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Davidsun

What Jesus advice t 'turn the other cheek' REALLY meant

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Apropos Point 4: "Know that the way we behave towards on another is the fullest expression of what we believe."

I wonder what peeps here think Jesus' advice to 'turn the other cheek' REALLY says about what he thought might be a 'good' expression.

My understanding is that, far from 'meek' 'acceptance' of whatever others chose to dish out, he was advocating that one 'stand up' for decency (etc.) by protesting injustice in ways that one thought had the best chance of 'shaming' abusers into being 'decent' (etc.). You see, back then, if peeps were to openly/directly react to being police-abuse slapped about by Roman Centurions physically or verbally, they were likely to just give said Centurions the 'excuse' they wanted to shove a spear in their guts. By pointedly (dramatically!) 'turing their other cheek, abused folks could in effect SILENTLY loudly ;) 'say': "Go ahead, you shameless bully of weaker folks, hit me again if that'll get your rocks off - I ain't backing down from and cowering before you, NO WAY, NO HOW!"

I think many people misunderstand what they misperceive (because that's how they would like to think of him and his message) as Jesus's social 'peacefull'ness (completely ignoring quite radical statements he clearly made to the contrary, like "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.  And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me:  and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me."

 

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I'm certainly no expert in understanding what Jesus meant if he said such things some 2000 years ago (in a society ruled by a religion whilst simultaneously being oppressed by a militarily  superior neighbour) but for me I don't see Jesus in the sermon on the mount as promoting protestations about injustice, but rather simply trying to say "stop the circle of violence and retribution - let it go".  Whilst this act in itself may have some social justice ramifications (e.g. maybe the evildoer will feel less empowered) I'm not convinced that in the context of what else Jesus is reported as saying in the surrounding verses that he was suggesting one should be seen as 'taking a stand'.

By turning the other cheek to the evildoer (or giving even more to the plaintiff than sought in court, or walking an extra mile if forced to walk one, or giving to beggars and also not refusing anyone who wants to borrow from you) I think Jesus is saying show your preparedness not to perpetuate acts of aggression and retribution, not to harbour unhelpful baggage in life (i.e. wishing for revenge) and maybe help others not carry such baggage also - the aggrieved beggar who doesn't get help, or the destitute friend who desperately needs a loan to carry him through - both whom may be left feeling scorned if we don't help them when we could.

Jesus was contrasting his comments against the understanding at the time of an 'eye for an eye' approach, which I think he was saying was just a recipe for a non-ending circle of retribution, anger and hate which served no purpose other than maybe momentary satisfaction (if one managed to achieve retribution).  I think what Jesus was proposing was more a "let it be" approach to these things.

I think his radical statements concerning swords and family turning against one another is a different kind of message as he was delivering it only to his disciples and it was apparently  in the context of the persecution they could expect if they followed his 'way', that way being a different way of looking at things and living one's ;life compared to the Judaism they were used to.  Hence family members will turn against one another because Jesus' way could be polarising, particularly to those who fervently believed or accepted things as they were.

Well, that's just what i think Jesus meant anyway.  To me that doesn't contradict working for social justice but rather simply gives one a different angle about how to feel about ongoing social injustice - do what we can do but also acknowledge that revenge, being bitter and twisted, and desiring harm or retribution toward another, is just a waste of time and energy.

 

 

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I see it differently: It never was meek acceptance, it is active non-retaliation. The Father in the (parable of the) Prodigal Son lives this: he neither meekly accepts his son's actions and he certainly doesn't, given his actions and attitudes apparent in the story, silently yet loudly shout at his son's disrespect and/or suggest he won't back down. Rather he actively, in attitude and action, does not retaliate - thus something new begins that wouldn't be possible in the other two scenarios.  So too, Jesus is the best practitioner: with his scourging and on the Cross he neither meekly accepts nor silently shouts he is not backing down - rather, by not calling down the wrath of heaven, he is actively not retaliating. His actions, rather than saying, hit me again, I'm not backing down -say instead, I forgive, let us begin anew. 

He was wise enough to realize that his call for living the 2 great commandments of love would not (initially) bring peace but would be sword cutting into creation and the variance would be those who don't and those who do understand and practice active non-retaliation: such (the latter) action is taking the cross because what is 'given up' is a world where self(centeredness) reigns and in its place, love is allowed to reign.

 

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The antitheses are all hyperbole, and are a single literary unit.  If your eye offends you, pluck it out.  If you are struck, give your enemy your coat.  

A series of "over the top" examples in support of a single theme.  They make the reader do a double-take on their notions of proper behavior, but not a direct lecture on righteousness.

