Turn the Other Cheek Am I a coward because I beli…

Turn the Other Cheek

Am I a coward because I believe this? I have never though so and now I have proof. A very good thing about the book I am now reading is Walter Wink has a great understanding of ancient Palestine. He explains how that phrase was interpreted. Here is a paraphrase.

ìIf anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also (Matt. 5:39b). Look at it like this. In ancient Palestine (especially the Jewish faith) using your left hand made you unclean. So, the only way to strike someone on their right cheek is to back hand them. The backhand was not intended to injure, but rather humiliate and insult. Jesus is obviously talking to the common peopleÖnotice strikes you! OkÖtime to physically try thisÖyou have just been backhanded, now turn your cheek. You can not be back handed again. Your nose is in the way! Thus, mocking, you couldnít do it right once let alone twice. Of course now your left cheek is wide open for a punch from the right handÖoh yeah, but I forgot to mentionÖYou only strike an equal with a fist. Now, a master would not want to establish equality with a slave, would he? ìBy turning the other cheek, the, the ëinferiorí is saying: ëIím a human being, just like you. I refuse to be humiliated any longer. I am your EQUAL. I am a child of God. I wonít take it anymore.îí

Well, Iíll be! Turning the other cheek is not to be a timid, cowardly act, but an act of defiance and power.

This begs to question, then, how do we go about turning the other cheek today, when the power is not master and slave like Jesusí example. I have been thinking about that, an example I have come up with is to use what you have as non-violent refusal to be humiliated. Wink gives a great example in the book:

[Again a paraphrase]

There was a boy who was constantly being bullied on the bus. This kid was a small skinny kid with few friends. The bully was, well, a bully. Anyway, the kid had constant sinusitis. (You know where I am going with this). Well, one day the bully was going approaching, and the sinusitis started acting us and the kid sneezed into his hand (after all he was polite). When the bully got there the kid stuck out his hand and said, ìI want to shake the hand of a true bully.î Needless to say, he didnít get his handshake, but he kept his lunch money.

That is all for today.



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