Thursday, 10 March 2016

A partial understanding of the parable of turning the other cheek.

I don't think this parable applies to serious harm or wrongdoing.

I think it applies to the day to day irritations that happen in life.

I was driving home today with a friend along a busy main road in the countryside and noticed a cyclist waiting to join the traffic from a side road.

I thought to myself, "I'd never be daft enough to bring a cycle on a busy, narrow and winding main road like this."

I'd left a reasonable gap between us and the car in front because I hate being tailgated so I don't do it to others.

I said to my friend, "This bike'll pull out in front of us!" And it did. I had to brake and pull into the middle of the road to avoid the bike. (even though I'd anticipated it)

I said to my friend in a passive accepting tone of voice despite the swearword, "It's a f-----g good job I'm alert and not an aggressive driver".

I noticed that the actions of the cyclist didn't bother me at all. Maybe I'm just getting older.

Then it dawned on me, perhaps because my friend is a vicar's son, a possible truth to the parable of

'when confronted with evil turn the other cheek'.

Evil in this context might just be a word for the everyday irritations of life.

I could have gotten angry with the cyclist and shouted at him or made a rude sign. I could have stopped and had a real conflict. I could have justified getting angry.

But on reflection, if I had gotten angry, the biochemistry of anger, even though it might only last a few minutes (or does it?) would have harmed me. If I were to get angry at life's irritations on a regular basis it might equal something like smoking in terms of damage to health and social relationships.

But I just let it slip by as just one of those things.

The net result was zero stress for me.

I think this is something like the essence of the parable.

Other descriptions could be, live and let live, or it's no skin off my nose.

I'm pretty certain that Jesus didn't mean this to apply to serious evil.

Here's a question. If you were being bullied for example, would turning the other cheek be a viable course of action? Personally I don't think it would. If one of my grand children told me they were being bullied at school, I most definitely would not say anything like , "Just ignore it and it'll go away."

So, I'm sorry Jesus but I only partly agree with you and anyway a few days after you said this you went and did exactly the opposite to the extent that you got yourself nailed to a cross.

To which Jesus would reply, "I turned the other cheek knowing that I would pay the ultimate price and a world religion grew from this."

For this parable to work against big evil I think it would require millions - millions of people to turn the other cheek no matter what.

Perhaps they will one day.