The High Road: Should democrats turn the other cheek?

The High Road:  Should democrats turn the other cheek?  I can’t believe I’m about to write this.  There’s a New York Times article out today – Michelle Obama Wanted Democrats to ‘Go High.’ Now They Aren’t So Sure.  [sorry, the article has been removed from msn.com]  The thing I can’t believe is that I’m actually agreeing with Michelle Obama.  Not that I have anything against her.  It’s more that our current president, and those in power that are following / becoming more like him, make me really take another look at both parties.  And I don’t like either one. 

The high road: Should democrats turn the other cheek?There are so many things that, as a Christian, I must take exception to.  But for whatever reason, God has us living in a democracy.  And we have the ability to vote.  But how do we choose, when both sides are so anti-Christian – if not in word then certainly in deed.  The things both sides do should be unacceptable to Christians.  So how do we choose who to vote for?

That question is why the headline caught my eye.  Michelle Obama Wanted Democrats to ‘Go High.’ Now They Aren’t So Sure.  Given that her husband often seemed to want to stoke the fires of fear, and seemingly made race relations worse than they were before – what Michelle Obama said surprised me.

A note of caution here. 

I happen to be fortunate enough to live in an area where there are all kinds of different races living together.  Going to another part of the country where the vast majority of people are white – it’s very “foreign” to me.  BTW – I’m white.  It’s just weird to visit places where different races of people aren’t mixed together.  We even have a block party every year, on a really long block.  It’s great to get together with neighbors that have differences – and just enjoy the time, the company and the food. 

Same thing with the church I go to.  It’s the way it’s supposed to be.  We’re all people.  The differences should be fun – not divisive.  And it’s weird, wrong, and hard to understand why it doesn’t happen more often.  So that’s the situation I’m in now.  Not that I grew up that way.  I remember one time when I was a kid that my mother was complaining that “the Italians” were moving into the neighborhood.  I guess they were the “wrong” kind of white?  Anyway – that’s what I grew up with.  But I rejected it.  So it’s hard to see why it’s seemingly impossible for so many others to do the same.

And that’s why, in a longer explanation that I expected, I was surprised by her saying to “Go High”.  To me, going high means getting along.  It feels to me like both sides just keep going lower and lower.  And Trump seems to be trying and succeeding in reaching new lows almost every day.

Should democrats turn the other cheek?

I have two series on this site that I invite you to check out.  Both look at the government here in the U.S. and other countries.  They examine whether or not the things the political parties do are really Christian in nature.  It seems important to look into, especially when a country claims to be mostly Christian.  Interestingly enough, it was Barack Obama who (in)famously said that we are no longer a Christian nation.  Regardless of what he says, and regardless of whether or not it’s actually true, my question is this – are the Christians in this country acting like they are Christian?  

The headline also caught my eye for that reason.  Going high is like taking the high road. 

As you read on, you may begin to wonder where I’m going with this.  I’m coming back and adding these sentences after realizing the next segment is turning out to be longer than I expected.  But hang in there.  It will come back to topic.  And the words that follow on the “high road” really show the importance of actually doing what Michelle Obama said – “Go high”.

The Urban Dictionary top definition for high road is this:

The High Road

High road refers to a higher moral ground. “Taking the high road” expression refers to one being a “class act” during a very difficult time. Those who take the high road, are demonstrating being honest, fair, and selfless while not being completely defenseless.

He didn’t buckle under the constant scrutiny by public. He’s taking the high road and will get through it fine.

#high road#take the high road#taking the high road#class act#high moral

If you’re not familiar with the Urban Dictionary, anyone can submit a word and definition.  It then gets voted on by people who use it.  For the subset of people using it then, the top definition is the one that has received the most votes.  Presumably, it’s a reasonably good representation of the way a word or phrase is actually used – which isn’t always the technical definition.  That’s why I used it here – to see what people think it means.

Webster’s Dictionary defines the High Road as follows:

high road noun

Definition of high road

1 : HIGHWAY
2 : the easiest course
3 : an ethical course

Well, that’s kind of different.  The Urban Dictionary usage is only the third option if Webster’s Dictionary.

So let’s look for some kind of Biblical usage.  If you search for the actual words “high road”, they aren’t there.  However, looking for it conceptually, there are some examples.  Let’s look at Proverbs 16:17 as an example.

Pr 16:17 The highway of the upright avoids evil;
he who guards his way guards his life.

