A quick question about Jesus

Hey guys.

I have a quick question about Jesus.

It doesn’t matter what your religious orientation is, because I think we can hopefully all agree that he was a great man who taught a lot of good principles, so I’d love to hear your input.

To some of us, like myself, He is literally the son of God. Which is why I care what He thinks about things.

So, here’s the dealio.

Part of the message I love most of Christianity is the concept of turning the other cheek.

I think it is an amazing teaching. It softens dispute. It nullifies conflict. It allows for love and peace.

However, there’s the whole idea of bullying.

I’m not sure if the idea of “turning the other cheek” applies to bullying. Or does it?

Is bullying a scenario where we should expect people to turn the other cheek? And how would that look?

Or is it more of a “money-changers in the temple” scenario?

What do you think? What would Jesus tell someone who is being bullied to do?

(A future post hangs in the balance…)

What would Jesus do?

PS–I have had the WORST COLD IN HISTORY for the last three days. Seriously, it was totally debilitating. Fever, chills, the works. (This is ironic because Seattle finally got sun approximately, oh, three days ago. So, naturally, that’s when I get a cold.) I think I’m finally on the mend. Imma take me some cold medicine and sleep all night long. And hopefully I feel better in the morn.


  1. I wonder more about what Jesus would have those who witness the bullying do. For me, that is where the righteous anger might have a place. Wasn't He all about standing up for those who couldn't stand up for themselves?

    1. I think you have chosen the easier question to answer. We'll probably all agree that it would be akin to the money changers in the temple, and that we all have a responsibility to defend the weak and oppressed.
      Josh's original question for me is actually the more interesting one. How should the bullied person respond? Christ had his fair share of attention from those who would see him fail. In the earlier stage of his mission he faced a lot of perhaps verbal bullying from the scribes and Pharisees. Christ clearly had knowledge, wit and a charisma (although humble in appearance) which, coupled with the Spirit, helped him out in these situations. That example might be of limited use to those whose personalities are more shy or less confident. (Although it seems that a disproportionate number of comedians discovered their talant through a difficult childhood in which they had to learn to deflect bullying).
      In the last stage of his mission Christ's torment became more physical and dangerous. It was at this point that he succumbed, knowing as he did, that he was to give his life. Again, this may be of limited use as an example to one being bullied. A victim has no obligation to give himself up to bullies and I don't think Christ would see them do so. The principle to love and pray for your enemies applies however, as does the commandment to forgive. We are expected to forgive 7 x 70 times (i.e. stop counting!) but unlimited turning the other cheek in the face of an oppressor? I'm not so sure…
      Yesterday I taught a Sunday school class about the People of Ammon and the initial slaughter they faced after having buried their weapons. The Lamanites, when they saw them prostrate and not rising to arms, were so impressed by what they saw that many laid down their weapons and were converted. Amazing example but high risk strategy.
      All this meandering brings me to no conclusion, other than we need to forgive, we need to protect the vulnerable, and we are entitled to defend ourselves. Ok, that was a conclusion…

  2. To me this issue is much larger than what the person being bullied should do. More important to me, is what the rest of us should do. What perpetuated bullying is other people ignoring, denying, and whitewashing the bullying, and turning their backs on the target.

    1. Rather than abstract discussions about what other people should do, I would rather discuss what you and I are doing in practice to help reduce bullying, and counteract its effects, and what else we might do. Here are some examples:

      – I'm practicing and promoting changes in our personalities and conduct, and in the community life in our neighborhoods, that I imagine will help reduce bullying, and counteract its effects.

      – Starting with me, I observe that I intimidate people sometimes, and sometimes I allow them to intimidate me, so I'm trying to learn not to bully and not to be bullied, and help others learn.

      – I spend time walking and working with the most abused and marginalized people I see around me, in peer-to-peer companionship, sharing whatever I've learned that might help them navigate through the abuse, get away from it, and recover from it.

      – If I know of any social institutions that might be able to restrain the abuse, and retrain the people who are doing it, I bring it to their attention.

      – Sometimes when I see people being treated cruelly, I put myself in the line of fire.

      – Stereotyping, scapegoating and other sectarian attitudes and practices are part of what nurtures bullying. Whenever I see myself stereotyping people, or scapegoating some group or category of people, I struggle and struggle against it. It's a never-ending battle because as soon as I stop scapegoating one category of people, I fall into the tempation of scapegoating another.

      – Cultural and ideological divisions are another part of what nurtures bullying. Part of my response to that has been to spend time in companionship with people of other cultures, and people with ideologies contrary to mine, in their comfort zones.

    2. – I've done a lot of research on abuse and what to do about it, which I've been trying to practice and promote, on line and off, including in Internet discussions, including in the comments to this blog.

    3. It's hard for me to talk about bullying, without talking about abuse, and popular depreciation at the same time, because I see a lot of overlap between them, in their dynamics, and in their damaging and disabling effects on their targets and on the people doing them. By popular maligning I mean that in every gathering of people, including this one, some other people become popular targets of depreciation, and that gathering becomes poisonous to those people.

    4. After considering some other comments, I can agree with punitive action against the person doing the abusing, including physical punishment in some cases, as part of the best response to some situations, and that in some cases it might need to be the person who's being abused that does the punishing. The less thirst for revenge there is behind it, the better.

    5. The discussion here provides an example of what helps perpetuate all kinds of abuse: burying a real, concrete issue of abuse, crying for attention, under a flood of abstract discussion with no aim or purpose other than socializing.

    6. In fact, it reminds me of a scene from a movie, it might have been Dr. Zhivago, of wealthy people living it up inside a restaurant, completely oblivious to the oppressed people looking in the window.

      Right now I'm feeling like I'm in the temple with the moneychangers, right here in these discussions.

      I'm "having a reaction."

      I'm wondering now if Jesus, when He drove out the moneychangers, and overturned their table, thought it would actually do any good, or what He just "having a reaction"?

  3. For sure, age is a factor in turning the other cheek if it is being referenced with 'bullying' in the sense of inflicting any kind of harm to another person. I feel that children and teens shouldn't have to endure that kind of treatment since their knowledge in life is still new and or incomplete It is up to responsible adults to protect them and take care of them and not allow bullying.0

  4. This is an interesting question. On one hand, I try to teach my kids if they get hit or punched or whatever that the answer is not to hit back (eye for an eye concept). However, I also want them to be able to defend themselves and stand up for themselves. So what do you do. I personally think Jesus would be ok with fighting back in self defense.
    To agree with your first comment, I think those who witness bullying and do nothing are NOT doing what Jesus would do. It's like that person is joining in on the bullying…

    1. My kids are learning a martial art – judo. Judo is a good one. It favours the defender. It also teaches that the first rule of self defense is not to be there, or to walk or talk yourself away from a situation. If contact is unavoidable though, I like the idea that my children a) can fall without getting hurt and b) can have another laid flat on the ground also without having caused them any harm, other than to their ego. That's the theory anyway.

  5. When I was a kid I was severely bullied, stuffed in lockers, pushed around, teased, you name it I went through it. I would go to church each Sunday and look at the rest of my YW's class and wonder how they got through school, but it was easy for them because they were popular. I wasn't, that was that.
    For three years I was bullied by the same people who called themselves my friends and I noticed a pattern, they were all abused or abandoned. The point is they had issues and they picked on me to make themselves feel better.

    I endured it. At one point I stuck for myself and threw a shoe in the direction of the worst of the girls (it didn't hit her, I was a bad shot 6th grader) but it made a statement. And people started listening to me as a person, and not looking at me like a chewed piece of gum on the floor beneath their shoe.
    I just said a lot of prayers for the other person…ok not that many, I said more for me that high school would come fast and I'd find new friends. It worked out for me…

  6. From TS: When I was a boy, around 1952, my father sent me to a YMCA camp. He had worked for the Y when he was in college. I had an upper bunk, and the boy in the lower bunk, a black kid from the inner city, kicked the springs of my bed above him. I don't know what his grievance was against me. The odd thing is that by the end of the week, he became friends with me. It is so long ago, I don't remember what I did, but I know I did not fight back, even though I was miserable. This is pretty interesting. Many years later, when I was in my late forties, God sent me on a mission where I accomplished his purpose by being a sacrificial lamb. (Sorry no space here for details)

  7. If bullying means sustained, systematic cruelty, then it's an entirely different situation from "whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." I don't mean that it doesn't apply to a person who is being bullied. I mean that there is much more that she needs to do, besides that. I won't go into details, but I see a host of things an abused person needs to do, to reduce and counteract its harmful effects on her, to get away from it, and to recover from it, and I don't see any of it contradicting my understanding of what Jesus meant by turning the other cheek.

    Just telling an abused person what to do will not help. She needs someone trained and skilled, to help her do it safely. Abused people will often resent and resist intervention by others, for very good reasons. Unwise interventions can make the situation worse.

    One of the first things I see to try to do for an abused person is to help him see that he's being abused, and that it isn't his fault.

  8. Bullying is abuse. As far as I can tell, He never advocated tolerating abusive treatment.

    That said, some mistreatment comes from ignorance- like when a small child doesn't understand that hitting, kicking, and biting hurts. Once this treatment is turned back on them once or twice, they learn that it does indeed cause pain and they stop doing it. Another example is when certain topics are so uncomfortable as to be hurtful when joked about. Some things just aren't funny to some folks. Once we learn that those topics bring up sensitive feelings, common courtesy dictates that we not make light of those things. Turning the other cheek, allowing the treatment to continue for a short time, combined with educating the perpetrator stops the hurting.

    Other mistreatment comes from a place of hurt- Hurt (adv) people hurt (verb) people. As Kiera shared, some bullies do so because they themselves are bullied and abused at home. When this is the case, yes, turning the other cheek can help. Talking to the bully, commiserating with the feelings of loss of control in their lives, teaching them new coping techniques, or exploring possible avenues of escape can help a lot. Again, not lashing back combined with communication helps alleviate the hurting.. for both parties.

    But some mistreatment comes from a sick place, a place of sadism. These people are not helped by allowing the mistreatment to continue. Molifying these people doesn't stop them.. and they NEED to be stopped. A classic historical example of this is Hitler. He was an epic bully. He got off on hurting others. He had no compassion for others. He was well and truly mentally ill. Some countries tried to placate him with a little bit of territory here or there. That didn't stop him.

    In this kind of situation, where the perpetrator is just sick in the head, turning the other cheek only encourages the bully to continue.. often to bigger and bigger and uglier and uglier treatment. This kind of bully HAS TO BE STOPPED! Whether it's the victim escaping and leaving the situation (transfer schools, move out of the home, etc), or bringing in authorities to stop the bully (school administration, law enforcement, Normandy?) the abuser only responds and changes when a bigger force is applied.

    I guess what I'm saying is that I think He was about stopping the hurt, helping people to be happy, healthy (emotionally), and He knew that love is the answer (most of the time). At least in the first two scenarios, love IS the answer- love the abuser enough to teach them a better way.

    When that doesn't work, you know you're in the last scenario.. and the only thing that will stop them is a butt-kicking.

  9. When a bully threatens you, I think you're supposed to strike first and say, "This one's from Jesus!"

    …but seriously…

    The Bible seems like it contradicts itself because it gives us guidelines, extremes within which we can live our lives.

    Turning the other cheek is one side. Honoring your body as a temple of the holy spirit is another. If someone threatens your body, shouldn't you defend it?

    Didn't God allow so many of his chosen to defeat their enemies?

    Jesus doesn't ask us to check our brains at the door. These rules are meant to be applied case-by-case. Forget the slippery slope, forget being unconsidered. If God created us in his image, he created us to think for ourselves and seek wisdom and discernment.


  10. Josh, I don't know if this is accurate or not, but I'm wondering if you're referring to the "comment bullies" you've endured since you shared your heart. In that case, those bullies need to be shut down. They are not only bullying you, but also your readers who come here looking for the help they need to walk through their own difficult circumstances, or those who wish to engage in a heartfelt, respectful conversation about an important issue. People who would come here to spew hate don't deserve entrance. If this were a meeting in a physical building and someone came in saying the things that some of your commenters have said, decency and courtesy would dictate that they be summarily ejected (either that, or some others who don't care so much about what Jesus would do would step in. I have to admit, the thought makes me smile a bit). When it comes to the comments you allow, I suggest you set a standard of conduct you will accept, and if the comments don't reach that standard then they are deleted. Not that people can't disagree, but that they must do so respectfully and intelligently as if we were all sitting face to face.

