Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Day 13: Turn the Cheek

Have you ever had those verses in the bible that when quoted to you, you are left telling yourself, "That cannot be what that verse means." Two scriptures come to mind when in this category. The first verse of course is Matthew 7:1 about not judging. The second verse that stands out to me is Matthew 5:39 that says, "But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."

I have been working on this verse for some time and after a facebook status I posted today, many thought it was funny but a few sent private messages to about "turning the other cheek." Here is my thought process on this. If someone does wrong to you or calls you something belittling...are you to just take it? Do you just rollover and take the verbal beating? Do you become a doormat for everyone to walk on? I am not sure this is what Jesus had in mind after researching this verse for awhile. If in fact we are to rollover and take the hits than why did Jesus often times respond to the Pharisee's with sarcasm? Why did Paul respond at all to people that persecuted him? This verse in my opinion must have a deeper meaning otherwise Jesus contradicted his own words if in fact we are interpreting this verse correctly today.

"The literal interpretation of this scripture would be in which the command refers specifically to a manual strike against the side of a person's face, can be supported by reference to historical and other factors. At the time of Jesus, striking someone deemed to be of a lower class with the back of the hand was used to assert authority and dominance. If the persecuted person "turned the other cheek," the discipliner was faced with a dilemma. The left hand was used for unclean purposes, so a back-hand strike on the opposite cheek would not be performed. The other alternative would be a slap with the open hand as a challenge or to punch the person, but this was seen as a statement of equality." (wikipedia). Equality coming from a higher up would not be done because that would put them on the same level as the person they are belittling.

This is perhaps different than a person walking by me in a grocery store parking lot and calling me a vulgar name in front of my children and me responding with a sharp yet non-vulgar response. Perhaps this is one of those verses in the bible that many use correctly and incorrectly.


1 comment:

  1. It is significant that Jesus says the right cheek. Unless the person is left-handed, it has to be the back-handed slap you mention. IMO, Jesus is not saying, "Let anyone who likes abuse you..." but is letting us know that we will need to be strong enough not to allow those who would try to be "superior" or smug to get to us. There are, of course, times to stand up for what is importnt. Other times, to turn the other cheek. Am I willing to look foolish for the sake of the gospel?