True – it says highway.  To be sure – it pretty much meant something very much along those lines to the Hebrew people of the time as well.

4546 מְסִלָּה [mâcillah /mes·il·law/] n f. From 5549; TWOT 1506d; GK 5019; 27 occurrences; AV translates as “highway” 19 times, “causeway” twice, “path” twice, “way” twice, “courses” once, and “terraces” once. 1 highway, raised way, public road.  1)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

Today, we think of highway as a relatively fast road – like for cars, not people walking on or often even on bicycles.  They are public, although there may be a toll associated with using them.  And today, they may even be tunnels under ground or water – not raised as in the Old Testament days.  

Having said that, there was a contextual element to the word – or rather the phrase, “highway of the upright”.

TAKE THE HIGH ROAD ( Pr 16:17)

This proverb encourages us to take Interstate Upright rather than any other route. By this route, evil is not just more manageable, but we avoid it entirely (16:17; see the same Hebrew expression in 16:6b), just as the interstate bypasses city traffic. Highway (16:17) refers to a public road which connects cities, but is never used for the road which passes through the city. Similar ideas can be found in Proverbs 2 and 11:3. The second line is a masterpiece of brevity and balance. The Hebrew phrase is only four words long; grammatically the first two words find their mirror image in the second two. Eugene Peterson catches both the meaning and the form: “Watch your step and save your life” (THE MESSAGE).  2)Lennox, S. J. (1998). Proverbs: a Bible commentary in the Wesleyan tradition (p. 165). Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House.

What we see then is that “highway” isn’t actually the key word to understanding “high way”.  The key is the two Hebrew concepts that express a similar idea.  To understand that, let’s also look at Proverbs 16:6:

Pr 16:6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;
through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil.

If we look at the Hebrew words that express the “high road” concept, the English translations are:

  • Proverbs 16:17 –> avoids evil
  • Proverbs 16:6 –> evil is avoided

The key Hebrew word that ties these together, in relation to evil, is this:

5493 סוּר, סָר, שׂוּר [cuwr, suwr /soor/] v. A primitive root; TWOT 1480; GK 6073 and 6233 and 8462; 301 occurrences; AV translates as “(put”, “take”, “…) away” 97 times, “depart” 76 times, “remove” 35 times, “aside” 29 times, “take” 14 times, “turn” 12 times, “turn in” nine times, “take off” six times, “go” three times, “put” three times, “eschewed” three times, and translated miscellaneously 14 times. 1 to turn aside, depart. 1A (Qal). 1A1 to turn aside, turn in unto. 1A2 to depart, depart from way, avoid. 1A3 to be removed. 1A4 to come to an end. 1B (Polel) to turn aside. 1C (Hiphil). 1C1 to cause to turn aside, cause to depart, remove, take away, put away, depose. 1C2 to put aside, leave undone, retract, reject, abolish. 1D (Hophal) to be taken away, be removed.  Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

What we end up with today then is this:  The “high road” is the path to avoid evil.  It’s not an actual road.  It’s a “path” in life.  A path, so to speak, that takes us away from even temptation to do evil.  It’s an attempt to avoid evil. 

I found an interesting item on Jews for Jesus that expresses this nicely.  It’s from a Mishpochah (family) message given in the fall of 1995.

The High Road and the Low Road

by David Brickner | Jan 1, 1995

The crowd moved down the road in a bright wash of sunlight. They had paid dearly to go on this journey. All had left the comforts of home; many had left family and friends who refused to make the journey themselves. But the fellow-travelers soon became friends and family to one another, and as for home, they were headed for a new one—Gan Eden, the dwelling place of the Master.

When the travelers reached a fork in the road, someone pulled out a map and the group pressed in to see which path they should take. Well,” said the one with the map, “both paths lead in the right direction. See?” he said, pointing to a place on the map, “this one to the left is the low road. It’ll take us down through a forest on a pretty level path. The high road to the right looks like a rocky desert climb. We’d be exposed to the sun; very little shade. I think the choice is obvious.”

There was a murmur of assent and a general nodding of heads. But one young woman spoke up. “Wait,” she said. “The Master traveled the journey before us. I’d like to know which road He took. Is there some clue to help us find His path?” A few in the crowd nodded and looked expectantly to the man with the map. Most of the others had begun to make their way down the low road, toward the forest. “Listen,” said the map holder impatiently, “both roads lead to the same place. Make things hard on yourself if you want to, but don’t expect the rest of us to go along just because you want to prove how spiritual you are.” He turned and followed the others.

