[June 12, 2021] Many say that the study of ancient texts is generally worthless. Why learn something from long ago when there exists a technically, socially, and economically disparity? My argument is simple, we can learn from the ancients. One text is from the Bible and is also a misunderstood phrase, turn the other cheek.
“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”1 – Bible KJV Matthew 5:39
Dr. Jordan B. Peterson tells us his thoughts on this phrase. Neither of us believes the Bible shows Christ – the archetypal hero – was docile or submissive. In the stories of the Bible, Christ is a threat to the Roman social and political order of the day. And they dealt with him accordingly.
Christ was disagreeable in the Temple and his interactions with the Pharisees. He did not back down, even after Pontius Pilate allowed him to do so. Whatever we may think of Christ’s religious beliefs, it is undeniable that He steadfastly followed the truth. To use my words, Christ is saying that turning the other cheek means not being changed by threats or acts of violence. Stand your ground. Do not give in. Hold yourself up and be brave.
The truth is the threat to an established political state, and the more oppressive a given order from that state, the more effort will be given to stamp out that truth. If we do not turn the other cheek, we meet threats and violence with threats and violence. We become that which we said we were opposing.
To turn the other cheek, then, is to employ assertiveness by refusing to back down or to submit to an authoritarian state by sacrificing what we believe in, which is the truth. Thus, there is a great falsehood of all social and political movements throughout history that by not turning the other cheek, you bring about change.
The belief of Dr. Peterson, by using an unswerving pursuit of the truth, only then can we be genuinely a change agent.
In an earlier post (see link here), I discussed the meaning of “the meek shall inherit the earth.”2 When I look back upon these ancient texts, I’m amazed at what I did not understand and, in fact, seriously misinterpreted. Today’s look at ‘turn the other cheek’ was my wife’s idea. Thanks, sweetie.
- https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Matthew-5-37_5-40/ Additionally, ‘turning the other cheek’ is mentioned at least 8 other times in the Bible and within context. This is no one-time quote.
- “Meek means, in this context, not someone who gives up or runs away or turns the other cheek, but someone who is capable of force and decides not to use it unless needed. A more literal translation would meek refers to those who have weapons and know to use them but are determined to keep them sheathed.”