Is forgiving and turning the cheek the right thing to do.

I was watching Joel Olsteen this morning. Just because it stirs me up, maybe a bit of a masochist. He was talking about how we should honor people, even those that are not acting in a kind way. Then I got to thinking about boundaries and how turning the cheek and always looking at things with rose color glasses may not be the moral thing to do. My wife's mom was a great person and everybody loved her but her husband was abusive and she stuck around for the abuse. Should she not have stood up for herself and told him to take a hike. I remember Christopher Hitchens talking about the way Christians preach " love your enemy" and how that is a bad thing, that we must defend ourselves against those who are abusing us. I guess its a question of balance and i would be interested to see others opinion on this matter. I astounds me how some people can forgive someone who has say killed a loved one. Are these people better off because living with the hate would consume their lives or are they crazy? We can see how at some point, like with wars between countries, we need to move on.Does this only happen with forgiveness? Another strange thing is that usually left wing atheists don't believe in the death penalty but Christians do. I may be wrong on that one. I'm sure there are many posts related to this and i guess i should do more reading and less writing, I am new to this place.

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Ah, forgiveness......a tricky thing indeed. I thought I would become enlightened and a great sage if I could figure out how to forgive the monster who raped my three year old...I would share my journey with the world. Instead I found that the forgiveness of christianity simply did not work ....I could not apply it to my situation. In fact, as I delved ever deeper and deeper into christianity, and things sspiritual, I eventually
oopps.......anyway, eventually the whole thing unravelled. Now I am an atheist.

Yes!

"Turn the other cheek", "love your enemy", etc. don't change the nature or severity of the offense. They are even unlikely to make a significant difference to the offender. 

On the surface it would seem that such acts are among the most selfless. But the reason they are important is largely selfish. Hatred and revenge seldom have any effect upon an offender. In fact such feedback may even strengthen an enemy. They can see that their offense has succeeded. Instead hatred and revenge may cause more harm to the victim of the offense than the offender has done.

Hate poisons the hater - not the hated.

@MikeLong:

Don't take this personally, BUT it's real hard to stomach your post right after reading what Joann Brady posted.

Revenge tastes sweet.  Better is to strike down evil before it gets a chance to harm.  My Golden Rule:

"Do Onto Others BEFORE They Get a Chance to Do Unto You!"

The 'turn the other cheek' bullshit is always promoted by those who just struck you cheek.

ask jesus what happened.

The more you forgive the more the offender will think it's easy to get away with. 

Its the best thing to do, no point in getting as low as them to prove a point that is not worth proving, however, if they repeatedly do it when You have ignored them at first, then you tell them, please stop, then you explain how uncomfortable it is and please stop, only then it would be my last resort, depending if i have the energy to turn the other cheek, or simply lump in some dark corner feeling depressed about how shit life is.

Hey Chris, great subject.

A Christian Bible also tells you to do the opposite and take an eye for an eye. If you did decide to turn the other cheek, don't do it because it's in an advice book.

I agree with Simon that application of the golden rule is almost always useful and morally sound.

The abuser in your life like all abusers is in my opinion, sick. In my opinion it is ok to hate abusive speech, abusive thought and abuse itself, but for your own karma (as it were) I recommend trying very hard to not hate the individual. 

Your initial remark from Joel Olsteen; "... maybe a bit of a masochist. He was talking about how we should honor people, even those that are not acting in a kind way." Mr. Olsteen may be appealing to your better nature. I'm not familiar with the work of Mr. Olsteen, but if he appears to be a bible thumping huckster, he himself makes a living abusing people, so he repeats that quote because he feels it will help him avoid persecution for the misdeeds which constitute his livelihood.

I'd also like to add that I think it's helpful to think of hatred as an activity as opposed to a permanent feature of an individual.

In other words it is ok to feel hatred toward a word or deed, but after you feel it, be done with it. Do not harbor hate within you; do not retain it.

"application of the golden rule is almost always useful and morally sound." - yes, forgiveness "raises the bar".  "Judge not, and you will not be judged.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven." 

In computer simulations of The Prisoner's Dilemma, basically two individuals deciding whether to cooperate over and over again based on previous games, it is found that the best strategy for continued harmony is to forgive most of the time.  Interestingly, these same computer simulations found that to forgive ALL the time reduces overall harmony and cooperation.  Some punishment is necessary for a successful strategy, otherwise the bad people can take over. 

Very interesting, thanks for that.

"... if he appears to be a bible thumping huckster, he himself makes a living abusing people, so he repeats that quote because he feels it will help him avoid persecution for the misdeeds which constitute his livelihood."  - I think his words make sound common sense.  Even if you've got to punish someone, it's necessary to do it in an honorable and compassionate way I believe. 

I believe that it is already in human nature for most of us to behave with honor and compassion.

The contradictory doctrine found in all bibles gives license for clergy to instruct their flock to do anything apparently. While I don't want to come off as dismissive of what may have been well intentioned, I wish people would value their own feelings at least as much as advice from someone claiming to be a conduit of God - I don't like the premise. 

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can also make you commit atrocities." ~ Voltaire

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