    1. Yes! Amen. I also agree with the previous comment about contacting authorities i.e. police report, when need be to do your part to keep society at large safer from a possibly unstable and unpredictable angry person. Follow your gut.

  11. Ultimately, bullies do not want to hurt a victim physically. Violence or threat of violence is just a means to hurt emotionally and mentally, to coral a person into a perpetual loss of self-worth.

    However, if a bullied person gains enough inner strength that he or she can properly counteract that, in most cases little, but nevertheless crucial amount of physical abuse, he or she can break that vicious downward spiral fairly easily.

    The problem is that the victim is typically rarely capable to make a proper judgment how far would a bully go in terms of physical violence, if counteracted with appropriate amount of the same. That is exactly why victims are victims. Would the bully attempt another level of violence with, for example, his bullying comrades, if initial "lighter" physical abuse administered one-on-one is properly counteracted by the victim?

    I would argue that the fine line between proper & improper counteraction on bullying by the victim can be fairly easily drawn, but it is extremely difficult to implement in practice.

    To illustrate my point, it would be nice if we could somehow equip the victim with a device that would be able to properly detect intentions of the bully. As soon as the bully touches the victim with the intent to physically abuse, the device would electrocute him or her just enough that he or she backs off, but no more.

    The bully could verbally assault the victim without repercussions, but as soon as he or she would want to make a confirming statement of their words by physical force, he or she would be hurt by an electric shock. I'm sure that it wouldn't take long before the bully would realize that there is no point in verbal assault if threat of violence is sterile. That could then make an opportunity for the victim to show his or her love & compassion for the bully and thus open a way for establishing a relationship of mutual respect.

    Of course, there is no such a device available, so the problem is always for the victim to muster enough amount of self-discipline to counteract just enough of physical abuse, but no more, while ignoring verbal abuse. As Gemma mentioned, I also believe that martial arts are very good in teaching kids exactly that kind of art of self-discipline in a physical contact with others.

    So, as we live in an imperfect world, one of the solutions would be to teach victims to counteract without crossing the line of appropriateness, but if they do cross it (as they most likely would, because the line is very thin), then they repent and next time try to kick the bully slightly less brutally. 🙂

    And before I close, I just want to point out that I don't give a flying crap about the bully. I am willing to be compassionate towards him or her, particularly if he had a rough childhood, but NOT BEFORE he or she stops bullying. Until then, I am only interested in the victim and how to equip him or her to overcome his or her predicament, and I don't care to influence the bully to stop doing what he or she does. I believe that whoever thinks that the attitude of a bully can be changed in any other way but by the crash & burn, is mistaken.

    1. I also have to add that, as a victim of a bullying, I have always been utterly clueless in establishing that fine line between appropriate & inappropriate response to physical abuse. So I would always rather let the bully harass me.

      But I have always been extremely fortunate to have many friends around me who would have a clear sense of appropriateness in response to a bully and would be kind enough to administer it when they would see a bullying attempt.

      Thanks to those my earthly guardian angels, there has never been serious bullies at both junior & senior high school & beyond who would dare to perform their nasty business upon me.

    2. I think ignoring verbal (or emotional) abuse can be extremely difficult. I think for example of a woman who is constantly verbally and emotionally abused by her husband. She becomes so beaten down that she completely loses her sense of self worth. it is an extremely difficult situation to escape from.

    3. Anon 7:33 PM, every case of bullying is difficult in it's own way.

      The difficulty of the abuse in marriage is the fact that at the very moment when the abuse takes place, there is no one who can offer help & support. Abusive husbands actually prey for moments of solitude to administer the abuse.

      It is not uncommon that the cycle of abusive behavior of a husband towards the members of the family, and particularly the wife, is not broken until kids, particularly sons, get older enough to physically challenge the abusing father.

      There are also cases where a woman, after going through an abusive hell with her husband, somehow manages out of the relationship, but then ends up in a relationship with another male abuser because she hadn't been equipped with the knowledge and understanding how to make proper choices and how to build inner strength which would enable her to avoid such situations.

      We need to teach our daughters that the physical abuse in marriage is utterly unacceptable, and that they should take definitive steps if it ever occurs. They need to be determined in denying any opportunity to their husbands to physically abuse them.

  12. Yesterday taught a Sunday School lesson about the anti-Nephi-Lehis and their crazy decision to let themselves be slaughtered because they weren't willing to fight. It was inspiring. But I'm not taking that crap. I sort of grew up letting people walk all over me, and if I could relive a few scenes from High School all over again, several people would be walking away bloody, almost certainly including me. 🙂 Such a pleasant thought.

    1. an important thing to realize is that the attacks that work for a bully, whether it is physical or not, often cannot be counteracted in the same way by the victim. Social bullies often hold social power, and Physical bullies often hold physical power. They often attack those who they see do not hold that same power. Thus, the solution of a victim attacking someone back physically or socially is likely to fail.

      I was bullied badly when I was in school. It has changed my life and my ability to get along with people who appear like the stereo type of my bullies. I shouldn't have been a victim. THEY shouldn't have bullied me for sure, but I shouldn't have been looking at myself through their eyes all those years, I should have been looking at myself through God's eyes. If I would have done that, I would have had power. Not power to thwart their actions, but power that I would thwart the result they were seeking for. If you have that kind of power, bullying you won't be very fun, and it will have less of an effect on yourself.

      I would watch as other victims of bullying would lash back like an animal caught in a trap and find no success out of their physical attack, but I would see that the bullies got the reaction that they were looking for. That victim was attacking out of fear and weakness and not out of inner strength and the bullies could see that. Anger looks weak, too, because IT was the reaction the bullies were trying to get out of you.

      I don't have anything against "teaching a bully a lesson" if that is the last and final and only way to stop them, but it can't be reactive, you must be able to actually deal it, and you have to be controlled. Christ was angry at the money changers, but he sat down and braided a whip first. He also didn't slam anyone's face into the cement or step on their head. Showing them that you're tough enough to stop them takes a quick self-defense move or a swift punch to the gut. But they may respond to this by bringing a possy and mopping up the street with you. The real fact is, you have to be strong on the inside. If you are strong on the inside, it isn't easy to bully you.

    2. I was looking to see if there was a comment that expressed my thoughts- and this is it! Christ WAS probably bullied more than anyone else, but he was no victim. How do we get to that place, and support our children/others around us in seeing themselves in a way that, regardless of how someone else might treat them, they can be strong and remember who they are? I like how you said it: "see ourselves through God's eyes and not through the bully." How can we hold on to that strength no matter what?

  13. For me the question is almost the same as the question, "is it ever right to go to war?" So, I wonder if the just war criteria could be adapted to stopping a bully?

    -Force may be used only to correct a grave evil, i.e., aggression or massive violation of basic human rights.

    -Force may be used only after all peaceful and viable alternatives have been seriously tried and exhausted or are clearly not practical.

    1. The problem with just war theory is that is isn't bibilical – it's an Augustinian invention. If you actually adhere to the teachings of Jesus – he was a pacifist.

    2. Yes, I see, and in Revelations when it tells of His second coming and how he will bring the wrath of God down upon the wicked and unrepentant, this speaks clearly of His pacificity?

  14. To connect my first comment with the question asked, "What would Jesus tell someone who is being bullied to do?":

    Just War Theory was developed specifically to answer the question, "What would Jesus have us do?" in relation to self defense.

  15. As far as scripture, I feel the doctrine is clear. We have the admonition to "turn the other cheek" which does NOT mean to just turn away and ignore it. It means allowing your abuser to smite you on your other cheek. Christ follows up with descriptions of someone suing and you giving them more than they are suing for. We've also got descriptions of Christ's life – that he was hated, despised, afflicted, stricken, etc. There's also the counsel to forgive 7×70. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies are an example of the most extreme scenario of bullying, letting themselves get slaughtered because they refused to return violence. The only examples I see of people righteously fighting back is when abusers are threatening their rights to worship and retain land.

    Despite all of that, I'm pretty sure that if my kid was being bullied I would do something about it. I would teach proper ways to handle it which would probably include ignoring the bully in the moment and then if the bullying continues I would contact authorities to let them know.

  16. My belief is very simple: If being bullied, it is okay to defend yourself. Defend yourself does not mean retaliate and carefully conspire to harm someone physically or verbally. Defending yourself is stepping up in that moment and punching the person in the face. The end.

    On the other hand, if we observe bullying, I believe we should step in even if physical harm comes to us. I have done this before in a mall parking lot when I observed a woman being physically abused by boyfriend. It was more out of instinct than anything. Even after the police told me I was a brave idiot and that I probably shouldn't do that ever again (because I could have been hurt or killed), I decided that my default reaction will always be to step in. Granted, if you're children are with you, it becomes a little more complicated because ultimately you have to protect them first…

  17. People who are being bullied are usually being bullied because they lack the ability to defend themselves. Those who can defend themselves don't make such a good target…bullies don't want to be hurt….that's why they pick on the weak and small. When someone cannot defend themselves it is our responsibility, as outsiders, to stand up for the less fortunate. That's why superheroes came about…to protect those who couldn't protect themselves. After all, aren't the bad guys just bullies with power?

  18. David and Goliath. I teach my kids not to be the first offender, but to fight back if adult intervention isn't working. There are a lot of examples in the scriptures of people going to war in defense of their God and their families. I think standing up for oneself falls into that category. Should a woman "turn the other cheek" in an abusive marriage and take the abuse? No way.

    1. That was a really interesting article. I've always felt that as much as people paint Jesus as being the ultimate pacifist it really isn't an accurate description of Christ. He got angry when he needed to, reprimanded where he saw fit, and challenged the powerful in ways that forced them to take notice. He was actually a rebellious radical who stood up for his beliefs. He just did it in non-violent ways, usually through teaching and leading by example. So in answer to Josh's question, I absolutely think that Christ would advocate resistance when it comes to bullying, I just think he wouldn't use violence if he could help it. Besides, it's a pretty rare case where fighting back is actually effective when it comes to bullying. Studies have shown that humor is the best weapon in the victims arsenal.

    2. As a pacifist I have to disagree. Being a pacifist is NOT the same thing as being passive. Jesus didn't use violence period – because He could always "help it". God will always provide a way out of temptation, so that we may stand up under it. I agree with your other points though.

    3. Christ wasn't strictly a pacifist. He drove the money changers out of the temple by force twice. However, He knew that in most situations violence isn't the best course of action, which is why in those cases He chose to use discussion or even silence instead of force.

  19. The problem with standing up for the victim of bullying is that if one wants to be effective, he or she needs to be present at the scene almost unceasingly. That may be possible for the peers (friends & schoolmates) of both the victim or the bully but not necessarily for parents, teachers or the police.

    Bullying rarely amounts to an offense that entices outright removal of the bully from the environment where his or her nasty business takes place (typically school).

    Besides, the bully is typically very passionate about the victim, and no threats of punishment by those who are not always at the scene (teachers, police) have lasting impression on him or her. The bully typically becomes very imaginative in harassing his or her victims particularly at the time when the bully is aware that victims sought help outside of the circle of their peers.

    So, I believe that the primary way of overcoming bullying should be through empowering the victim herself to overcome it by building her inner strength, and also through empowering the peers to do the right thing for the victim at the very spot.

    And for that to happen, one first needs to have lines of communication open, so that one can know what is going on. And that's where the role of a good, intimate relationship between the parent and the child is almost irreplaceable.

  20. Once again, Weed, you've managed to spark a VERY interesting discussion. I think that Jesus' "turn the other cheek" admonition can be taken too far, just as Paul's "Wives, submit to your husbands" admonition can. (Don't get caught up on that "wives" one, okay? I just picked it at random.)

    My attitude about bullying changed in my mid-twenties, when I read _Ender's Game_. There are times when "turning the other cheek" is the right thing to do, and there are times when you need to stop the bullying RIGHT NOW.

    This discussion reminded me of something that happened when my kids were little. I wrote it up as an entry on my own blog. If I can be forgiven for embedding a URL in the comments, I'll just point people to http://zyzmog.blogspot.com/2012/07/something-about-bullies.html .

  21. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus gave some examples of how our righteousness should exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. One of those examples is turning the other cheek, in contrast to "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."

