Churchians, non-believers and atheists love to use out of context and misapplied Bible verses to tell Christians how they should Christian better. It’s a pastime for these people to get a little smug smirk and act like they understand the teachings of Jesus Christ better than you, when they don’t acknowledge him as Lord and Savior. I warn you brothers and sisters, only lies can come from these mouths. They manipulate and distort the Word of God. Over the last couple decades or so, they’ve gotten more brazen about it as there’s no social consequences for doing so, which stems from one of the big misapplied Bible verses out there.
Every time I point out injustices to Christians or our values in our society, argue for Christian activism, defend myself or others against the social justice warrior crowd that has a sole goal of removing Christian influence from society, I get told by at least one non-believer: “you know, Christ said to turn the other cheek”, as if that means he called for Christians to never speak out, never argue logic, never be confrontational with anyone.
This is a lie, and the perhaps the most dangerous lie that has permeated through our society, and led to the debasement of our culture. Any teaching of Jesus Christ will, by definition, be confrontational. It flies in the face of every other worldview. This is not what Christ meant. Let’s look at the actual passage. It comes from Mathew 5:38-40 where Jesus preached:
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[a] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.
The point isn’t to weaken Christians and our faith by never allowing us to speak. The point is to strengthen us, by showing that our truth is so strong that we never need to resort to violence to proclaim it. It’s a call for his followers to practice non-violence, nothing more, nothing less. There was a lot of unrest going on in ancient Israel. The Romans had come in with their pagan ways and conquered, the leadership didn’t seem to be effective and at times appeared as Roman collaborators, having to walk a fine line in order to maintain their semi-sovereignty. Different rebellion leaders popped up all the time and caused riots, looting, problems that was bringing the Roman army down on anyone who looked like they might cause problems. Jesus ran into problems stemming from this himself later, as his followers dubbing him “King of the Jews” was taken to be a political usurping.
There’s some great detail about this in a fictional narrative based on really well done historical research in the book, The Shadow of the Galilean, by Gerd Theissen. It’s one of the few books that you can read to give a clear context as to what life was like in that region which in a lot of ways had similar amounts of turmoil to today.
But never anywhere did Jesus say that Christians shouldn’t speak out, shouldn’t be active, shouldn’t defend their faith at all costs. In fact, the Bible teaches the contrary — even if the cost is our own lives. One has to stretch the “turn the other cheek” into a metaphorical meaning that isn’t there to come to that conclusion that Christians should be quiet about what they believe. In fact, if you look at the Bible’s narrative, God is ALWAYS calling on his chosen people to speak out more, call out evil, show the way the truth and the light by word and deed. The struggle is getting people to do it, not shying people away from confrontation.
This is illustrated in the book of Jonah. God calls upon him to go to Nineveh and get the people there to repent, lest they be destroyed. He runs away and hides because he doesn’t want to deal with the confrontation. It’s dangerous, it’s scary. He turned the other cheek according to the way the non-believers would misinterpret the phrase, and he was punished for it before repenting and doing God’s will. Afterward, the Lord shows that this proclaiming of God’s will is the only way to get people to change their evil ways:
Jonah 2: 10
10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.
The Bible goes further. If you look at Jesus, his whole point was being provocative, getting in the face of authorities like the Pharisees who had abused their power and leadership positions to misinterpret God’s law. His whole point was being in public, showing people the way. When He gave His Sermon on the Mount, He wasn’t “turning the other cheek” as the non-believers would have you do. He gave reminders of who He was on a constant basis. He later even faced Pilate and admitted He was the true King of the Jews: “it is as you say” (Luke 23:3). He didn’t engage in their worthless worldly trivialities, but He never backed down from the truth either — He proclaimed it non-violently, just as he commanded.
And when do the disciples commit the worst sins according to the Word? There’s one instance that’s burned into our memories as a terrible failure, perhaps to some extent even worse than what Judas did in his betrayal, as it showed someone so steadfast in faith cowering in fear to the masses of non-believers:
56 Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” 57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 58 And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” 59 And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.”62 And he went out and wept bitterly.
Peter repented from this denial and inaction and remembered the Lord. This haunted him for the rest of his days and changed his life. If we were to listen to the non-believers, he did the right thing in this instance, not wanting to stir the pot or look bad before people who might even go so far as to put him in a dangerous situation. This is a much more frightening instance than standing up in our culture, where the worst we have to deal with is social shame. And that’s what they’re trying to do to us when they lie to us in their mockery of Christ’s words: socially shame us. Jesus and the Bible are explicit that we should not even consider such things.
A little encouragement: the social shame is not that bad. I get it all the time from different science fiction writers and even the fake news. It’s never once hurt me, but has always made me stronger both in my influence and my faith. It will do the same for you if you let God work through you, seek His Word and speak it clearly. Never listen to the non-believers, the Churchians or the atheists who are influenced by the Prince of this World, the Father of Lies. Even if it’s unknowing on their part, they are agents of an evil with an end goal to destroy souls. We need to bring Christ back into the public discourse as much as possible if we are to change this society in the way Christ commanded. It is the only way to go out and make disciples of all nations.