Where do you draw the line on ‘turning the other cheek’ in an abusive relationship?

Asked by Charlie

I’ve heard LUKE 6: 27-31 passage several times in sermons recently regarding loving one’s enemies and turning the other cheek etc… But at what point does someone need to set limits/boundaries on bad/ abusive behaviour were it
can become serious and harmful physically and psychologically to the person on the receiving end if not confronted. 
When also does it get to the point when all you’re doing is enabling abusive/bad behaviour by being perceived to be passive or too weak to confront it.


Love is not necessarily giving a person what they want, it is serving them by providing them with what is good for them.
In the passage to which you are referring Jesus is putting forward a model of what it may mean to love-like-God in world where there is still sin. Whatever occurs ‘love’ still longs for a reconciled relationship - this will entail repentance on side of the wrongdoer, and that may never occur - but true love will hold out its hand and say ‘forgiveness waits for you whenever you are willing to repent’.

Jesus is held up in the Bible as the prime example of how to love your enemies, and you certainly couldn’t accuse him of being a doormat. His humility was in how he related to others, but what he was seeking to achieve in the relationships was an agenda set entirely by God; an agenda to fill humanities greatest need (dealing with sin and death), and on this agenda Jesus refused to be moved by the demands of others. His love is also demonstrated by the fact that this agenda is completely other person centered (Jesus’ concern is for what will benefit others, not himself) and also seen in his willingness to bear the cost of providing this salvation.

Abusive relationships usually involve a person allowing the abusive partner to set the agenda for the relationship - whereas in such a context ‘love’ may actually involve helping them to realize the consequences of their actions and seeking to persuade them to turn aside from their ‘wrong’ actions. In passages such as Matthew 18:15-17 & 1 Corinthians 5, Christians are taught that the loving thing to do is to confront a person in their sin and encourage them to repent and seek forgiveness.

Answers are kindly provided by our friends at Christianity.net.au

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