    I have a retaliation reflex, and I think many people do. Sometimes when I feel wronged, I have an impulse to retaliate. To tell the whole truth, I don't always succeed in resisting that temptation.

    A right to vengeance has been a tradition in some cultures, and that might have been true in Israel in the time of Moses. In the laws of Moses, God restricted vengeance to an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Advocating that might be one example of the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. In Jesus, God revealed a righteousness that not only abstains from retaliation, and waives any traditional right to vengeance, but goes beyond that, demonstrating your good will beyond any shadow of doubt by volunteering for more of the same.

    It seems to me that the wisdom of abstaining from retaliation applies in the situation of a person who is a target of bullying, abuse or popular depreciation, just as well as in any other situation. If the person is in excellent emotional health and already skilled in demonstrating his good will by volunteering for more of the same, that might apply too. Or not.

    In my understanding, what Jesus is prescribing here does *not* include telling someone who is a target of abuse that she needs to turn the other cheek. As I see it, that rewards the abuse, adds to it, and compounds it. "To everything there is a season," and in my view, when a person is traumatized by abuse is *not* the season to try to teach him to turn the other cheek. Judging from my research and experience, that person will almost certainly misunderstand and misapply that advice, with grievous consequences to himself and the people abusing him.

    As for what Jesus would tell someone being bullied to do, He might not tell her to do anything at all. He might find some way to show the person that He does not despise her. He might put the people who are doing the bullying in their place. He might do both at the same time, like He did when He said "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." He might even drive away the people who are doing the bullying. He might do different things in different circumstances, possibly including, but obviously not limited to, the examples I posted earlier of what I do.

  22. I was always taught to defend myself, and stand up (being raised in a Christian/LDS home). You can defend yourself without hating someone (although difficult). If you would defend someone you loved and cared about, wouldn't it be the same for yourself? It really depends on the situation; every situation is different. I do think it depends on your motives too. What is your purpose in standing up? I don't think there is a hard & fast rule on WWJD in this generic situation.

  23. Oh. The reason I think that "turn the other cheek" doesn't apply to bullying is this: in the part of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus said "turn the other cheek," "give him thy cloke also," and "go with him twain," he was talking about TAKING CONTROL OF THE SITUATION.

    One time on my mission, a missionary who was a BYU athlete was punched in the middle of his door approach, hard enough to roll him down the six steps and land him sprawling on the sidewalk. He picked himself up, dusted himself off, and ran back up the steps. He turned his head to the side, literally turning the other cheek, pointed to his cheekbone, and told the startled homeowner, "Now hit this one!" By doing so, he had taken control of the situation.

    However, with a bully, turning the other cheek is relinquishing control to the bully, whether it's one time or seven times seventy, and that's not a good thing. The bully will continue bullying as long as he thinks he is in control.

    1. Very inciteful Zyzmog. That taking control of the situation also applies to the People of Ammon lesson which several of us seem to have had (or taught) yesterday.

  24. I'm pretty sure my response to a bully wouldn't even compare to a "WWJD" answer. I'm not really into a "turn the other cheek," or "think about the bully's feelings," kind of mentality, unfortunately. I think a bully's actions need to be nipped from the start, or they will escalate in their intensity and frequency… perhaps after the "nipping" it would be possible to have a "WWJD" moment, and try to find out why the bully feels this need to control and dominate.

    I have to say though, bullying comes in so many forms… from the typical child bully from yesteryears, to the religious, push your morality on others or wish them dead bullying… somehow, someway, a change needs to occur…something needs to happen to make us ALL realize we are but small specks on what God has created, and we don't have anything on Him… meaning, we need to look at each other with respect for our difference, and be amazed that we are still here.

    How do you teach this to a bully?

    1. I'm afraid you cannot teach bullies in bulk. You can teach them one at the time. If you try to do it otherwise, I'm concerned that you may end up being a bully yourself.

  25. To turn another cheek is appropriate until the abuser challenges your very ability to turn. And that doesn't happen rarely.

    Christ died so that we do not have to pass exact same path as he did, but instead we can count on the atonement.

    One might argue that one may wish to be as humble as Christ himself, but then I would ask if that isn't a bit presumptuous position to aspire?

  26. I LOVE that you asked this question! My mother-in-law had been bullying us for the last year and a half and I struggled a lot on what to do (that's putting it mildly – really, it consumed my thoughts day and night). We tried everything we could think of to work things out with her (including going to counseling with her) but for whatever reason, she just wouldn't stop (I don't think she ever really understood that what she was doing was unacceptable – either that or she figured the end justified the mean.) In the end, I finally decided just to avoid her completely. I felt super guilty about that for a long time but through a lot of prayer and gaining understanding by talking to others, I finally have peace about my decision. It's been an awful process for me – struggling to do what I thought was the 'right, Christlike thing' by turning the other cheek but never feeling like letting her destroy my mental health was the right thing to do. And then at the same time feeling like avoiding her completely wasn't the 'right, Christlike thing' to do.

    In the end, I've decided that as much as I'd like there to be, there is no one answer that fits every situation. That really hit home yesterday in church when we talked about the people of Ammon just letting themselves be slaughtered rather than fight back. At first I thought, "Oh no, that means I should have just let my mother-in-law do whatever she wants and I should just take it!" (I still struggle with accepting that my decision to avoid her is really okay.) And then later, I thought about Nephi and returning to obtain the records. He had to kill Laban to get the plates and that would seem to be the opposite of 'turn the other cheek' but it was what was necessary to accomplish the Lord's goal. So it dawned on me, that what is appropriate for one situation, might be inappropriate for another. In the end, what is appropriate may be the method that causes the most change for the good. Had the people of Ammon fought back, no one else would have been converted. It would have been the same thing that the whole society would have been used to – slaughtering each other – and so would have evoked no change. Whereas, had Nephi not killed Laban, he wouldn't have likely succeeded in the end in obtaining the records and generations of people, including us, would have been very adversely effected.

    That said, it's still something that confuses me as there are so many different situations in which this question comes up, so I'm very interested to read what you have to say in the end 🙂

    1. Natasha, I was struggling with a very similiar situation when a good friend of mine told me, "We have to love everyone but sometimes it's okay to love someone from afar."

      I think there is a lot of wisdom in that statement.

      When my son was being bullied, I truly hoped that the kids bullying him would have a change of heart. They never did but it was something I would have welcomed with open arms. I finally had to withdraw my son from his school and homeschool him. This is a topic very close to my heart.

      I'm not sure what Jesus would say (I'm not a Christian and what I do know of Jesus I find a little confusing), but I do think that, if possible, one must find a way to protect themselves without hardening their heart. Which is very difficult, of course.

    2. "So it dawned on me, that what is appropriate for one situation, might be inappropriate for another. In the end, what is appropriate may be the method that causes the most change for the good."

      I think that you've maybe hit the nail on the head with this statement, Natasha. I haven't been subjected to bullying a lot of times in my life, but there have been a few notable exceptions. One was the time the scoutmaster at church tried to bully me into providing my vehicle for an entire week for a scout outing. Picture scoutmaster, 6'5" versus me, 5'2". He thought because he was an intimidating sort that I would cave and let them have it. Note: Husband was going on outing, too, and his vehicle is a small truck, while mine was a Chevy Astro van. So scoutmaster thought husband should drive my van and I'd be left with his truck. I told him in no uncertain terms that NO, I needed my van. Yes, I could drive the truck in an emergency, but I have arthritis, the truck is a manual, and working the clutch was painful. Oddly enough, to this day, my husband says the man is a bit afraid of me because I don't allow myself to be pushed around.

      Now, no physical violence resulted from any of this, but it is important to stand up for what you think is right. Revenge is wrong, an eye for an eye is wrong and yeah, sometimes the best defense is a good offense.

      In terms of turning the other cheek though, that might well be applied to instances where someone may say something unintentional, not meaning to offend or hurt someone. As in no offense should be taken if none was meant (didn't a general authority say that in a talk?).

    3. Natasha, I have a comparable experience with my mother. She is otherwise very sweet person, and to an outsider looks very innocent. No one could possibly imagine (at least my wife couldn't) that she is such emotionally abusive control freak when it comes to her immediate family members.

      So, at one point, in my late twenties, I simply completely severed my relationship with her, so that she was utterly unaware where I had been for the course of three years. The only means of communication that I left to her was a mere e-mail address, which she didn't dare to abuse out of fear that I might even shut that one remaining link to her.

      As a control freak, that my move completely devastated her. It was very difficult time for her, and it wasn't easy for me. In the course of those three years, through my very scarce e-mail correspondence with her, I was able to unearth some deeply hidden secrets about herself and my family which must have contributed to her desire to exercise great amount of emotionally abusive control over my brother and myself, secrets that she certainly hadn't had intention to share with us except, obviously, under duress.

      During those three years, certain circumstances in my life has changed to a degree that I got a feeling that the time might have come to reconnect. One of the most important occurrences was that I had already chosen a girl that was soon to become my wife, and my marriage was at the time done deal. And that was something over which she always wanted to have great influence.

      After we reconnect, her tendency to emotionally abuse and control hasn't changed, but my ability to stop her increased dramatically. She now knows what she might expect if she went too far, so she is now typically capable, however grudgingly, to cease her abusive behavior at some point. She, however, now tries to target my wife instead of myself, but I have a deal with my wife that she completely hide herself behind me, and "sincerely" "accuse" me for everything my mother finds objectionable in my wife's behavior. It actually became a fun game for me and my wife when played correctly.

  27. Matthew and Mark both said to love your neighbor as yourself. We are also commanded to treat our bodies as temples, which should also include the mental, spiritual, and emotional parts of ourselves. Part of loving yourself and treating yourself as a temple includes knowing when a situation or relationship has reached an unhealthy level. This may be a relationship with another person or with something like food or computer games becoming an unhealthy addiction. Whatever the situation, we need to have the wisdom to realize that we have crossed the line into an unhealthy situation and then love ourselves enough to walk away from it. Walking away from an unhealthy relationship doesn't mean that you aren't showing the other person Christlike love. The bully will rarely stop if everyone in his/her life enables the behavior. Allowing another person to face the consequences of their behavior (i.e., a lost relationship) is often the greatest service that can be done for that person.

    1. I love what you said here about facing consequences. One can love, forgive, etc… Without enabling.

      I think we often look for a simple formula in responding to people, but a Christian life isn't so simple. We need the Holy Spirot to discern how to handle individual situations.

  28. I think one of the core misunderstandings comes from trying to understand the "turn the other cheek" comment as something we are supposed to *do*. However, I can do almost any behavior in one of two ways – seeing the other person as an object, or seeing them as a person. I tell my clients that the only good boundaries are the ones that protect *both* parties, not just one of them.

    The key understanding for me came from reading Arbinger's books: Leadership & Self-Deception, The Anatomy of Peace, and Terry Warner's Bonds That Make Us Free. Highly recommended for you, Weed (and heck, for everyone else, too), if you haven't read them yet. I make every single one of my clients read all three.

    Zyzmog's comment about taking control of the situation was right on, except for the motive for taking control of the situation. Do I take control so I can lash back, or so I can show them love in the proper way? (With the understanding that love does not always equate to "nice".)

    When we understand that turning the other cheek is one of the deepest expressions of love for the person who is trying to lash out at me, then we don't get caught up in the arguments about bullying or abuse. Turning the other cheek in those cases takes a different form than it does in others.

    And also don't forget the context – the Jews were a conquered people. They were looking for an excuse to rise up and throw off their Roman shackles, but Christ told them not to resist the soldiers when those soldiers tried to dominate. Other people could pay the price for my resistance if I fought back, and that's not right, either.

  29. A lot of good points brought up. Here are some of my thoughts.

    First, Jesus clearly taught against actions and feelings that stem from revenge. The feeling of revenge specifically comes from a desire to hurt someone who has hurt you. This is contrary to God's nature. God doesn't hurt people because he has a desire to "get them back." If God hurts someone, it is to accomplish something good and to stand up for what is right. So, when Jesus said to turn the other cheek, he is asserting that we must never respond to a bully, an abuser, or anyone else with feelings of revenge. The purpose of revenge is not to solve a problem or stand up for what is right. The purpose of revenge is to satisfy a selfish feeling to make others hurt as they hurt you. Revenge often makes problems worse.