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11 hours ago, PaulS said:

I'm certainly no expert in understanding what Jesus meant if he said such things some 2000 years ago (in a society ruled by a religion whilst simultaneously being oppressed by a militarily  superior neighbour) but for me I don't see Jesus in the sermon on the mount as promoting protestations about injustice, but rather simply trying to say "stop the circle of violence and retribution - let it go".  Whilst this act in itself may have some social justice ramifications (e.g. maybe the evildoer will feel less empowered) I'm not convinced that in the context of what else Jesus is reported as saying in the surrounding verses that he was suggesting one should be seen as 'taking a stand'.

By turning the other cheek to the evildoer (or giving even more to the plaintiff than sought in court, or walking an extra mile if forced to walk one, or giving to beggars and also not refusing anyone who wants to borrow from you) I think Jesus is saying show your preparedness not to perpetuate acts of aggression and retribution, not to harbour unhelpful baggage in life (i.e. wishing for revenge) and maybe help others not carry such baggage also - the aggrieved beggar who doesn't get help, or the destitute friend who desperately needs a loan to carry him through - both whom may be left feeling scorned if we don't help them when we could.

It's that "Shades of Grey" thing again, aye what Paul? When I lived in in NYC, I 'learned' that there were professional 'beggars' ('pan handlers', etc) who were so adept, they amassed so much money (over the warmer months) that they then 'vacation' in Florida over the winter. One I met as he 'worked' the subway crowd could drag one of his feet on its edge, mimicking a 'cripled' leg, so well you couldn't tell he was faking unless you took a good look at the sole of the shoe on that foot and then saw it had a 'normal' wear pattern. I 'chewed him out' for his fakery, out loud so everyone around could hear me! :D

I have also had several destitute 'friends' who I loaned money to 'in good faith' (as the saying goes) only to have to hound them in order to get them to pay me pack when they clearly had enough money to.

One thing I've noticed about about teachings/teachers which/who promote 'charitability' and 'charity' is that they are more usually just focused on getting people to be unselfishly generous to the point where they totally neglect 'educating' people so as to be able to identify and appropriately deal with scams and scammers, 'holy'-seeming people and causes included! (Not that there aren't many really deserving (of generosity/help peeps and causes out there now!).

Edited by Davidsun

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9 hours ago, Burl said:

 If you are struck, give your enemy your coat.

I do believe that peeps with an 'unclean conscience' are more prone to tripping themselves up - such are the 'unseen' :unsure: ways of spirit! Who knows if I such belief is 'correct' or not?

Speaking of giving away one's coat, what I once heard in this regard, which made and still makes great 'sense' to me, was/is that Jesus advised the (male) folks of his (Jewish) culture who were being sued (in a court of law) for their coats they wore for unpaid) 'debts', probably relating to their not being able to pay their 'rent', to give them their 'shirts' also as a way of shaming them for being excessively greedy, unduly callous etc. How so? Because in that culture, peeps did not wear any 'undergarments' (under said long-tailed shirts) and it was generally thought  shameful to see another man's doohicky's, i.e. to 'see' another man 'naked'! He was actually advocating that people 'flash' :o such landlords and shame them as a demonstration of protest, methinks.

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12 hours ago, PaulS said:

I'm certainly no expert in understanding what Jesus meant if he said such things some 2000 years ago (in a society ruled by a religion whilst simultaneously being oppressed by a militarily  superior neighbour) but for me I don't see Jesus in the sermon on the mount as promoting protestations about injustice, but rather simply trying to say "stop the circle of violence and retribution - let it go".  Whilst this act in itself may have some social justice ramifications (e.g. maybe the evildoer will feel less empowered) I'm not convinced that in the context of what else Jesus is reported as saying in the surrounding verses that he was suggesting one should be seen as 'taking a stand'.

Good points. Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet who truly believed the 'end' was near (in the lifetime of his disciples). He believed the Kingdom was about to be established  - solely by the action of God - and men/women were to do nothing but be ready and begin to live as they would in the Kingdom. In addition, Jesus is pointing to those who are not valued, those who are overlooked in the kingdoms of man and saying 'theirs' will be the Kingdom of God. The value system is turned on its head. There is no time for retribution, no time for retaliation: the Kingdom is right around the corner (for Jesus).

Plus, one could argue that helping the aggrieved beggar or the destitute friend is part of the answer when it asked, "when did I feed you Lord, when did I cloth you........?"

Since the Kingdom didn't come, I think it is valid to figure out how best to live now but that makes us consider a realm, a world that Jesus never envisioned would still exist.

