By What Right.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

I need to ask, by what right does Jesus call us to behave so meekly to our enemies?! Despite all Jesus suffered from at the end of the day he was still God; he knew everything including that he would survive the ordeal of the Cross at least his being would.

However how can he call us mere mortals to be so spineless? In a horrible world where showing such weakness can very well get you KILLED!

If you don’t defend yourselve against a bully, then they are liable to continue to target you until a breaking point is reached. Will God forgive his Christian sheep if they commit suicide because of “turning the other cheek” to a sociopath? (Hypothetical situation)

Plenty of other examples, the fact is human nature is disgusted with weakness and it gives the strong all the more reason to continue to persecute and destroy us. It even works in this liberal society, I’ve seen on this site and out of it this sudden freezing of Catholics because they don’t want to be looked at as “judgemental”, meanwhile the Atheist, the abortion supporter, and the heretic all freely mock us openly and Catholics are slowly turning to just suffer in silence or worse “agree to disagree” as if that means anything or changes society for the better!

The Church allows us to defend ourselves against agressors. Jesus wasn’t talking about that here, but rather he was talking about being personally abused for his sake. I agree that we don’t have to “agree to disagree” with people who concoct ridiculous objections to the morals and teachings of the Church. We are free to stand up and say, “You are wrong” and explain why, what we cannot do is be abusive towards others. Passive resistence does work but it takes a wise person to know how and when to use it. So, we need to pray for wisdom to say and do the right thing.

That is the problem with Protestant interpretation.
They take some verses out of context and interpret them outside the range of the whole Bible.
Jesus never intended to say that we should not defend against tyranny. When he was beaten by a soldier He replied to him and did not offer the other cheek.

I could be wrong, but “by the right of being God” seems like a good enough answer to me.

I think part of the answer is in the part that comes immediately afterwards, after you stopped your quote:

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor* and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 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. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
*

I will say that it is far better to be killed for Christ than to be damned for your own pride and vindictiveness.

I could be wrong, but “by the right of being God” seems like a good enough answer to me.

I understand that and agree, however I meant more how if God knows our current condition does he demand perfection from us?

To make a pagan example, would we find it fair if Hercules came down from Olympus and demanded that every mortal be strong enough to lift the sky and then punish us when we aren’t strong enough to do that?

Where in scripture did He respond with force to anyone who was beating Him? Chapter and verse please. He certainly made no response to those who were scourging Him or mocking Him or crucifying Him. And He told Peter to put away his sword when he did return violence for violence

Because by putting yourself in the same frame of mind as the person who does evil to you will give you the occasion to do evil to.Best it stops with me and that I not pass it on to my attacker or some innocent person who might become the focus of my anger because of what happened.It takes a special person to not retaliate and not carry anger and resentment with them the rest of the day.

I’ve done it my self because of the meanness of another I have passed it on to still another person because of my anger - and who knows how far and how many people it carries to.

Look for the verse yourself.
When beaten, Jesus said to one soldier: If I was wrong, tell me where, If I am right, why did you beat me?
I did not say that He responded with force.

Meekness in the Bible is not wimpy. It takes far more strength and self-control to hold back rather than yield to an impulse and punch somebody in the face.

If one wants to argue that meekness in the Bible is wimpy, then one would have to claim Jesus is a spineless wimp, for He called Himself meek: “I am meek and humble of heart.” (Matthew 11:29).

Christ* chose* to go through with the crucifixion. “I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.” (John 10:17-18) Allowing Himself to be scourged, crowned with thorns, and crucified, that is, His very meekness during His Passion, is not wimpiness but, according to His own words,*** power***.

I think the problem here is one of definition. The original definition of “meek” is “enduring injury with patience and without resentment.” Now that takes a lot of power and strength, more, I’m sorry to say, than I usually have. Later definitions of “meek” are “deficient in spirit and courage” or “overly submissive or compliant; spineless.” I’m afraid the OP has taken these later definitions and applied them to the term “meek” in scripture–when the Bible does not intend to say that about meekness. After all, Jesus didn’t say those deficient in spirit and courage would inherit the earth (see Matthew 5:4).

