The teaching of Christ no matter what the translation – “Resist not evil, the evildoer, the wicked one, etc.,” and its follow –up “to turn the other cheek,” has certainly provoked lots of thought and debate. (Matthew 5:39). People claim it is the foundation for civil disobedience and pacifism. Although Gandhi, King, and others certainly resisted evil and the phrase “passive resistance” seems to violate the basic tenant. It can apply to countries or individuals, and it can apply to world issues like fascism or personal issues as simple as a slap on the face.Just what exactly was Christ teaching us with the simple words “Resist not Evil.” (By the way my feeble attempts to go to the original Greek gave me no guidance, either.)
Tom’s Sufis talk about the teaching in terms of harmony and inharmony. They say Christ is hinting that we simply don’t respond to inharmony. I think when he said, ‘turn the other cheek” he didn’t mean hold out your other jaw in defiance, but to simply turn the other way in an act of letting the first blow pass away or glance by. It means that we let the insult or right cross not affect us. We don’t resist the onslaught of hatred by any response other than turning.
A word of kindness or an action of love usually gets a positive response – thus harmony. But a word of insult or an action of hatred promotes a response as well. Sufis say a these type of words or actions are inharmony, and if we respond with insult or hatred we are simply multiplying the inharmony. Although it might give us momentary satisfaction to respond to an insult with an insult, by doing so we just build on the inharmony. Thus a response in kind is simply an escalation of insult or hatred not a diffusion.
Think about a game of tennis. “Resist not evil” means simply not returning the ball with your racquet. The phrase does not suggest you catch the ball with open hands. We don’t take the insult or hatred to heart we just let it pass. (I also have an offensive tackle analogy, but Suzy says enough already.) Where there is unrest in the world we see an escalation of disharmony caused by lobs of hatred and insult being returned in kind. Perhaps, we resist evil by simply letting the shot go out of bounds. This all may not make sense, but at least I got another sport into my writing.