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Nonviolence Playlets - compiled by Walter Wink - page 13 / 29





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 How different this is from the usual view that this passage teaches us

to turn the other cheek so our batterer can simply clobber us again!

How often that interpretation has been fed to battered wives and

children.  And it was never what Jesus intended in the least.  To such

victims he advises, "Stand up for yourselves, take control of your

responses, don't answer the oppressor in kind, but find a new, third way

that is neither cowardly submission nor violent reprisal."

Narrator (N):  “Stand facing each other in front of me.  Designate one

as Hitter (H1) and other as Hittee (H2).  Now (to H1), show us a right


H1 does so.

N:  “In terms of the text, what’s wrong with that blow?”

(Crowd or one of the role players say, “Wrong cheek.”

N:  “Now show us a left hook.”  “What’s wrong with that?”

Somebody says, “The left hand is only used for unclean tasks.”

N.:  “Yes, at Qumran (a Jewish community active at the same time as

Jesus), they expelled you if you so much as gestured with your left

hand.  So how do you hit the right cheek with the right hand?”

Somebody:  “With the back of the hand.”

N.:  “That’s the only way you can do it.  The back of the hand is not a

blow to injure, but to put people back in the social role where they

belong.  It was always one down: master over slave, parent child,

husband over wife, Roman over Jew.  The backhand is intended to put

people back where they belong.  So now, when the superior person strikes

one of these, and the person hit simply turns the other cheek, what can

the hitter do?”

H1:  “There’s not much he can do.”

N.: “The left cheek offers a big target, but only equals fight with

fists, and the last thing that the oppressor wants is to be thought of

as the equal of this subordinate.  There’s not really very much he can

do.  Rather than being an act of submission, as we have regarded it so

long, turning the other cheek is an act of defiance.  By turning the

cheek, then, the "inferior" is saying: "I'm a human being, just like

you.  I refuse to be humiliated any longer.  I am your equal.  I am a

child of God.  I won't take it anymore."  The master may flog the

“uppity” slave within an inch of his life, but he will not be able to

restore their relationship of dominance.”

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