Backhand a friend (just pretend!) in slow motion. Notice that their natural reaction to being backhanded on the right cheek is that their face recoils to their left.
So when Jesus says, “Turn the other cheek,” he seems to be saying, turn your face back toward your attacker and look him in the eye. Don’t fight back, but don’t let him take away your dignity either.
The Amplified Bible corroborates this: “…turn the other cheek and maintain your dignity, your self-respect, your poise.” It’s not about putting up with the insult as much as it shows a fearless and peaceful insistence on equal dignity with an oppressor.
Mahatma Gandhi, of whom it is said that he read from the Sermon on the Mount twice a day for the last forty years of his life (and he did not profess to be a Christian!) said: “I won’t hate you when you are wrong, nor will I obey you. Do what you like, I will match my capacity to suffer against your capacity to inflict that suffering, and I will wear you down with goodwill.” This is the essence of nonviolent noncooperation.
This is an excerpt from a book I hope to publish in the near future on the Sermon on the Mount called: What In The World? Some Moral, Social, and Politically Disruptive Implications of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.