Manhood and the Second Slap

Jesus’ instructions are practically shrewd. Instead of perpetuating insults and blows, Jesus teaches His disciples to act in a surprising way that brings an end to the cycle. Instead of a series of slaps and return slaps, there are at most two slaps, both on the cheeks of the disciple, and then it’s over. Following these instructions also, subtly, restores the dignity of the insulted disciple. Instead of being a victim of an unwanted blow, instead of being merely an involuntary object of insult or abuse, the disciple acts – he offers his cheek, he removes his undershirt, he goes a second mile, he gives to whoever demands vv. 40-42. The slapper wants to treat the slappee as a victim, but when the slappee turns and offers his other check, the slapper is suddenly put on the spot. He has to decide whether to slap again. By turning the other cheek, the slappee has wrested initiative out of the slapper’s hands. The disciple might also expose the bully for the brute that he is, and invert the trajectory of honor and shame. One slap makes the slapper look virile, manly, in control. But slapping someone who’s asking to be slapped exposes the slapper’s cruelty. Beating someone who is fighting back enhances; beating someone who refuses to fight is shameful.

via Manhood and the Second Slap.


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