Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Ok, I’ve just gotta throw this into the conversation, because it is something that was really powerful for me when I heard it:

Jesus was not advocating Doormat Christianity when he said “turn the other cheek.”

He was preaching to slaves, remember, an oppressed people who would be punished by their masters with a backhanded slap. Equals, when they hit each other, slap with the palm of their hand.
Look at your right hand. Think about backhanding someone in front of you. What cheek do you hit? The right cheek.

Imagine being hit by the back of the hand of your “master”… and then turn your face to offer  the left cheek.

It isn’t a “please sir, can I have another” statement. It isn’t even (just) a “I will not let you see me cry” statement.

It is a “treat me like a fucking equal” statement. Hit me, fine, but hit me like a fucking equal because we are equals in God’s eye.

If that isn’t exciting enough for you, here’s another story. You might be familiar with “if a man asks you to carry his bags a mile, carry it for two.”

This story has lost a lot in translation, too. Again, this isn’t Doormat Christianity. It isn’t advocating you revel in your forced servitude. Because the Romans were really good at empire, they knew they mustn’t abuse the folks they oppressed *too* much. The law was that a Roman soldier could get a local to carry his bags for a mile—but no more than that. If they demanded more than that, the soldier could get in trouble.

So, imagine you’ve just had the local soldier boy demand you carry his bags a mile towards his barracks. Fine. Carry them. Then keep carrying them right up to his sergeant and point out you’ve carried them two miles. Get the soldier in trouble with his superiors for abusing his privileges.

There are more stories like that, but those are the two best (imho).

Please remember them when you talk about pacifism. Jesus was a lot of things. But he wasn’t an advocate of being a doormat.

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