    Jesus demonstrated the opposite of revenge: he maintained control of himself and did not give others power to dictate his behaviors. When we respond to revenge, we are giving the perpetrator power. We are giving them the power to make us behave badly. This is one of the ways a bully gets power: "If I hit you and make you mad or scared, then I have power over making you mad or scared." Bullies get off on this feeling of power, because they have probably experienced powerlessness somewhere else in their life. Bullies like control and abusers like control. It is less about hurting someone else and more about controlling others. They seek to control your actions and your physical self, but they often get more pleasure out of controlling your feelings and choices.

    Jesus is advocating, not only avoiding selfish feelings of revenge, but also taking control away from the perpetrator. When he was crucified, he did not respond out of revenge, hate, and pain. He asked his Father to forgive the soldiers crucifying him. He maintained control of his emotions and choices in that situation.

    Turning the other cheek refrains from violence, but allows the victim to maintain personal control and avoid reactivity. It also allows the victim to show that he or she is not a victim. You are sending the message: "you may have power to hurt me, but you don't have power to own or control me." This goes along with all of the Christian martyrs: they were killed, but every one of them showed that their abusers did not have the power to control them or change their beliefs.

    I agree with the comments that a Christian life is not simple and that we are expected to think. I am a big fan of principles. One of my favorite quotes is by Joseph Smith, when asked how he got his people to behave so well: "I teach them correct principles and then I let them govern themselves."

    1. Here are some of the principles I see at play in Jesus' teachings on this subject:

      1) You must stand up for what is right, no matter the personal cost…sometimes this requires giving your own life
      2) Violence is only used to stand up for what is right and when all other options have been exhausted. It is NOT to be used to satisfy personal emotions.
      3) If others have power over you physically, socially, or politically, you must still maintain your right to choose, think, and feel as you wish. Do not hand this power over to others, even when they threaten your life.
      4) Do not respond to others to satisfy your own vengeful or selfish desires.
      5) Submit yourself only when doing so serves a higher good. Do not submit yourself out of pacifism that doesn't accomplish anything good (Jesus would not have submitted to the cross if it didn't serve a higher good. On the other hand, what good would have come out of him standing passively by while the temple was defiled?).
      6) Love others AS you love yourself, as Jesus commanded. Don't love yourself more than others. Don't love others more than yourself. Loving yourself more is selfishness and sets you up to be self-righteous; Loving others more is self-deprecation and sets you up to be a victim of abuse.

      We all have a responsibility to stand up for good things, even in the face of persecution. Sometimes the best way to stand up for truth is to submit by choice, thus keeping your power to make such a choice. Sometimes submitting makes a powerful statement, such as when Ghandi fasted for several weeks. However, there are other times when submitting only supports your enemy. This kind of submitting doesn't make a powerful statement: it makes no statement, such as failing to state the truth when your opponent has already stated a lie.

      Jesus turned the other cheek at times, literally. However, at other times, he spoke out strongly against the hypocrites. There were times when he kept silent when asked questions. He also overturned tables at the temple and made a whip. In every one of these cases, his behaviors did not serve to be passive. His silence or non-actions were as powerful as his accusations and actions.

      If you walk two miles with your enemy, instead of one, you have made a powerful statement: "My love for you is more powerful than your selfishness."

      If someone is asking you a question and answering them will be like throwing pearls before swine, you are sending a powerful message by staying silent: "You don't have the power to cajole me into playing your game."

      If someone is spreading lies that have a negative effect on others, you can make a powerful statement by standing by the truth: "I am not afraid to let others know the truth, even when you threaten me physically or socially."

      When you turn the other cheek to a bully, you are sending a powerful message: "You may have power to hit me, but you don't have power to scare, control, or humiliate me."

    2. Such an excellent point – "turning the other cheek" is meant to be an act of love and a statement of self-worth (i.e. "I don't want to fight you, and you don't control me or determine my worth"). If done as an act of strength rather than weakness, I could see it deterring a bully since they tend to look for weak targets they can easily control. That said, I imagine it would be hard to act with that kind of courage in the face of an attack. But then, the best choices are rarely the easiest ones.

      Also, for what it's worth, Christ told us to forgive 70 x 7 times, but He only told us to turn the other cheek once. In other words, He wasn't suggesting that we should be a doormat in the face of persistent abuse and bullying. If dialogue fails and the abuse is ongoing, we're justified in defending ourselves or looking for a way to escape.

      Lastly, I think it's important to note that "turning the other cheek" doesn't just mean passively letting someone injure you. Matthew 5:39 says "whosoever shall smite thee on thy RIGHT cheek, turn to him the other also" (emphasis added). The Bible generally assumes people are right-handed, and if a right-handed person punched someone, they would likely strike the left cheek. However, if they hit the right cheek, it was more likely a back-handed strike (in other words an insult, not an attempt to seriously injure the person). In short, if someone offends us we're supposed to brush it off and be the bigger person, but if they're trying to attack us we're justified in defending ourselves.

  30. There's alot of great stuff here. There is strength in numbers and I enjoy the many good people that are emerging in these discussions. These issues are real. I'm somewhat of a scripture buff so I hope I can add something here along those lines.

    There's an ugly chapter in LDS history where the LDS suffered incomprehensible persecution and bullying. D&C 98 was the revelation given at that time. The whole chapter is a worthy read, but here are a few verses I think are useful to consider:

    "Now I speak unto you concerning your families — if men will smite you, or your families…and ye bear it patiently and revile not against them, neither seek revenge, ye shall be rewarded….

    [T]his is the law I gave unto my ancients…[that] if any nation, tongue, or people should proclaim war against them, they should first lift a standard of peace unto that people, nation or tongue; and if that people do not accept the offering of peace, neither the second nor the third time, they should bring these testimonies before the Lord; Then I the Lord, would give unto them a commandment, and justify them in going out to battle against that nation, tongue or people. And I, the Lord, would fight their battles…behold, this is an ensample unto all people, saith the Lord your God, for justification before me." (D&C 23, 33-38)

    In short, after exausting every avenue of peace and getting direction through prayer, defend yourself with confidence. This can happen in seconds but most often it's a longer more patient process than that. What counts is knowing what's right before God, something obviously important to you because you asked, "What would Jesus do?"

    From what I see of you Josh, everything I read that you say gives evidence you are a man of peace. Just the fact that you are struggling with this topic says it. No true good guy loves going to war, even against a bully who deserves it.

  31. Can anyone recall the first scene in Karate Kid 2? The one where Mr Miyagi takes on the bully sensei? That is a beautiful example of taking control without taking revenge.
    CK is right. This post has generated some wonderfully inciteful and thoughtful comment.

  32. There's also the scripture in the New Testament that goes something like this: "If thine eye offend thee, cast it out; if thy hand offend thee, cut it off." I know that's not an exact quote, but I've heard it quoted in the context of what to do in a family where abuse is present. My dad was abused by his father as a child. For a long long time this meant we never spent time with my dad's dad. They didn't talk much for decades. Now my grandfather has come back to the church, received his endowment in the temple, and even attended my wedding (the first temple sealing my grandfather attended for any of his family members). I don't know all the details, but I know it's been incredibly difficult for my dad to forgive his father. Maybe the process isn't quite complete, but I know my dad is working on it so he can heal. I think if you take the gospel in its fulness, Christ taught both of these principles. You don't have to put yourself in bad situations, but you do need to forgive to be whole. So I think there is a balance. Christ's mission was to be crucified and suffer the Atonement, but it's pretty clear that the healing Christ offers usually doesn't come in the midst of sustained abuse (or bullying). More often we need to do whatever we can to cast off the things that offend us and then just let it go. That over simplifies things, but I believe that is what Christ asks of us.

  33. Josh, thanks for bringing this up. Reading this and pondering on it has actually helped me to think more today about what Jesus would do in general. So basically you've succeeded to once again influence for good the life of someone who lives half-way across the country from you and whom you have never met. Way to go! 🙂 You have no idea how often you have had this kind of an effect, in my life and many others'. Thank you.

    In answer to your question, I think Christ would have us respond in love – both towards the bully AND towards ourselves – never reacting out of ANGER but still standing up for ourselves in appropriate ways. Since we know He is perfect, we know that when he threw down the moneychangers' tables he was not reacting out of a natural man's out-of-control emotional anger. Instead he was completely in control of his emotions and purposely doing what needed to be done. I think we can follow His example by never letting anger be our motivation for our actions, but standing up for ourselves in appropriate ways. Perhaps this would take the form of walking away or responding with a compliment to throw a verbal bully off guard or something of that kind. Trying to make the bully into a friend would be ideal, but forgiveness doesn't always mean trust. I mean, you forgive a pedophile but you don't let him watch your kids. So you love a bully and try to serve him or her but you don't put yourself in a position to be bullied again and again if you can at all help it.

    One thing that helps me come up with my own answer to this question and that may very well help you as well is thinking about how I would want my own child to react to a bully. My daughter has only just turned one so we have not faced this issue, but when I think about how I would teach her to respond if someone bullied her, I would not want her to take either extreme. That is, I wouldn't tell her to hit back (physically or verbally), at least not out of anger, and thus stoop to the bully's level, but I also would tell her that she doesn't deserve to be treated that way and shouldn't just let the bully "walk all over her." To me this fits with Christ's response that I spoke about in the above paragraph.

    As a side note (that may or may not connect with this subject), I started thinking earlier today about someone who recently hurt me by judging me for something that I am very sensitive about in my life. I started to feel my same negative feelings return and then thought, "Uh oh, I need to think about Jesus." I thought about what He said on the cross regarding his abusers, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Something that helps me is knowing that those who hurt me do not (at least not completely) understand what they are doing. Even though I tried to explain myself in love to the person who hurt me and they thought they understood, they apparently don't completely. But that's okay because they are not me or Christ. Those who tortured and killed Christ probably thought they understood who He was and Christ certainly tried to reach them and teach them who He was but they didn't understand. I've been so touched these last few weeks by your courage in "coming out" and sharing your story with the world. I know some people have been unkind in their reactions and that has to be extremely hard. Those of us who have incredible respect and love for you hurt when we see this. Of course, it doesn't really matter what they think, but I know it's still hard. I just hope it helps to know that they don't understand who you are. If they did, they would love you. That doesn't mean you didn't do a good job of explaining. Christ explained who He was perfectly, but some people still misunderstood and "knew not what they (did)." I don't know if this makes sense to anyone else, but to me it helps to know that.

    1. Rebekah, those last words to Josh touched me, and warmed me, and gave me a peaceful feeling, and an impression of gentleness and sweetness. I was preparing in my mind to sally forth again in my quest to right the unrightable wrong, but now I think I'll just go and bask for a while in the sun of this love I've just seen.

  34. Tough question man, especially because Christ wasn't ever vulnerable or helpless until he allowed himself to be for the benefit of the rest of us. So even when he was persecuted, judged, etc. he always had the power and ability to stand up to whatever was thrown at him and whoever was throwing it at him and when he finally allowed himself to be harmed it wasn't just to turn the other cheek, but rather to bless the lives of every other human being in existence (past, present, and future). He did teach us to turn the other cheek though, and he always backed up what he taught with his actions and example. He also defended himself and others, but never did so in a vengeful or mean way. So I think that turning the other cheek really is what he would do. I also think that there is much more to turning the other cheek than just saying "oh, you smacked my cheek? Here, smack this one too." I don't think that turning the other cheek means that at all in fact. I think that it simply means that you don't seek out revenge, you don't try to get back at them, you don't try to do them harm in response. It doesn't mean that you don't do anything about it though, it doesn't even mean that you don't fight back and defend yourself. I think that defending yourself by whatever means necessary (physically fighting back, calling authorities, whatever the situation necessitates) can still be a part of turning the other cheek as long as you're motive is self defense or the defense of others and you don't cross the line to where you're no longer trying to defend yourself, but are now simply trying to injure or harm them. That's the long way of saying that Christ would defend himself and others, but he wouldn't try to get back at people, in fact I think that he would be far more likely to try to help them understand why what they were doing was wrong.

  35. Josh, as part of my efforts to counteract the effects of popular depreciation, I'm posting this for the benefit of any bullied gays or their friends who might be lurking here.

    One glaring feature I've seen in these discussions so far has been the popularity of ignoring, denying and whitewashing cruelty and violence against gays; ignoring the fraudulence of numerous other stories of gay men married to women, and the harmful ways they've been used, as possible reasons for skepticism, anger and alarm; and diverting attention away from them.

