Should You Turn the Other Cheek If Someone is Trying to Kill You?

The Trayvon Martin shooting has become a media event. It’s becoming evident that we do not have all the facts and liberals have turned the tragedy into something political. Hashim Nzinga, a high ranking member of the New Black Panther Party, announced on CNN that his group was offering a $10,000 reward for the capture of George Zimmerman, the man who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Nzinga has since been arrested for possession of a firearm. It seems that he is a convicted felon.

The more liberals talk, the dumber they sound. It’s not that they have low IQs. They’re probably very bright when it comes to book smarts. It’s that they don’t have any fixed reference points from which they can make intelligent comments about day-to-day events.

Consider Matt Dowd, a political consultant who was the chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential campaign who used to work for Democrats. He jumped ship when he saw the political winds shift. Now he’s back on the liberal ship. Dowd had this to say in an interview with George Stephanopoulos Sunday’s This Week:

We want to be a Christian nation and we want to act in a Christian manner, but, oh, by the way, we don’t believe in turn the other cheek.”

I did not hear a conservative talk show host say that Trayvon Martin got what he deserved. Most of them are saying let’s not have another “rush to judgment” like what happened in the 1987 Al Sharpton-Tawana Brawley rape accusation, to Richard Jewel at the 1996 Olympic bombing, and the Duke Lacrosse team whose members were accused of raping a black woman.

How should we understand Jesus’ injunction to “turn the other cheek” (Matt. 5:38–39)? There’s quite a difference between be slapped across the face and someone wanting to take a baseball bat to your head. Self-defense is a biblical option in such a case:

“If the thief is caught while breaking into [your house], and is struck so that he dies, there will be no bloodguiltiness on his account” (Ex. 22:2).

The homeowner can assume that someone breaking into his house at night has nothing but bad intentions. Does the application of this law apply to the Martin shooting? We don’t have all the facts to know. That’s why we have courts, rules of evidences, and cross examination of witnesses.

The apostle Paul tells Christians, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18). Sometimes peace isn’t possible. If it comes down to defending my family against people who want to do them harm, turning the other cheek is not applicable. Will I incite someone, go out of my way to cause trouble, or put my nose into someone else’s business where it does not belong? Here is some good advice from the Bible’s Book of Proverbs:

“Like one who takes a dog by the ears is he who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him” (Prov. 26:17; see 3:30)

In the movie Ben Hur (1959), there is a discussion between Balthasar and Judah Ben Hur about seeking revenge.

Judah: I must deal with Messala in my own way.

Balthasar: And your way is to kill him. I see this terrible thing in your eyes, Judah Ben-Hur. But no matter what this man has done to you, you have no right to take his life. He will be punished inevitably.

Overhearing their conversation, Sheik Ilderim speaks wisdom: “Balthasar is a good man. But until all men are like him, we must keep our swords bright!”

If all those in the world had the heart of Balthasar, then there would be no need to discuss what the right response is regarding self-defense and war. Being prepared is not a bad thing. Acting out of revenge or in haste is,