I suppose one would have to ask himself or herself: “Was Jesus spineless?” If the answer is, “No,” then the next question is, “Why not?” The answer to that question might shed light on the difference between living a spineless life and living the life of courage that Christ lived. Please let me know what you think so we might think about it. Was Jesus spineless? Why or why not?

:slight_smile:

That is actually a very mild retort to make to someone who has literally just slapped you in the face. In fact I’d say this response of Jesus is a great example of turning the other cheek.

There is an old adage: “Gd helps those who help themselves+> The corollary to this is, of course: "Gd help those who helps themselves”.

We can’t look at Jesus’ words apart from the time and place in which he said them nor can we look at his words apart from the audience to whom he spoke.

Jesus was speaking to Jews in the first century. Don’t forget that.

The quote in the original post was from Matthew 5 is the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount was Jesus’ manifesto and in it Jesus radically redefines for the Jews what it means to be holy. That’s one of the purposes of the Sermon on the Mount, to teach the Jews, and to teach us, what it realy means to be holy in God’s eyes.

For a Jew at the time of Jesus, it was the Law of Moses which defined sin and holiness. If you broke the law of Moses you sinned and were unholy. If you kept the law of Moses then you were holy and righteous. Only when all of Israel was perfectly holy would the Messiah come. Anyone who transgressed the Law of Moses was unholy and was personally preventing the Messiah from coming, and therefor had to be seperated from the community.

That was the problem with the way the Pharisees and the Chief Priests practiced Judaism. Holiness meant seperation from anyone who was not Jewish and anyone who sinned. Those who broke the Law of Moses were considered sinners, unholy, and they were cast out, shunned, and ostracized. The Jewish religion as given to the Jews by God was meant to show God’s mercy. Slaves were to be released every seven years. Debt was to be forgiven every seven years. Mothers and fathers were to be repsected. Widows and orphans were to be cared for. Just as Israel had been released from captivity in Egypt, so they themselves were to treat slaves, debtors and the land itself. But the Israelites had stopped doing these things and the Pharisees and Chief Priests taught a very harsh treatment of sinners, defining them as unholy and requiring seperation from the community, all the while doing ethemselves xactly what they preached against.

In the Sermon on the Mount however, Jesus radically redefines holiness for the Jews. Holiness as taught by Jesus was no longer to be defined according to how well you were able to obey a set of rules which were laid out by the Pharisees and Rabbis who intepreted the Law of Moses. Holiness was to be defined as how you treated other people.

Jesus the Rabbi assumes the classic rabbinical teaching posture, sitting before his hearers, and teaches using rabbinical teaching techniques, here using the formula, "You have heard that it was said (behavior under the mosaic law)" followed by "But I say to you (new behavior)"

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. (Matthew 5:38-39)

Jesus raises the bar and tells us that true holiness in God’s eyes is not whether we obeyed the pharasitical interpretation of the Mosaic Law but that holiness in God’s eyes was defined as how we treated other human beings.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you’ (Matthew 5:43-44)

***You have heard that it was said *to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment. (Matthew 5:21-22)

You have heard that it was said… But I say to you…

As a Rabbi, Jesus was reinterpeting the Mosaic law and reapplying it to the every day circumstances of his listeners. The Pharisees and Chief Priests question Jesus’ rabbinical teaching authority, his authority to interpet the law.

***When he had come into the temple area, the chief priests and the elders of the people approached him as he was teaching and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?” **(Matthew 21:23) *

Jesus had never studied under a Rabbi and so would have had no authority to interpret scripture and the Law of Moses. Jesus would have had no authority to stand in the temple and teach what we now call Moral Theology.

But Jesus is God. Jesus has the authority to teach and to redefine holiness because he is God, and God was the one who gave the law to Moses! Jesus had the right to reinterpret the law of Moses because he himself, as God, had created the law! But to focus on the authority is to be like the Phariesses who questioned Jesus authority to intepret the Law of Moses. The Pharisees and Chief Priests didn’t care about mercy or compassion or how people were treated or about God. The Pharisees and Chief Priests cared about loosing their own authority. That’s all they cared about.

