Transform Your Conflict Resolution: The Profound Wisdom of Turning the Other Cheek

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“But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.” ~ Mt 5:39

Today, I explore the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 5, verses 38 to 42, where Jesus introduces his version of “turning the other cheek.” This passage challenges the traditional notion of an eye for an eye, and proposes a different way to stand our ground while paying respect to the aggressor.

Two Ways of Rethinking “Turn the Other Cheek”

Initially, I interpreted turning the other cheek as a form of submission or allowing oneself to be taken advantage of. It seemed to suggest letting others intimidate us without resistance. However, this understanding shifted profoundly through insights from two different sources: a YouTube video from Bishop Barron, and the book “Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels” by Bruce Malina.

#1 – Bishop Barron’s Perspective

Bishop Barron explains that in Jesus’ time, the right hand was exclusively used for interactions, as the left was considered impure. A slap to the right cheek would typically be a backhanded slap, intended to humiliate and degrade. By turning the other cheek, you force the aggressor to use an open hand, which is a more direct and confrontational gesture. This act is not about submission but about asserting one’s dignity and challenging the aggressor to reconsider their actions. It’s a way of saying, “I refuse to be humiliated. If you want to confront me, do it with respect.”

#2 – Social-Science Commentary Insight

The Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels offers another layer of understanding. In ancient times, public altercations often prompted bystanders to intervene and stop the fight. This contrasts sharply with today’s tendency to remain passive or even record conflicts without intervening. Turning the other cheek provided a space for de-escalation and private reconciliation, avoiding the escalation of public disputes. It allowed both parties to save face, maintain their honor, and potentially resolve their differences away from the public eye.

The True Challenge of Non-Retaliation

The essence of Jesus’ teaching is not about avoiding conflict or admitting defeat. It is about us finding a way to stand our ground while showing respect and grace. It calls us to acknowledge the other person’s humanity, even in the face of their wrongdoing.

I find this to be a challenge of strength and courage, as it goes against my instinctive reactions to defend myself and prove my superiority.

As you go about your day

  1. Consider moments in your daily interactions—whether in person or online—where you feel the urge to defend yourself or assert your dominance.
  2. Reflect on how you can maintain your stance without needing to safe face, protect your ego, and appear superior.

In peace,


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