Jesus taught, “But I say unto you, do not resist the evil man who injures you; but if anyone strikes you on the right jaw or cheek, turn to him the other one too.”
In Jesus' historical context this meant “resist not evil with violence.” Turning the other cheek was a way to stand up to those who had power over you and turning the insult back upon the one who slapped. It was a non violent way of saying, “You don't really have the power to hurt me! Here is the other cheek if you think striking it will change anything.” This was self assertion in a public situation without getting yourself killed or really hurt.
But Jesus was a teacher of of wisdom for life. He was not a teacher of rigid law. Wisdom knows when non-violence is best, but it knows that sometimes, as in WWII, the best response to evil is to take your weapon and fight back.
Ghandi's non violence based on Jesus teaching worked in India to win her independence from Britian but it would never have worked against Nazism. Sargent Alvin York, the most decorated American soldier of WWI, was a follower of Jesus' teaching of non-violence. But fighting in the European Theater, German snipers were killing his friends all around him. Then he decided the only way he could stop the killing was to do some killing of his own. He “injuned” out into the woods as he did in the Tennesse mountains when hunting for food. He fired his bolt action rifle 48 times and 44 Germans fell to the ground. Next, 98 German soldiers surrendered thinking they were surrounded. York and his remaining platoon marched the 98 POWS back to allied lines. This was Jesus' wisdom.
But in many situations resisting the evil in a non-violent way does the most good. Take the war on drugs in our society. Our response was to declare war on this great social problem with violent harsh mandatory sentencing on anybody touching drugs. This has made our drug problem, financial problem and prison all worse. It has overcrowded our prisons and made hardened criminals out of many nonviolent offenders whose lives were totally ruined by the harsh sentencing. Probation and other programs would have been best for many of these offenders and much cheaper for society.
Jimmy Carter said, “Penalties for the possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of a drug itself.”
Bill Clinton, “Obviously, if the expected result was that we would eliminate serious drug use in America and eliminate the narco-trafficking networks, the war on drugs hasn't worked.”
Rick Perry, “After 40 years of the war on drugs, I can't change what happened in the past. What I can do as the governor of Texas is to implement policies that start us toward a decriminalization and keeps people from going to prison and destroying their lives.”
And the War on Terror and going into Iraq is another example of violence being the wrong response. It did no good for us or anybody and only made terrorism worse world wide. Our military people have paid dearly for it and so has our country and the world. There are times that violent resistance to evil is the best and only thing to do. And there are times violent resistance makes it worse. Arrogance that thinks one can whip anybody or everybody always makes the violence worse, solving nothing. We need the wisdom of Jesus.