I also agree it does not contradict working for social justice on any level - for one could argue that those with such needs are the same as those Jesus told about their place in the Kingdom and as Jesus ministered to them, the social worker 'is Jesus' to the world today.

 

Edited by thormas

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This is in Matthew, which was written for Jews.  It is also part of the Sermon on the Mount, which begins with the beatitudes. (matt 5)

Among the Beatitudes are blessed in the pure of heart and blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall see God.  Blessed are the meek and merciful. (5:2-11) &c.  These are the heart of the sermon, and everything else relates to these.

Next in 5:13-16 the listeners are gently scolded for letting their faith become adulterated and debased.

In 5:17-20 Jesus firmly states he is in prophetic mode and is proclaiming the true law which the Pharisees have adulterated and debased.

5:21-48 are the antitheses, where Jesus lists exactly how the Pharisees have it wrong in making up laws for everything.  A pericope of six arguments,  all in the form of "You have heard it said . . .but instead I tell you . . .

Jesus is comparing the common understanding of the law and how it does not relate to the beatitudes (which are the real goals).  He uses absurd examples to make his point.

Anger: (5:21-26) You have been told not to murder, but even calling someone a fool is just as bad.  Ridiculous taken literally, but point is made.  Anger is the sin.

Lust: (5:27:30) You have been told to not commit adultery, but it just as bad to lust in your heart.  Again, absurdly stupid on it's face but makes the point that righteousness avoids lust in any form.

Divorce: (5:31-32) You have been told divorce is ok, but marrying a divorced woman is as bad as adultery.  Is Jesus preaching nonsense?  No, He is making an emphatic point.

Oaths: (5:33-37) You have been told to not break oaths, but really you should never promise anything in the future.  Justbsay yes or no in the present.

Retaliation: (5:38-42) This is the bit under direct discussion, but notice how it is in the same format and series of arguments.  You have heard an eye for an eye, but really you should be generous. Do not retaliate, but make it easier for your enemy.  Do not even refuse a beggar or one who asks for a loan.  Jesus is pointing at the need to be meek and merciful per the beatitudes.  This is not a ultra-pacifist statement.  It is an exaggerated explanation about generosity.  Preachers generally ignore the never refuse a beggar or borrower part and latch on the cheek turning and so they get it wrong.

Love your enemy: (5:43-48) You have been told love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but you should love your enemies and pray for them.  Be a son of God (note the inclusion of this common phrase - many sons of God but only one son of Man) and strive for perfection.

All these antitheses are sarcastic elaborations on a single point.  The almost 400 confusing points of Jewish law are reduced to the simplicity of the beatitudes.  Jesus is not defining standards of worldly behavior.  He is expounding on how one can do even better than the law by emulating the simplicity of the beatitudes.

 

Edited by Burl

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15 minutes ago, Burl said:

Retaliation: (5:38-42) This is the bit under direct discussion, but notice how it is in the same format and series of arguments.  You have heard an eye for an eye, but really you should be generous. Do not retaliate, but make it easier for your enemy.  Do not even refuse a beggar or one who asks for a loan.  Jesus is pointing at the need to be meek and merciful per the beatitudes.  This is not a ultra-pacifist statement.  It is an exaggerated explanation about generosity.  Preachers generally ignore the never refuse a beggar or borrower part and latch on the cheek turning and so they get it wrong.

Love your enemy: (5:43-48) You have been told love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but you should love your enemies and pray for them.  Be a son of God (note the inclusion of this common phrase - many sons of God but only one son of Man) and strive for perfection.

All these antitheses are a single point.  The almost 400 confusing points of Jewish law are reduced to the simplicity of the beatitudes.  Jesus is not defining standards of worldly behavior.  He is expounding on how one can do even better than the law by emulating the simplicity of the beatitudes.

 

At first glance, I'm not sure I agree that these are exaggerated explanations or that they are just absurd examples.

For Jesus it was all about the coming Kingdom, everything was about the soon to be established Kingdom of God on earth. In this Kingdom there will be a total reversal of fortune (see Ehrman below and cited writing); the first shall be last, etc. The way to prepare demanded turning to God (2 great commandments) and as Ehrman writes  "really doing that requires a radical change in life."  That radical change is captured in the sayings you quote. 

So indeed they have been told not to murder, but Now with the Kingdom upon them , with the need to turn to God, more is demanded: calling someone a fool is just as bad.  If I remember correctly, most scholars do not believe there was a real Sermon on the Mount (as it is portrayed) but these kinds of saying were indeed thought to be part of the preaching of the man Jesus. For him, therefore, for all who heard his call, they already knew they should not murder, commit adultery, divorce or break oaths - but the Kingdom is upon them, the Time demands they do more and not even call another a fool, lust in their hearts, marry a divorced woman or promise anything for the future - because it is all about NOW. There is not time, this is no time to be lusting, divorcing anyone, taking the time to call others fools, etc. That time is over: prepare for God!

