Turning the other cheek vs. being a pushover: What’s the difference?

iStock 000017938071XSmall Turning the other cheek vs. being a pushover: Whats the difference?I only have a second before I need to dash out to another event as part of my WEEK OF EPIC SOCIALIZING, so I thought I’d let you do all the hard work today and give me the answer to a question that’s perplexed me for a while:

What is the different between being Christ-like and being a pushover?

Here’s why I ask:

I am an extremely nonconfrontational person. To a fault. I mean, if I walked out to my car and witnessed someone run a key down the paint, slash all the tires and break all the windows, I probably would just say, “Hey, what are you doing?” (Phrasing it as a question, since, you never know, he might have a good reason for his actions!) Even if he responded by saying that he was just destroying my car for fun, I would probably just nod, perhaps letting a vague look of mild disapproval cross my face. Heck, if I got on my phone to call a tow truck, I’d probably worry about seeming impolite.

Given this temperament, it’s easy for me to convince myself that I’m just a really saintly, other-cheek-turning kind of person on occasions when I let others’ transgressions go. “Just trying to imitate the Lord!” I assure myself…but in reality I’m just doing what’s easiest for me. For example, the other day I’d been waiting in a line for quite a while, and a woman cut right in front of me. It was pretty clear from her body language that this was intentional. It was one of the most blatantly unfair, infuriating actions I’ve witnessed in a long time. My temper flared, so I said, “Oh — heh-heh — um, hey, I, uhh…” and she promptly turned away from me and made a call on her cell phone. I never did say anything, and, sure enough, she got served after waiting only a couple of moments, whereas my wait was extended even further.

As I walked away from the situation, I assured myself that that was the Christian thing to do. I was a living testament to Matthew 5:39! Maybe this lady was stressed and in a hurry, and I made her day a little easier by letting her cut in front of me in line. But something didn’t feel right about that conclusion. Maybe some small part of my motive in giving her a pass was Christ-centered, but mostly it was Jen’s-fear-of-confrontation-centered. And while I do know that we Christians are supposed to love our enemies and not seek vengeance out of anger, surely there is some line that can be crossed where you’re just a pushover. Right?

I really don’t know. So I turn the question over to you:

Is there such a thing as being a Christian pushover, or should we always let it go when people wrong us? If there is a boundary between being Christ-like and being a wimp, where do you draw that line?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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Enter the Conversation...

86 Responses to “Turning the other cheek vs. being a pushover: What’s the difference?”
  1. nicole says:

    You have very smart commenters, so I’m sure you will get wiser words. My first thought is that the line is around respect. When you are being treated as less than a person, or your dignity is violated, then you should not turn the other cheek. Of course, even this is subjective. I think being inconvenienced is not really a reason to speak up or out though.
    nicole recently posted..The Well

  2. Graceling says:

    I think a lot of it has to do with attitude and motivation. Are you speaking up to correct a wrong or are you speaking up because someone offended you? Are you allowing someone to cut in front of you because you want to be a blessing to them, or because it’s more comfortable for you to ignore their bad behavior? It’s a heart issue. Turning the other cheek, I think, has more to do with not being easily offended and finding ways to extend grace to others… and less to do with letting people walk all over you/take advantage of you.

    Looking forward to what others write.

  3. Daniel says:

    Great post. In my opinion, it’s a question of how we can be of service; meaning, if it’s beneficial to the offender that we correct them, we should do so. If, however, we are defending our own egos by lashing back, it’s 2 wrongs not making a right. We should ALWAYS defend the defenseless, so, in that regard, pull no punches. Any abuse we endure, we offer up, but we’re also called to be solid witnesses. Defend the defenseless, endure the clueless, & pray for both.

  4. J. Byas says:

    Hmm, great question. I would have to respectfully (no pun intended) disagree with Nicole, only because it seems that Jesus didn’t put restrictions around when people violate the dignity or respect we feel (rightly or wrongly) we deserve, especially in his own life.

    I think there are two distinctions we have to make because of the way Paul sets up how we should emulate Jesus’ self-denying love:

    First, when it comes to standing up for the less fortunate, we do not have the option to be non-confrontational pushovers. The prophetic voice of the Scriptures seem to make that clear. I usually say: “Stand up for the life of others, lay down your own.”

    The second distinction I think we should make is our motivation for “giving up our rights.” Paul makes it clear that Jesus didn’t serve others to the point of death because he was weak and had a lack of self-confidence. He served others to the point of death because he was so strong and was full of self-confidence.

    To be a pushover because we do not fully understand our value and worth as a human being made in the image of a creative and loving God is to disrespect and mistrust that God. It is also unlikely that when we are called to stand up for the less fortunate, we will not have the strength to do so. But to willingly lay down our rights out of the strength we have, knowing that my value and identity is secure in Christ and that His spirit gives me the power to be more like him, is to respect and trust fully the God who made me, both in his image as a human being, and in Christ’s image as a follower of Jesus.

    All of this points to our feelings that when people cheat us it is “unfair.” I think it’s important that we recognize this is true. But where we differ in our actions is that when the injustice is directed against another I am willing to stand up for justice and demand the rights of the offended. When the injustice is directed toward me I am willing to lay down my rights, standing up not for justice, but for grace.

    Sorry this is so long, these are just my “off-the-top-of-my-head” thoughts, which tend to be less than organized. I am interested to hear others in the conversation.
    J. Byas recently posted..Encounter

    • jennifer says:

      You’ve put it in a nutshell. The essence of the Christian attitude: “when the injustice is directed against another I am willing to stand up for justice and demand the rights of the offended. When the injustice is directed toward me I am willing to lay down my rights, standing up not for justice, but for grace.” I’ll try and remember that.

    • JT says:

      Hi All,
      In response to the following:
      …when the injustice is directed against another I am willing to stand up for justice and demand the rights of the offended. When the injustice is directed toward me I am willing to lay down my rights, standing up not for justice, but for grace. – See more at: http://www.conversiondiary.com/2011/10/turning-the-other-cheek-vs-being-a-pushover-whats-the-difference.html#sthash.MW9uo5cp.dpuf

      I must say that I don’t understand this distinction. Why do Christians think that it is ‘selfish’ to stand up for one’s self when clearly wronged, but good to stand up for someone else who has been wronged?

      Are we not commanded to expose evil where ever it is found? The Bible is full, Old and New, of directives to rebuke the oppressor… and it doesn’t say, “…except if you are the one being oppressed.” It is NOT humility, of the healthy kind, to stand up for others, but not for yourself.

      Jesus laid down his rights and did not resist evil, at the cross… but this was a very unique situation, and not one for us to follow as a rule when we encounter evil and abuse. He did this for a greater good – our salvation. BUT Jesus did stand up for himself in Luke 13:

      “Just at that time some Pharisees approached, saying to Him, “Go away, leave here, for Herod wants to kill You.” And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I [g]reach My goal.’”

      And Paul stood up for his rights multiple times in the book of Acts.

      Bottom line: Significant injustice is wrong and should be exposed and opposed, period. The question that I ask myself when deciding if I should let an offense go (which is appropriate – and Biblical – at times) is this: If the roles were reversed, would I want to be held accountable? Remember, you don’t do anyone a favor when you let them stay stuck in abusive patterns – even if you are the victim.
      JT recently posted..7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 221)

      • momluvsJesus says:

        Thank you so much for this response JT. I am in the midst of battling a situation where I have decided to stand up for myself..after much prayer and godly counsel…and year after year of turning the other cheek. Although I believe it’s the right thing to do, I feel horrible for standing up for myself. However, I’m realizing that feeling horrible doesn’t mean I’m doing something wrong. Guilt and conviction are not the same thing. Somewhere along the line, I think many of us are taught that standing up for ourselves is ungodly. Always putting others ahead of ourselves can set us up for abuse and co-dependency. I have a long line of that unhealthy behavior in my family and I refuse to let me daughter walk down that same path. I am praying that the cycle ends with me and I believe that God is teaching me healthy and loving and appropriate ways to stand up for myself when I am being wronged. If we are created in His image and are fearfully and wonderfully made, wny should we allow someone to disrespect and degrade us without consequences? Sometimes it seems the message (especially to women/girls) is that being a good Christian means being a nice quiet doormat. I cannot fathom that this is God’s will for his precious children.

        • momluvsJesus says:

          Also…just want to add that I also believe it’s a heart issue, as a pp said. I think if we are “turning the other cheek” it has to be an act of grace and not guilt. The Lord says He loves a cheerful giver, not one who gives begrudgingly but gives out of whatever he has purposed in his heart. If I’m doing it for any other reason then I’m the one who is in the wrong.

    • JT says:

      Hi All,

      Why is it good to stand up for the rights of another, but not for yourself?

      I must say that I don’t understand this distinction. Why do Christians think that it is ‘selfish’ to stand up for one’s self when clearly wronged, but good to stand up for someone else who has been wronged?

      Are we not commanded to expose evil where ever it is found? The Bible is full, Old and New, of directives to rebuke the oppressor… and it doesn’t say, “…except if you are the one being oppressed.” It is NOT humility, of the healthy kind, to stand up for others, but not for yourself.

      Jesus laid down his rights and did not resist evil, at the cross… but this was a very unique situation, and not one for us to follow as a rule when we encounter evil and abuse. He did this for a greater good – our salvation. BUT Jesus did stand up for himself in Luke 13:

      “Just at that time some Pharisees approached, saying to Him, “Go away, leave here, for Herod wants to kill You.” And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I [g]reach My goal.’”

      And Paul stood up for his rights multiple times in the book of Acts.

