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My ideas are constantly changing as I learn. Sometimes they even change midway through writing a post.

Tuesday, November 1

Turning the Other Cheek

Thinking about the previous post has me thinking about this particular idea. I wasn't sure where it came from, so I looked it up and found that it was said in different ways in different religions:

You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Christianity. Matthew 5.38-41

I had thought that turning the other cheek meant something like "looking the other way". It goes beyond that, though. It suggests that if someone does something wrong to you, you should give him the opportunity to do even more to you. If he takes something, then you should offer him even more.

Even more surpising to me is the idea is that the wrongdoer will be punished more fully if no punishment has been given out by people. In a sense, then, the advice is to heap revenge upon the wrong person by refusing to punish him and therefore lessen the punishment he'll receive from God. The benefit to the victim is being rewarded by God and also learning the virtue of patience.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." No, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by doing so you will heap burning coals upon his head."
17.Christianity. Romans 12.19-20

Ouch.

This idea doesn't work so well if you don't believe in an all-powerful God to unleash vengence on evildoers. Is there a rational reason for turning the other cheek?

2 comments:

Leo said...

The people who wrote that obviously wanted to scare others into submission.

Sherilyn said...

My understanding of the "Turn the other cheek" passage is that it is about not allowing evil to have control over you. If some one asks you for your shirt and you give him your coat too, you have taken control over the situation through charitable will and you have not accepted evil to have power over you.