On his blog, in the article on The teaching of Jesus in a Nutshell, Ehrman writes: Jesus did not teach social ethics so we could make society better and all get along for the long haul.  For Jesus there wasn’t going to *be* a long haul.  The end is coming soon.  We need to live lives dedicated to God and to love and to one another NOW, so we can enter the kingdom THEN.

Our dilemma, our challenge is that the Kingdom didn't come, so now we must discover what is to be done (how we ought to live) with the behavior called for by Jesus as the world goes on?

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21 minutes ago, thormas said:

At first glance, I'm not sure I agree that these are exaggerated explanations or that they are just absurd examples.

For Jesus it was all about the coming Kingdom, everything was about the soon to be established Kingdom of God on earth. In this Kingdom there will be a total reversal of fortune (see Ehrman below and cited writing); the first shall be last, etc. The way to prepare demanded turning to God (2 great commandments) and as Ehrman writes  "really doing that requires a radical change in life."  That radical change is captured in the sayings you quote. 

So indeed they have been told not to murder, but Now with the Kingdom upon them , with the need to turn to God, more is demanded: calling someone a fool is just as bad.  If I remember correctly, most scholars do not believe there was a real Sermon on the Mount (as it is portrayed) but these kinds of saying were indeed thought to be part of the preaching of the man Jesus. For him, therefore, for all who heard his call, they already knew they should not murder, commit adultery, divorce or break oaths - but the Kingdom is upon them, the Time demands they do more and not even call another a fool, lust in their hearts, marry a divorced woman or promise anything for the future - because it is all about NOW. There is not time, this is no time to be lusting, divorcing anyone, taking the time to call others fools, etc. That time is over: prepare for God!

On his blog, in the article on The teaching of Jesus in a Nutshell, Ehrman writes: Jesus did not teach social ethics so we could make society better and all get along for the long haul.  For Jesus there wasn’t going to *be* a long haul.  The end is coming soon.  We need to live lives dedicated to God and to love and to one another NOW, so we can enter the kingdom THEN.

Our dilemma, our challenge is that the Kingdom didn't come, so now we must discover what is to be done (how we ought to live) with the behavior called for by Jesus as the world goes on?

Agreed.  It is hyperbole but not everyone understands that literary term.

The "turn the other cheek" phrase is often pulled out of context to support complete Christian pacifism, even though Jesus told his disciples that after his death they would need to sell their cloaks and buy swords instead.

 The basis for Christian pacifism began when the anabaptist Müntzer declared a religious war and lost so badly (16c?) he ended up with his body locked in a cage and run up the front of his church until it rotted away.  It gave the anabaptists such an evil reputation Menno Simons formed the Mennonites and declared total nonviolence not because of this bible passage but to escape Muntzer's scandal.

Edited by Burl

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Back to Peace. We have the Matthew quote above which speaks to the division that will exist for those who accept the way of Jesus if/when friends and family do not understand or accept that way also. Plus, the peace Jesus brought was not peace on earth but the healing of the division of man from God: thus Peace.

Jesus did come to give peace , according to John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you, my Peace I give to you." Again goes to relationship with God which is embodied or lived out in the relationship with our fellow men and women. And, with the Kingdom 'delayed,' there is/must be social peace or, better, the striving for peace in human community, in creation - for it is in the world that one incarnates God (thereby one lives in the peace of Christ by being in/accepting the way of God .

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1 hour ago, thormas said:

Back to Peace. We have the Matthew quote above which speaks to the division that will exist for those who accept the way of Jesus if/when friends and family do not understand or accept that way also. Plus, the peace Jesus brought was not peace on earth but the healing of the division of man from God: thus Peace.

Jesus did come to give peace , according to John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you, my Peace I give to you." Again goes to relationship with God which is embodied or lived out in the relationship with our fellow men and women. And, with the Kingdom 'delayed,' there is/must be social peace or, better, the striving for peace in human community, in creation - for it is in the world that one incarnates God (thereby one lives in the peace of Christ by being in/accepting the way of God .

Well, there is this in Matthew 10.  Personally I think this is largely prophecy of the destruction of the temple and the various Hebrew sects, but the myth of the perfectly peaceful Jesus is largely a mid 20c fantasy.  You really can't find it before the 1950's.