      Bottom line: Significant injustice is wrong and should be exposed and opposed, period. The question that I ask myself when deciding if I should let an offense go (which is appropriate – and Biblical – at times) is this: If the roles were reversed, would I want to be held accountable? Remember, you don’t do anyone a favor when you let them stay stuck in abusive patterns – even if you are the victim.
      JT recently posted..7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 221)

  5. Katherine says:

    Jesus said to “turn the other cheek.” He didn’t say to flee. Turning the other cheek is neither hitting back nor running away but taking a stand as a witness. So, in your example, I could understand asking the woman if she had a good reason for cutting you in line or informing her that it was not very respectful or nice to cut you in line. Remember, one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is to admonish sinners, let people know when they are wrong.

    (I’m like you. I hate confrontation and so my big challenge is saying something, but it doesn’t mean something shouldn’t be said.)

    Of course, once it is said, I think the Christian thing is simply to offer it up. Witness without fighting and without fleeing.
    Katherine recently posted..Our Honeymoon in the Smokies

  6. Tara S says:

    Ah, see this is a much easier question for me, simply because if I let someone act very rudely toward me without remark, I will STEW over what a rotten jerk that person is. Very Christian of me, I know! But I figured out that there is a third option – aside from (1) getting my back up, or (2) enabling their behaviour and fermenting my own grumpy temper… Instead, I can respond with kindness! If somebody cut in front of me like that, the only way to save myself from hours of bitter reflection would be to engage them with something kind and sincere (and maybe funny), like “Hi! Do you need a hug?” It engages them without confrontation, and draws their attention to their own misbehaviour in a way that might not get them to move, but can give them a chance to laugh, get their misery off their chest in a more constructive maner, and go about their day in a better mood instead of the worse, sin-stained mood of delighted vengeance that we can get when we take out our frustrations on innocent bystanders.

    • Tara S says:

      By the way, that picture at the top made me want to howl with laughter! Don’t know what *that* says about my temperament… :-)

      • momluvsJesus says:

        Is this just passive aggressive behavior or do you genuinely care if the person needs a hug? After someone cuts me off in line, rudely, I am not thinking about hugging them. Just being honest.

  7. paige says:

    UGH!! just lost a huge comment :(
    Amyway – it was all just stolen from your previous commenter, “j byle”…
    1. we are currently in the thick of our local 40 days for life campaign… and i feel my cheeks burn standing on that sidewalk praying. i feel like i’m offensive in some way (& i guess i am) – to people – just being a presence & it’s uncomfortable & yet i’m sure it’s where i’m supposed to be.
    2. marriage has been the *best possible place* for me to learn how to lay down my rights. Why should it matter so much to me to fight for respect, for my spot in line, for my damaged vehicle, for a bigger piece of the cake? What would happen if we laid down our rights a little more freely?
    Anyway – i hope i don’t lose this again ’cause i’m already out of time & i’m sure it made more sense the first time…
    paige recently posted..lettin’ ‘er slide…

  8. Jackie says:

    I don’t think by turning the other cheek means we let everyone get away with their actions(murder). Jesus defended his fathers house and hence was defending himself from the ungodly actions and moneychangers in the temple , so ya . I would have said excuse me but I was in line first , which I usually do anyway . I don’t really know what a pushover is . When it comes to fighting I suppose it’s best to turn the other cheek , as in walk away . If the lady stated her case or asked politely if she could go ahead of you then it is then you are obliged to be kind and let them… and walk away .

  9. This is SUCH an interesting question! By nature I think I fall into the same personality type as you – avoid confrontation (almost) at all costs. In some ways it can be a great personality type – good at patience in diplomacy and teaching and reaching out and bringing someone forward to the next step without being overly aggressive.

    On the other hand there are some kinds of situations where you need to stand up for yourself or others. The one I’m especially working on now, and it can be really hard of course, and also quite necessary to deal with, is saying no. Saying no is really hard for me and some people are really pushy about wanting me to help or do things their way or whatever.

    In the sort of situation you’re talking about, I’ve run into some circumstances, especially where others are affected too, where I got up the gumption to speak up and it really was a good thing. Just yesterday I made an official complaint to the manager on duty of the local grocery store (where we’ve been faithful customers for many years) about their obnoxious placement of an obnoxious magazine. It included a threat to take my business elsewhere. It takes a lot to get me mad, but when I am, watch out! ;)

    That doesn’t exactly answer the question, though. When it affects only me is something I’m still struggling to understand too. The one rule of thumb that I often use is whether it seems like a confrontation is likely to be constructive in some way. If it’s a minor issue or if it really doesn’t seem likely to help, I tend to avoid.
    Love2learn Mom recently posted..Fall Tree

  10. Emily says:

    This is something I think about, too, because I am like you, Jennifer! When people yell at me, I’m all deferential, “yes, yes, of course,” and then I go off and cry in the bathroom (true story!) because I got yelled at and didn’t deserve it. I HATE this trait of mine. And when I try to answer back calmly, I usually lose it, too!
    I think part of this comes from the idea to “bear wrongs patiently”–but I’d love to know if I’m just being a pushover.
    Emily recently posted..Say whaaaa?

    • That reminds me of a related piece. I’m usually really calm during confrontations that I can’t avoid, but often feel rotten and get really emotional afterwards, even when I think I said and did the right thing.
      Love2learn Mom recently posted..Fall Tree

  11. Elizabeth says:

    I think this is a tough one, so I feel your pain, so to speak. Having been put off by too many “busy body” types, who relish nothing better than telling everyone what they have done wrong, I too worry that I tended to avoiding necessary confrontation.

    Someone once said that Jesus was suggesting that by physically turning our cheek we are exposing ourselves to the aggressor, and forcing them to see our humanity. When we immediately hit back, our attacker doesn’t have to deal with their own behavior — they can become wrapped up in fighting and don’t have to look at what they did. The way I apply this to my life, is by politely trying to get people to see me, and my situation. So, you could try to make eye contact with the queue jumper and nicely point out where the line started. Or you could ask the car vandal “why are you doing ths? I need this car. How am I going to afford to fix this all?”. If they still persist, then you can respond with charity, because at least you know you tried. Hope this helps. Also I hope this makes sense because my iPad won’t let me scroll up to re-read my response. :-) God bless!

  12. Danny Lucas says:

    Tell me, where was the turning cheek of Christ in this situation?

    “In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So HE MADE A WHIP out of cords, and drove ALL from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here!
    Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”
    ~~~John 2:14-16 (NIV)

    Here we have Jesus Christ cutting in line, and destroying the line for anyone else to even use. Turning the other cheek seems to be a double-edged sword!

    Further, this was not a miracle.
    The whip was not produced at will, but MADE.
    This is a premeditated and intentional action.
    It takes a long time to make a whip of many cords, to do what Christ did.

    We, too, must think well in advance,
    “What position will I take, when the God within me, is defiled by others?”

    Our aim as Christians is to swim in the waters of humility, brining often in that virtue.

    At the same time, we are called upon to use wisdom, and hone the skill well in advance of the need for wisdom. Wisdom is our whip!

    We are NOT to make excuses for other people’s poor behavior.
    That diminishes US, as vessels of the Lord.
    It diminishes THEM, too, for God in them is defiled by sin.

    A person cuts in line at the store.
    A person on the highway cuts in and out and is a threat to all.
    A person at work is difficult, and imposing of their view on others.
    Some smoker blows smoke in your face.

    In all cases like these, a call to prayer is in order. Silence, as Christ used, while condemned.
    Such people and situations are divinely placed near a Christian, with whips of wisdom to pray for them.
    No one else will do so!

    But Christ made a whip when the offenses were against the Father (in His house).

    Our whip of wisdom must be made in advance for this situation too:

    “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

    But we have this TREASURE IN JARS OF CLAY to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;…”
    2 Corinthians 4:6-8 (NIV)

    WE are jars of clay; earthen vessels.
    The TREASURE in us is God.
    His light shines in our hearts.
    Display God’s glory in these situations, to the degree that you are able, to advance His kingdom in doing so.

    As for spousal abuse, inhumane conditions in jail for inmates, affairs — that murder relationships, and things of this order…..
    make a whip!

  13. Michele says:

    I am so interested in reading others answers on this! I used to be very shy –never would say anything but got bolder as I got older. But now I seem to just be more likely to stay quiet. Often I feel like it’s easier to just let it go than to get into an argument. I WILL stand up for something that’s important, certainly moral issues. Honestly though sometimes it just depends on my mood. In your situation I probably would have just said out loud “sure, I don’t mind if you cut in front of me” which would usually be enough but it sounds like the lady you were dealing with would have just ignored you anyway. It’s certainly a good question and one to be prayed on (which I am sure you are).
    Michele recently posted..It’s never just me.

  14. Martina says:

    Tough question!

    My gut reaction to that scenario is to follow the other person to their car, get their license and report it. ;)

    I like the previous advice around it centering around respect. I think as long as you can handle yourself charitably, even if you are directly addressing someone for doing something wrong, you will get a lot further than to just lay down and “take it.” Too often we blur the lines of feeling like we should receive restitution, but I say as long as you handle yourself with grace and charity, the rest will happen the way it should. Sometimes that means you won’t get an apology you feel you are owed. Other times, someone may come back to you and say they appreciated your willingness to stand up for something even though it wasn’t the popular response. It varies from situation to situation, but I think if you center yourself in grace and charity, you give the HS the ability to work through you the most effectively.

    And if that doesn’t work, grab a key and do the same to their car. ;) ::obviously joking::
    Martina recently posted..Remembering Stephen

  15. I live in the big city, where you’d never reach the cashier if you started allowing people to cut in front of you.

    I tend to view rudeness in adults as the same as in children: it needs firm but gentle correction. I say something along the lines of, “Excuse me, but that’s not the end of the line”. If the person chooses to ignore me, I’ll tap her on the shoulder and repeat myself. Most times the person will apologize (or at least fake-apologize). If the person becomes angry or rude and is clearly not willing to accept correction, I figure I’ve done what I can do. THEN I can turn the other cheek, trusting that God will deal with the justice end of things. If I’m really good (usually I’m not) I remember to say a quick prayer for the rude person.