    Considering what this question about bullying might be leading up to, I've thought of three possibilities, and I see all three of them as perpetuating and reinforcing that turning away.

    "Is it only a dream, that there'll be no more turning away?

    – Pink Floyd

    1. I thought about how I might do whatever I'm trying to do here, without reverting to my intimidating ways, and I decided to try again, to explain how this blog looks to me now, in relation to some people whose nightmares, trauma and torment I see perpetuated and reinforced by social environments like the one I see here.

      Now that I put it that way, I don't know how to explain it, better than I already have, except maybe to repeat what I've said, with an effort to weed out the hard feelings.

      Some people here might have tasted the experience of feeling despised by God, or feeling loathsome, like there's something horribly wrong with you, without any hope of changing it. I've seen that happen to some people who think or suspect that they're homosexual, possibly far worse than what most of us have ever experienced or witnessed, or at least over a much longer period of time. Many times it ends in suicide. I suspect that some people who call themselves gay, claiming to have embraced that, haven't really, and are still struggling with it and suffering from it.

      One of the reasons I see for those nightmares, for some people, is what they've seen people in their faith communities and families saying about gays and homosexuality, and in some cases, cruelty and violence directed at gays, up to and including murder.

      One thing that has created or intensified nightmares for many gays has been subjecting themselves to healing and change programs, which have used numerous fraudulent success stories, including stories of gay men married to women, in campaigns promoting the programs. Those same fraudulent stories have been used by some religious organizations to promote prejudice and discrimination against gays.

      Those are some possible reasons for some people's skepticism, anger and alarm about this story.

      Another thing that I see helping to perpetuate and reinforce the nightmares for some people is the popularity in some circles of ignoring, denying and whitewashing cruelty and violence against gays, and diverting attention away from it, for example by changing the subject to other people who are being maligned and treated cruelly, or in a disengaged abstract moralizing discussion about bullying.

      I was thrilled to learn about this story, because it looks authentic to me, contrary to all the other stories of gay men married to women that I've ever seen publicized. It perfectly illustrates a possibility for gay men, and some other things I've seen missing in Internet discussions about gays. The more this story can be spread the better.

      One thing that I see that might prevent it from reaching and helping many gays, if not most of them, is immersing it in an environment where people are ignoring, denying and whitewashing cruelty and violence against gays, and diverting attention away from it; and stigmatizing the skepticism, anger and alarm about this story, without addressing it fairly and squarely.

    2. Jim, I hope you understand that this place is not solely about homosexuality, it is also about husbands, wifes, children, traditional marriage, moral issues, friendship, religion, authenticity, humor, and garbage disposals. Or, as Josh has put it, it is about "over-caffeinated monkey riding a unicycle while wearing a blue tuxedo and wielding a flame thrower and occasionally shouting really loudly in fluent Chinese".

      So, if I were you, I would not take efforts of commentators here to "perpetuate and reinforce the nightmares for some people" by "ignoring, denying and whitewashing cruelty and violence against gays, and diverting attention away from it etc" very seriously.

      Not because those things aren't serious, but because the place we are exchanging thoughts is not deadly serious. It is a sweet place, it is a dignified place, it may even be a place with a certain level of integrity, but it is not no-nonsense.

      Those who want to take something from here, let them take it. Those who won't or can't, let them leave.

    3. FG, yes, I understand that this blog is not solely about homosexuality, and I'm glad. I want it to keep being everything it was before, along with what it has become. As far as I know, I've stuck to the topic on each post. I welcome this reminder, and I will welcome it any time you see me posting off topic.

      In this particular case, I consider what I've said on topic in a discussion about bullying, with an unspecified purpose, in the wake of the discussions generated by the Unicorn posts.

    4. I think Jim's bringing homosexuality up in the context of bullying is very appropriate. I feel that almost every time someone tried to point out the bullying of gay people, it has either been minimized, denied or ignored. So as much as some folks might be tired of reading what Jim repeats, it seems that it is necessary. The issue of bullying of LGBTQ people is not going away and this post is on bullying.

    5. Anon 10:57 AM, it looks to me now like I was reading more friendly intentions toward gays into Josh's coming out than there are.

      I still see a lot to love in it. Proclaiming the possibility that a marriage between a woman and a gay man can be as happy and healthy as any other kind of marriage can be. The man says he has never seen anything wrong with his homosexuality. Not a word anywhere in the story about homosexuality as a disease, disorder or danger to society, not a word about trying to change it or cure it.

      I wanted to see this story proclaimed far and wide. Now, seeing vital concerns of gays being persistently ignored, except to stigmatize the people who raise them, I'm having doubts about that.

    6. Exactly, Jim. The most important thing that I got from Josh is the fact that he completely changed the view of my homosexuality. It thunderstruck me that my homosexuality isn't something wrong, it is even not something neutral. It is a good thing, very good thing, possibly one of the best things that has ever happened to me. When I realized that through his coming-out post, it is difficult to explain how relieved I became. As if a mountain fell off of me.

      Now, that doesn't mean that I should have acted upon it, since that I would consider a sin. But that's true only in MY UNIVERSE, which is my wife, my children, my job, my church, my value system. In other people's universes, I am not bold enough to claim the same. They know it for themselves. I find it a sin here, I'm not called to judge elsewhere, as long as I am let go with my life as I please.

      Now, where we vehemently disagree is this: You think that by my sheer statement that acting upon it is a sin I'm actually jeopardizing other people's universes. If for no other reason then for the fact that I'm actually getting in contact with other universes on a daily basis, and by claiming what I claim, I reportedly belittling their position. Moreover, you think that by calling it a sin, I actually call for or encourage violence upon them.

      And that may be true. But I don't see it that way, and I will fight with words to my very last breath to defend how I see it, and until I realize that I'm wrong. And I will deny you or anyone else a right to stop me fighting with words, even to the point of being accused of a hate speech and (in my country) silenced by being put to prison.

      And the reason why I don't see it that way is because I abhor any violence, including the one exercised by the government upon peaceful citizens. And including the one exercised by bullies upon people from another universe. You may find my position incoherent, inconsistent or outright fake, but I don't allow you or anyone else to judge my integrity into coercion.

    7. FG, you wrote:

      "You think that by my sheer statement that acting upon it is a sin I'm actually jeopardizing other people's universes."

      I wonder if you're confusing me with someone else? I don't think that at all. I don't have any problem at all with anyone saying that same-sex sexual intimacy is a sin.

      In my understanding, the partners in the marriage prescribed by God can only be a woman and a man, and perfect chastity excludes all sexual intimacy outside of that. In some people's terminology, that makes same-sex sexual intimacy a sin. I go even farther than you do in saying that those prescriptions are from God and addressed to all the people of the world.

      I'm a member of a religious community whose leaders have anathematized "homosexuality" and "homosexual relations" in terms every bit as offensive to gays as I've seen anywhere, and I have no objection to that.

    8. "When I realized that through his coming-out post, it is difficult to explain how relieved I became. As if a mountain fell off of me."

      That's what I love the most about Josh's coming out. What happened to you has been the object of my quest for more than ten years.

    9. Also, incidentally, I do see a threat to religious freedom in the demands of gay activism. Because I never talk about the gay branch of society's underbelly, and the gay branch of satan's assaults, doesn't mean I don't see them.

    10. Hey, Jim.
      You said –
      In my understanding, the partners in the marriage prescribed by God can only be a woman and a man, and perfect chastity excludes all sexual intimacy outside of that. In some people's terminology, that makes same-sex sexual intimacy a sin. I go even farther than you do in saying that those prescriptions are from God and addressed to all the people of the world.
      Alas, we don't agree after all. But that's okay. I completely misunderstood what you have been saying and I'm not sure how I did that but I thank you that you have cleared it up by spelling it out.

    11. Anon 7:08 PM, it's very easy to misunderstand where I'm coming from, and most people do. I usually don't bring my ideas about God's laws of marriage and chastity into discussions about gays, because I consider that abusive, and irrelevant to discussions about gay equality and violence against gays.

      I'm wondering now, though, if I should put that up front right away, to avoid painful moments like this.

    12. Actually, I don't need to qualify that. I consider God's prescriptions for marriage and chastity as altogether irrelevant to *any* discussion about gays, or with gays.

    13. Anon 7:08 PM, another reason you might have misunderstood, is if you saw me say that I don't measure the morality or healthfulness of any relationship by the genders of the partners. Seeing that, it would be very hard *not* to imagine that I fully endorse sexual intimacy in a same-sex relationship.

    14. Hey, Jim. I'm not sure why you would consider something abusive if you believe it? That seems odd to me. It's not painful, I was just surprised a bit. you are someone that I can agree to disagree with.

    15. but i'm also not sure why you would deplore the campaigns – since you feel that it is wrong? The question might be – can you be a true ally of gay people who don't believe in the god you believe in and therefore may, with integrity, believe in their right to marry? I guess so because I have seen some Christians holding up 'we're sorry'' signs at gay pride parades. A very touching photo was of a gay man in the parade embracing one of those holding the sign. At the same time . . . it''s tricky because if you tell a gay person that you are their ally but then, later on, tell them that your god feels that their gay lifestyles are wrong that's a bit of bait and switch really. At least with most of the folks on here, we know where they stand.I think, Jim, that if those who have hurt gay people with their bullying in whatever form would just stop, just stop and focus instead on how to help people, then maybe, eventually, some of the damage can be undone.

    16. Anon 8:38 PM,

      It isn't my view of God's prescriptions for marriage and chastity that I consider harmful. What I consider harmful is bringing it up in discussions about gays.

      I don't equate civil marriage with the marriage prescribed by God, so civil marriage for gays is an open question for me. I deplore the political feuding for a number of reasons, but in this discussion I'll just mention one: it undermines efforts to reduce prejudice, cruelty and violence against gays.

      I'm not trying to be anyone's ally. That's another misunderstanding I haven't learned to avoid yet, and at least one person has been grievously hurt by it.

      "I think, Jim, that if those who have hurt gay people with their bullying in whatever form would just stop, just stop and focus instead on how to help people, then maybe, eventually, some of the damage can be undone."

      Well … yeah … that's the whole point for me. The question for me is: What can you and I do to help that happen?

    17. I find your last question actually very easy to answer. Everything is acceptable except violence. And the most unacceptable form of violence is of the government (defined as a monopoly of brute force). Whoever tries to influence or employ government in achieving their agenda is my fiercest foe, no matter which side of the debate he or she is in.

      I deplore those religious bigots who would outlaw gay relationships just as I deplore those liberal bigots who would pass laws in favor of gay relationships. The only governmental business is TO PROTECT RELIGIOUS BIGOTS, LIBERAL BIGOTS, STRAIGHT PEOPLE, GAY PEOPLE and everyone else from the violence of others. And if the government is inept to do that for whatever reason, then it is good for nothing.

    18. We can do tons, and we are already doing it. We do it every day. Just list all the things that you do, and you will realize that you are doing it.

      Now, the question is how we can do away with the violence. And the answer is that we can't. The very nature of the universe we are living in, it's very core, is violent. The violence is deeply ingrained in every rock that can fall on our foot, or every tree that can fall on our head. I believe God actually designed it that way so that he can see how far our desire to overcome the violent nature of everything around us will go. That's why he says, blessed are the peacemakers.

      That doesn't mean that all will become peacemakers. Some (many?) will choose to go along with the universe and try to employ it's deeply violent nature for achieving their goals. And there is very little if anything you and I can do about it.

      That is a matter of a personal choice. You are either a peacemaker, or you are not. There is no middle ground.

      So, to answer your question, one must pick and choose. We have only this much time, this much space and this much attention. We need to economize. We can't do everything with everyone. We are not called to do everything with everyone. If one thinks that only through the effort of the imperfect mortals we can achieve peace on earth is deluding himself. And that is especially true for those who are trying to achieve it through government regulation. That effort is particularly sinister, misleading and utterly wrong.

    19. FG, I do see people trying to use intimidation and force to settle ideological differences, as we see people doing on both sides of the marriage feuding, as part of the problem, but I don't see that influencing the government much any more. Virtually the only thing I see influencing the government any more, at least at the national level, is money from the growth economics empire.