To quesion Jesus authority is to miss the point and to take the sides of the Pharisees. We are all guilty of it, justifying our own selfishness by saying things like “God wants me to be happy”, so we sip five cups of coffee in our SUV’s while homeless people sleep under the freeway overpass. God’s church doesn’t have the authority to tell me that my behaivor is wrong. And so we act like the Pharisees and treat other people like garbage.

Jesus does not qualify his teaching. We are to love the person who is trying to kill us. The authority for him to teach this to us is the fact that he is God.

-Tim-

I suppose one would have to ask himself or herself: “Was Jesus spineless?” If the answer is, “No,” then the next question is, “Why not?” The answer to that question might shed light on the difference between living a spineless life and living the life of courage that Christ lived. Please let me know what you think so we might think about it. Was Jesus spineless? Why or why not?

Hmm, well I would say no Jesus himself was not spineless. Why not, because he stood by his morals and teachings to the point of being willing to die for them. However I think the biggest problem I’m having is the fact that Jesus is God so he had no mortal fears that mere mortals share. He never doubted that God even exists to reward meekness, or fear that being meek in the face of your enemy will end your existance permanently. Nothing can hurt God, so can I possibly attempt his call for perfection when Jesus himself did it with the knowledge that he was God and everything he did was in his own power.

I think the problem here is one of definition. The original definition of “meek” is “enduring injury with patience and without resentment.” Now that takes a lot of power and strength, more, I’m sorry to say, than I usually have. Later definitions of “meek” are “deficient in spirit and courage” or “overly submissive or compliant; spineless.” I’m afraid the OP has taken these later definitions and applied them to the term “meek” in scripture–when the Bible does not intend to say that about meekness. After all, Jesus didn’t say those deficient in spirit and courage would inherit the earth (see Matthew 5:4).

Maybe this is another problem I’m having, I acknowledge that those who endure injury with patience and without resentment are internally powerful individuals. The problem is I can never picture myself ever be willing to take that stance, because if I were to do it it’s only because God demands it and thus I would only follow meekness under the secondary definition of being spineless. I don’t want to have to experience some other human controlling what suffering I experience. I don’t want to have my defenses down so they can insult me freely, or perhaps even beat me to a pulp because they know I won’t fight back. Yet at the same time it gets me frustrated that God demands this from mortals who doubt God’s existance and for good reason.

Jesus had fear. Don’t forget that while Jesus was God, he was also fully human.

Jesus sweat blood in the garden the night before his death at the thought of being beaten and crucified the next day. Jesus wept for his friend Lazarus who had died. Jesus wept at the thought of the destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus got tired and hungry when he sat at the well and spoke with the Samaritan woman. Jesus was like us in all things except sin. Jesus was fully human.

Yes, everything Jesus did was in his own power, but but that does not mean that he did not willingly submit to it and allow it to happen and it does not mean that it did not have the same effect on him it would have had on us. In Jesus, God willingly took on all the limitations of a human being. As God, Jesus was able to step outside of the limitations of humans - walking on water and eventually rising from the dead - but he willingly accepted everything humans experience except sin. Jesus did not sin.

Jesus’ divinity cannot be seperated from his humanity. Jesus was fully God and fully human.

-Tim-

I was just watching the Catholicism series yesterday, and Father Barron was talking about this very thing. He said we look at the verse and look at it as being very passive, even when that leads to injustice. He gave a couple of examples from modern life of what Jesus really meant: Anglican bishop Desmond Tutu, in S. Africa, was told by a man in public, “Move over, I don’t make way for gorillas.” Tutu stepped aside, gestured broadly to the cleared path and said, “I do.” Or Mother Theresa, taking a small child to a baker to ask for bread, had the baker spit in her face. She said, “Thank you for that present for me. Now how about some bread for this child?” Both were nonviolent, yet dignified and pointing out a need for justice.