    I do think that God expects us to be His (loving) voice of correction when others do wrong. There’s that whole Ezekiel thing (33:8) about how, if we don’t speak out to dissuade people from their sins, we’re partly responsible for them.

    Where I draw the line is when I’m tempted to give in to what feels like righteous anger. I’ve learned (from WAY too much experience!) that I tend to use the small ember of righteous anger to ignite a mountain of indignant, self-righteous anger. My rule of thumb: if I can’t speak in charity, it’s probably not the Holy Spirit prompting me!
    Julia at LotsaLaundry recently posted..Brothers

    • I don’t think Ezekiel applies here in the way that you are thinking it does. Verse 7, the previous verse, says: “So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.” Here’s all of verse 8, which you cited: “If I say to the wicked, O wicked man, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.”

      God is talking of someone with a particular role here (namely a prophet) not everyone in general.

      Not that what you say is entirely untrue, this verse just doesn’t support it in the way it might seem to. I just happened to catch the gist of the context of this verse at daily Mass a few weeks ago for the first time.
      Love2learn Mom recently posted..Fall Tree

  16. Chris says:

    I usually don’t care if someone cuts, but if I do, I might say “excuse me, you must not have noticed there was a line.” If they don’t respond, I’d repeat myself a little louder and make sure I got their attention first. But honestly I don’t think I care enough about people cutting to remember whether anyone has ever not responded right away. Maybe people are just friendlier and more absent minded where I live.

  17. jack says:

    I didn’t have a chance to read all the other reviews but I don’t think there is anything wrong with quietly tapping her on the shoulder and letting her know there is a line…if you were the end of the line and you want to let it go out of Christian virtue do it…but two thoughts if you are not the end of the line I would summon your courage for those around you because although you might be ok with it they might not and 2)it’s always good to humble ourselves and do things that are uncomfortable. I know this is an extreme way of thinking but if you let things like this slide it might make you less likely to speak up in situation where it is outright necessary.

    I will say that sometimes I forgo confrontation if I feel I would in any way humiliate or embarass the other person or if I feel it would escalate the situation even though they are out and out wrong you don’t want to make the situation worse by meeting them at their level.

    And if your kids are with you you should absolutely speak up…so they don’t think it’s ok and so they observe the proper way to correct someone without embarrassing them and giving them the option to right their wrong.

    My two cents…I can totally empathize with you but you need to know when to draw the line and when to turn the other cheek…you wont always get it right but sometimes it’s better to speak up then to later get angry, think bad thoughts about this person and guarantee yourself a place in line at confession! ;)

    Good luck lady!

  18. Jennifer, Another way to look at this is how are we helping that person learn how to be Christ-like by walking away without saying anything. Perhaps turning the other cheek is part of it, but I think there’s more we can do to share the gospel.

    For example, did that checkout line person know that the reason you let her cut was because you were Christian… or did she think you were just a push-over? Without explaining WHY you let her cut, she might be encouraged to behave badly again.

    PS – it was GREAT seeing you and Joe last night! Looking forward to seeing you Nov. 1 at the JPII Life Center dinner with Fr. Jonathan Morris!!

  19. Laura says:

    One quick comment: the Church teaches that anger is an emotion given to us by God to help us confront true evil. We go wrong when we turn our anger against other people who hurt our pride or inconvenience us, or when we indulge the emotion past the time when we are actually confronting the evil. But it’s also a problem NOT to be angry (i.e. spurred to correct the situation) when we DO see a true evil.

    So: somebody cutting in front of you in the line is a minor insult (to you and everyone behind you). A good response is a calm, polite “reminder” to the one cutting in. This follows the general advice for Christians to assume the best possible motivation for someone doing something wrong (here, that it was an actual mistake about where the line began… even if you think that’s pretty implausible).

    An actual crime, even against yourself alone, is in fact a true evil and you are called on to resist it (but, of course, with prudence… don’t start a brawl in the parking lot, but do call the police with the vandal’s license plate number, etc.) Doing nothing, in that situation, is wrong; we lay people are called on to create a just society, and doing nothing in the face of true evil is failing our responsibility.

    PS: In either case, don’t stew on it– recognize that as a temptation to the vice of anger, and reject it (as many times as needed) and then turn your thoughts to the opposite virtue– or even something harmlessly amusing– rather than fret.

  20. Danae says:

    I haven’t posted on here before…but I actually had a situation like this and my pastor gave me some smart advice (that I sometimes follow. It is hard!)

    I had offered to have some tests run in case I could be a donor for a woman at church. The first step was a psychologist. Talk to my husband – I cry at everything, but I’m not unstable. The psychologist was so mean and insulting, I started to cry. At that moment, she brought in the other person and was like, “See? She’s unfit.”

    At the time, I couldn’t explain myself. I left the hospital in tears and just stewed over it all. I got angrier and angrier. At church, I talked to my pastor and asked her if I should just turn the other cheek.

    She said that, yes, I should forgive, but that I also needed to let the hospital know because it wouldn’t be just to let it go. What if this happened to someone else? So I called the hospital up and told them what happened and they promised to check into it. When I told this to the woman I was possibly going to donate for, she thanked me because SHE, who needed a transplant, had been bullied by this psychologist as well!

    I like to think of this with the coating of Micah 6:8. We are to be merciful, but God also calls us to justice.
    Danae recently posted..Thank You!

  21. Erin says:

    Jennifer,

    It is all about healthy boundaries. (and I’m also a non-confrontation person by nature). However I shall use a story to illustrate, some words of wisdom that my mother shared that made me really take stock in this area.

    One day a friend was down the street, her young teen with her. teen walks into shop on own and is verbally abused by shop keeper, friend is very timid, and wants to be Christ like so didn’t go in and say anything, even though her inclination was to tell shopkeeper that behaviour wasn’t on.

    When I discussed with mum, her advice was; if our children do not see us standing up for them in the littler things, nor for ourselves, then how do they know that if they came to us with bigger issues of abuse etc that we will stand up and fight on their behalf. It is about them gaining trust in them.

    Every since then I have looked at turning the other cheek and modelling in a different light.

  22. Hya says:

    This is also something I struggle with and pray about. So far, I’ve realized that “turning the other cheek” does not preclude fraternal correction, as long as we do not react with anger and violence, or vindictiveness.

  23. Susan says:

    I’m extremely nonconfrontational myself. In that situation I would probably try to say something if only for the sake of those in line behind me. I would probably act as if it was unintentional (even if it obviously was intentional) and say something like,”Excuse me, I know it’s confusing, but the end of the line is over there.”

  24. Roz says:

    I’m a Catholic psychotherapist; I’ve given lots of thought to this over the years, both because I had trouble saying no myself, and also because I find a lot of clients (especially women) mistaking self-serving protective strategies for charity.

    It’s interesting that people have been quoting so much scripture here – it’s almost like my old days in the evangelical world. But it seems to me that this is complex enough that dueling with individual verses might not lead to real wisdom.

    I think an important question to ask here is “Which approach will support what God is currently doing in my life?” For you, Jennifer, and for scores of Christian women, an arrogant “I’m looking after myself and you’ll just have to deal with it!” is absolutely not the error you’re most likely to fall into. It’s much more likely that distaste for any conflict plus a desire to be “nice” leads us to believe that a self-effacing approach is The Right Thing.

    I don’t think that the Proverbs 31 virtuous woman, St. Joan of Arc, St. Catherine of Siena, or, for that matter, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta were self-effacing. They were loving and gentle, but they were also strong, they offered straight talk to the powerful, and didn’t let self-protection interfere with devotion to the cause of Christ.

    The Church teaches the dignity of every human person. You are among them. Letting strangers, thoughtless friends, or even our own teenagers exercise their sinful will against us without resistance doesn’t serve them. Love sometimes isn’t the same as ‘niceness’. So if someone keyed my car, I’d yell “Stop it!”, and if they continued, I’d call the police. A rude woman deliberately cutting in front of me would earn a clearly audible “Excuse me. This is a line and the back of it is just over there.”

    And think of it, perhaps some day God will put you in a position to defend the oppressed or stand up for the truth in the public arena. All those muscles you’ll develop by learning to handle conflict appropriately will come in awfully handy.

    • Danny Lucas says:

      Oh Roz,

      “dueling with individual verses might not lead to real wisdom.”
      ~~~Roz
      With these words from you, I chuckled to myself.
      But the Bible says “There is a time to talk and a time to be silent” (Ecc 3:7b).
      Since this is basically a mommy blog, I tend to remain silent.
      Yet, significant input on this thread is coming on comments from men.

      I check in with my laptop and Iphone more than most, for I am deaf.
      As more and more comments come in, I see a wide variety of opinion.
      Indeed, if we were to wait until the entire globe weighed in with thought, 7 billion opinions would enter this one post…..all of them valid to the maker.

      And, I applauded inside when I saw someone include Micah 6:8….one of my favorite Bible reads.

      The only dueling I saw was the reply to an Ezekiel quote, and frankly, the two views made me put Ezekiel on a read for tomorrow, to better understand what God thinks on the topic, and how two folks came to different conclusions at what is written.

      When I was an altar boy at 6:30am Mass, 7 days a week, all that Latin made no sense, nor did it deepen an appreciation for God to me. A pope named John had a revelation that people would draw closer to God, if they worshipped in their own language.

      Like the Tower of Babel, the next 40+ years at church were to be “anything goes” as the rules of centuries were dispatched by the Vatican Council. Chaos and pandemonium ensued as individual thought ruled, and the frame of reference varied by all.

      And your notice of Bible quotes in this thread was amplified, by one of your own…Proverbs 31! The irony at you, adding to the duel, made me smile anew.
      This is how people learn the Word of God, and gain wisdom.

