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ChuckNoland
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« on: November 23, 2004, 08:41:10 PM »

Could somebody please help me to balance what I am learning.

I have been reading spiritual books as a Catechumen and I come across things I dont agree with once in a while.

One is accepting everything as God's will. I constantly see situations where people just accept things as Gods will without using their own mind that God gave them to change the situation.

Another is the "turn the other cheek" thing, would an Orthodox Christian be expected to let somebody hurt another human being in their prescence without intervention.

The eye for an eye thing in the OT had to do with causing people to understand their actions..you cant just beat up on people...but this didnt speak about defending yourself from an attacker or while at war. It seems like in these books these people just take these beatings on purpose, it angers me everytime I read accoutns like these. People purposely letting harm come to themselves and to others in order to be "humble", I dont get a lot of this, anybody have some thoughts?

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« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2004, 09:24:04 PM »

One is accepting everything as God's will. I constantly see situations where people just accept things as Gods will without using their own mind that God gave them to change the situation.

Accepting everything as God's will cannot be used as an excuse to be lazy.  For example, I could put no effort into getting a job to support my family and then claim my unemployment is "God's will", but it would not be.  I think we are expected to do what we can on our end, but realise that we may not get what we work for or hope to get.  It is then that we must accept that this is the will of God, and it is being done in order to bring about something even greater.  Simply not doing anything, though, is not an option (cf. Mt. 25.14-30).    

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Another is the "turn the other cheek" thing, would an Orthodox Christian be expected to let somebody hurt another human being in their prescence without intervention.

The eye for an eye thing in the OT had to do with causing people to understand their actions..you cant just beat up on people...but this didnt speak about defending yourself from an attacker or while at war. It seems like in these books these people just take these beatings on purpose, it angers me everytime I read accoutns like these. People purposely letting harm come to themselves and to others in order to be "humble", I dont get a lot of this, anybody have some thoughts?

One intepretation of the "turn the other cheek" thing that I read went something like this.  If you were right handed and wanted to slap someone, chances are you'd hit them on their left cheek.  In order to hit them on the right cheek, as the passage says (cf. Mt. 5.39), you'd have to hit them with the back of your hand going in the other direction, and that is especially underhanded.  This has more to do with insult than actual injury, if this interpretation (or my description of it) is correct.

More to the point, I think there is a certain value in patiently bearing with wrongs done to oneself out of love for and in order to follow the example of Christ.  Certainly there are instances where self-defence is perfectly valid, and most of us would probably choose to go that route rather than just deal with it, and yet there is value in following Christ even in this.  

Allowing things to happen to others is a different issue.  I personally don't think there is any justification for sitting by idly while someone else endures some sort of attack, all in the name of "turning the other cheek".  I don't think Christ necessarily wants you, upon seeing a woman about to be mugged at gunpoint (for example), to whip out a prayer rope, kneel in a dark corner, and pray when you are also capable of knocking the guy in the skull with a baseball bat, crowbar, brick, or whatever happens to be laying around and saving the woman from such an attack.  

I hope other people will try to help you out, I don't know how helpful this is.
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« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2013, 06:46:57 AM »

I just don't see how being a pin cushion can ever be a good thing.
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« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2013, 07:25:45 AM »

Could somebody please help me to balance what I am learning.

I have been reading spiritual books as a Catechumen and I come across things I dont agree with once in a while.

One is accepting everything as God's will. I constantly see situations where people just accept things as Gods will without using their own mind that God gave them to change the situation.

Another is the "turn the other cheek" thing, would an Orthodox Christian be expected to let somebody hurt another human being in their prescence without intervention.

The eye for an eye thing in the OT had to do with causing people to understand their actions..you cant just beat up on people...but this didnt speak about defending yourself from an attacker or while at war. It seems like in these books these people just take these beatings on purpose, it angers me everytime I read accoutns like these. People purposely letting harm come to themselves and to others in order to be "humble", I dont get a lot of this, anybody have some thoughts?



