffee shop “May I ask you why you feel it’s necessary to attack my character without getting to know me? I as that you the future unless it is with the polite reverence that you would show any stranger for which you nothing about. Thank you.” Of course few of us have that composure when attacked which usually gets the emotions running high. But this is the type of response that is both not aggressive, but allows you to stand up for yourself at the same time. Sure they might still attack you, but you’ve made your position clear and their actions are now entirely their own responsibility.

  41. Turning the other cheek is a practice, like any other spiritual discipline. With all of the baggage that we’ve inherited, it won’t come easily from one day to the next. If we can start small, take baby steps, practice offering kindness when something mildly irritating is dealt to us, then eventually we will strengthen our capacity to remain in our center, and be able to handle much larger challenges. Right now I’m working on not opening my mouth and reacting when someone says something (usually a family member) that causes a big charge in my emotional system. It’s one of the hardest things we can do–turning the other cheek–and one of the most important things we can cultivate to assure peace in our own corner of the world. Bravo to you for having the awareness to write this post and share your thoughts with us. Thank you, friend.

  42. I smiled at the guy, politely put away my laptop and walked away

    This is why I’m studying verbal defense. From everything I’ve been studying, your response was the right one.

  43. The Jesus of the bible is a personification of Love. He represents Love taken to it’s extreme. The typical human experience is far more complicated. For most of us there will be times when confrontation is the best course of action and times when turning the other cheek is the best course of action. I wrote this yesterday and posted it to my facebook wall. I think it applies to the subject at hand:

    “Love and anger are probably the two most powerful motivators for getting stuff done.Love is most effective for getting what we need, anger is most effective for getting what we deserve. Just be careful, what we think we need and what we actually need are not always the same thing. What we think we deserve and what we actually deserve are rarely the same thing.” ~J Evan LeFreak

  44. Kenneth, I sure hope that was a darn strong cup of coffee. It would have to be to consider these types of things. You know Ghandi took Jesus’ word literally in this regard. I won’t go on telling the story of Ghandi and all because I’m pretty sure you know it all.
    “At thirty six years old it is strange to me that I’m still trying to figure these things out. I thought that by now I’d have all the answers; yet I’m beginning to realize that the older I get the more questions I seem to have as opposed to answers.”
    –I hear you loud and clear. You know, I’ve had my struggles with doubts and trying to understand it all. I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I will never understand it all. It’s all too big and complex for my tiny little mind to comprehend. It seems like when I get all afflicted with my thoughts and doubts and anxieties about it all, when I come and have my quiet time, God seems to fill me with peace once again and simplify things for me. It’s as if He’s saying, “Shhhhh, just let it go. Just be my child and continue in faith, whether you’re able to understand it all or not.” And then I cry, like letting go of all the tension and being flooded with peace. Thank God because I think I’d go nuts.
    It’s so great to read your blog because it’s like I can, “Ya, I can so relate.”
    Hope you’re doing well. Great meeting you. I had a blast.
    🙂

  45. Walking away usually best response you can give; you talk to people without speaking, which is hard at the same time and hits deeper than words. Whould life be so much different if all walked away from gossip? No doubt about it. And yes.. Life is strange with endless questions and only few answers.

  46. I think at times it takes more strength and character to walk away than it does to let loose with a tirade of angry words. What I struggle with is when to walk away and when to speak, because I don’t always think that silence is the right response.

  47. What really irritates me is how, when we do return nastiness to those who are nasty, they act like there’s something wrong with us for lashing out.

  48. I’m late weighting in – was gone a few days. This is topic is certainly troublesome for many Christians. Does “turn the other cheek” in context have to do with one’s enemies and/or the enemies of Christ? While with a brother/sister who sins against us, we are to confront speaking the truth in love. The “in love” part is challenging for obvious reasons.

  49. I don’t know about you but it is more difficult for me to ‘turn the other cheek’ with those close to me than with strangers. With loved ones there is a sense of sadness and disappointment because I don’t expect them to act in such a manner. In most cases, we can’t let them have it and in all likelihood not see them again. I guess that I accept that in the moment, I may get a temporary high from letting them have it, but in the end, the question remains, do I want to stoop to his or her level? Does the temporary satisfaction of speaking my mind, outweigh the affect of lashing out on my heart? The answer is obvious to me, but as the imperfect person that I am, at times I act against my best interest. It is a very difficult balance. Thanks for the post. Blessings, Lydia

  50. When I consider many of the rules and sayings from the Bible, I think they are there not always as orders but as suggestions. Like how a parent will tell their children “why do you do it this way” because they know life will be easier that way. They know better than the child. So, turning the other cheek is kind of like that. Yes, you have a right to lash out and no one will think otherwise, but life will be easier if you don’t.

    I think it’s always best to avoid a fight if you can. You defend yourself when you are in danger, and turn the other cheek otherwise.

  51. I imagine the crux of the problem partially lies in our propensity to be so easily offended by others words or actions. Offended, we tend to judge & react instead of engaging in conversation and asking the questions – and hearing the answers we may not want to hear!

  52. Kenneth, maybe that guy with the nasty attitude was just having a bad day. Just because someone pooped in his cereal doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a bad guy. Some things are just better left unsaid. Voting with your feet was the right call.

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