The woman lowered her head. “I don’t want to prove anything,” she whispered to an unseen companion. “I just want to follow You.” When she looked up, the crowd had disappeared. Only one elderly gentleman remained.

“The others took the low road, but it seems to me that you are right. Here’s the clue you were looking for,” he said and pointed to a set of footprints on the dirt road to the right. Then he pointed out a single, continuous groove that began in the wake of the footprints and trailed after them as far as the eye could see. “The high road is the right one to be sure,” he said, “because the One who went this way was carrying a cross.”

It’s a powerful message.  Either path could get us to the same destination(s).  The path to avoid evil is the road less taken.  The chances of avoiding evil are less on the path Jesus took.  The one less taken.  The one with the single groove, following in His footsteps.  However, even on that path with the single groove – the “high road”, the one that attempts to avoid evil – that single groove reminds me of something Jesus taught.

The Narrow and Wide Gates

Mt 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

And that passage takes us back to something often repeated from the Old Testament.  Here, we’ll look at some verses from a section of Proverbs that the NIV subtitles Wisdom is Supreme.

Wisdom is Supreme

Pr 4:11 I guide you in the way of wisdom
and lead you along straight paths.

“I”, of course, is God.  And right away we see “lead you along straight paths“.  Now, that may seem different from the story we just saw from Jews for Jesus.  However, it really isn’t.  We need to realize that when we read “straight” paths, it doesn’t mean physically straight.  It’s  meant to signify moral concepts like upright / righteous.  A straight path is one that follows God exactly – not going either to the right or to the left from that path.

Pr 4:12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
when you run, you will not stumble.

There will be no stumbling, because staying on God’s path will do one of two things for us.  One – avoid evil.  Two – since total avoidance of evil isn’t going to happen in this life, staying on the path allows us to get through instances of evil in our lives – not by our own power, but by the power of God.  Here’s what the Hebrew word translated as stumble meant at that time:

3782 כָּשַׁל [kashal /kaw·shal/] v. A primitive root; TWOT 1050; GK 4173; 65 occurrences; AV translates as “fall” 27 times, “stumble” 19 times, “cast down” four times, “feeble” four times, “overthrown” twice, “ruin” twice, “bereave + 7921” once, “decayed” once, “faileth” once, “utterly” once, “weak” once, and “variant” twice. 1 to stumble, stagger, totter. 1A (Qal). 1A1 to stumble. 1A2 to totter. 1B (Niphal). 1B1 to stumble. 1B2 to be tottering, be feeble. 1C (Hiphil). 1C1 to cause to stumble, bring injury or ruin to, overthrow. 1C2 to make feeble, make weak. 1D (Hophal) to be made to stumble. 1E (Piel) bereave.  3)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

When we see things like overthrown, ruin  and faileth – we see that not “stumbling” doesn’t necessarily mean everything will go perfectly.  Jesus also made that perfectly clear when He spoke – regardless of the false message of the so-called prosperity gospel.  What it does mean is that even when evil does have an impact on us, if we stay on the narrow path – we won’t fail.  We won’t walk away from God.  And even though we may stray for a time – we will return to God.

Pr 4:13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
guard it well, for it is your life.

This is a continuation of the thought in the previous verse.  We need to hold on to God’s words – remember them and try to live by them, because Satan will try his best to make us forget them – and to get us off that narrow path.  We have the Holy Spirit to help us with that.  And yes, it is about our life.  But even more than life on this earth, it’s about the next life.  After this life on this earth ends – where will we spend eternity?  It’s critical.

Pr 4:14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
or walk in the way of evil men.

Once we stray from the narrow path, then there’s the danger of leaving God’s path and switching to the more traveled path – that of evil people.

Pr 4:15 Avoid it, do not travel on it;
turn from it and go on your way.

Certainly, try to avoid it.  Don’t even get started on it.  But if we do stray from the narrow path and get on the “low road”, we must turn away from it and return to the “high road”.

Pr 4:16 For they cannot sleep till they do evil;
they are robbed of slumber till they make someone fall.

Pr 4:17 They eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.

These last two verses are indications of what happens to people on the “low road” – the path more traveled – the way of Satan.  For example:

The path of the wicked and evil men is described in 4:14–17. Under no circumstances should this son even set his foot down on that path because it is a shortcut to disaster. Those who travel this route have a pathological appetite for violence; it is their food and drink. With such fellow travelers, danger lurks around every bend (see 1:10–19). In 4:18–19 the path of the righteous is contrasted with that of the wicked, a comparison we have seen before (see 1:32–33; 2:20–22; 3:33–35).