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

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6 minutes ago, Burl said:

Well, there is this in Matthew 10.  Personally I think this is largely prophecy of the destruction of the temple and the various Hebrew sects, but the myth of the perfectly peaceful Jesus is largely a mid 20c fantasy.  You really can't find it before the 1950's.

That was the Matthew (quote) I referred to above. If it is about the Temple, I don't see it as a prophetic statement from the lips of Jesus but I do allow it could have been Matthew, after the Temple destruction, putting it on the lips of Jesus. Whether it was about the Temple or about the family/friends consequences for the one who accepts the Way (when family doesn't), the idea seems the same.

I don't think the historical Jesus ever said "whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me." It comes 15+ chapters before his cross - again I don't accept prophecy as seeing the future - also, it seems to be something that could/would be said to Matthew's community to recognize their own hardships and encourage them and finally, the man Jesus was all about God - I just don't accept he would place this emphasis on himself (not worthy of me) and not the Father.

I have not done a historical reconstruction into the 50s about Jesus and peace, so not sure what is meant by 'perfectly peaceful' but I never regarded 'his' peace as a myth - especially as we find it in the 1st century Christian writings - despite our different interpretations of its full meaning. 

Perhaps I misunderstand your comments and it has been a while since I focused on these passages, so nothing is locked in stone

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On love and being nice:

As previously mentioned, the first and only focus for Jesus was the coming Kingdom of God and the radical change this demands. However, as I remember the story of the Good Samaritan - I can picture people using different word to describe that action: kind, compassionate, concerned, loving and/or nice - nice means: kind, kindly (humane, neighborly, merciful), gracious, friendly, good, admirable, considerate and two of my favorites -nifty and peachy. 

On one hand, I believe nice can be on a continuum with love as when we tell a child to be nice (kind, friendly, good, considerate) to her friends, to be nice to the dog, to be nice to the new neighbors, to be nice to her mother's aunt even though she has way too much perfume. Nice can be how some of us learn love. On the other hand, I think nice is a face of love. Love is compassionate concern for another: to hold a door open for an old lady, for a young mother, for the stranger who is actually surprised by the act, to help help fix a flat tire, to even nod at a stranger (again, cost nothing and is often met by surprise and relief and even a peace filled smile) are acts of compassionate concern for the suffering, the misfortune of others - or simply the very being of others. This giving of self is the (way of) becoming our true self: this is the cross, this is the priority of Jesus, this is the incarnation of God/love in/by humanity. These acts, all such acts are loving and they are kind, friendly, good, considerate, neighborly, even nifty, and nice. All acts, great and small, of Love for others, of being nice to others are the moments when we take up the cross.

When the dad in the family takes the baby so the mother can have some time of her own: it is a loving action and it is also a nice, a really nice thing to do. When you do the simple act of holding a door, another might 'pay it forward' and on and on. It is easy, it is thoughtful of the other, it is a little act of selflessness, it is nice, it is love. How many times, I can't count, have I gone to a wake and everybody, everybody says of the deceased, what a nice woman she was, what a really nice guy he was? And, how about the guy who saved the kids at the lost of his own life: it was said of him, he was a nice guy. Nice is a face of love. 

 

Edited by thormas

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3 hours ago, thormas said:

That was the Matthew (quote) I referred to above. If it is about the Temple, I don't see it as a prophetic statement from the lips of Jesus but I do allow it could have been Matthew, after the Temple destruction, putting it on the lips of Jesus. Whether it was about the Temple or about the family/friends consequences for the one who accepts the Way (when family doesn't), the idea seems the same.

I don't think the historical Jesus ever said "whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me." It comes 15+ chapters before his cross - again I don't accept prophecy as seeing the future - also, it seems to be something that could/would be said to Matthew's community to recognize their own hardships and encourage them and finally, the man Jesus was all about God - I just don't accept he would place this emphasis on himself (not worthy of me) and not the Father.

I have not done a historical reconstruction into the 50s about Jesus and peace, so not sure what is meant by 'perfectly peaceful' but I never regarded 'his' peace as a myth - especially as we find it in the 1st century Christian writings - despite our different interpretations of its full meaning. 

Perhaps I misunderstand your comments and it has been a while since I focused on these passages, so nothing is locked in stone

That's solid Thormas.  

It may be a difference in what "peace" means.  Peace in 1c could mean martyrdom.  18c assurance of salvation.  Today peace is happy or at least no anxiety.  Peace can be self-acceptance, removal of ego and desire. 

The meaning of Peace of Jesus over timeis probably a book.  At least a dissertation.

