When turning-the-other-cheek becomes just an excuse for looking the other way.
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How must we, as Christians, interpret what Jesus taught regarding turning-the-other-cheek?
Is non-violence always the only option?
First of all, we must realize that there are two sides to this coin.
The first applies to a situation where you, personally, are the one being attacked. In other words, a "one-on-one" situation. It's your own cheek that has been slapped, and it's your prerogative how to respond. This is the situation where turning-the-other-cheek, reticence, and humility is advised.
In fact, there is also a psychological advantage to be gained by turning-the-other cheek. In doing so you are demonstrating that you are not intimidated by the assailant's aggression. You are in fact implying his impotence.
The second scenario, however, is when you are a witness to someone else being attacked, savagely abused, and even threatened with death.
This is now an entirely different matter! It is no longer your cheek that is being slapped but somebody else's. Furthermore, what if it is more than just having their cheeks slapped? What if genocide is taking place?
What if they are being systematically tortured and massacred? How far must you go in relying on just diplomacy to help and protect them? Is there not a stage when violent reciprocation becomes the only effective alternative?
Sadly, this not just a hypothetical scenario. The images below show what is in fact happening in Iraq and Syria at this very moment.
This organization, known as ISIS, massacres and tortures anybody who doesn't subscribe to their own virulent form of Islam. They even kill and behead children to intimidate their parents!
Credit: Google Images
How do you deal with people like this who are not in the least open to any form of negotiation? Who will scorn you for turning-the-other-cheek as they gladly slit your throat.
Their sole intention is to kill, torture, and brutalize anyone who stands in their way. Especially if they practice a different religion or have any other allegiance.
They are even willing to sacrifice their own lives to achieve their goal in the belief that they will be especially rewarded in heaven for their deeds!
Credit: Google Images
ISIS is attracting thousands of young recruits from Muslim communities all over the world. They are inspired by the vision of participating in a "Jihad" to establish and consolidate a Muslim Caliphate that will initially encompass the whole Middle East.
Their long-term vision however is that this will spearhead a push to conquer and assimilate all other Muslim countries to re-establish the historical glory of Islam as a dominating world power last seen with the Ottoman Empire.
Their ultimate dream, however, is to eventually subjugate the whole World under Islam, to be governed under the strictest interpretation of Sharia law.
Many Muslim organizations, such as The Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Al Qaeda, pursue the same dream.
What sets ISIS apart, however, is the unbridled and sickening brutality they exhibit in imposing their rule on conquered areas.
The ultimate danger, however, lies in ISIS' skillful promulgation of their claim that they offer more than Al Qaeda or similar Muslim terrorist organizations whose methods consist mainly of launching terrorist attacks the perceived enemies of Islam such as America, Israel, and the Western world in general.
They promulgate a much bigger dream, along with the passion, organization and financial resources to now physically impose it on the rest of the world
Thankfully, many countries have now decided to intervene militarily to stop them. Let us pray that it is not too little and too late!
Credit: Google Images
In it's prime, the Ottoman Caliphate stretched from the Balkans, the Middle East, through North Africa, to Portugal and Spain.
These new recruits believe that they are being called, not just to avenge, but primarily to also participate in the realization of what is, in fact, a widely held Muslim dream - the establishment of a new, world-wide Muslim Caliphate.
One can't help but be concerned over the apathy that is being displayed by so many people, institutions, and governments towards the rise of this beast.
Of even more concern however is the opposition of many Christians to the use of military force to eradicate this extreme Islamic movement that calls itself ISIS. (The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).
One reads so many comments that harp on Jesus' teachings about "Loving your enemy" and "Turning the other cheek". I think therefore that it is only appropriate to consider the whole story of what we can learn from Jesus in this regard.
Two relevant instances recorded in the Bible come to mind. The first being the occasion when Jesus, incensed at the commercial activities taking place within the temple precincts, physically drove the traders and money changers out.
“When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace.
He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.” The second occasion was when, after the last supper, they were proceeding to the garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Jesus, with foreknowledge of what was going to happen, asked how many weapons they had between them.
Then Jesus said to the, "When I sent you out to preach the Good News and you did not have money, a traveler's bag, or an extra pair of sandals, did you need anything?"
"No," they replied.
"But now," he said, "take your money and a travelers bag. And if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one! For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: 'He was counted among the rebels'. Yes, everything written about me by the prophets will come true."
"Look, Lord," they replied, "We have two swords among us."
"That's enough," he said.
We read further:
"When the other disciples saw what was about to happen, they exclaimed, "Lord, should we fight? We brought the swords!" And one of them struck at the high priest's slave, slashing off his right ear.
But Jesus said, "No more of this." And he touched the man's ear and healed him.
In the gospel of John we are told that it was Peter who struck the high priest's slave.
"Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priests slave. But Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword back in it's sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?"
What are we to read into these occasions? What does Jesus' "body language” convey?
I definitely do not discern turning-the-other-cheek pacifism here! Rather, there is an indication that when God is being dishonored, or when someone else is being threatened, one may need to resort to violence to protect them. In fact, the indication is that you must be geared to do so!
Here is a word of wisdom that befits the situation:
When someone beats a rug, the blows are not against the rug, but against the dust in it.” ― Rumi
The fact is that this movement, now also known as just the Islamic State, and all stands for, is posing an unacceptable threat to everything we believe in.
This threat is real and gaining ground every day. Let us heed the warning conveyed in the following words:
"An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come" - Victor Hugo
CALL TO ACTION!!!!!!
Our calling is to stop "turning-the-other-cheek" and nip this movement in the bud before it becomes "an idea whose time has come"!