I think many people have a hard time understanding exactly what this says.  We think something like, “I’m not that bad.”  Or even, “I’m a good person”.  The reality is that both of those statements, whether we choose to accept it or not, are relative.  Either that – or just plain wrong.

You see, this is a binary choice we’re given.  It’s either the narrow path – or the wide one.  God’s path – or “the other one”, which is Satan’s path.  Given that there are only two ways to go, we must choose one or the other.  If we don’t choose God’s path, then we are – by definition – on Satan’s path. 

“Not that bad” is still on the wrong path.   It’s on Satan’s path.  The one with those who … have a pathological appetite for violence.  If we stay on that path, there’s a really good chance we’ll end up just like them.  But even if we don’t end up just like them, after we die – we will spend eternity with them.  Furthermore, no matter how evil even the worst of those people might be – Satan is even worse.  Can you even imagine spending eternity in that environment, just because you thought you weren’t “that bad”?  And how does that make you feel about your friends and loved ones who “aren’t that bad”?

BTW – if you thought you were good – but actually got off God’s path – guess what?  You’re not really good.  Not “Jesus good”.  And you’re on the wide path with those who … have a pathological appetite for violence.

The difference is, literally, as that of light and darkness (4:18–19). For the righteous, things get clearer the farther they travel. For the wicked, however, the path is shrouded in darkness so deep they cannot even tell what they stumble over (4:19). This same Hebrew term is used in Exodus 10:22 to describe the plague of darkness God sent on the Egyptians, a darkness so thick it could “be felt” and which kept all the Egyptians prisoners in their own homes (see Exodus 10:21, 23). Little wonder such darkness appears as a symbol of God’s final judgment in Zephaniah 1:15.  4)Lennox, S. J. (1998). Proverbs: a Bible commentary in the Wesleyan tradition (p. 61). Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House.

a darkness so thick it could “be felt”.  That’s dark.  And that’s why, if we stray too far off God’s path, we might not ever get back on it.

Pr 4:18 The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.

Pr 4:19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know what makes them stumble.

Another image of the difference between the low road and the high road.  Notice that when we take the low road and stay on it, we eventually get to a point where we don’t even realize what we’re doing.  We can’t figure out why things aren’t working as expected.  We may think we’re doing the right things – but we aren’t even close.

Pr 4:20 My son, pay attention to what I say;
listen closely to my words.

Pr 4:21 Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;

Pr 4:22 for they are life to those who find them
and health to a man’s whole body.

Three verses, all imploring that we listen, understand, remember, and live by the wisdom of God.  Again, we see they are life.  Not only this life – but eternal life.

Pr 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.

guard your heart.  It’s not the words we say.  It’s not even the things we do.  It’s what’s in our hearts.  Not what others see from the outside.  What God sees on the inside.  That’s what the Bible means when it talks about our heart in this context.

Pr 4:24 Put away perversity from your mouth;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.

Yes, this talks about what we say.  However, it’s not because God needs our words to know what’s going on.  No – it’s about two other things. 

One is that when we get really loose with our words, it will tend to eventually affect our hearts as well.  Like maybe we talk a certain way to fit in – believing that we’re actually different inside.  And maybe we are actually different inside.  At the beginning.  But before we know it, darkness sets in.  Darkness so dark that we don’t even realize that we’ve changed inside.

Pr 4:25 Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze directly before you.

Don’t even look to the “dark side”.  To the dark path.  It can seem alluring.  It can seem “better”.  But only for a time.  And maybe too late, we realize it was all a lie.  That the narrow path was better.  The high road really was the way to go.  But it’s too late.  We lost the way.  we can’t get back.

Pr 4:26 Make level paths for your feet
and take only ways that are firm.

Level paths” is one way the Bible indicates a way of life that isn’t full of difficulties.  Essentially, it’s the same message as staying on the narrow path, but with different imagery.

Pr 4:27 Do not swerve to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

Finally, we close with Do not swerve to the right or the left.  Which takes us back to the story about following in the footprints of Jesus.

Here’s the clue you were looking for,” he said and pointed to a set of footprints on the dirt road to the right. Then he pointed out a single, continuous groove that began in the wake of the footprints and trailed after them as far as the eye could see. “The high road is the right one to be sure,” he said, “because the One who went this way was carrying a cross.”