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16 hours ago, Davidsun said:

It's that "Shades of Grey" thing again, aye what Paul? When I lived in in NYC, I 'learned' that there were professional 'beggars' ('pan handlers', etc) who were so adept, they amassed so much money (over the warmer months) that they then 'vacation' in Florida over the winter. One I met as he 'worked' the subway crowd could drag one of his feet on its edge, mimicking a 'cripled' leg, so well you couldn't tell he was faking unless you took a good look at the sole of the shoe on that foot and then saw it had a 'normal' wear pattern. I 'chewed him out' for his fakery, out loud so everyone around could hear me! :D

I have also had several destitute 'friends' who I loaned money to 'in good faith' (as the saying goes) only to have to hound them in order to get them to pay me pack when they clearly had enough money to.

One thing I've noticed about about teachings/teachers which/who promote 'charitability' and 'charity' is that they are more usually just focused on getting people to be unselfishly generous to the point where they totally neglect 'educating' people so as to be able to identify and appropriately deal with scams and scammers, 'holy'-seeming people and causes included! (Not that there aren't many really deserving (of generosity/help peeps and causes out there now!).

Whilst no doubt there are beggars trying to exploit people's good will (I have seen one in particular in my own city) I don't think this is what Jesus was referring to in the same conversation where he was encouraging turning the other cheek against evil doers.  To me it seems out of place if Jesus was actually telling people to protest injustice.

Then again, maybe Jesus didn't say "Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you" and somebody else just added that bit to Mathew along the way?

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16 hours ago, Davidsun said:

I do believe that peeps with an 'unclean conscience' are more prone to tripping themselves up - such are the 'unseen' :unsure: ways of spirit! Who knows if I such belief is 'correct' or not?

Speaking of giving away one's coat, what I once heard in this regard, which made and still makes great 'sense' to me, was/is that Jesus advised the (male) folks of his (Jewish) culture who were being sued (in a court of law) for their coats they wore for unpaid) 'debts', probably relating to their not being able to pay their 'rent', to give them their 'shirts' also as a way of shaming them for being excessively greedy, unduly callous etc. How so? Because in that culture, peeps did not wear any 'undergarments' (under said long-tailed shirts) and it was generally thought  shameful to see another man's doohicky's, i.e. to 'see' another man 'naked'! He was actually advocating that people 'flash' :o such landlords and shame them as a demonstration of protest, methinks.

I have heard this concept mentioned before.  Not sure if it is historically supported but would probably suit either interpretation of these verses - 'yours' concerning protesting injustice, but also 'mine' about ending the circle of retribution and being content to walk away at peace with yourself.

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12 hours ago, Burl said:

It may be a difference in what "peace" means.  Peace in 1c could mean martyrdom.  18c assurance of salvation.  Today peace is happy or at least no anxiety.  Peace can be self-acceptance, removal of ego and desire. 

The meaning of Peace of Jesus over timeis probably a book.  At least a dissertation.

As part of 'today' and the more recent 'yesterday' I have never focused on peace as mere happiness - especially without anxiety. The idea of life at anytime without anxiety seems not only unrealistic but the perspective of a blind man. I do get the idea of an inner (and therefore outer) happiness but it is a world apart from the present gospel of prosperity.

But you're right, at least a dissertation.

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16 hours ago, PaulS said:

Whilst no doubt there are beggars trying to exploit people's good will (I have seen one in particular in my own city) I don't think this is what Jesus was referring to in the same conversation where he was encouraging turning the other cheek against evil doers.  To me it seems out of place if Jesus was actually telling people to protest injustice.

Then again, maybe Jesus didn't say "Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you" and somebody else just added that bit to Mathew along the way?

Maybe you don't remember but it was you who (for your own reasons) introduced the give to 'beggars' theme into the 'turn the other cheek' conversation, Paul,. when you said:

" By turning the other cheek to the evildoer (or giving even more to the plaintiff than sought in court, or walking an extra mile if forced to walk one, or giving to beggars and also not refusing anyone who wants to borrow from you) I think Jesus is saying show your preparedness not to perpetuate acts of aggression and retribution, not to harbour unhelpful baggage in life (i.e. wishing for revenge) and maybe help others not carry such baggage also - the aggrieved beggar who doesn't get help, or the destitute friend who desperately needs a loan to carry him through - both whom may be left feeling scorned if we don't help them when we could." :o

I was just commenting that I thought that 'good will' notions (yours in this case) and consequently people's 'projections' as to what (some of) Jesus  preachment actually meant were a tad nice-nice simplistic.

Thank you for considering my (above) proposition(s) in this regard.

