Turning the Other CheekPosted: October 15, 2010
Written in response to “Turn, Turn, Turn,” by Leonard J. Greenspoon, Biblical Archaeology Review:
“Turning the other cheek” is likely a reference to Lamentations 3:30, “He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach,” and/or to Isaiah 50:6, “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.”
Both are references to intercessory prayer before God through such self-abasement that one undertakes no self-defense against abuse and abasement by others. It is echoed in the words of Paul that love “does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, . . . bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things . . .” (1 Corinthians 13:5, 7, NASB).
Thus Jesus’ saying is in contrast to personal retaliation, which is natural and human, pointing instead toward spiritual goals. The context of the verse does not, however, lend itself as a prooftext for Pacifism, to which it is often applied.
© 2010 Paul A. Hughes