Not swerving to the right or to the left.  In fact, following the path that Jesus took so closely that it’s a single groove on the path we take.  The path that Jesus laid out for us.

That’s what it means to take the high road – from a Biblical point of view.

Unfortunately, the “high road” is sometimes also used these days as a way to put one’s self above others – sometimes even above God, believe it or not.  The “high road” isn’t always the way to avoid evil, it’s the way to say I’m better than you.

Return to the question – 
The High Road: Should democrats turn the other cheek?

So after all that, where are we?  Michelle Obama says to “go high”.  I’m asking, does “go high” mean take the “high road”?  The “high road” that we just looked at.  After all, I’m asking what should a Christian look at when it comes time to vote.  So a Christian view of “go high” should be important.  Another way to put it would be based on something Jesus said. Should democrats turn the other cheek?  These questions aren’t just for the candidates.  They’re for each and every one of us.

Turning the other cheek is one of three sections, as designated in the NIV translation of Matthew’s Gospel, that really go together.  Let’s look at them.

An Eye for an Eye

Mt 5:38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

This is where the question, Should democrats turn the other cheek comes from.  Our current president doesn’t even seem to believe in an eye for an eye.  For Trump, it’s more like two eyes for an eye.  See say bad things about me and I’ll destroy you for more on that.  And yet, he continues to get a great deal of support from Christians.  I have to ask – why?

Further, if Michelle Obama really means to take the high road, as we looked at it, should that matter to Christians?  It seems like it should matter. 

Remember what we read earlier about words: 

Pr 4:24 Put away perversity from your mouth;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.

While words alone don’t tell the true picture, we saw that words can lead us to actually think, behave and become what those words say.   More on that later.

Love for Enemies

Mt 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

This one seems to be getting harder and harder for politicians of either party to live by.  Even though both tend to claim they are Christian.  And even though they are continually asking for God to bless this country,  And yet, they cannot do this simple thing.

One of the concerns for Michelle Obama’s “go high” is that other Democrats don’t seem to want to do it.  For instance:

“When they go low, we kick them,” Eric H. Holder Jr., the former Obama administration attorney general and a possible 2020 candidate, said this week.

“When they go low, I say hit back harder,” Michael Avenatti, the cable-ubiquitous lawyer flirting with his own presidential run as a Trump-style brawler, told a crowd in Iowa over the summer.

Few but Mrs. Obama seemed inclined to defend the original refrain. “Fear,” Mrs. Obama told NBC on Thursday, “is not a proper motivator. Hope wins out.”

But for many Democrats, it does not seem to be winning out, at least for now.

These kinds of statements are a far cry from Michelle Obama’s “go high”.  If anything, they’re an indication of “go even lower”.  

Giving to the Needy

Mt 6:1 “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

Mt 6:2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

The third and final section in this sequence of statements by Jesus is about giving to the needy.  To be sure, no political party is going to do what they consider “good” things in secret.  After all, any political party is out to get votes.  The only things they do in secret are the “bad” things.

However, there is still the question of whether or not the things any given party does are “good”.  Not good in the way Jesus would consider them good.  But maybe at least helpful to the people Jesus was concerned about.  The widows, the orphans, the poor and children, for example.  We have one party trying to balance the budget by giving “relief” to those who are rich, while taking away what little the poor might have.  And we have one party that, while maybe not helping out long-term, is trying to bring some help to the poor.

Unfortunately, we have the flip side where the first party is in favor of assault weapons and the other is in favor of abortion.  I find it hard to see Jesus supporting either one of those positions.  At the risk of catching some more grief, may I recommend you check out Are there assault weapons in Heaven?.

In the end though, many of these things comes down to whether or not it’s possible to legislate morality.  If you’d like to read more on some individual examples, please see Are Muslim and Christian “jihadists” driving us to the End-Times?, LGBT in Heaven?and Do we really have a “Right To Die”?.  Honestly, no matter how hard we might try – it’s just not possible to legislate morality.

What’s left then?  How about taking the high road?  How about turning the other cheek?  I don’t mean with false indignation.  I don’t mean doing one thing while condemning someone else for doing the very same thing.  And I certainly don’t mean turning the other cheek and then letting the other person have it twice as hard after the second slap.

Taking the high road

We’ve looked at a lot of stuff.  We’ve seen a lot of wrong ways to proceed.  We’ve also seen in real life that “going lower” is very likely going to win elections.  As much as people claim to not like “mid-slinging” in politics, the evidence from election results shows very clearly that it works.