      Billy Graham once spoke on a new bridge for the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania.
      Summers are short and construction on the wide river would take time.
      With time constraints, the contract was let to two firms, each building from their side of the river.
      All went well and on time, until they found the bridge did not meet at the center!

      Heads would roll, so they looked into every step backwards on all prints and activities of one firm. They performed to spec and were in the clear. The error had to be on the other firm.

      A full inspection of every step, every blueprint, every action taken showed the other firm to be PERFECT. And with both sides following the rules….the bridge did not meet in the middle.

      A new investigation was done to see how this could even happen. This time, they found the surveyors on one side had used a critical, and accurate point of reference. That is why all that followed was accurate from them.

      The surveyor on the other side had used a DIFFERENT point of reference, and all that followed from that moment, and company was accurate. The problem and miscommunications came from using TWO, different points of reference.

      To “bridge” ourselves to Truth, to Wisdom, to the answer Jennifer seeks in her query, we need ONE point of reference to survey. Billy Graham announced his point of reference was the Word of God, the Bible. Mine too!
      Otherwise, 7 billion opinions are ALL correct, even as they are in opposition.
      AND….our bridges to one another will not meet.

      Specific Copyright in the book, “After You Believe “Why Christian Character Matters” by N.T. Wright (2010) forbids me making direct quotes from page 11, that I want to make.
      But a rough summary shows that a major rugby player told him that rugby is taught wrong today. Rules! Rules! Rules! Young players are drenched in moves, techniques, and positions. But they no longer have any fun.

      But the players are “lost” when something unexpected happens. They don’t have a rule to go by, and have failed to develop a sixth sense to do what would be natural in a game learned with fun.

      At this point, I could not help but think of Christians, and the Old Testament rule followers, compared to New Testament and Followers of Grace!
      Wright says in one sentence: “What they (rugby players) lack is a deeply formed character which would ‘read’ the game with a kind of second nature and come up with a shrewd and quick solution”. Read his book for the rest.

      When the “unexpected” turn the cheek”, or unexpected “Stand Firm!” comes along for any of us daily, we need to have that sixth sense of character built in us already.
      Knowing the Bible well enough is important, so that the Holy Spirit can bring to mind any item we have learned (even forgotten) and come to a shrewd and quick conclusion of the character of Christ would take…..in any situation.

      Though I am deaf, I “heard” your comment loud and clear and agree in full, excepting the part of dueling Bible verses. I encourage all commenters to increase their use of Bible quotes to confirm their view…..especially at this blog on faith in our lives.
      Having the same Point of Reference will get us to a best conclusion correctly every time.

      As a single dad, I once quoted my young daughter a word from the Bible when she was not doing her chores. “Children! Obey your parents”, I proclaimed.
      By 3rd grade, she knew her Bible well enough to alarm me in reply:
      “Fathers! Do not exasperate your children”.
      Both of our statements are the opening lines of Ephesians 6.
      We had fun learning it together and laughing at both of us being right in what we said.
      A lot of fruitful discussion followed that moment between dad and daughter. :)

      Your last sentence on muscle development is similar to learning the Bible with fun.
      Character of Christ is a good muscle to develop and add a sixth sense to each of us for the unexpected in each of our days.

      God bless you abundantly, Roz!

  25. I once heard an interesting interpretation of this verse, which I think is pretty well summarized here. (A Google search for turn cheek roman law will pull up other pages with a similar argument.)

    The main idea is that turning the other cheek was a sign of peaceful resistance.

    I think that’s the key–can you stand up for what is right and just in a way that is peaceful and loving? Then you are following Jesus’s example.
    Jessica @ Faith Permeating Life recently posted..Creating Happiness: Not Just in Your Head

  26. Care says:

    Responding charitably really is not a matter of passive or aggressive, confrontational vs. non-confrontational. The way one responds to thorny relational situations depends upon character development in the ways of Christ.
    Relationships function in God’s peaceable kingdom through communication. Words spoken one to another. The rule of the Kingdom is to ask. And also to speak the truth in love. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone simply said graciously what needed to be said. If a person is like Christ in word and deed, out of his mouth will flow the fruit of a disciplined life. Words will be truthful but seasoned with grace. The response of a wise man turns away wrath.
    We are never responsible for outcomes, however. If someone responds back with anger or contempt, that reveals their character.

    Someone cuts in line, “Excuse me, you just cut in line. Did you mean to or were you unaware?” That puts the ball in their court to explain. Simply speaking the truth with grace, allows for communication rather than ramping up anger and contempt.

    Dallas Willard teaches on this better than any one, in my opinion. Dr. Willard mines the treasures from Scripture like none other. His life-changing book, “Divine Conspiracy” is the most important volume I’ve ever read. Multiple times

  27. Michael says:

    Your title question is different from the question at the end. “Turn the other cheek” goes with two other passages about the “inner garment” and going “the second mile”. In each example, the first request while unjust was socially permissible. The second part of each example would force the person doing the injustice into a situation that was socially awkward or even illegal. The goal of “turning the other cheek” then shames the other person with respect to their injustice. These are the kind of tactics that Ghandi and MLK Jr used as well of course. I would be glad to go into further detail. The bottom line is this: we as Christians are not called to be push-overs, but on occasion we may shame people with our grace.
    Michael recently posted..The Visible Word

  28. I wanted to comment before reading the others, but I can’t wait to see what others have to say on this. I would describe myself similarly: I don’t like confrontation. It is just easier to let it go and be a wimp. But, since my daughter was born, I have been making a conscious effort to speak up about some things. I am trying to do it in a very nice way, making the person feel like I am giving them the benefit of the doubt, but I want my daughter to see me as a strong, fair and kind person.

    Jenna
    callherhappy.com
    Jenna@CallHerHappy recently posted..Hiring a Doula

  29. Mary says:

    I tend to be a rule follower and non-confrontational, but I also believe that I give people a pass on behavior that appears “bad” to me because you never know what the other person is going through. I think you would win very few people to Christ through asserting yourself in that situation. Perhaps pulling out your rosary and praying just loud enough to be heard might have been an effective response. Or noticing something she was buying and say, “Oh, you must be Catholic too because I see you are buying X. (X could be anything from bananas to aspirin) You must be in a hurry to get to Mass.” That would confuse them.
    Mary recently posted..Living Faith

  30. I must say I am currently learning a lot right now about this subject so I don’t have much wisdom to offer you. I would, however, recommend the book “Boundaries”. It’s really helping me see the difference between being a doormat and turning the other cheek. It is also showing me very distinctly the difference between being submissive wife, with a quiet, gentle spirit, and being a mute, defenseless mouse to a strong husband.

  31. Brittany says:

    If it were just about you or me, I’d say it’s better to ere on the side of mercy. However, in many situations (like the one you described) I think God would want us to do what’s best for that person and the other people they’ll impact if we DON’T do something. If there aren’t consequences for wrong behavior, not only will that person continue making destructive lifestyle choices but they’ll do again (to someone else) what they did to you.

    I always think this question sounds similar to the kind of question parents face when their kids act out. Do I discipline my child for this, do they have a good reason for what they’re doing, or is it my fault that they’re behaving this way? I do believe there are times when someone hurts us, squashes our pride, and we should turn the other cheek… it would probably be good medicine for us… but if a person’s actions are destructive to them or others, there’s definitely a time to put your foot down, say “no”, and back it up with consequences for their sake. You may be the only person who loves them enough to do so.
    Brittany recently posted..I See Dead People

  32. Michigan_Pat says:

    I like Tara S.’s comment re: ask them “Do you need a Hug?”

    I participated in a bible study recently and this is one of the topics that was discussed in the group and in the commentary.

    When it’s said “if called into service for one mile, offer to go for two.”…etc..etc…

    These were ways of “over extending” that which was allowed. For example, a Roman Soldier was allowed to commission you into his service, but not for more than one mile. By offering to “go for two miles”, you are going beyond that which would be allowed. In essence, it’s an act of revolt, but only because you are putting the person at risk of admonishment or possible civil/criminal penalty.

    Similarly with “if someone takes your cloak, give them your shirt and pants also”, it would be an act that calls the “cloak taker’s” actions into question. One could “take your cloak”, if you had caused them a loss, as “payment” toward that loss. But they couldn’t literally take “the shirt off your back” or other “under garments”. By offering to give them, you are calling into question their actions.

    By offering the person who cuts in line a hug, or perhaps to even offer to help them cut in front of other people, you are acting in a way that goes beyond the infraction incurred to you. You are both recognizing their infraction and asking them to perform further infractions with your assistance. Perhaps somewhere in this they would see that “you are crazy” and either “brake down and explain their actions” or “go back to the end of the line”.

    I suppose this would be “passive aggression”, but it does call their actions into question. You are being confrontational, simply by helping them to not only cut in front of you, put perhaps to cut to the very front of the line. After all, they must have an awfully good reason for cutting in front of anyone, so why not the entire line?

  33. Becky says:

    I have not had time to read everyone’s comment, so maybe this might sounds similar to everyone else’s…

    I am a lot like you, I don’t like confrontations. I rather just let myself get treated unfairly than have to deal with conflicts. But somehow, I’ve always known that this timidity has been a fault of pride. The truth was, though of course I didn’t want to offend the other person, I also didn’t want to be “the bad guy” and embarrass myself somehow. So it was easier to stay quiet.

    My Mom told me one day, “If someone is upset with you, then that’s their own problem.” You would have to know my Mom to know how out of character this sounded for her–she was the one who was always telling me to forgive and turn the other cheek! But she taught me that I can’t always take on the burden of someone else’s problem, such as, if I felt in need to correct them on something and they got mad at me for it and I knew I did the best I could to correct them in a charitable manner and they were STILL mad at me, then it is their own problem. Not to be meant in a way of malice, but truly their own problem. I then pray for them, but I feel no guilt. (Again, if I know that I did the best I could by correcting them charitably.)