Edited by Davidsun

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" By turning the other cheek to the evildoer (or giving even more to the plaintiff than sought in court, or walking an extra mile if forced to walk one, or giving to beggars and also not refusing anyone who wants to borrow from you) I think Jesus is saying show your preparedness not to perpetuate acts of aggression and retribution, not to harbour unhelpful baggage in life (i.e. wishing for revenge) and maybe help others not carry such baggage also - the aggrieved beggar who doesn't get help, or the destitute friend who desperately needs a loan to carry him through - both whom may be left feeling scorned if we don't help them when we could." 

Paul, I missed or forgot this comment, but I like your idea of Jesus and preparedness. While I think his focus, circa 30 CE,  was the imminent Kingdom, such preparedness was relevant then and I think it's valid to suggest that (with the Kingdom delayed or better because we no longer think in those terms) it can also speak to the 21st C CE. Such preparedness is an ethic: to not "...perpetuate acts of aggression and retribution, .... harbour unhelpful baggage in life and maybe help others not carry such baggage also." And I think it is the last comment that moves it from what not to do, to what to do: to be, to do for the other and in this to become our true Self.

Nice point!

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2 hours ago, Davidsun said:

Maybe you don't remember but it was you who (for your own reasons) introduced the give to 'beggars' theme into the 'turn the other cheek' conversation, Paul,. when you said:

" By turning the other cheek to the evildoer (or giving even more to the plaintiff than sought in court, or walking an extra mile if forced to walk one, or giving to beggars and also not refusing anyone who wants to borrow from you) I think Jesus is saying show your preparedness not to perpetuate acts of aggression and retribution, not to harbour unhelpful baggage in life (i.e. wishing for revenge) and maybe help others not carry such baggage also - the aggrieved beggar who doesn't get help, or the destitute friend who desperately needs a loan to carry him through - both whom may be left feeling scorned if we don't help them when we could." :o

I was just commenting that I thought that 'good will' notions (yours in this case) and consequently people's 'projections' as to what (some of) Jesus  preachment actually meant were a tad nice-nice simplistic.

Thank you for considering my (above) proposition(s) in this regard.

I do remember, but really it wasn't me who brought it up, but rather Jesus reportedly did in the verses immediately following the 'turn the other cheek' verses.  I just thought if we're going to talk about what 'turning the other cheek' means then it should be in context with the rest of the conversation from Jesus.  For me, putting those verses in context doesn't lead me to the conclusion that Jesus was promoting protesting injustice.  I'm not trying to convince you, but rather just responding to your question about what others here think about Jesus' advice to turn the other cheek.  I'm not arguing for a nice-nice approach but rather commenting that i don't think what Jesus says (in these verses and elsewhere) correlates to protesting injustice.  But if that works for some people so be it.

 

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17 minutes ago, thormas said:

" By turning the other cheek to the evildoer (or giving even more to the plaintiff than sought in court, or walking an extra mile if forced to walk one, or giving to beggars and also not refusing anyone who wants to borrow from you) I think Jesus is saying show your preparedness not to perpetuate acts of aggression and retribution, not to harbour unhelpful baggage in life (i.e. wishing for revenge) and maybe help others not carry such baggage also - the aggrieved beggar who doesn't get help, or the destitute friend who desperately needs a loan to carry him through - both whom may be left feeling scorned if we don't help them when we could." 

Paul, I missed or forgot this comment, but I like your idea of Jesus and preparedness. While I think his focus, circa 30 CE,  was the imminent Kingdom, such preparedness was relevant then and I think it's valid to suggest that (with the Kingdom delayed or better because we no longer think in those terms) it can also speak to the 21st C CE. Such preparedness is an ethic: to not "...perpetuate acts of aggression and retribution, .... harbour unhelpful baggage in life and maybe help others not carry such baggage also." And I think it is the last comment that moves it from what not to do, to what to do: to be, to do for the other and in this to become our true Self.

Nice point!

Yes Thormas, I would agree that I think Jesus' focus was certainly the short term with what he truly expected was the imminent coming of the Kingdom, and that this behaviour of turning the other cheek and ending the circle of aggression/retribution was how he saw people living in said Kingdom.  

I don't disagree that we can use those words as inspiration for how we handle matters today, but I also don't think they are a hard & fast rule set or that they are set in concrete (I'm not suggesting you do, I'm just mentioning it).  I think sometimes turning the other cheek (whether it be preparedness to let go, protesting injustice or some other interpretation of what to do) is inadequate and a failure to act on stopping the aggression in the first place may only cause more harm to others.  Imagine if we 'turned the other cheek' to a school shooter or a war criminal - I think the harm their behaviour would continue to exert is not covered of by Jesus' turning the other cheek, even if one doth protest the injustice of it.

I guess what I'm saying is that the words about turning the other cheek may provide inspiration, but they fall short of being the answer in all situations.