That bit about Desmond Tutu is classic. I don’t think I will ever forget what he did. I hadn’t heard about that. And Mother Teresa, too. She showed such gracious behavior.

I was recently involved in a very nasty altercation over a parking spot that I believed was unfairly taken from me. A parking spot. I even started a thread on it. I blew it from the beginning. I wasn’t gracious or dignified in the least. I was ANGRY and I let people know that I was angry. And looking back I’m so ashamed of my behavior. Even though I still believe that I should have been given that parking spot I also know that if I had been strong I would have graciously backed off. Now it’s too late to change it.

I get angry very easily. I have a short fuse and I take offense when none is meant and I hold grudges. I used to have road rage and I’m surprised nobody was hurt or killed. I’d flip people off and if they cut me off I’d drive really fast and then cut them off - flipping them the bird as I did so. I’m surprised I’m still alive. Every time I did it my heart just raced from anger and fear.

So one day I stopped. I just stopped. And a year or so later, right after buying a new car that had a side window on the right side of the car (where things are closer than they appear) I cut someone off accidentally. And he followed me. We were on a freeway on-ramp and it was one with a light and only one car can go at a time. So I stopped at the red light and that man got out of his car and started screaming at me. “WHY DID YOU CUT ME OFF???!!” I wasn’t going to get out my car. I was afraid for him. He was elderly and I seriously thought he was going to have a heart attack or a stroke. He was the most angry person I have ever seen. I was also very scared for myself. Fortunately it only lasted until the light turned green and I managed to lose him. I didn’t mean to cut him off. It was a mistake. I wasn’t used to the mirror, that’s all. It wasn’t personal. So why did I take so much offense when people cut me off before? Why did I take it personally? Does everyone else in the world hate me so much that if they see me they recognize me and cut me off?

I saw myself in that very angry man. And it wasn’t pretty. Now if someone cuts me off I try to make sure that everyone is safe, say a prayer for the person who cut me off, and try to let it go. The incident about the parking spot was a setback but I think I’m over it now.

When I used to get so mad I would be angry for hours. The incident would ruin my whole day. When I don’t get mad I actually get a feeling of peace and freedom. I can let it go. I know that chances are that if I could talk to whoever cut me off that person would either not even know or would be embarrassed. Again, it’s a mistake. It’s why traffic accidents are called accidents. Of course some drivers carry guns and use them and it’s not even that rare anymore but that’s another reason why it’s a good idea to not get mad at another driver and take an inappropriate action against him.

True, nothing can end God’s existence. However, if Jesus is correct, nothing can end your existence or mine, either! True, you and I suffer temptation to run away from a fight, even if it is clear we should take a stand for what is right. But look at the cross and listen to Jesus’ words in prayer prior to that cross and while suffering it–he suffered, too. However, you are quite right that He had the advantage of knowing for certain that something good awaited Him on the other side of that suffering. Personally, I think God realizes this, and understands our weakness when we fail to show courage. I also think he gives us more credit than we give ourselves when we fail. Making the attempt, even when we don’t succeed, counts with Him, I suppose.

Maybe this is another problem I’m having, I acknowledge that those who endure injury with patience and without resentment are internally powerful individuals. The problem is I can never picture myself ever be willing to take that stance, because if I were to do it it’s only because God demands it and thus I would only follow meekness under the secondary definition of being spineless. I don’t want to have to experience some other human controlling what suffering I experience. I don’t want to have my defenses down so they can insult me freely, or perhaps even beat me to a pulp because they know I won’t fight back. Yet at the same time it gets me frustrated that God demands this from mortals who doubt God’s existance and for good reason.

Neither do I, and I know what you are saying. In the end, it’s only you and God in the room where you pray to make your decision. Go where you know He is leading you. If you don’t know, keep praying till He does lead you. Your conscience and He will guide you. Do what you know is right, and know what is right when you know He is with you in your decision–even if that decision risks all you have for His sake.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

(Deuteronomy 31:6)

:slight_smile:

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