      One thing I think is needed, to stop the cruelty, brutality and ugliness, is for people to stop maligining each other, not only in our words, but in our hearts and minds. For that, we need people to set an example, to demonstrate how we can all pursue our interests much better without maligning each other.

      I'm imagining that cruelty, brutality and ugliness will eventually lose their popularity, just as racism already has, but it might take many more decades for that to happen, so along with working on that, I'm also working on counteracting their effects. Part of that for me is walking and working with some of the people I see being wronged the most, on line and off line. I'm also hoping to find better ways to promote that, and to find more people all over the world who are doing that, to exchange ideas and experiences with them.

      Ultimately, it all depends on people turning to God, and for that they need to see the much more of the fruits of the spirit in people who claim allegiance to Him. I'm working on that too.

    20. "Virtually the only thing I see influencing the government any more, at least at the national level, is money from the growth economics empire." I see that as a big influence not only on the government, but on all of us, more or less, and I see that as a big part of what's perpetuating economic injustice and all of our economic problems: people selling their capacities to the highest bidder, rather than applying them where they'll do the most good.

    21. Jim, you are absolutely right. However, I'm not sure if you understand that the government itself is the actual culprit. Without it, the possibility of economic empires capable of enticing us into selling our capacities to the highest bidder (them!) would be non-existent.

    22. I see our legislators selling themselves to the empire, if that's what you mean, and I see numerous ways that they conspire with it against the rest of it, but I don't agree at all with using that as an excuse for what all the rest of us our doing. The empires executives are not the ones that do the actual robbing among us for example. We do it to each other, in our scramble for some crumbs from the table.

    23. Against the rest of us.

      A big part of the problem is everybody blaming everything on someone else, and that includes blaming everything on the monopoly winners, when everyone else is playing the same game they are.

      Like Patty said once: Everyone hates them, and wants to be just like them.

  36. Jesus was always on the side of the marginalized, to a startling degree. The woman who committed adultery was bullied in a way – and Jesus got the bullies away fairly quickly. I think Jesus would help the bullied to feel not alone and to show them that what the bullies tell them about themselves is not true. It can be incredibly daunting for one person to stand up to a group of bullies and I don't think that Jesus would require that (that is too similar in my way of thinking to saying 'just man up.')I think that he walks alongside the bullied and grieves for what they are going through. As we are called to be Jesus' hands and feet on earth, I think he requires us to stand with the bullied and the marginalized.
    Jim, I hear what you are saying and I suspect that you are one who like Jesus, stands in the gap for people. I find that incredibly touching.
    – "Whatever you did for the least of my brothers (and sisters) that you did unto me."

    1. Anon 7:26 PM, thank you! I needed that!

      You wrote:

      "The woman who committed adultery was bullied in a way – and Jesus got the bullies away fairly quickly. I think Jesus would help the bullied to feel not alone and to show them that what the bullies tell them about themselves is not true. It can be incredibly daunting for one person to stand up to a group of bullies and I don't think that Jesus would require that (that is too similar in my way of thinking to saying 'just man up.')I think that he walks alongside the bullied and grieves for what they are going through. As we are called to be Jesus' hands and feet on earth, I think he requires us to stand with the bullied and the marginalized."

      Perfect! I wish I'd said that!

    2. Wow. Yes, it is internalizing the teachings about it and the hate – so sad, so heartbreaking. It seems similar to when people of colour became their own oppressors by agreeing – and sometimes even fighting – to keep their rights less than that of Caucasians. (I think of those people of colour who fought to keep African Americans out of the priesthood).

  37. its a tough call. and every scenario is different. i think one would have to pray about it to know what to do. the Lord tells us a lot of things… like love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, and he also says that blessed are they who are persecuted for my names sake. and there are plenty of General Conference talks on issues of disagreements… especially recently.
    am i preaching to the choir? yes. done.

  38. I didn't read any of the previous comments, just my two cents….its a money changers issue. I use that with clients all the time when they say God teaches to turn the other cheek. Healthy boundaries include knowing our own value and the value of others and how/when to enforce breaches of those values. Christ had set a standard or value about behavior in the temple and the money changers were violating that boundary. Even though it doesn't say in scripture, I would guess that he gave them a few warnings that it wasn't ok for them to be behaving like that in his Father's temple before he threw them out.

  39. I think there are two questions being answered in some of the posts, which is because we need to decide if Josh is asking "what would Jesus do?" or "what would Jesus have us do?". Of course, the latter should be the same as the first, but it is really easy to say "well, this what Jesus would do, but omg that's way to hard and he was like JESUS so I'm going to do this other easier thing" I'm going to answer the first, knowing as well as most of you that it is what Jesus would have us do.

    If you are being attacked, attacking back will get you know where. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Standing on a soap box and preaching will get you equally stuck because it will close ears and hearts.
    When someone is attacking your soul, your being, and your self, the best and primary reaction should always be true and honest peace and love.

    I was once having a fight with my brother. He was teasing me and poking me as older brothers will do. And I was just ignoring him. At first he got really mad that I wasn't getting mad, but eventually he got bored and walked away. Because he was looking for a fight. (we were kids, he is not a jerk)

    Second, true love for another is hard. Especially when you are being bullied. You could stand to lose a lot by not fighting back. If your life is in danger, run away, call the cops, use force to save your life or another life only. If it is not in danger, be loving. Speak calmly and try to let them know who you are and why. They won't care, but they will only beat up on someone who can't stand up for themselves. Standing up for yourself and being physically violent are different.

    And third, have a pure heart. Be willing to lose what you will lose for loving. We live in a vengeful world. But Jesus would never seek revenge.

  40. I'd recommend the book Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. They bring what I felt was an insightful Biblical (general Christian) perspective on the appropriateness of drawing boundaries, and how doing so can be consistent with Christ's teachings.

  41. I usually don't comment, but this hits home. I'll try to make this short since it's such a complicated story. I was born into a very volatile family. My brother and I were a part and witnessed real violence. My dad would regularly go into a rage and break everything in the kitchen (we'd have to clean food off the ceiling), kick in Tv's, break the car windows, pour gas around the house and threaten to light it. Still to this day when my husband takes his belt off I get my PTSD flashbacks of belt beatings. My mom was badly abused growing up too, she really didn't know how to function well. My parents would tell us we were stupid or too fat, worthless…the regular stuff that you might hear in this situation. I was also bullied by other kids, teachers at school, and molested by neighbors. Now, I have a mean streak, don't mess with me, Scottish red-headed temper, and I'm a Mama Bear, you even look at my kids wrong and I get heated. I would gladly kill my molesters, but damn it all if I have a conscience! I am Mormon, because when I was a kid the only person I felt that loved me was Jesus. Going to church was a relief for me because I knew someone was there for me and gave me hope. As a parent I know what not to do and love my kids with all that I have, they get told how much they are loved everyday and nothing will ever change that. It helps to not live with my parents, I can only take a few hours before I want to pull my hair out. I went on a mission, married in the temple, and have gotten crap for being too good. I'm really not too good, I'm just human, and a weird one at that. Part of my soul has a blackness of death in it. I watch scary movies to relieve stress. My brother died four years ago of cancer, he was 29. This killed my parents, my parents are so sick because they have broken, it was the last straw in their tormented lives. I think my dad will go soon, he's so different. Now, I hate what my parents did, I have deep emotional scars, PTSD, anxiety disorder, plus my ADD, so I just try to pray, relax, and laugh my butt off at whatever is funny. I could hate my parents so easy,but it's not. I am there for them, and I love them. Why? Because it's the right thing to do, because I can't function as a mean (well, most of the time, lol) human being, I can't turn away. This is a poor example but if a dog bit me I couldn't kick it and get rid of it, I'd try to make it's life better. So I try. Last year I finally got my parents to the Temple and we got sealed as a family, my husband standing in for my brother. I've done what I can. I live at least eight hours from them, but we visit once a year and talk mostly to my mom a ton. My dad has had a ton a little strokes so he doesn't talk much and just sits, which is so weird because my dad is a cowboy and worked everyday of his life. When this life is over I can say to God that I really did try to love my parents and was there for them, doesn't mean it's easy. So I'm always told I'm not a typical Mormon, whatever that is. I won't wear flowers, rather have skulls and AC/DC on my shirt. I love bats, scary movies, sarcastic… What makes me Mormon is that I believe it to be true, it saved my life because I probably would have died from a drug overdose, I would take the shirt off my back for someone in need, and sometimes I cry (shhh, don't tell anyone. Jesus is my best friend and I don't want that to ever go away, and He would tell me to be kind and loving. Warning: you get in my face though I will punch you and feel bad later. I never said I was perfect. Thanks Brother Weed for not being a "typical Mormon" either. Sorry it was so long.

    1. Weird Mormon Mom —

      I REALLY appreciate this comment. I cannot tell you how much I admire and respect people like you. I love the message of your post. To me, what you are describing is true compassion, and I think that is something Jesus endorsed wholeheartedly.

      I hope this doesn't sound offensive to anyone who has been bullied, but I think in our haste to put an end to bullying we often forget to have compassion on the bully. Compassion, in my mind, doesn't mean approval or passivity. And I'm in favor of imposing consequences for bullies' behavior and defending those who are hurt by it. But I also believe that pure condemnation, without more, will not solve the bullying problem. I suspect a great deal of bullying is done by those who have not been shown as much love in their lives as most of the rest of us. I think that trying to understand a bully and taking an interest in his life–at least in the case of young kids–goes a lot further than simply condemning him.

      Some posts have mentioned that Jesus tended to take the side of the marginalized. That is definitely true. But one of the things I love about Jesus is that in the process of defending the marginalized, he did not condone the shortcomings of the marginalized and rarely condemned the other side. Instead, he simply showed everyone involved a better way. (E.g., he took compassion on the adulterous woman, silenced her oppressors without condemning them, and then gently reminded her to sin no more).

    2. Thanks! That's so nice of you! People usually freak out when I tell my story, and a lot of people just don't know what to think of me, I'm a paradox. I just keep trying, not giving up. I always joke that I should be a diamond by now. Your support gave me tears of joy, it's nice to hear!

  42. I think its the difference between offense and self preservation. You turn the other cheek for offenses, but not when you need to preserve your life/health etc.

    If WE are not allowed to harm our bodies with so little as a 3rd earring, then there is no room for anyone else to either. But if we are just talking about someone offending us, turn the cheek.

    Jesus ignored satan whenever he would try and tempt him. But he did not ignore the money changers in the temple, because they were offending God, not him.

  43. I haven't read all these posts, but I wonder, josh. Although you have been out since u were 16, you have lived a straight life for at least ten years. My friend was beat up in Seattle and had to take a month of medical leave. Do you feel the violence more as an out individual? Have you lost some of your "straight privilege?" Jesus' message was for the powerful and the powerless. How do those of us with privilege support bullying unconsciously or consciously? How do I support violence by being ignorant to the suffering of LGBT people. I think Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad, and the Dali Lama would all say we are created in Gods image, and we are all connected. If you are bullied, it affects me. It hurts all of us.

    1. wow, great points. 'How do I support violence by being ignorant of the suffering of LGBT people?" So true. Some go farther than being ignorant of it but rather know about it but either deny or minimize it. Where I live, a man, in a gay bar, was punched in the head by a straight man in that bar. That man now has a head injury so severe that he can no longer live on his own. The straight man's defense waas that he felt the gay man was talking to him too much.
      And the concept of straight privilege is so true. Jesus would indeed stand with the marginalized, in this case LGBTQ people. I think he would walk with them rather than spending time working with those who try to make it harder for them to have rights and to be alive.

    2. Anonymous July 10, 2012 7:44 AM–

      I hear what you're saying, and I agree that Jesus would stand with the marginalized. But after thinking about this a little bit, I think he would also work with the other side. In my opinion, the best way to impact bullying is to have an impact on the life of an individual bully. In my experience, people change a lot more when others take an interest in them than they do when others simply condemn them or turn their backs on them. So I believe Jesus would love the bullied, but I also believe he would love the bully.

      In fact, the more I've thought about this whole bullying issue, the more I've felt like the best thing I or anybody else can do is work within my own little corner of the world. To be honest, I'm less concerned about how my ignorance of the suffering of LGBT people in general supports violence than I am about how I can make a difference in the lives of the individuals that surround me–whether they're LGBT people, "bullies," or anyone else.

