The Bible says to turn the other cheek and to give an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Which should we believe?
We should believe and obey both. We find both principles in the same Bible, even in the same book of the Bible. In Romans 12:14 it says, “Bless them which persecute you; bless, and curse not.” However in Romans 13:4 we read of the civil government, “But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” Therefore, our personal lives should be characterized by love and forgiveness for our enemies, but the government has a responsibility to use force to restrain and punish criminals.
In the court of justice, society must be ruled by the principle of “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” (Exod. 21:24; Lev. 24:20; Deut. 19:21). This does not mean that criminals should be cut up, but that crimes should be punished with fair penalties (Exod, 21:26-27). For the good order of society, justice must be maintained. Criminals must be punished for their crimes.
In our private lives, however, we are to “turn the other cheek” when other people abuse us. We are not to return evil for evil, but love for evil. Sometimes this is very hard, but when we see the love of Jesus for the kinds of sinners we are, there are times in our lives when we may find this easy to do.
*Excerpted from Tough Questions About the Bible by Joel R. Beeke (Christian Focus 4 Kids, 2013).
Where to Buy:
Tough Questions About the Bible by Joel R. Beeke is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below: