In discussing the issues of violence and non-violence, pacifism and non-pacifism, something comes up at times that I think needs to be re-examined. I’ve heard it said that Jesus’ comments about non-resistance to evildoers only applied to religious persecution.
In mulling this over and weighing it out, a thought kept coming to mind: what about the second mile? You know the teaching:
If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
It’s in the context of Jesus’ reframing the concept of vengeance (“eye for eye, tooth for tooth”), two phrases after the command to turn the other cheek. And it’s definitely not about religious persecution. There’s no evidence that the concept of Roman soldiers forcing non-Romans to carry their gear was a religious oppression. It was more akin to the quartering that the British Empire practiced prior to the American Revolution.
Jesus’ answer is that such oppression is not to be resisted.
Now I know that there are other ways of teaching that the Sermon of the Mount doesn’t apply to us. We’ve looked at those in a series on this blog. If you’d like to restate those views, fine. I don’t expect to spend a lot of time replying to such comments.
For those that think that Matthew recorded Jesus’ teachings for the edification of Jesus’ church, I’d like to discuss this point: doesn’t the teaching about the second mile move the conversation away from the subject of religious persecution?