Skip to content

Turning the Other Cheek

I have come to see that the verses in Matthew 5 which describe turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, and taking your inner garment off in the courtroom are not ethical stances, but rather strategies for uncovering the domination/submission system. To turn the other cheek was a way to claim your equality as a child of God with someone of more status than you. Going the extra mile is a way to let the Roman soldier know that you are a human being who can love your neighbor even when that care is coerced. Taking off your inner garment was a way to expose the shame of a courtroom rigged to favor the rich and powerful. These are tactics one could use in that century. The ethic of this chapter of Matthew is work for a culture of mutuality in the midst of a culture of domination and submission. While these tactics may make domination/submission visible, their use can only be justified when their goal is love of our neighbor and even our neighbor who acts as an enemy.