Turn the other Cheek

God is not a pacifist nor does he encourage it in his children. The phrase of ‘turn the other cheek’ has long been used out of context to suggest this very thing however.  Mt 5:39 is part of a longer narrative that starts in verse 20 where Jesus is teaching on the principles of freedom in the kingdom of heaven.

These passages are all about the principles of freedom and avoiding the traps of rules employed by the enemy. The slapping and turning the other cheek is not about being passive, on the contrary,  it’s about defiance and remaining free and remaining free in the face of tyranny. It’s about showing power in the face of provocation, specifically, not getting trapped by accepting offense. Look at the next verses for further explanation “if anyone forces you to walk one mile then walk two” that is defiance, it is taking back your freedom from a requirement. The Romans as occupiers of the land at that time had a rule that could force anyone to carry their gear for one mile. Who decided to make you walk the first mile? the Roman. Who decided to walk the second?

This same principle (remember Jesus was teaching principles not rules) is in verse 38. If a man slaps you then he is offending you, violating your personal space and embarrassing you but if you turn the other cheek then in a very real sense you are refusing the offense and regardless of whether he strikes you again the offense is on him and the power and authority is in you.  

 

I did not come to bring peace, but a sword

Romans 13:4-6 speaks to us as Christians and our role as citizens in a nation. In America it allows us to arm ourselves as part of the government’s defense for its people established in the second amendment. Moreover, Jesus armed himself and used violence to defend the innocent (Jn 2:15) and will at his return employ violence in defeating the enemy and those that stand with him (Rev 19:15). He instructed his followers to purchase and carry arms (Lk 22:36). God arms his angels (Num 22:31). David armed himself in the carrying out of God’s will and instructions (1 Sam 17:33-40).  I am not being absurd and trying to suggest that God is “pro gun” in some political sense but I am saying that there is no biblical mandate against being armed and the principles of unselfish defense are very biblical.

 

1 Tim. 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” I think providing a defense for your family, friends or any innocent is proper and biblical. – Jason Pope

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