I have been thinking about revenge today on my drive around Argyll.

This was stimulated in part by a story that the news is full of over here in the UK about a former Member of Parliament and his ex wife who have both been found guilty of perverting the course of justice. Many years ago he persuaded her to take some speeding points onto her licence by saying she was driving when in fact it had been him. Later on, he had an affair with a work colleague and left his wife for her. His wife, by way of revenge, decided that she would tell the press about the speeding thing, knowing that it would end his political career.

What she did not anticipate was that both of them would end up in court, with the details of their intimate lives being dragged out in front of the media, at the end of which both are now facing a jail sentence.

Revenge, red in tooth and claw, let loose to ravage this way and that, doing damage to all.

I was also thinking about revenge because of another situation we are faced with- involving some people who have acted vindictively towards us, in a way that I will not spell out here. We are sort of in the position to give pay back.

Now I do not claim to be better than most- I am not in any way morally superior. But the words of Matthew 5 above- they gave me a problem.

What do we do when faced with personal injustice? How do we deal with people who slight us, who treat us with disrespect, who see what we are and find it wanting?

I know what my natural reaction is- I lick my wounds, I seek conversations of conspiracy- with people who will speak words of partiality and hostility. I obsessively pick over my rights, my own just cause. I look accross no-mans land and watch for weaknesses in the opposing trench line. In my mind I prepare for war.

But those words of Jesus about turning the other cheek, offering the shirt when they take my coat, walking two miles when forced to march one… they slow me down, discomfort me. Surely he is not wanting some kind of wimpy doormat for others to wipe their feet on?

Well, think about the politician and his wife.

He had it coming-  right?


5 thoughts on “Revenge…

  1. Revenge is also an American TV drama – so well done with title to blog. When Jesus talked about those things he was never suggesting being a wimpy doormat – walking the extra mile would have got a Roman soldier into trouble [permitted to make you walk one mile but no more], also shirt off back would shame the person who sued you when you walked out of court naked. Finally, offering the other cheek was about power. A superior would slap you on left cheek but only an equal would hit you on right cheek – all these responses did not let the person get away with what they had done, but creatively sorted things without violence. Or my personal favourite – heap coals on them by doing good to them! As for the Lib Dems – just sloppy!!!! x

    • Is that a wee bit of schadenfreude Marky?

      I have heard others say the same as you about the mile/shirt/cheek thing- and it has merit, but I wonder too if this is a bit of a cop out- a way of making the words of Jesus suit our side if you see what I mean.

      I think it works as a way to resist power- and misuse of power, but as soon as we start to apply that logic to interpersonal conflict it looses credibility. It stops us becoming peace makers and instead we just become another kind of soldier.

      Or at least that is what i think- if not do!


  2. They say, revenge is sweet, but I think not. Turning the other cheek is brave and shows indifference – the best strength of all. In my own experience anyway.

  3. I heard Ghandi used to put dog poo in a paper bag and put it on the doorstep of the person that had wronged him, then set the bag on fire and knock their door and run away. When they open door they stamp on the burning bag and splash warmly toasted poo up their legs. In the Lib Dem story even the Judge from the original court case ended up arrested! Jesus example of simply loving enemies is the only thing that works long term. wish i was up to that but I usually go the Ghandi route.

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