Eye for an Eye - Turn the Other Cheek
Seek the Truth with all your heart.
The Scriptural principles of: ‘Eye for an eye’ - ‘Turn the other cheek’ - ‘Do not Judge’ - are often misunderstood.
Christianity does not say to ignore wisdom. It says to be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves:
Matthew 10:16 ‘I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.’
Being as innocent (gentle) as doves means to use wisdom, not brutality. Turning the other cheek has to be read in context, and not applied to situations of cruelty, extremism, terrorism, or maniacs.
Many things that are going on in the world are anathema to any reasonable person. We are not to capitulate to it.
Matthew 5:38-45 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to them the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let them have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your FATHER in heaven. HE causes HIS sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
An eye for an eye means to not seek more than what you are entitled to.
Matthew 7:1-5 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Jesus did not turn the other cheek:
John 18:21-23 ‘Jesus said “Why question Me? Ask those who heard Me. Surely they know what I said.”When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck Him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded. “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what it is wrong, but if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?”
Paul was physically abused as recorded in Acts 16:22 and did not retaliate. Also, in Acts 23:2-3 he responded by warning his abuser of divine judgment and retribution.
Christ has not commanded us to actually turn our physical cheek to one who has struck the other. Jesus did not do so.
Misunderstanding this passage has led, in part, to encouraging helpless pacifism.
This difficulty appearing as a biblical conundrum, such that it seems that Christ requires complete pacifism in the face of moral, spiritual, and physical evil; leads to the following questions:
How can it be right to ‘turn the other cheek’ with passive indifference when the sacred is traded for sacrilege? When truth is traded for lies? When purity is traded for perversion? When beauty is traded for ugliness? When worship is traded for entertainment? When sacred tradition is traded for novelty? When open-handed charity is traded for the heavy hand of the state?
However, we are not to trade violence with violence, nor brutality with brutality; but to reveal error.
Sacred Scripture should be understood according to the way Christ taught and followed it in context of meaning.
In the current terrorism and violence in the world, those involved are acting violently and hatefully, out of extremely distorted beliefs, principles, and brain washed conditioning based on deception, ignorance, and demonic hate. Their reality of life is extremely ugly.
Following the example of Jesus and the saints, how is ‘turn the other cheek’ to be understood? Surely not in passive indifference to evil, or in a feigned helplessness when the treasures of faith and reason are in danger of being lost.
This directive in Jesus Christ’s teaching in the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ - The Beatitudes - signifies rather the readiness of the soul to bear, if it be necessary, such things, and worse, without bitterness to the attacker. The Lord is teaching us, by His words and example, not to collapse in the face of evil, but rather to resist evil while also resisting the temptation to hate the evildoer.