    As far as that woman cutting you off in line, I don’t think there is any wrong in speaking up if it truly bothers you–again, if it is done charitably. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “Oh, excuse me, the line starts back here” in a nice way with a nice smile, then what is the harm? you walk away knowing you stood up for yourself and that you did it in a charitable manner. But if you choose to let it go, that is fine too, as long as you understand the burden you are taking on.

    Kind of a long, run-on answer, but that’s the best I can do! Since I have had children, I’ve had to be in the position to “stand up” for them many times and it’s always uncomfortable. But I’ve learned that sometimes, the uncomfortable is necessary and the humiliation it sometimes brings with it is good for the pride.
    Becky recently posted..No cup holders??

  34. Katie says:

    I actually struggle with this too. I’ve had a similar thing happen to me at the grocery store and I didn’t say a single word even though I was fuming. To me, the idea of confronting a stranger is just the most uncomfortable thing in the world.

    That said, I definitely think there is a big line between what we are called to do as far as forgiveness goes and being a pushover. I don’t think God would ever want us to let ourselves be taken advantage of or be put in harms way.

    I actually just reviewed a book on this exact subject, Forgiveness: A Catholic Approach. There’s actually a chapter on how we’re not called to be pushovers which I think is a really valuable lesson (especially for me, Ms. Pacifist) The book is a fantastic and challenging read, so I definitely recommend it.

    Also, I never link my stories anywhere, but if you would like to read it, my review is here: http://www.catholicherald.com/stories/To-err-is-human-to-forgive-difficult,16970?content_source=&category_id=&search_filter=&event_mode=&event_ts_from=&list_type=&order_by=&order_sort=&content_class=&sub_type=stories&town_id=.

  35. dacia says:

    Someone may have already said this, but it is not charitable to allow someone to do something wrong or sinful without correction or at least a friendly reminder that their actions are harmful to others and the soul. It is so hard to remember, at least for me, that when someone does an offense or sinful act, it is not against me but rather against God. Therefore we should abmonish AND turn the other cheek. If that makes sense? It isn’t about us.

    All that being said, I don’t know what I would have done in your situation-probably the same thing. May God give us a thirst for righteousness, tempered by humility.

  36. rebecca says:

    Okay, so I haven’t read all the comments, but the thing that occurs to me immediately (pardon me if it is repetition) is that you should not necessarily discount your response as wrong or un-valuable just because it is easy for you. Many (most?) of us have been blessed with at least a few things that come easily to us that also, in fact, happen to be the right way to act. So, perhaps your self perceived “pushoverness” is just a manifestation of the fact that, for you, turning the other cheek is easy. And if so, what a blessing.

  37. Gloria says:

    My husband and I were just discussing forgiveness tonight, and what a smaller issue it is when 1) you don’t see yourself as being so important as to be offended and 2) when you have a good grasp of personal boundaries, a concept which is quickly fading as we become more casual in our interactions. I recently read a wonderful book by Anne Katherine, Where to Draw the Line, that answers so many questions having to do with being a pushover–how to have good boundaries vs. being nice to everyone, or being automatically defensive. If you have a sense of personal boundaries, it makes it easier to let others’ offenses sit in that middle space between them and yourself and not get rattled by them, and makes it twice as wonderful to *choose* to give of yourself or give forgiveness to others. If you don’t have a good sense of personal boundaries, you tend to feel confused, resentful, angry or just awkward after less-than-enjoyable interactions. I think we get ahead of ourselves when we want to turn the other cheek or forgive too readily. Sometimes we think we have a forgiveness problem, or we end up taking the path of least resistance, pleasing man instead of God, when really it is a lack of understanding about larger issues.

  38. Marija says:

    I think that it is in the interest of the rude woman not to be allowed to behave like that. I would have protested, politely, but firmly.

    It would be better to allow her do it only if the motivation was a sincere welcoming of humiliation for spiritual purposes. Seems very hard to achieve.

  39. Rachael says:

    I don’t think you should change your outward response, but you could (forgive me) re-examine your motives and inner response. It is clear to me that the lady in question harmed herself far more than she harmed you in acting out her selfish, negative attitude and thereby perpetuating her own inner turmoil from which her actions arose. There was nothing to be gained by confronting her; I’m guessing that her heart would have been hardened further. Pray for her.

    When we are the victims of such actions I believe that our thoughts should turn to pain being acted out by the perpetrator. We should pray for them and love them – even while they hurt us – in imitation of Christ. That action is hard; it is of the Cross.

    We should then turn our thoughts to the frailties in ourselves that are being exposed by our emotional reactions and, remembering that God works out all things for good to those who love Him, determine to cooperate with His permitting will and try to grow in virtue. People who push in front of us in queues hurt our pride and inconvenience us a little. People who damage our property are exposing our attachment to material things to which we feel a sense of entitlement. Both require growth in humility.

    I know all of this sounds hopelessly smug and people will be throwing rocks at the screen! I am not “there” at all! I am going through a particularly unfair (I believe) and distressing neighbour dispute at the moment and I am trying hard to live this. Please, don’t hate me; pray for me. And maybe find the prayer of Bp Nikolai Velimirovich online, “Bless my enemies, o Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them…” It is a stunner, well worth meditating over, and my constant companion of late…
    Rachael recently posted..Reflections: Humility – a matter of time…

  40. syd says:

    I would like to hear more people talk about this in general as opposed to hyper-focusing on the grocery store scenario. After becoming a Christian, I’ve realized I’ve been more forgiving of bad drivers, rude people, etc. I think giving grace to hurried, self-centered people isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it certainly is freeing to allow myself to do that and not dwell on it like I used to do. I used to dwell on being wronged (still do but not as bad) all day, even if it was minor. But now, I can slow it down and think to myself, that’s just me in my old life. I get it.

    But does that mean we just lay down when real injustices are being done? If someone is beating up my neighbor, do I just ignore it? If someone punches me in the face, do I just sit there? No.

    Jesus could have yelled back at the people who were taunting him, or done something, but he didn’t. He had a bigger purpose in mind. His graceful meekness makes his sacrifice all the more beautiful.

    Yet, there is the story of turning over the money-changing tables in the temple. He could have ignored it, but he didn’t.

    I’ll throw out more verses for fun.

    “For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter,
    though a person may be weighed down by misery.” Ecclesiastes 8:6

    “All this I saw, as I applied my mind to everything done under the sun. There is a time when a man lords it over others to his own hurt. Then too, I saw the wicked buried—those who used to come and go from the holy place and receive praise in the city where they did this. This too is meaningless.

    When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people’s hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong. Although a wicked person who commits a hundred crimes may live a long time, I know that it will go better with those who fear God, who are reverent before him. Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them, and their days will not lengthen like a shadow.

    There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: the righteous who get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless. So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.”
    Ecclesiastes 8:9-15

  41. Tony Scott says:

    When we give up something for someone, that doesn’t mean that we are pushovers or wimps, we are just being Christians. There is no sense of being angry over something that the other person did or failed to do, let him be and we just stay our course, and continue to be good Christians.
    Tony Scott recently posted..Why Safety Managers, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), OSHA Recordkeeping and Technology Are Keys to Sustainability

  42. RosieB says:

    Grr… I wish I had the podcast handy on the Homily done on exactly just that phrase of
    turn the other cheek. It was an excellent description on the phrase and why it was
    used at that time. You see, as the priest explained, at the time of Jesus, if you were going
    to hit someone with your hand (hitting means deliberately trying to harm someone) you
    could not really do it with the palm of your right hand(hard to picture I know – he actually had someone
    come up and demonstrate)
    But think lifting your right arm and hand and hitting someone with the back of your hand (so to the left cheek)
    because if you did it the other way, then the sign of lifting up your open arm was a sign of “welcome”.
    So the only way anybody could slap anybody else was to use the right hand (ohh ohh because you can’t use the left hand those days as
    the left hand was reserved to bathe and clean oneself) and use the back of the hand to the left cheek of the person right?

    So when Jesus says, turn the other cheek…. he leaves the offender at a loss! You can’t slap
    them with the left hand as that hand is reserved for cleaning your own body (you typically did not use the left
    hand to touch anybody else) and you can’t really open up and hit with the palm of your right hand as
    in now you would be making an “embrace” sign for that the times….

    When put that way, it gave me a lot to thing about :)

    (sorry it’s not that straight forward, that’s why I imagine our priest had someone demonstrating :))

  43. Nancy says:

    I think it can be useful to think about why and when you learned to be non-confrontational. So often, we explain away parts of our personalities by saying, “That’s just how I am,” when in reality, it sometimes serves as self-protection.

    For example, I’m a pretty independent person. I am very capable and have a hard time asking for help. That looks pretty good on the surface (as does being a peacemaker), but for me it comes from growing up in an alcoholic family. I literally had to rely on myself for most things, starting at about age 11.

    For me, growth looked like allowing others to help me. I was completely undone after having my first baby, when friends from church brought meals for several weeks. It gave me a glimpse of what living in Christian community should mean (and brought low my pride, which insisted that I shouldn’t need help), and it also showed me how I pushed God away with my independent spirit. The truth is I *need* Christ, and that’s okay — wonderful, even.

    So, my question for all the peacemakers out there is — when and why did you adopt this strategy for dealing with conflict? How did that approach protect you from a scarier alternative? Many of our people/earthly interactions reveal something about our relationship with/understanding of God. There is a rightful place for turning the other cheek, but it must come from a position of strength — of knowing appropriate boundaries and choosing to break them out of Christ-inspired love, rather than being steamrolled. The offender doesn’t benefit or learn anything by that kind of peacemaking, and neither do we.