What do we do then?  Why is it that Jesus’ words aren’t working?  Let’s look at them again.

An Eye for an Eye

Mt 5:38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

JESUS AND RETALIATION 5:38–42

The fifth antithesis addresses the subject of retaliation. Jesus quotes a common Old Testament saying: Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth (5:38). These words appear in Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; and Deuteronomy 19:21. Though most modern people hear these words expressing the right for revenge, in their Old Testament context they served to limit the amount of retaliation a person could seek.

In contrast, Jesus instructs His followers to not seek to repay evil with evil. This is the meaning of the phrase Do not resist an evil person (Matt. 5:39). The point is not to stand idly by while evil runs rampant. Rather, one should not retaliate in kind to mistreatment (see Rom. 12:17–21). Christ then gives four examples of this new pattern of living. The first instructs us to turn the other cheek to someone who strikes you on the right cheek. A blow to the right cheek would be given with the back of the hand. Back-handed slaps were expressions of contempt wounding one’s pride more severely than one’s cheek. Jesus’ instruction is to let the insult go and cheerfully prepare for another.  5)Hahn, R. L. (2007). Matthew: a commentary for Bible students (pp. 93–94). Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House.

But politicians do retaliate.  And the voters seem to love it.  But what’s really happening when one person goes low – and their target goes lower?  The first comment should be shocking, even though too many people are so busy cheering that they never even notice the shock.  But the retaliation – that’s the back-handed one.  The one that people expect from their politician.  The one that loses votes if it’s not forthcoming.  It’s a blood-sport.  And people love it, no matter what they say.

And right there is the problem.  Not the first shot.  Not even the second shot.  No – the problem is that we love it.  We love both shots.  And we hope for a third.  And a fourth.  All the way to election day – we want more.  Sure, we claim we don’t like it.  And to some extent – we don’t like it.  We love it.

Conclusion – The High Road: Should democrats turn the other cheek?

So what needs to happen?  For Christians at least – we need to stop loving it.  We need to bypass not liking it, and go all the way to not tolerating it.  

Politicians give us what we want.  They say what we want to hear.  So why do we keep wanting to hear and receive things that are so anti-Christian?  

If the number of Christians in this country is anything close to what the surveys get when they ask if someone is Christian, then what’s happening now shouldn’t be happening.  Someone with the approach of go lower and lower and ever lower shouldn’t be supported by so many Christians.  Especially by prominent and leading Christians.  I just don’t get it.  We lap up what they have to offer – but we seem to have forgotten something.

We’re supposed to be the light to the world.  We’re not supposed to go into darkness and love it.  We’re supposed to go into darkness and light it up!

Only Michelle Obama knows for sure what she meant by “go high”.  But if she, or anyone else, really is interested in “going high” in the sense that we’ve just read about – shouldn’t that be something for Christians to really take a look at?  

Someone who is at least interested in taking the high road seems to be much better than someone who’s only interested in taking any road that’s lower than their opponent.  

I know a lot of Christians don’t really pay much attention to the Old Testament.  But maybe more of us should.

Pr 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.

Pr 4:24 Put away perversity from your mouth;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.

Pr 4:25 Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze directly before you.

Pr 4:26 Make level paths for your feet
and take only ways that are firm.

Pr 4:27 Do not swerve to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

These verses are a good starting point.

And these are good verses to keep in mind:

Pr 3:29 Do not plot harm against your neighbor,
who lives trustfully near you.

Pr 3:30 Do not accuse a man for no reason—
when he has done you no harm.

Pr 3:31 Do not envy a violent man
or choose any of his ways,

Pr 3:32 for the LORD detests a perverse man
but takes the upright into his confidence.

Pr 3:33 The LORD’S curse is on the house of the wicked,
but he blesses the home of the righteous.

Pr 3:34 He mocks proud mockers
but gives grace to the humble.

Pr 3:35 The wise inherit honor,
but fools he holds up to shame.

Again, I believe these words are just as applicable to the candidate – and those who vote for that candidate.

References   [ + ]

1, 3. Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
2. Lennox, S. J. (1998). Proverbs: a Bible commentary in the Wesleyan tradition (p. 165). Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House.
4. Lennox, S. J. (1998). Proverbs: a Bible commentary in the Wesleyan tradition (p. 61). Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House.
5. Hahn, R. L. (2007). Matthew: a commentary for Bible students (pp. 93–94). Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House.

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