    3. I think he would work with bullies as well.
      Your last sentence feels to me like a sigh of frustration over folks continuing to bring up LGBT people and how they in particular are bullied. Sadly, young LGBT people are more likely to be bullied – it's the #2 reason for bullying young people according to http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/gay-bullying-statistics.html
      with the first being appearance. I admit to having this quirk – if I read I comment that I feel is trying, in any way, intentionally or unintentionally – to minimize the bullying of LGBTQ youth, I respond and I try to respond with stats in order to emphasie the point. They are finally getting a voice and I seem to want to be sure that that voice is heard and not shrugged off in any way.

    4. I didn't mean the last sentence as a sigh of frustration over LGBT bullying (although I can see why you might take it that way). There's no question that it happens way too much among young people. And as you say, LGBT kids are more likely than straight kids to be bullied. But I also think it's important to recognize that depending on where you live and the types of people you encounter, LGBT bullying may not be as prevalent as other kinds of bullying. I saw it occasionally growing up, although–consistent with your stats–bullying based on appearance (being overweight, in particular) was a much bigger problem in the schools I attended. My point was not to shrug off LGBT bullying but rather to make an observation about how to impact any type of bullying one might encounter.

  44. I'm sure this is not the best place to ask questions about blogging but, apparently I know so little about it that I don't know how to find a better place to ask: I subscribed to The Weed and I thought that would let me receive emails containing new posts. I also thought subscribing would get me a bookmark so I could come directly to The Weed without having to go through North Star. Any guidance would be much appreciated.

    1. Art2d2, you might have not completed the subscription process. You need to enter your e-mail address in the "Subscribe via email" & "Enter your email address:" box on the right side of each page, and then click the "Subscribe" button.

      However, that's not the end of the process. Another window will pop up where you need to enter a verification code that is shown on the screen, and then click the button "Complete subscription request". If you do not enter the code properly, you will be asked to try again with a different code.

      After that is done, you need to go to your e-mail box to see if you got an e-mail message which is an automated response from "The Weed". If you don't get that e-mail message, it might have ended up in the spam folder, so you need to go and check if it's there.

      In the message you will find a link that you need to click in order to complete the registration. (Please, read that e-mail message carefully, as there is an explanation there what if you actually cannot click the link you are supposed to.) Once you click the link, you will see a notification that you've subscribed to the new content from "The Weed". I hope this helps.

    2. Art2d2, you might have not completed the subscription process. You need to enter your e-mail address in the "Subscribe via email" & "Enter your email address:" box on the right side of each page, and then click the "Subscribe" button.

      However, that's not the end of the process. Another window will pop up where you need to enter a verification code that is shown on the screen, and then click the button "Complete subscription request". If you do not enter the code properly, you will be asked to try again with a different code.

      After that is done, you need to go to your e-mail box to see if you got an e-mail message which is an automated response from "The Weed". If you don't get that e-mail message, it might have ended up in the spam folder, so you need to go and check if it's there.

      In the message you will find a link that you need to click in order to complete the registration. (Please, read that e-mail message carefully, as there is an explanation there what if you actually cannot click the link you are supposed to.) Once you click the link, you will see a notification that you've subscribed to the new content from "The Weed". I hope this helps.

    3. Art2d2, you might have not completed the subscription process. You need to enter your e-mail address in the "Subscribe via email" box on the right side of each page, and then click the "Subscribe" button.

      However, that's not the end of the process. Another window will pop up where you need to enter a verification code that is shown on the screen, and then click the button "Complete subscription request". If you do not enter the code properly, you will be asked to try again with a different code.

      After that is done, you need to go to your e-mail box to see if you got an e-mail message which is an automated response from "The Weed". If you don't get that e-mail message, it might have ended up in the spam folder, so you need to go and check if it's there.

      In the message you will find a link that you need to click in order to complete the registration. (Please, read that e-mail message carefully, as there is an explanation there what if you actually cannot click the link you are supposed to.) Once you click the link, you will see a notification that you've subscribed to the new content from "The Weed". I hope this helps.

  45. We are taught through the Gospel of Christ to stand up for truth and righteousness at all times. I believe this also means to stand up for yourself and defend yourself if you are being bullied or abused. As for turning the other cheek, the lesson I get from this is: it is better to turn your other cheek and let them smite you again, than to do to them what they are doing to you. Bullies and abusers generally prey on those they see as weak or lesser than them, and they continue to measure this by our ability to stand up for ourselves. Standing up for yourself isn't the same as fighting back, and I believe it is what Christ would do in the face of evil and it is what he wants us to do. On side note: I linked to your blog through ksl news and even though we face different challenges, you are so inspirational to me, keep up the good work, you are doing so much good.

  46. I think that by turning the other cheek it means we don't seek retribution or revenge. I am going to be really honest here. I am an abuse victim. I don't think the Savior expects me to throw myself in with the den of lions and get hurt again. I think you can forgive but also set concrete boundaries to protect yourself and your family. You have to take a stand against bullying and make sure it doesn't continue. However that doesn't mean you go beat the crap out of them. Does that make sense? I hope so. I think turning the other cheek doesn't mean you ignore the issue. And the Savior didn't ignore issues either. He addressed them as they came up. He had firm boundaries and we tend to forget that sometimes. My Bishop once pointed out that He loved everyone but He was also careful who He associated with and kept in His inner circle. You and Lolly and your sweet family have been in my thoughts and prayers a lot. And I know I am not alone.

  47. I think turning the other cheek is a good concept. But I do not think that it has to be taken literally, especially in abusive situations. To me, turning the other cheek means to not return in likewise what was given to me. I do not react to the bad/wrong behavior in equally wrong/bad behavior. Rather, I just ignore it, and choose to act better, and to potentially give that person a chance again.

    I think, turning the other cheek oftentimes makes people in the Church think that being treated wrongly is ok, and the christ-like thing is to just take it, endure it, and forgive them. I find the scriptures full though of examples that teach something else. Nephi's brother's were real jerks, and he didn't keep giving them more chances to tie him up and try to kill him. WHen he had a chance, he left and went his own way. There are other examples of that in the scriptures, and I think they're teaching something important. It all needs to be taken together.

    So, for me, I try to not return in like-wise the wrong that has been done to me. When someone is hurtful, I try to not give up on them right away (turn the other cheek – second chance?). But when things are bad, I also know that it's ok for me to walk away from something that's harmful to me. I do not need to judge them, or condemn them. I just leave. And seek something better.

  48. I think to a certain degree we have to do what we can to protect ourselves – just like if someone came into our home and attacked our family, I'm sure we would act in self-defense to protect our spouse and children. (Or…just run and hide and call the police.)

    On the other hand, we are told to pray for our enemies. So I would think pray for the person bullying you but if you get in a situation where you need to protect yourself – do it.

  49. P.S. Hope you feel better soon. We just got over the flu here. I thought of you because I know how much you hate throwing up and I think I'm right there with you. Wendel, on the other hand, doesn't mind it. Not sure how that's possible but lucky him – he only had to throw up once.

  50. In the Book of Mormon, Captain Moroni teaches (and I'm just paraphrasing here): "If they would just leave us alone, we'd all be cool. But because they're all up in our grills and coming up in our house, we gotta drop kick 'em back to where they came from." (or something like that) In short- get them off of you and yours and try not to respond angrily. We can assert ourselves without violating our Christian priciples of loving one another and serving God.

  51. I generally think that turning the other cheek is overrated. Bullys tend to look for people who are weak. I learned this in jr. high and high school. Bullies loved me because I didn't fight back. I just prayed inwardly for them to stop. I made things easy for them. There were a few times I probably should have just gone for the jugular. Maybe I would have gotten my ass kicked, but perhaps they wouldn't have seen me as a mark the next time.
    I should stipulate, though, that I think the term bullying can be overused these days. About a year ago, somebody on another forum referred to me as a bully because I have strong opinions and speak my mind and I don't tend to back down easily. Though I definitely do back down at times.

    But provided that it is actual bullying we're talking about, and not just people having opinions, I think we should stop worrying about what Jesus would do because he ain't here and it's up to us to nip things in the bud. Especially when the bullying involves people who can't defend themselves. We should also be aware that young children often bully because they have been victims of bullying. It can come from fear and insecurity. So people who are young and still learning might deserve a little leeway there. The focus should be on fixing the whole problem. Coming down hard on them might not be the best remedy. In fact it could drive them to feeling further isolated and exaserbate the problem.

  52. Great question! thank-you for raising the discussion and hopefully the consciousness of all! Stand for what is right… at all times.. stand for what God has asked you to be in this world. Apparently the "bullied" person is standing for something that the 'devil' is needing to pick on… it is a battle… stand for what you are…even if it hurts. AND to those of us with the ability to help… WE SHOULD HELP!!! United in love and God's Guidance we will triumph over evil! we must…even if it hurts!

  53. I don't exactly know the answer to the original question, but all the turn the other cheek talk is reminding me of one of the most moving scenes I've ever seen in a movie … when Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke was getting beaten by a fellow prisoner with all the other prisoners watching and he just would not lay down. He did not throw a punch at the guy but he would not lay down, even with everyone else yelling at him to quit. He took it and took it, but kept standing back up. There was so much dignity in that. The guy beating on him was so impressed and awed by Paul Newman's courage that he changed completely toward him and pretty much worshipped him after that. Maybe this kind of situation is what turn the other cheek is about.

    I'm not advocating that response for kids in a schoolyard or abused wives. I think each situation probably requires prayer and introspection to know what the right answer is. Especially when it is damaging self esteem, we should not ask anyone to tolerate it. But maybe there is not a one size fits all answer to this question.

  54. I think that unless people have been bullied, they don't really understand the impact that it has. To me, pontificating about it while never having experienced it is similar to suggesting what is right for gay people, without having ever been gay or in some cases even known a gay person.

    1. I think you are right about that. I had no real understanding of bullying until it began to happen to my son. I had opinions about it and what I would do, what I advised my child to do and so on.

      But there is nothing that prepared me for the sheer terror that my child was suddenly dealing with and I am sure it is only worse for the person being bullied.

  55. I am going to post here because it is the most recent. I have been following you since your anniversary post. I am amazed at your story and the strength that you have to face your challenges and not let it own you. You choose to live the way you do and that I admire. I have always been LDS, but I have struggled with my own fights. Eventually it led me on a path where I want to help people and be a counselor as well. I want to be in a position to use my struggles to help others. Your story and Ty's from LDSLiving has given me a little more perspective.

    I don't believe it is my place to judge anyone, but I do think that it is so important to be there for them. The most profound thing my mom told me is that when she was struggling with what to do with me, she felt impressed that it was not her job to save me. I think we get caught up in trying to save each other, we miss the opportunity to love each other.

    I know this is random from some stranger, but still I want to tell you that you have given me some perspective, inspiration, and perhaps a little motivation. I hope all continues to be well with your family.

  56. To answer your question directly, (and some commenters have already referenced it) Jesus gave this advice to us:
    Matthew 5:43-44
    "Ye have heard that it had been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
    "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you"

    Of course, this is easier said than done. Our "natural man" wants to be offended and fight back. This is where, through small steps and many trials, we learn to put off the natural man and become more like Christ.

    It's a good thing that Christ did us all a favor and laid it out for us. The whole of Matthew chapter 5 is the guide to becoming like Him and responding as He would, culminating in the verses that I quoted.

    I have enjoyed reading your blog since I discovered it. I've been silently "stalking" your posts until now. My heart went out to you when I read your question and I couldn't stay quiet any more. I hope I prove to be helpful to you in some way.

  57. A) I live about 20 miles outside Seattle and I got sick right when we had that last little spurt of good weather, so I feel your pain.
    B) I think that it is best for the person being bullied to try to turn the other cheek and do their best not to let it get to them. But I also feel strongly that those around you that care about you have a duty to be loyal and do their best to stick up for you. The more you surround yourself with positive influences and people who make you feel GOOD about yourself, the less those hurtful people will get to you.