  44. Meghan says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    Your questions made me think of the gospel reading from a few Sundays ago:

    “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. …” (Matthew 18:15)

    -M
    Meghan recently posted..Dancing

    • Donna says:

      I believe that portion of scripture refers to Christian brothers (and sisters), it doesn’t refer to the non-Christian.

  45. Denise says:

    I loved reading the comments here, because I have the same temperment as you, Jen, and struggle with this a lot myself.

    What I am taking away in summary (so far!) is that one should speak up *with charity, out of love* when wrongs are committed. For me, this is by far the hardest, and – as other posters have described – a blow against my pride: fear of appearing a fool, of being proved wrong after all, etc. Making a charitable, loving response is particularly important if others are being wronged (in your example, if others are in line behind you). It also benefits your children, if they are witnesses, and will give you the strength and ability to stand up for good in times when it is critical. I confess, I have failed to stand up for good at such times; to be able to do so when called, and do it well, one needs to exercise those particular spiritual muscles on the small things, too.

    Of course, God may not want us all to respond the same way. We are all in different places in our relationship to Him, and He might be wanting different people to exercise different spiritual virtues depending on what He wants you to be working on. For me, if there is more than one “right answer”, the right answer for YOU is quite likely the one that pushes the envelope most in your spriritual development.

  46. Peter says:

    I recommend the following article by John Zmirak over at Crisis Magazine; he pretty much nails what we’re all talking about here.
    http://www.crisismagazine.com/2011/my-heroes-have-always-been-warlords

  47. Peter Rival says:

    I honestly don’t think there is such a thing as one right answer for this situation – it depends entirely on the particulars of each given situation. Yes, we are called to forgive and not take offense – indeed to offer up those offenses when we are able. We are also called to help our brothers and sisters get to heaven, including sometimes by even stiff rebuke – we do our brother or sister no charity by passively allowing them to stand in and reinforce what is or could become a sinful practice.

    As a rather shy and introverted person myself I’m more than likely to avoid the conflict with the other person and then realize later there was opportunity in the occasion. Perhaps an offering of help to the person who just cut you off or some other way to allow them to realize it was another human being they just offended. Some would call it passive-aggressive, I prefer to think of it as opening the door for them to see for themselves what they’ve done without pushing them through it.

    I have at times in the presence of my children opted for the “do nothing” approach because my Spidey sense (probably aka my entirely overworked guardian angel) suggested that was the prudent course, but I try always to let them know that decision was an active one rather than “allowing myself to get pushed around”. Christian charity is always active, even when it is doing nothing on the outside.

  48. robbie says:

    Great answer. I’ve actually had this same question for a while now, so I appreciate your insight.

  49. L. Rogers says:

    Fr. Robert Barron addresses this question in the 2nd episode of his “Catholicism” series. He does a good job. Basically, there have been two ways that humans have responded to aggression: fight or flight. Either they respond with counter-aggression or with appeasement / flight / surrender. Neither of these strategies work. Counter-aggression just tends to create more negativity and violence. Surrender just rewards the aggressor for injustice. Christ proposes a third path. This involves speaking the truth of the situation, standing your ground, responding in a loving way that confronts the aggressor with his action with the purpose of converting him. There have been plenty of examples in the 20th century. In the case of someone keying your car, you would certainly contront the person, asking him what he thinks he’s doing and asking for compensation. I’ll write more later. It’s easier to understand this with examples which I can give. Psychology can help too. But my understanding is certainly that being a Christian does not mean being weak or being a push-over.

  50. Verushka says:

    Yes, Peter; I was just going to post that same link! Since you did it for me, I’ll post these fantastic excerpts:

    “…The neurosis of Servility, which combines aspects of cowardice and self-congratulation to mold the kind of person who could stand by watching his children be abducted, his wife be raped, or his country conquered and colonized, without putting up any resistance.”

    and

    “The moment that bowing one’s head to the oppressor betrays one’s duty to protect an innocent third party, Christian meekness vanishes into the cracks in the ground, replaced by a Servility befitting the herd of Gadarene swine.”

    Which is exactly why I don’t believe that pure pacifism and Catholicism are compatible.

    On a much smaller scale, “nice” women tend towards a simplistic pacificity; we often would rather be non-conforontational instead of making people possibly not like us, so, e.g. things happen like someone keys another guys car (the innocent third party) and we say (or do) nothing.

  51. Maiki says:

    Turning the other cheek is not about being a pushover, but being outward in a show of love and compassion. Suffering is preferable to sin, etc. Explanation: Turning the other cheek is not about allowing yourself to be beaten but offering yourself up — a proactive action vs. a passive action. Giving your coat to a thief is is different than allowing the thief to take it. Etc. etc. There are stories about Desert Fathers chasing muggers out of town trying to give them more stuff and the muggers being completely freaked out by these crazy people and turning away from their bad ways.

    One non-violent example I can think of is if someone goes off on a rant on you, to just encourage them to talk more (maybe in a constructive way, too, but sometimes just to let off steam), and then not taking it personally and forgiving them or helping them, instead of fueling their rant by arguing back, or just being passive and crying.

    That said, the commitment to love is parallel to the commitment to justice, so it is not about allowing *other* people to suffer injustice. We can take on suffering upon ourselves, but not allow it for others.

  52. Valerie says:

    Have skimmed through the above posts and didn’t notice whether anyone had mentioned St Therese of Lisieux and her ‘Little Way’?

  53. Elizabeth K. says:

    I didn’t have a chance to read all the comments, so forgive me if this is repetitive. I’ve struggled with this as well, and then this last summer I heard a sermon where the priest unpacked that passage for us in a way that was eye-opening. He pointed out that all of the examples given–turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, etc., were all ways to try to get the offender to feel shame and to look at himself, while breaking the cycle of violence. So turning the cheek has to do with the way he would have to strike you (which apparently is shameful in some way I can’t quite recall), and going the extra mile has to do with what the Romans could actually ask you to do, and what they couldn’t. It makes sense to me, because I think we often forget just how violent the world was (and is, elsewhere), and how much we need to break that cycle–but it doesn’t mean letting it go, or allowing evil to persist, because we have a moral obligation to stop evil in its tracks wherever we can.
    Elizabeth K. recently posted..Christmas in July

  54. Kim F. says:

    Aren’t we supposed to instruct the ignorant???? Ok, maybe the woman who stepped in front of you wasn’t ignorant of her actions, but she is ignorant of social graces. I used to be like you, but since having children I have found my voice in situations like that. It doesn’t mean I need to be rude but there’s nothing wrong with “excuse me miss/ma’am I have been waiting in line and you stepped in front of me.” I have found, more often times than not, the person apologizes and rectifies the situation. Of course, there are jerks out there who won’t care but it’s always worth a shot. Speak up for yourself Jen!

  55. deltaflute says:

    Similar situation, but slightly different….One year, I ended up running the day before Thanksgiving for a meal. I was with a friend, waiting in line at one of those self-check outs, and we were chatting. It was one of those lines where it was a single line serving four registers. I wasn’t paying super close attention, to busy talking. And the guy behind me got huffy and ran to the register that opened up. I was a bit surprised by that. But I let it go and we stopped chatting and started paying closer attention to how far along people were in their ringing up their items.

    Now here’s the thing, I understand it’s the holidays and people get into a hurry. But he could have tapped me on the shoulder and politely said “hey, sorry to interrupt, but you can go ahead now” and it would have solved the problem. Instead, he got upset and angry because we didn’t realize that the register had opened. And he didn’t get confrontational.

    I’ve worked at a grocery store before and have seen people get real nasty about everything from setting their groceries on the belt when the person ahead of them hadn’t quite finished to getting cut off in line. There’s a right way to handle it and a wrong way to handle it like many people have been saying.

    Sometimes the person is being pushy, in a hurry, and malevolent when they cut someone off in line. Sometimes they are totally avoiding speaking to the person. I know some people cut people off in line because they have four items and you have a giant grocery cart full, but they don’t want to ask if they can cut. (I usually encourage them to, which helps solve that problem).

    I think it’s the situation. You have to look at every situation and discern how to handle it. Sometimes pointing out the obvious is okay. And sometimes simply asking about them (as someone suggested) helps figure out why they would behave that way.

  56. Stephan says:

    Jesus told us to turn the other cheek. I once read a comment that said turning the other cheek was also a challenge to the offender: “Will you deliberately repeat the first (possibly impulsive) offensive action?” It challenges the offender to confront his own action and doesn’t let him get away without reflecting on it.

    I’m not sure how that can apply to the cutting in line situation. You can’t very well ask the lady to do it again without violating someone else. And asking her if you could cut in front of her – maybe, but that would likely feel like a passive-agressive retaliation to her. Maybe the suggestion already made to offer a hug would do best: something that offers her yourself as a person and in doing so makes her aware of God’s image in front of her.
    Stephan recently posted..Two books

  57. Tracy says:

    Jennifer, I am right there with you and have enjoyed reading the posts in response to your question. I am a redhead who blushes easily and unfortunately, it is apparent during any type of confrontation.

    However, I don’t know if it’s age or wisdom or stupidity, but I am becoming far bolder in taking a stand for myself and calling people out in certain situations. I pick my battles (and that is a learning process on it’s own…..) but still HATE confrontation. I don’t want my children to be sniveling in the corner, nor do I want them to be bullies, I DO want them to respectfully take a stand for themselves in confrontational situations; that can only be taught by example……..which is when I learned to start stepping up, or rather am working on it!

    Thanks for the post, I’m going to use some of these suggestions!!
    Tracy recently posted..Mary is MY Homegirl….or Love me some Rosary!!

  58. 'Becca says:

    I have struggled with this, too! What has become most clear to me in the last few years–largely through having this type of conflict with my young child and applying what I’ve learned to the general public–is that these situations almost always offer me 3 choices, not 2:
    1. Do nothing.
    2. Act out of pride.
    3. Act out of love.

