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One interpretation of this phrase is that Jesus was making a veiled political statement to the Israelites.

In his culture, apparently the right hand was used for all dealings with others, and the left hand for wiping one's ass and other manipulations of a personal nature.

If you smacked someone across the face with the back of your hand, it meant that you considered that person to be sub-equal.

However, if you slapped someone with the palm of your hand, it meant that the two of you were considered to be on the same social plane.

The Israelites were used to being treated as less than equal by the Romans.

To turn the other cheek meant that if they were hit again, it would be with the flat of the hand. Thus they would be making a silent statement of insubordination to second-class status if they did so.

Jesus the revolutionary. How cool.

For a long, long time I thought the phrase had a different meaning entirely. I thought it was pretty cool. Jesus was saying, 'I'm such a hardass, I don't care that you hit me. Here, have at the other side, too.'

Jesus the hardass. How cool.

But, no, that's not what it is. It could be the veiled political statement, like coffy said above. The way it is taken in our culture, though, is entirely different. It's thought to be a general pacifistic sentiment. It's usually interpreted to mean that it's okay for people to beat the shit out of you, and don't hit them back.

Anyone who's read any of my other nodes could guess I'm not thrilled with that interpretation. Sometimes force has to be taken to the aggressor, because that's all they understand.

Return force in kind, ten fold upon thine enemy. Force him to listen, and yeah, it will be good. Giveth the option: beat me, and be beat to hell; or sit, and speak, and listen, and think.
Say unto the world, Beat me at thine own risk! Show thy righteousness, for the arm of the righteous is indeed mighty. The righteous have the truth on their side, along with a fistful of quarters.
Book of Elwood Chapter 1, Verses 1-2

That's much more to my liking.

As a small note to coffy's excellent writeup is that a slap by the left hand in Roman times was dishonor on those who did the slapping. For centuries, left-handedness was considered evil, and inferior.

There are several other references to right and left-handedness in the Bible, such as sitting on the right hand of God (no mention as to sitting on the left hand of God), being separated off into right and left (sheep and goats, as an example), and it is still debated which is which in correct interpretations, due to spacial perceptions).

Hate thy neighbour

    The Christian pastor Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kansas, famous for his various and hilarious hate sites (godhatesamerica.com, godhatescanada.com, etc.), has recently set up a "hate Sweden" site, godhatessweden.com.

    The main point of the site seems to be that Sweden, according to Phelps, is a Kingdom of Homosexuals and hence should be destroyed. This God-inspired idea of his is partly due to the fact that a similarly-minded Swedish Christian pastor Åke Green was recently convicted for having made defamatory public statements about homosexuals (see Monkey trial in reverse).

    Highlights from godhatessweden.com:


    The site godhatessweden.com also comments a photograph of the Swedish Royal Family:

    The King looks like an anal-copulator, & his grinning kids look slutty & gay!

    Carl XVI Gustaf
    King of Sodomite Whores
    You jackass Swedes just don't get it. Once you have laws to chill Bible preaching, we don't give a rat's tutu whatever else you do or say. You are drippings from the Devil's own penis - a veritable sperm bank for Satan's queers. "To me belongeth vengeance and recompence...for the day of their calamity is at hand." Deut. 32:35.

A lovingly effective counterblow

    All of this would hardly merit a writeup (Fred Phelps and his curious antics have already been admirably noded). What does, however, is that somebody has now made a devastatingly Christian counter-blow against the Christian pastor Phelps, by setting up the site godlovesphelps.com.

    This entire site consists of just one single page. On it is a short handwritten message, against a pink background:


    We forgive you.



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