  58. I think we all know what we *ought* to do–turn the other cheek and all that–and of course, we are allowed, even expected, to defend ourselves–but the real question to me is how do you SURVIVE it? Forgiveness takes time, because pain takes awhile to heal from. And if the pain from the bullying is an ongoing thing, and it's not a situation you can extract yourself from–how in the world to you get breathing room enough to heal? I've been looking for this answer in the scriptures and I haven't found it yet–not exactly, anyway. Maybe someone in the 100+ comments above has already answered it, and if so, forgive my rambling. So far the only coping strategy I've come up with is humor. Sorta like Neville imagining Snape in his grandmother's clothing. So I try to find something funny in every bad situation. Seriously–angry people are kinda funny, what with the pulsing veins and the spittle and the red face and all. And I throw scriptures like D&C 88:69 ("cast away your idle thoughts and your excess of laughter far from you") out the window.
    inspirational anti-bullying picture

  59. If Jesus had bullies they were probably the Pharisees and the Sadducees. It doesn't seem like He was that "turn the other cheek"-like with them. He was bold and told them multiple times where to get off, if you will. Maybe our current definition of turning the other cheek could be perfected.

  60. In our core, our truest identity, we are Children of God, and at that level we are invincible. Knowing yourself at that level, we understand that anyone who hurts us is hurting themselves. They are not 'bad guys' who deserve to burn in hell. They are Children of God who are hurting. I feel that is the Truth Jesus was pointing to when he said, "Turn the other cheek."

    However, this does not stop us from taking action, making the correction, ultimately helping the 'bully.' If someone is abusing another, a peer, an animal, a child, or you by no means ignore this. But when correcting this behavior, knowing yourself as a Child of God, you will not come from a vengeful place, thus perpetuating negativity; you will come from love, neutralizing the hate, spearding Christ's message of love. Knowing yourself is knowing all others, and with this knowledge you're much more unlikely to see the other as an 'Evil-Doer,' and you will thus be turning the other cheek, even if action is required.

  61. Word of disclosure: I'm an Orthodox Jew. Consequently, Jesus occupies zero place in my theology, so I hope you don't mind me still adding my two cents. Also, haven't read above comments.

    I encountered The Weed through your viral "coming out" post, and have been a reader since. My heart was deeply moved by your story, and I find myself laughing throughout your other funny posts.

    OK- in our faith we pray thrice daily in Hebrew that "to those who curse me, let my soul be silent; and let my soul be like dust to everyone." Also, every night before going to bed, we declare (or are supposed to, anyway): "Master of the Universe, I hereby forgive anyone who angered or antagonized me or who sinned against me- whether against my body, my property, my honor or against anything of mine; whether s/he did so accidentally, willfully, carelessly, or purposely, whether through speech, deed, thought, or notion…"

    So, if that's what you in the Christian faith call "turning the other cheek" toward those who have hurt us, e.g. bullies, then yeah, that's what we gotta do.

    HOWEVER, that's all good and well if someone sins against ME, if I am the victim of a bully! But I witness someone ELSE being bullied, then I must rise up in action to fight the injustice as Leviticus teaches, "Don't stand by the blood of your fellow", which we understand to mean: "Don't sit back and do nothing while your fellow is being harmed." In fact, our faith compares humiliating someone publicly to be a form of bloodshed.

    So perhaps that's the resolution: If I are the victim of a bully, then it's one thing to aspire to "let my soul be silent to those who curse me," but if it's happening to someone else, then I must not be silent. I must arise, take action, and fight evil, as the Psalmist says, "G-d loves those who hate evil" (Psalm 97).

    1. Oops, realized a more accurate translation of those four words from Psalm 97 (אוהבי ה׳ שנאו רע) would be "Those who love G-d hate evil."

    2. Good, F.Y.L., good. The issue here (among others) is that there are not very many Jews around, so we are somehow trying to find ways in extremely difficult circumstances to empower victims to save their integrity and perhaps even their own life. That's where I find Jesus so important, without putting in question your way of reasoning whatsoever, reasoning which is right, proper and powerful.

      I find important that Jesus actually, through the power which is beyond my capacity to understand – nevertheless very real and manifest power – covers many if not all blunders that could be made by the victim in dealing with the abuser, or the bully. I find that very poignant and beautiful piece of doctrine, the one that actually caused to believe in Him.

      It also applies to those who should have stood and spoken up, but didn't as well as for the abuser himself, except for the fact that each of the three has a different level of recognition by Jesus, victim being at the top, while the bully being at the bottom (and needs to climb a steeper slope more vigorously).

    3. F.Y.L., I'm glad you joined the discussion. I really appreciate learning about other religions and other points of view. I enjoyed your comments very much.

  62. Christ was probably the most bullied person. I mean he was the most amazing perfect man and was made a public mockery and was even crucified with all of its horrors done very publicly. He is still mocked and disrespected. His response is in Matthew 5:44

    "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you"

    Sometimes people are real jerks. Sometimes they are vicious and awful and hateful. The last thing we want to do is love them. But that's where the power is.

    I have to deal with bullying all the time in classes I teach at an alternative school. As a teacher, I don't tolerate bullying. But I've found that creating a feeling of community in my class does so much more than lectures ever would. The same goes for my own relationships. I've never been bullied at school or by peers or anything, but some of the people I'm really close to fit the description in Matthew. I know I need to overcome my pride and love them. I've tried the "throwing out the money-changers" approach. It hasn't worked yet. I need to love and forgive, while still not being a doormat.

  63. Interesting that you bring this up….I have just been thinking about this after dealing with my own sort of bully. But in my contemplation I at least thing he meant to turn the cheek and leave. I in know way think it means you allow MORE of that behavior. I even asked my cousin who is a Chaplain for the US Navy and is reading an interesting book about this topic (will have to ask what it is called) this is what he said about it "Jesus' native language shows that when he said: "love your enemy," he did not mean be "nice" to them, or let them walk over you. The word for "enemy" points to a condition in which divine breath or energy is stuck within a person, unable to connect to other beings (think of a person holding their breath, struggling erratically, "puffed up"). The word for "love" points not to "warm feelings", but to connecting with the inner void beneath the harsh exterior. It is offering "breath" to the lungs that act as though "oxygen" is no longer available in the world."

  64. "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do…"

    He was bullied more than any of us can comprehend. He KNEW who HE was, even while being bullied to death. And he prayed for those that "bullied" Him.

    This IS what He did.

    The correct question is what should children NOW do about it. I personally believe that there is something to be said about raising children with confidence so they KNOW who they are. Then, even if bullied, they confidence can remain intact and be better able to deal with those that bully.

  65. I know that everyone hits the "forgive and forget" teachings (and rightly so!!!!) but mercy and justice go hand in hand. We should always forgive and be merciful (as Christ teaches us) but we don't have to disregard any justice that should be administered to those who have done wrong (as Heavenly Father's plan requires). So, in regards to bullying, we should forgive, heal, learn and forget but I don't feel that we need to forget that justice needs to be satisfied, as well. And not bc we need revenge or we are angry. The victim shouldn't really be the one administering it but I think it's totally appropriate to not make yourself an easy/perennial target and to tell someone so that they can arrange for consequences for the bully. Does that make sense…?

    1. It makes sense to me.

      Justice means much more to me though, than punishing wrongdoing. It also means righting the wrong.

      When I feel wronged by someone, it doesn't help me to see people maligning and scolding my detractor, and ignoring me. That actually adds to the wrong by making me feel depreciated even more. What helps me the most when I feel wronged, is friendly attention to me.

    2. I think the positive attention towards whoever has been wronged is part of the victim's healing and learning stages that I had mentioned in "forgive, heal, learn and forget."

      I don't think that justice just involves the wrong doer getting in trouble, either 🙂

  66. One thought that came to me when I first saw this post, but I didn't know how to say it, was that whenever some kind of wrongdoing becomes a popular topic of discussion, labels associated with that wrongdoing become popular as excuses for more wrongdoing. "Bullying," and "abuse," for example.

  67. You can never get away from "bullying" type behaviors, whether you are in 4th grade or at work. The question I have been pondering as I have dealt with teaching my son how to respond is a bigger one (at least in my eyes). How do I teach, help, and prepare my child to be insulated against bullying? How can I help him feel confident enough in himself that when the words or actions come, he may be a little bruised, but not broken?
    I recently read a study done by BYU that shows that one of the best ways to increase your children's (or your) self-esteem without also increasing undue pride is by service to others. I love this principle.

  68. I don't believe that "turn the other cheek" means 'continue to be a doormat.' I think it's important to create, state and maintain boundaries. I believe that turn the other cheek is referring to the feelings we have within us. In other words, we are to forgive them. We are to love them. But that doesn't mean we are to let them walk all over us. Think about it, isn't that doing THEM in unjustice? To me that's sending THEM the message that bullying is OK. Ya, I think it's guidance to help us let go of any ill feelings we may be experiencing ourselves.

  69. Right after I read your post I just "happened" to stumble on this interview from the Mormon Channel with parents of a son with severe disabilities who was teased and bullied growing up. I think they share some very powerful insights from his life. Here's the link to the audio:
    It's the example I was looking for of that inner strength that rises above the bullying. My favorite quote from the interview: "The only way I am going to learn to love these crummy [deformed] hands is to use them to serve my Heavenly Father."

  70. I'm not a Christian, and if the Holocaust was not a lesson for Jews about what happens when one tries to turn the other cheek and wait for reason/compassion/enlightenment instead of sticking up for oneself by every means possible, I don't know what it was. I'm not trying to be flip; I think every Jew struggles with spirituality in the wake of the Holocaust and in many cases it's simply impossible to reconcile that historical reality with any rigid theological belief system. I can't believe in a God with the ability or will to intervene who failed to do so, so I must believe in a God who leaves humans to make their own mistakes, no matter how painful. The positive side of this is that I don't believe in a God who would deny anyone compassion after the lessons learned in this life…not Hitler, not any "sinner" in whatever context you want to take that word.

    I absolutely believe in standing up to bullies without any repercussions — not spiritual, not karmic.

  71. One really important thing is to understand exactly what Jesus meant by "turn the other cheek." so many of us are taught, and take for granted, that this teaching instructs us to instantly forgive and give our assailants another chance. Bible scholar Walter Wink (check out his book The Powers that Be for a very beautiful, inspiring and revolutionary vision of Jesus) provides a much more nuanced interpretation based on a historical and cultural context: By turning the other cheek in first century Palestine, a Jewish person or woman or any disenfranchised individual was not allowing their assailants another chance to hit them or provide them with an opportunity to show compassion – the act of turning the other cheek was a creative, non-violent challenge to be either met as an equal and to bring awareness to the act of physical violence and shame to the oppressor – if a roman man went to hit someone they considered inferior, they would use the back of their right hand to strike the right cheek; by turning one's cheek, it is an invitation to be hit by the assailant's open hand – a form of striking only used by social peers. Alternatively, the assailant could use their left hand to backhand, but as left hands were generally used for toileting, this would break social taboos and bring more shame on the oppressor.
    Sorry if this seems long-winded – but I think it is really necessary to understand exactly what Jesus meant in his teachings – because they were rooted in a very beautiful mission of non-violent exposure of injustice and inequality. As such, I believe they are not meant to be taken literally always, but they serve as an example of thinking creatively on the spot. What does it mean for a person who is bullied to "turn the other cheek," to creatively expose publicly the injustice of their situation? Still a relevant question!

  72. The reply of anonymous is so perfect. We have to understand the culture of the times when we read the scriptures.
    I know a personal story of a woman who had finally left her abusive husband. He would not leave her alone. The men of her synagogue went to his house as a group and told him she was under their protection, and told him calmly and plainly, what would happen to him if he bothered her again. He never bothered her again.

  73. As someone who has been bullied a great deal in the past, turning the other cheek may mean something different to me than what it's probably supposed to mean. Every bully has a reason for why they behave the way to they do, and many are probably even bullied themselves at home or some other environment. It doesn't excuse their behavior, but I think what most bullies need is just a little compassion and understanding. For me, turning the other cheek means seeing the bully not as an oppressor, but as a victim. It means taking the time to empathize with them, even if you may not feel they deserve it because everyone deserves a little empathy. It means forgiving, but not forgetting. Not letting them bully you again, but opening up a door to allow them to make a change. I know this doesn't work for EVERY situation and every bully, but personally it's worked for me. Listening to my bullies has benefited both parties and helped me grow as a person.

  74. I think it's like the Nephites in the Book of Mormon. They tried to love their brothers, the Lamanites, even when they were antagonistic towards the Nephites, but if the Lamanites came to war against them, the Nephites fought to protect themselves and their families. I think "turn the other cheek" goes for things like verbal abuse and persecution, not for physical abuse and violence.

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