    There are times when doing nothing is appropriate because the behavior is not a big deal and I can let it go. But when the wrong done to me will bother me for a long time, my initial #1 response will turn into a #2: I won’t say anything to the offender, but I will gripe about it to everyone I know and wrestle with it in my own mind, and as I do that I become more and more prideful and self-centered.

    If I act out of pride, I focus on how the behavior hurt ME and how it is WRONG and the offender SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER. Sometimes all this is true. But sometimes it was a mistake and/or had nothing to do with me.

    Acting out of love often means being patiently informative, allowing the offender to realize how to correct the situation. For example, “Excuse me, the end of the line is over there.” I know that when I cut in line, it is always because I misunderstood how the line was operating, so I feel very hurt if someone says, “Hey, no cutting! I was here first!” as if I should have known how the line worked and I must have been purposely inconveniencing them. Another example: although I can’t manage to sound *patient* when I do this because of the necessary volume (and my emotional state), I have trained myself after leaping out of the path of a car to holler, “You ran the red light!” Because sometimes drivers don’t realize they did that, and even if they did (because they think their hurry is the most important thing in the world) being reminded that their choice endangered a person (not just some kind of video-game obstacle) might help them be more cautious in future. One time, when the driver was startled out of her obliviousness into seeing that she had almost run down a mother carrying an infant (as I was at the time), she started to cry and pulled over to recover.

    On the other hand, one time the car that almost hit my then-toddler and me was making a blatantly illegal U-turn from the right-turn lane across two lanes of traffic and swerving into the cross-street (which we were crossing) to nab a parking space on the other side, except it wasn’t a legal space. I caught my breath while I waited for him to get out of the car. Then I said, “Excuse me, sir, you just drove right in front of two moving cars. You could have been killed.” He said, “None of your business, [epithet].” I said, “You parked in front of a hydrant. You could get a ticket for that.” He snarled, “Interfering [nasty sexual epithet]!” and walked away. Well, I felt like I had turned TWO cheeks and gotten both slapped, but I still think I did the right thing. It wouldn’t have worked any better–probably worse–to yell, “You jerk! Why are you trying to kill half the neighborhood?!” and it would have hurt me, in the long run, to do nothing.
    ‘Becca recently posted..An Unexpected Find in the Thrift Store

  59. RCgirl says:

    I haven’t read all the replys so I’m not sure this has been mentioned yet but I found this explaination very interesting: http://www.zcommunications.org/christian-nonviolence-by-walter-wink
    So it’s not really about non-violence at all!

  60. Alice says:

    Hi and thanks for a thought-provoking post!
    I think the line depends on your motivation. If you are geniunely not in a hurry and the other woman cuts in front of you, then you probably won’t be mad about it, and in that case if you don’t say anything you are turning the other cheek.
    But if you’re in a real hurry, and the woman cuts in front of you and that makes you get angry and think “how dare she!” but you don’t say anything because you can’t find the courage to, then you are avoiding confrontation, which is not quite so noble…. That said we all do it sometimes! Even people who stand up for themselves easily need to pick their battles.
    People can also be quite hard on pushovers, because they don’t realise that in order to constantly defer to others’ needs, the pushover person has to be much more patient and have better control of their emotions than other people. So even those who can’t stand up for themselves still show lots of good qualities.

  61. Anna says:

    Related question – I have been struggling with this one for over a year now. I was in a very dysfunctional marriage for 10 years (I was an enabler) with a man who puts on a very good show – everybody thinks he’s this great guy. The truth is, he is an alcoholic, a sex/porn addict, a compulsive liar, a cheater, and has narcissistic personality disorder. We have been divorced a year now – I finally worked up enough self-respect to leave. We still go to the same church, where he’s engaged to the pour soul who will become his 3rd wife. Very few people know the real reason for our divorce, as I’ve taken the ‘high road’ and not spread info about him, even though it would be the truth. He, on the other hand, has spread vicious lies about me, making the whole thing my fault. His daughter (my former step-daughter with whom I had a wonderful relationship) now hates me and is not allowed near me because of his lies. There are people in the church that flock around him and believe his lies. I’ve let it go for a year now, calling it “turning the other cheek”….but at what point am I still enabling/covering for him to my own detriment? So many times I’ve wanted to set the story straight….but I struggle with what is the right thing to do.

  62. patricia says:

    Hi Jen,
    I can so relate to your feelings about confrontation. Your description of yourself sounds just like me.I hate confrontation; frankly it really ruins my day when the people in my life will only behave because they are faced with consquences, not because they have any respect, and it becomes my job to discpline them as if I were a parent and hand out some consquences. I am not sure who said it but someone spoke of the way that abuse makes sorting out what’s my sin and what’s the other’s sin difficult. This is true in my life. Being abused is about being rendered powerless and being forced to stand still and accept abuse without flinching; your’re not allowed to protect yourself or retaliate and you’re under threat all the time. Then suddenly you become an adult and you’re supposed to reverse years of brainwashing and intimidation and be able to be this confident, assertive person. Add to that become a christian and hearing all about turning the other cheek. One has two tasks, separating one’s heart from the paradigm of abuse which is based on evil, both in the actions of the abusers and in the response from a heart darkened by depravity, and then also in the church, sorting out false teachings and emphases from genuine biblical ones.

    Right now I am still hung out in open space between my desire to be the real thing and have the kind of life and love that allows people who are beaten and even tortured for Christ to love their enemies in a genuine overlfowing with mercy kind of way, and my desire to kick the butt of the next person who tries to walk all over me and my feeling of being sick of those who qualify for the lable of “anal orifice”!

    Can one be a christian doormat? Absolutely. As someone has said, there are two reasons for everything we do, the right reason and the real reason. As believers who serve a living God, we have the option of choosing the do things for the right reason, our love for our God and Saviour. But what about the real reasons? What do we do with those? Most of the time I’ve responded in what I would have called grace, it was more out of cowardice and fearing the other person’s reaction or anger. I wanted to protect my own butt and just be safe and be left alone. I’ve had more than enough fear, stomach knotting anxiety and aggression in my life and I frankly don’t care to have any more.

    I have no final answers as I am still in process. My thought of the moment realization is that whatever it is that these people had who can kiss the hands of their tormentors, I don’t have it yet but I am going to seek God for it because it sure isn’t something I can whip up via sheer grit your teeth will power and determination. But I do have some thoughts so far, hope they are a help to someone.

    The bible has more to say about dealing with other people’s ugliness than just the turn the other cheek verse. For instance, when David fled from Saul who was out to get him, he knew that the heart of the king who had once loved him as a father was corrupted with jealousy and sin. Saul hunted him and tried to force David to meet with him but David refused because he knew the heart of the king and although he maintained a heart of love and submission towards God and King, and would not retaliate or rise against Saul, he also was not stupid and did not assist the king in his evil by handing himself over. Jesus himself is recorded in scripture as not entrusting himself to men because he knew what was in them. He said we should be wary as serpents and gentle as doves. There is also the verse where, before Jesus’ arrest, Peter was chastised for trying to avert Christ’s capture by attacking with a sword but afterward, the disciples told Jesus that they had a sword and Jesus replied that it was enough, not throw it away. Paul, when slapped by someone pointed out that he was struck in violation of the law although he had to repent somewhat because he called a man who turned out the be the priest a whitwashed wall, which was reviling him. When he was about to be beaten by the romans he defended his legal rights, asking if it was lawful to examine a roman citizen by scourging him. Paul opposed Peter to his face for hypocrisy.

    So what’s the deal with the turn the other cheek thing? How does it jive with things like doormatism, cowardice and serving God? I’m slowing down thoughtfully and descending into the lower caverns of my heart here and when I really get down to why it upsets me to be mistreated, it is because it attacks my value and worth as a person. The other person has acted as if I don’t matter and they can walk on me as if I am a doormat for them to wipe their feet on and not someone they ought to value and respect. My self concept has been violated and their treating me as if I am without value and not worth a second thought has challenged my fragile sense of worth. Its all about me! That’s not all necessarily illegitimate. I do bear the image of God and I am his handiworth and belong to Christ and they are disprespecting the temple of the Holy Spirit by treaing me disrespectfully. They are gonna get it if they don’t repent. But whose glory and worth and value am I most concerned about? Mine. So what’s the problem? I think it has to do with where my heart is located and what my inward eyes are fixed upon.

    There was one short time in my life which I quickly strayed from, where I understood experientially what the verse” Great peace have they which love thy law and nothing shall offend them” meant when lived. I had so surrendered my life to Christ that it was not about me anymore. I had died with Him. Since I was no longer needing the affirmation of others and not trying to get validation of my worth by equal and respectful treatment, I could respond to their sinful state with grace and patience. I was not offended by their lack of valuing me because my value wasn’t theirs to determine in the first place. Besides , dead people don’t get offended if you catch my drift. Of course sin and self itnerest easily entangle and I soon became dependent again on others i this way, which the bible calls idolatry and wound up back where I started, being a dependent and needy victim at the mercy of other’s actions and love or lack thereof to feel welcome and worthwhile in the world. That is a state of bondage for sure. My fear of confrontation is about so many things; protecting my assets and hanging on to my life in this world (whoever seeks to save his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it…) concerns about self image, approval of man (the fear of man bringeth a snare), cowardice, self worship. That last one, self worship is a big deal for me because there is something about abuse that amplifies the sin of self absorption and living to protect self. This makes self the central object and pursuit of my life, not God. Its not that hiding from evil is wrong (the prudent sees danger and hides himself) but it became an amplified distorted and sinfully idolatrous response to life that caused me to trust self more than I trusted God, to count myself more reliable and trustworthy than him and to cast libel upon God by inwardly holding him accountable for the abuse I suffered. When it coems right down to it, I believe on some fundamental level that God is less trustworthy, powerful and in charge of the universe as the determinig factor of life than evil and evil doers are, which means I worship soemthing else as more powerful a god then He. Eeeew. As scripture says, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that would be theirs”.

