“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 anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”
The Sermon on the Mount is stunning; it is one of the most influential discourses of all time. It has been studied and lived out by Christians for thousands of years. It also helped influence Gandhi’s movement against the British in India and the Civil Rights movement in the United States.
The verse above has had a tremendous impact, especially on those seeking nonviolent forms of resistance. Nonviolent resistance has brought about a lot of change in the world, but is it always enough?
Last week a video of a physical altercation at a high school went viral. In the video a blind student is getting punched by another student. The blind victim is attempting to cover his face but the bully keeps hitting him. Another student then shows up and knocks the bully to the ground with one punch. You can watch the video here; it isn’t that graphic but it does contain some NSFC language.
Now I know what Jesus says about turning the other cheek. If I were in that situation, getting punched, then I might follow Jesus’s teaching. However, if I saw a blind person getting assaulted by another person, then I probably wouldn’t think about turning the other cheek. I’d probably only think about punching the assailant in his cheek.
When I watched that video I practically got goose bumps when the bully got knocked down. Standing up for a defenseless person, even if that involves violence, is something that I can get behind. It wasn’t excessive violence, it’s not like the hero pulled a knife or a gun; he just used appropriate force to defend another student.
Jesus is clear about turning the other cheek, but the entire Bible is filled with commands to seek justice. Principles like these create some tension in our faith and leave us without black and white answers. If someone thinks that violence is never appropriate even when defending someone else, I would listen and understand how someone could hold that viewpoint. It might not change my mind or make me unhappy that kid got knocked out, but it would be good to have the conversation.
How do you feel about this video?