Reader Email: "If you search among SERIOUSLY religious people you know, you will find that many of them have a peace of mind that others can only strive for by paying Psychologists a lot of money."
Date: January 17, 2009 9:34:29 PM EST
Subject: Turning the other cheek
Your observation about these rules not having the word God in them is key. I noticed that a while back too. Many, but not all, of the commandments, as well as other “rules” in the Bible have more to do with how we interact with one another than how we interact with God, I’m often put off by those who rely too much on just one or two Bible verses to answer everything but…
Matthew 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
It seems that many people today who have (as you did, and as I did) rejected religion in our youth also want to throw out all the ethical considerations along with the God part. “Secular Humanism” seems designed to fill that void, but I’ve tried asking many people who express a disdain for any religion (particularly whichever one they were brought up in) if they are “Secular Humanists” and all I get is a blank stare, followed by a change of subject so that they don’t have to admit they don’t know what I’m talking about.
Well, I never took a class in the subject either, nor did a formal study of religions. I know people who have, and for some it caused them to lose all faith, for others, not so. I do think that in many ways our Sunday schools (and equivalent) for children may do more harm than good. Beard indeed. Maybe He shaves. I guess “in His own image” can mean different things to different people, but it is for certain that our physical resemblance to God, if such a concept even makes sense, is the least important aspect we should consider.
To your specific question about turning the other cheek. In addition to the obvious fact that we would hope to be forgiven if we wronged someone else, there is another aspect that I stumbled across even before I “got religion” again and that is that there is a certain amount of “mental health” in the Biblical message. I think you will find if you search among SERIOUSLY religious people you know (and it gets harder to find a large enough group to draw any conclusion from these days) you will find that many of them have a peace of mind that others can only strive for by paying Psychologists a lot of money and sitting with their legs crossed on the floor for hours at a time (but maybe both of these groups are religious in their own way too).
I don’t see turning the other cheek as necessarily running up to someone who just punched you and trying to give them a big hug. On the other hand, carrying a grudge around for a long time (or as some people do, for the rest of their lives) probably does more to harm to you than it does to the person who harmed you in the first place. A “modern” would probably say something like “you need to release all that negative energy” or something. They never seem to realize the extent to which they are reinventing the wheel so to speak.
There are also a few places in the Bible, both OT and NT where it is acknowledged that some people are just never going to “get it” and while we should never turn such people away if they seek our help, we needn’t neglect an outstretched hand because we are so busy trying to open up a fist.
I hope you find an answer that makes sense for you. And God bless you for opening up your blog to more serious matters, I’m sure you will take a lot of heat for it. The secular world can be very cruel, and there is often much irony in what they have to say about those of faith. Look for the irony and the barbs don’t sting nearly as much.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
RB: Julia, Jan 18 - 2:01pm
Wow, Julia's readers are such religion scholars! See the most recent email:
Posted by NSRB at 2:05 AM