Q. I have a question for you that I’ve asked many others about and have never gotten a real answer.
Where and in what manner did Jesus draw the line between “turning the other cheek” and standing up for oneself?
I mean, if I break into your house, kill your dog and child, rape your wife, and attempt to slit your throat, I don’t think the first words out of your mouth would be “I know you are struggling with sin and I’m praying for you”. Granted this is an extreme case.
I know Jesus said that we are to submit to authority. But does that mean any and all authority no matter from whence it cometh? What If that authority can proclaim its “power” only through deception, illegitimacy, ignorance of the people, or fiat decree? i know you’re well versed in the insidious goings on in this country and world and you know all the alphabet soup gangs just make everything up as they go along and if the law happens to accidentally support their position so much the better.
So when am I required to stand up for myself or family and when am I supposed to “just get over it, Jesus is coming soon and in the end, it’ll all come out in the wash anyway.”
A. First of all, let’s remember that the Lord did not condone violations of the law, nor did He argue against using legal remedies to receive justice.
Second, He never advised us against self defense or defense of our families. A slap on the face in no way equates with an attempt on our life or the lives of those we’ve sworn to protect. Giving someone the opportunity to slap us again is an act of courage that will usually defuse a potentially contentious situation.
The next admonition in Matt. 5:38-42 was if someone sued them for one garment, they should volunteer a second one as well. And the one to “go the extra mile” came from the Roman soldier’s right, if he asked them directions, to require them to walk up to one mile with him. This was to prevent the Jews from intentionally giving the soldiers wrong directions. Jesus said in effect, instead of resenting the soldier for asking them to go one mile, they should volunteer to go two.
The lesson in all these cases is to willingly give more than is demanded. This turns a “have-to” into a “want-to”, (we don’t harbor anger or resentment over something we’ve done willingly) and gives us the victory rather than our oppressor.
And remember, all this was said in the greater context of storing up treasure in heaven and trusting the Lord to provide for things on earth. (Matt. 6:25-34) We don’t mind giving away our possessions or lending money we may not get back if we truly believe that the Lord will replace what we’ve given. That’s not the same as having to “get over it.”
If you think that He was telling us to lay down and roll over whenever any one asks, you’ve missed the point of the passage. He was giving us the way to live lives of peace and plenty.
As far as submission to legally constituted authority, the Bible says we are to obey the laws of that authority. All governments are set up by God (Romans 13:1) and He will hold its leaders accountable. For example, even though He gave His people Israel into the hands of the Babylonians, He punished Babylon for treating them too harshly. (Isaiah 47:6-7)
The only exception to this general rule that I can find is when the government forbids the free worship of God, or requires you to worship another. Daniel 2 & 6 and Acts 4 seem to condone civil disobedience in that case.