    Being a christian doormat instead of one who bodlly overcomes evil with good is about life orientation; if all i do is really about covering my own rear and trying to protect myself from harm then it can appear holy on the outside but its still fully self oriented. It will cause me to be a sycophant trying to curry favor by not resisting and kowtowing which means at heart I really don’t love this person, I fear them and fear is not far off from hate and anger. Perfect love casts out fear.

    Sometimes we also are acting not necessarily out of cowardice but wrong or imcomplete teaching. I am sure that overcoming evil with good doesn’t mean allowing evil to flourish unchecked and overrun all boundaries. If someone were attacking a tiny baby would we stand there and meekly plead for the man to repent, while this child is sustaining an increasing amount of life threatening injuries to its head and body? No, we would intervene iimmediately and jump on the guy’s back, try to snatch the baby and run for the nearest policeman, etc. Martha Peace’s book THE EXCELLENT WIFE has some very eye opening scriptural teaching on dealing with the sin of others in the chaper on RESOURCES FOR THE WIFE’S PROTECTION.

    I think that there is something about being totally sold out to God and living for Him that grants us both the moral authority and power to lay down our lives

  63. Sarah says:

    this is a well-researched and beautifully written interpretation to this verse and the two following it.

    http://www.holytextures.com/turn-the-other-cheek-nonviolent-resistance-to-violence.html

  64. Lloyd says:

    My friend, I think every day what would Jesus do, but I also think we live in a world out of control, vent your anger, there are too many people out there who don’t realize there is a judgment day, I don’t think Jesus would hold it against you , to snap and use some profanities , I personally think Jesus would be very angry and unhappy living here in our time and place, I’m nice to people all. The time and if they abuse it , that’s it !! don’t take the bible literally turn the other cheek , I can live with being narsty to people who abuse kindness and if and when I meet Jesus I think he will understand , it’s just a sign that satans time is getting closer to a end!!

  65. jennifer says:

    suppose you had to smilingly give her a gospel tract? who knows; you would have planted a seed and won a soul and, at the judgement seat of Christ, you will then know that those moments of inconvenience were well worth it.

  66. matt says:

    Our lives are supposed to be a testament. Quakers, a group with a remarkable history, are one of the few who try to live by Christ’s example under all conditions. They were pacifistic to the point of no self defense, but they stood up and let their voices be heard. They are perhaps one of the most persecuted groups in history. They viewed war as never a solution and refused oaths. If one committed a crime, they did not look for retribution. They were also the first group to speak out against slavery and they were the one of the few to treat the Native Americans as equals. “You will know them by their fruit.” Here’s a good read about them. http://www.aren.org/prison/documents/religion/Misc/The%20Kingdom%20of%20God%20is%20Within%20You–Tolstoy.pdf The Kingdom of God is Within You – Leo Tolstoy

  67. Jason says:

    I actually dont believe in the turn the other cheek thing. I dont agree that we should encourage people to be any more rude and ignorant in this society we live in today. That being said I dont consider myself a bad guy I try to be courteous to people, and I feel I’m the nicest guy in the world to people, but if somebody is rude to me im not afraid to stand up to them and let that person know what they did was rude! For example if I was in your situation waiting in line and somebody intentionally cut in front of me I would have tapped them on the shoulder until they responded and I would have told them excuse me there is a line here and it starts back there and you know you cut in front of me! And I would of said it so loud so that everybody around could hear and i would tell them to move!

  68. Lloyd says:

    http://youtu.be/sTU7MfOgDKM
    Cut to about half way, you will have to turn the other cheek at the end of your life!! But I still believe injustice is something you have to stand up too, I’m just kind to everyone and never judge anybody, well try very hard not too , anyway be good everyone and God bless …

  69. I believe that the church has totally misunderstood what Jesus was saying here. They have taken something right out of context. Jesus was speaking to a people who thought that they could enter the kingdom of heaven on the basis of their perfect obedience. (Nothing changes!) We somehow think that what Jesus said in Matt5 was about adding new, even more stringent laws for Christians to obey.
    So lets look at the context of ”turning the other cheek” (Matt5v39).

    Matt5v20 starts it rolling. …… ”except that your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees you shall in no way enter the kingdom of heaven”.
    This illustrates the bar we would have to surmount, total exceeding righteousness, even beyond that of the most acclaimed high and holy men of the day, the Pharisees.
    How was that level of (self) righteousness to be measured?
    v21, It isn’t good enough to claim you haven’t murdered anyone. v22 Plain nasty thoughts also closes the door of heaven!
    v23. If your brother has anything against you, that also excludes you!
    v27. It isn’t good enough to claim you have never committed adultery. v28 Even lustful glances will exclude you!

    Your external actions may appear perfect, but your inner thought life excludes you. So who is there who is always perfect, with never an angry thought against someone, another driver for instance.
    On that score, I am a dead man. What about you?

    If that is you, there is an unavoidable solution also given in Matt5.
    V29. If your right eye offends you, pluck it out.
    v30. If your right hand offends you chop it off.
    Why don’t we see this obligation also applied by the bible teachers? We have plenty of sermons on Matt5, but strangely they carefully omit these instructions.

    That brings to the rest of the requirements which cannot stand in isolation of context.
    v39 ”But I say unto you that you must not resist evil, but whosoever smites you on the right cheek, turn to him also the other.”

    You cannot separate turning the other cheek, from chopping your hand off.
    Believe one verse, you must believe the other! Apply one verse, you have to apply the other. Stripping them from context is deceitful.

    Finally, the following verse should make the intention of Jesus abundantly clear
    v48 ”Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect!!!!!!”
    That is the demand of us. The utter perfection of God. Otherwise we are excluded!

    To all those ”striving” to turn the other cheek or obediently stick to anything else here. Has it in any way made you perfect? If you cannot successfully abide by all of the demands Jesus lists, then you are condemned. Partial obedience is not enough. On account of your failed efforts, you are completely excluded from the Kingdom of Heaven.

    So what is happening here, what does it really mean?
    Every last bit of what Jesus was speaking here was done to illustrate the hopelessness of their attempts at moral perfection.
    Effectively Jesus is saying, ”OK guys, if you think you can attain perfection by being good, then this is the standard. Firstly you have to do a massively better job than the Pharisees. That involves not just external stuff, (the Pharisees excelled at this). You have to be perfect inside also.
    If you fail, then you need to chop those bits off.
    Finally, as God has no need to retaliate over every insult and slap, you need to do the exactly same. That’s because to get to where God is, you will need to be as good as God, not just as good as the Pharisees.

    Jesus, never in a million years, gave these for us to follow as an access to Heaven. Chopping your hand off or plucking your eye out should have told us that.

    Thank God for the free gift of life. Thank God we don’t have to earn it by turning the other cheek, or by any other good deeds.

    As to how we should react when someone attacks us, we can find that clearly elsewhere. God hasn’t changed one bit.
    francis drake recently posted..God’s Tumbleweed Church.

  70. Lisa says:

    This post is particularly pertinent in my life right now. For the majority of my life, I’ve been taught and have believed that it is God’s wish for me to be humble, kind, and subservient to others, in every condition. I’ve been under the premonition that every wrongdoing against me was either warranted or was the persecution that Christ said we would encounter for standing in His name. However, I’ve been through abusive, both physically and emotionally, relationships with “Christian” men and finally hit rock bottom. Was this really God’s wish for me? To take every condescending word that bombarded my way? Not until recently, after years of psychological damage and depression have I finally accepted God’s real wish for me and my life. I had a very controlling friend and felt that for me to be a Christian witness, I needed to adhere to her every desire. Once I started to withdrawal, she tore me down and started telling others at work that I thought I was holy and was now a snob for not wanting to hang out with her all the time. I prayed every night for God to give me the wisdom and discernment because I knew deep down that He couldn’t possibly want me to be controlled to the point where every action was judged. That was half a year ago. Today, I am finally free from years of what I thought was humbling myself but was actually abuse. God has healed me made it very clear that His wish is for humility, not disrespect. Standing up at opportune times when something is blatantly disrespectful is not being confrontational in my opinion but rather realizing that God loves us and we cannot properly humble ourselves if we don’t have the gumption to respect ourselves. I know this is a bit lengthy and redundant but I am currently doing more Biblical research and prayer because I feel like this is a big issue for Christians on a multitude of levels.

  71. kendra says:

    Each one of us is a child of god. Picture each one of us as small, chilflike and vulnerable. Observe not only others in this new light but also yourself. Try to seperate yoirself and look at your inner child. How would ypu want others to treat this child. How would you want this child to treat themselves. Look at it as if you were the wise parent looking at yourself. With love and respect and admiration. Forgiveness. The point is that you count too. there is a misconception that as christians we should act christ like, what would jesus do. Be humble. But isnt that acting superior because we can never mimick christ he is all superior. We are not we are human. We are children of god that need to recognize this fact, be human , be humble. But just recognize that we are all children. We are all stubborn amd mean and irrational and rude ect… we all have the capacity to carry negative traits. So when someone acts out in a certain way. We can recognize there wrongdoings. Recognize that,we have possesed this trait in the past. Noone is perfect. This helps remove any emotion from situation so you can calmly allow the person to understand hoe they treated you unfairly

  72. kendra says:

    Stand up and respect yourself… But remove the emotions if possible. Noone is perfect so stop acting like you are. Thats part of being christianlike. Recognizing ypur imperfections and loving youtself and others truly witjout judgement. Its difficult. but thats the price you pay for spiritual growth

  73. Alex rabago says:

    I think the answer to that question is another question
    “If you weren’t christian, would you throw back the punch?”