When I Turned the Other Cheek

There’s been a tasty little discussion here at The New Christians about turning the other cheek, and I was reminded of a moment in 10th grade — the only time I know when I actually did it. 

I was in the lowest level of band — the band where the kids who couldn’t make the Concert Band or the Varsity Band were placed.  There were only about fifteen of us, not enough to actually play anything as a band.  So we basically just had individual lessons with the instructor, who clearly hated being there.

I played the trombone…badly. 

So, those of us who weren’t receiving instruction on our instruments basically spent the entire hour screwing off.  One day, I somehow found myself in a small corridor off the band room with a couple other guys, guys with whom I did not get along.

Tensions were rising.  They were bullying me physically, and I was countering them verbally.  Then, one of them slapped me hard across the face.

Tears burned in my eyes.  My cheeks flushed red, and my I felt my throat immediately go dry. My heart pounded in my chest.

And, something possessed me to put into practice the verse that I’d heard so many times.

I looked at him, turned my face, and said with a quivering voice, “Here, hit my other cheek, too.”

He and his friend looked at me, dumbfounded, and walked away.

That’s it.  That’s the end of the story.

Have you ever tried turning the other cheek?

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  • Herb

    Cool story.
    Back when I was waiting tables someone one pinched my “cheek”. I don’t know if I should’ve offered the other one, too. But something makes me think this doesn’t apply. 🙂

  • bblondie

    I have turn the other cheek several times in my younger days, sometimes it was just veribal maybe once or twice phycical.
    But now that I’m older 50+ & (A BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN) I HAVEN’T really
    came into frontation with anyone, I mean I get angry when I think that I’ BEING provoked but. thats about it. as far as turning the
    other cheek I have a tendonsy to speak out more.Then I did when I was
    younger. You know kind of keep people in their places and the devil under your feet.

  • Tony,
    I am much better in theory than in practice. Turning the other cheek begins at home………
    I like to think I am getting better………the all of a sudden someone really pi**es me off…..and up go the blood pressure and the last thing on my mind is turng any cheek.
    How much better it would be to START our children out in life on a path of non-violent resistance.

  • good story! Similar thing happened to me in junior high. We were playing football at lunch time and this big guy, way taller than me but about my bulk got mad because he thought I tackled him too hard. He immediately turned in to me and decked me right in the face. Being a big guy myself, my first thought was to hit him back. After he hit me a crowd kinda formed around us and waited for me to hit him back… but I didn’t. I simply turned toward him and said, “it’s ok man, you were mad. You didn’t know what you were doing.” I could have looked like a wimp to him but instead I earned his respect through that event.

  • cp

    Tony’s post in no way condones abuse. It’s a story about a junior high testosterone issue.
    I believe what Tony’s and Wes’ stories speak to is finding true confidence that doesn’t depend on outer, base displays of strength. Remaining in an abusive situation would be the opposite of discovering true inner strength.

  • Rick C

    I find that when I come to this portion of Scripture (as with all passages of Scripture) it is very important to remember to research both the historical and cultural context in order to interpret the passage as the speaker (in this case the Lord Jesus) intended.
    Grace and peace,

  • jon

    First, some levity. Ha! you got lucky!
    I really thought you were going to say:
    “I looked at him, turned my face, and said with a quivering voice, “Here, hit my other cheek, too.”
    He and his friend looked at me, dumbfounded, then pulling his fist back–he clocked me.
    That’s it. That’s the end of the story.”
    When I would say that as a kid, I would get hit. And after getting hit for the second time, I’m not sure who looked like a bigger dork, him or myself? At 10yo, I remember thinking “well, that didn’t work OR make me feel more ‘christian…what was Jesus thinking?”
    On the serious side, the posts on abuse. This is not coming from left field. Woman (and men) are getting mixed messages from the church–that abuse isn’t cause for divorce, etc. Didn’t Saddleback get some coverage on their program that has abused woman staying in their marriage?

  • panthera

    It is a valid question. The truth of the matter is, once you have been beaten up by family members, you lose all desire to be patient, loving and kind. At least I have.
    Every single one of the red-nex in the family knows that when my parents go, I shall control the family funds. They have lost every single battle against me in court, but that doesn’t stop them from trying. So I have spent tens of thousands of dollars on good lawyers and having courts ‘take notice’. Won’t stop them from trying, but will, hopefully protect my husband and me.
    My policy today is: If a conservative Christian slaps me, my answer is: Why turn the cheek when a thermonuclear response is at hand?
    Backing people into corners is never a good thing to do, quite frankly, the conservative Christians have done nothing but to us for too long. I – and many gays and transgendered – have had it. We now fight back.

  • Your Name

    I’m a Mennonite so have been immersed in the Theological language of peacemaking all my life. The scenarios that trap pacifists and call into question good judgment in the face of violence and dominance are all too familiar I’m afraid. A real turning point came for me when I read Walter Winks interpretation of this text. Turning the other cheek is not a week response if culturally what is being described is a person who has been struck as a slave (with an open hand) turns his head and DARES the antagonist to strike him with the back of his hand AS AN EQUAL. It is not violence for violence but it is defiance in the face of injustice.

  • Your Name

    Check out Walter Winks interpretation

  • Curt

    Sorry the link didn’t post

  • I am sorry Tony but I have to say it: You are dead wrong this time. You said that was the only time you remember turning the other cheek. You are wrong. I have seen you turn the other cheek just about every time I have read a blog written by you. (Okay, I know you meant literally and I am talking figuratively, but I like adrenaline LOL.)All jokes aside, one of your strengths is to turn the other cheek, and it is one of the most important reasons I respect and admire you so. Again, and again, and again, and again, you turn the other cheek. Thank you for continually showing Jesus to me in this way. It has honestly helped me to learn to do the same – something I did not do well when I first began to get slapped on the cheeks for my affiliation with the Emergent movement.