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I agree with you. I think that in Jesus' (and his people) belief was that the establishment of the Kingdom was all on God. Many today take a different track and believe that man 'shares' such responsibility. And I guess Christians in the past have shared this philosophy at times, for example the 'just war' position. So, the challenge and the responsibility is that 'we' must decide how best to be ethical and enable (a better) Life. 

Having said this, it is also humbling to witness the example of King and Gandhi and also to consider the very violent society Jesus was part of in his time - and that eventually need in his death. 

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51 minutes ago, PaulS said:

I do remember, but really it wasn't me who brought it up, but rather Jesus reportedly did in the verses immediately following the 'turn the other cheek' verses.  I just thought if we're going to talk about what 'turning the other cheek' means then it should be in context with the rest of the conversation from Jesus.  For me, putting those verses in context doesn't lead me to the conclusion that Jesus was promoting protesting injustice.  I'm not trying to convince you, but rather just responding to your question about what others here think about Jesus' advice to turn the other cheek.  I'm not arguing for a nice-nice approach but rather commenting that i don't think what Jesus says (in these verses and elsewhere) correlates to protesting injustice.  But if that works for some people so be it.

 

Fair enough (and thank you! for engaging with me on this score). Your 'take' on/from Jesus' teaching  (based on the way said teachings are 'packaged' in Matthew 5) may indeed , (meaning conceivably may) be 'correct'. And if that's what you/anyone thinks will really 'serve' to augment and enrich the quality Life experience and expression on earth as well are thereafter, then that's the kind of nice-nice thing you (said anyone) should (IMO) 'do'.

I would suggest that that's not the 'wisest' course of action, however - either in terms of Life 'on earth' or beyond, in 'the Spirit world', and (so) that what's in Matthew 5 is a 'romantic' or possibly 'devious-purpose' serving distortion of the truth - of the whole truth, I mean. Like "Don't use 'birth control, just obedient;y (without any 'protest') trust in the beneficence of a 'paternal' God and 'his' ministerial priests.

I personally 'see' Jesus' entire Life as being a demonstration of the kind of self-assertive 'protest' (against both Roman- and Hebrew-establishment 'domination') that I am talking about, however. In the case of the latter 'establishment', note is having (reportedly at least) protestationally said (in Matthew 23): " But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!   for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer:  therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves." 

Hitler for one (notable one) would have just 'loved' the people he aimed to bully and dominate thinking, feeling and behaving that (turn your other cheek and give me your shirt also) way, aye what? :D

I have no proof regarding what Jesus actually meant/taught (regarding 'cheeks' and 'shirts', etc.) and only have the 'testimony' of my 'mind' and my 'spirit' (gut?) in this regard.

Here's what I have 'deduced' about the 'nature' of Intelligence/Being/Creation/God/Life (whatever you wish to call It), which is what I am going on in the foregoing regards (quoted from my book Godspeak 2000):

"The potentially liberating and amendatory truth (which, for [various] reasons, many don’t appreciate) is that everybody in existence is spiritually motivated by a mindfully discriminating intrinsic potency. This was termed ‘atman’ or ‘soul’ by sages of old, who recognized everyone and everything as an immediate expression of the universally present, intelligently creative essence which they understood to be the real meaning of ‘Brahman’ and ‘God’. But, because such words have been misappropriated by custom and their significance sometimes grossly distorted by misusage, I generally refer to it alternatively, as Intelligence, Creativity, Life Itself or the Life-Force. However labeled, it is the source ‘element’ from which all Being springs, the core I-Am-That-I-Am, THAT Which IS! at root within each and everyone."

Again, I appreciate your forthright engagement with me and furthering this discussion by doing so,  Paul.

Edited by Davidsun

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1 hour ago, thormas said:

..... and also to consider the very violent society Jesus was part of in his time....

I think this is an important point too easily overlooked in any discussion about what Jesus meant.   Jesus lived in a time, culture and society very different to most of us today.  Applying Jesus' words, or any teaching in the bible for that matter, as information that was definitely intended for this population today, across all different cultures and societies, isn't wise IMO.  Whilst we can take inspiration and interpretation from the bible, it simply was not written for all people at all times.  To me it is very clear the various authors (and scribes during the journey to a modern bible) had their own agenda and culture in mind when they wrote what they did.  That's not to say there isn't wisdom in such writings but rather just thinking out loud that there is both wheat and chaff amongst such writings and how we discern which ones mean something to us and how to apply them in our modern world is often an individual thing.  Perhaps one of the very reasons we have a Debate & Dialogue section here on the forum :) .

 

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