Dear to Christ William:

Perhaps you might provide some examples from the literature you are reading that are troubling you? Context is very important in these matters.

To address the matter of allowing harm to come to others: as Mor Ephrem noted, in no way should the commandment to 'turn the other cheek' be applied to non-intervention in the case of witnessing harm to our neighbor. I have found this unequivocally and universally condemned by Church Fathers and by any pastor or confessor I have had occasion to discuss this with. I could furnish Patristic and Canonical witness if you wish.

As to the other matters: on accepting God's will in a seemingly passive or irresponsible manner, or passively accepting violence to oneself: here is where context is important, so if you could be more specific it would help. 
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« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2013, 07:28:37 AM »

Really, why bump a thread from 2004?
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« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2013, 07:36:11 AM »

Holy thread resurrection, Batman!
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« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2013, 08:57:57 AM »

Really, why bump a thread from 2004?

Oh. Indeed. Weird. I hadn't even noticed. And I mistakenly attributed OP to William. I have to stop multi-tasking.
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« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2013, 07:31:55 PM »

Really, why bump a thread from 2004?

Maybe because the OP's problems resonate with me?

I saw another thread when searching for this topic ("turn the other cheek"). A thread was asking for advice on how we are supposed to forgive everyone and how that relates to abusive relationships. People basically answered (with one exception) that we're supposed to just forgive and keep enduring the abuse. And based on things I've read from lives of the saints, about abbots helping people get away with murder, about how St. Seraphim defended those who beat him within an inch of his life, how all of the martyrs simply endure torture and death without ever trying to resist or even flee, that seems like the accurate Orthodox response.

If we don't hold people accountable for their sinful/criminal actions, we aren't respecting them as free, rational agents. Nor are we respecting the values we claim to uphold. And we especially aren't treating ourselves with respect if we act like doormats to the whim of those who do evil.
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« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2013, 11:32:05 PM »

Really, why bump a thread from 2004?

Maybe because the OP's problems resonate with me?

I saw another thread when searching for this topic ("turn the other cheek"). A thread was asking for advice on how we are supposed to forgive everyone and how that relates to abusive relationships. People basically answered (with one exception) that we're supposed to just forgive and keep enduring the abuse. And based on things I've read from lives of the saints, about abbots helping people get away with murder, about how St. Seraphim defended those who beat him within an inch of his life, how all of the martyrs simply endure torture and death without ever trying to resist or even flee, that seems like the accurate Orthodox response.

If we don't hold people accountable for their sinful/criminal actions, we aren't respecting them as free, rational agents. Nor are we respecting the values we claim to uphold. And we especially aren't treating ourselves with respect if we act like doormats to the whim of those who do evil.

Good topic.  No, we shouldn't be doormats.  There are also saints who were soldiers, no?  How about St. Nicholas slapping Arius in the face? 

So when it becomes irritability or something like a passion, then maybe it is worsening our spiritual state? 

St. Seraphim wasn't in an abusive situation, he was assaulted.  It isn't like he was being battered everyday by his spouse, for example. 

He just sensed his own spiritual state declining, hence his response. 

That is my thought at the moment anyway.

This just in over the wire:

The Lord Himself says, Be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves.  According to commentaries, the wisdom of the serpent consists of the fact that when a serpent is attacked, it first of all protects its head; similarly, in times of misfortune and difficult circumstances, the Christian must, first of all, protect his faith.  Secondly, the wisdom of the serpent consists of the fact that when it wants to shed its old skin, it slithers into a tight space, otherwise it will not be able to shed its skin.  Likewise with the Christian, if he wishes to shed himself of the ‘old man,’ must take the narrow path, according to the Gospel teaching.  The harmlessness of the dove consists in gentleness and forgiveness of offenses, vexations and similar things.  Venerable Ambrose of Optina
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« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2013, 03:07:57 PM »

Thanks, Irini.

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Apart from moral conduct, all that man thinks himself able to do in order to become acceptable to God is mere superstition and religious folly. - Immanuel Kant
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