I think my landlord is trying to wrongfully keep my security deposit, but I know that Christ said to hand over things that people demand of you and turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39-42). Would it be wrong for me to tell my landlord to give me my deposit back, and even go to court over it if he doesn’t? I think this is also a part of a pattern, because my previous neighbor had her deposit withheld even though she spent 12 hours cleaning before she left. I think I’m also lucky in that I have the time, energy, and evidence to shove back, when a lot of his tenants didn’t.
It feels like walking away from this conflict would be the wrong thing to do, but I also feel like Christ would have told me to do so. What do you think?
“I think this is also a part of a pattern, because my previous neighbor had her deposit withheld even though she spent 12 hours cleaning before she left.”
Think about the above sentence carefully. Let us assume this landlord ends up having 100 Christian tenants after you, and each time the tenant decides to “turn the other cheek”. What would the result be? With each concession, the landlord would only be emboldened further to continue perpetrating the same evil. This would mean the continual reinforcement of the evil of exploitation within his heart and thus the strengthening of darkness in his soul. All this ironically aided by the very people who call themselves Christians and who are meant to dispel darkness by bringing light into the world. Consequently, this attitude of cowardice, passivity, and pusillanimity is not Christian and has no connection to the real teachings of Jesus, but it is an outgrowth of a wrong idea and false understanding of what He meant by the statement of “turning the other cheek”.
Such a person who reinforces evil and opens the door to injustice through such passivity and cowardice becomes spiritually guilty! His burden becomes threefold. For not only does he harm his neighbor through his neglect, but he also harms himself through reinforcing his own indolence of non-engagement and thus making himself a prey to the darkness that can always push him around. Furthermore, since he professes to represent the meaning of the teachings of Jesus, he is also guilty of misrepresenting and distorting the truth before the world; thus bearing false witness against God’s Will. That is why his spiritual guilt becomes threefold, for the individual commits a threefold murder. If you fulfilled all the stipulations of your contract and honestly upheld your end of the bargain without any neglect, but the other person then refuses to reciprocate what should belong to you, then it means the goods in question becomes stolen contraband! In this case, you have not only a right but a sacred duty to pursue the Law of Balance through the just action of righteously demanding what is yours! As the course of action here is the courts, and as the subject concerns the deposit, then pursuing the deposit through the courts is the sensible thing to do.
Finally, I will briefly clarify the notion of “turning the cheek” so that in future you shy away from misusing it. It is not meant as a general license for timidity. The slap represents experiences, and the cheek represents the soul. It was typical in the past (as it still is) for human beings to see as “evil” any experience they consider a misfortune. When we label it such, we grumble about it, consider it “injustice”, and only half-heartedly engage it. Our reluctance to truly enter into the experience and boldly engage it in order to seriously draw lessons for our own development, is represented in the half-hearted “one cheek”. But what Jesus was advising through His words was to “turn the other cheek”. He did not mean ignore it or passively let it take advantage of you, but the exact opposite. The turning the other cheek is a call to open our whole soul to the experience (not just one side, i.e. cheek), to immerse ourselves in it, fully engage it with the right attitude, and thus earnestly draw lessons from it that advance our spiritual development. It was a courageous call to seize the opportunity to grow from the experience by applying the Divine Will. As the Divine Will involves Divine Justice, and as Justice implies Balance, then it follows that any imbalance in the dealings with our neighbor that causes injustice should be contended and confronted with full noble might. In order to thereby restore balance and fulfill the Holy Law of Justice!
For this reason, erase the misbegotten concept from your mind that serves to only reinforce the weakness of the soul, encourage evil in your neighbor, and misrepresent the Nature of the Almighty. Be strong, just, and firm! The teachings of Jesus is not a weak doctrine of nauseating sentimentality, but a training ground for the emergence of strong spiritual personalities who are willing to always courageously fulfill the Will of God on earth! Thereby ensuring through their lives the eternal fulfillment of the Lord’s Prayer that “Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!”
May this come to pass!
~Ikenna Q. Ezealah