Turning the Other Cheek
Matthew 5:38-40, (NIV)
verse 38, Jesus tells us we are not to resort to revenge,
retaliation, or punishment. In
verse 39, resistance is being connected with such retaliation or
punishment. This is different than exercising
healthy boundaries for protection, or leaving the presence of those who intend to harm us.
Jesus, David, and Paul all had to avoid or flee harmful
situations and people at times.
Proverbs 27:12 (NIV) advises,
“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep
going and suffer for it.” Certainly
verse 39 tells us not to battle someone entrenched in evil
behaviors. In the case
of domestic violence and abuse--which are evil behaviors--many
abusers will use a victim’s combative resistance (or even
self–defense) as an excuse to call the police and put the victim
is another reason why Matthew 5:38-40 does not mean a victim
should keep letting herself be harmed by an abuser.
Abuse is sin, and
Jesus said in Luke
17:3 that we should rebuke people who sin against us.
Webster’s Dictionary defines rebuke as reproving,
reprimanding, or forbidding. It
is, in essence, setting boundaries.
Christian psychologist Dr. James Dobson points out in his
book Love Must Be Tough (Word
that maintaining strong boundaries and limits with those who have
boundary or self-control problems is a loving thing to do.
verses 39 and 40 of Matthew 5 suggest that victims should let
abusers take what is rightfully theirs or try to use the courts to
abuse them? The
teaching in Matthew 5:30-40 is also found in Luke 6:29, and there
it is part of a larger passage about loving our enemies and
dealing with abusers by coming in the opposite spirit, not about
giving away necessities.
is helpful to view Jesus’ teachings about turning the other
cheek in the context of His other teachings on dealing with
someone who abuses us. When
we do so, we see that believers are to avoid retaliation or
combativeness, and are called to speak the truth in love while
promoting accountability and repentance.
provides guidance on how to rebuke a boundary violator.
How does each step outlined in this scripture promote a
progressively greater degree of safety for the victim?
2. What did it mean to the Jews to treat someone like a tax collector (Matthew )? How does this set a boundary or consequence?
|Copyright 2007 Judy Kennedy|