Jesus said "You have learned that they were told 'Eye for eye;tooth for tooth' But what I tell you is this 'Do not set yourself against someone who wrongs you. If someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn and offer him your left. " Matthew 5:38-39.
This passage from the Gospel has often been used to criticise Christians for not standing up to a perceived wrong, for being passive, weak even. It can make Christians who are assertive and proactive feel guilty for their lack of forbearance. This is an extract from the book Son of God, by Revd Angela Tilby, an Anglican priest, published by Hodder and
I have had occasion to refer to the interpretation she describes to support an assertive view and I think it deserves repetition here for future use.
Jesus’ teaching on non-violence is so well known that it has become part of everyday language. “Turning the other cheek “or “going the extra mile” (Matthew 5:39-42) have often been seen as examples of extraordinary Christian forbearance in response to others assertive behaviour. This interpretation has been useful to bullies and control freaks. ….
Playwright Dennis Potter, in his play about Jesus “Son of Man” had a scene in which Jesus was struck across the face. Jesus “turned the other cheek” by thrusting the other side of his face towards his assailant, defiance in his eyes, but without the slightest attempt to retaliate. The gesture startled the aggressor, displaying back to him the consequence of violence and making him look rather foolish.
Is this what Jesus meant? One of the scholars who has researched this aspect of the teaching of Jesus is Tom Wright formerly of