Turning the Other Cheek Turns Emotions Into Justice

I’ve always kind of struggled with the concept of turning the other cheek and all that.

Our God is one of justice, right?

The Lord works righteousness
And justice for all the oppressed (Psalm 103:6)

So why then are we not allowed to help with that whole justice thing?

A lot of people try to explain this away by saying that we don’t really know what justice is – that only God can judge. I don’t know about that. I know that rape, murder, and slavery are wrong. That’s a judgment. I think I am capable of judging. And we forget that turning the other cheek has to do with someone slapping you. Slapping is pretty wrong, I think. I know that I don’t like it when someone slaps me.

I’m in a Psychology of Gender class this quarter. In that class, we are learning about pro-feminist men right now. Pro-feminist men are men who actively support feminist women to push gender equality. I think pro-feminist men are pretty awesome. Feminist women are pretty awesome, too. It takes a lot of courage to stand up against oppression. But I’ve been thinking a lot about pro-feminist men. I’ve been thinking about how they don’t really have a lot to gain from gender equality. Men are on top. In fact, a lot of men fear that gender equality would mean loss of status for themselves. Pro-feminist men have to believe that gender equality is intrinsically more important than having a wife who stays at home or who is submissive.

There are studies out there that show that the shackles of oppression begin to fall off when members of the oppressor group begin to speak out for the oppressed. Sexism is most successfully combated when men correct their friends when they make a sexist joke or when men refuse to take a job that they have obtained based on sexist hiring practices.

Like most things Jesus taught, the turn the other cheek policy shows a keen insight into human nature. It’s easy to be angry when you have been attacked. It’s easy to clamor for justice, then. But mostly, that’s just emotion. When a friend makes fun of me, I am not mad because my friend has violated the intrinsically moral rule that making fun of people is wrong. I am mad because I was the subject of the ridicule. And if I say anything, it is easy for my friends to say that I am making a mountain out of a molehill. But what if I never got mad when people made fun of me? What if, instead, I made fun of myself?

Then, when someone was making fun of another friend, I could say something. Because people would say “Hey, Spencer is usually so chill about joking around. We must really be out of line if he’s not okay with this joke.”

That’s what turning the other cheek does. It creates a world in which people know that your emotions are not tied to your sense of justice.

2 thoughts on “Turning the Other Cheek Turns Emotions Into Justice

  1. Men and women are inherently different. This is why “gender” exists in the first place. However, just because we are different, doesn’t mean we should be treated differently. I really like your idea that some of the oppressors need to begin supporting the oppressed, in order for a substantial movement to actually occur. The bible quote you mentioned doesn’t seem to be relevant at all in our society, even though we are, by great numbers, christian and supposed to follow the bible. I am not religious, but I can appreciate some people that have faith. I think we as human beings are capable to judge without any help from above. I get irritated whenever I hear that my morals are not my own, but they come from lessons taught by Jesus. Humans can develop common sense on their own, without help from the bible. However, common sense is similar to a snowflake in that they all are different. For example, it is common sense to me that women deserve every opportunity in the work place and socially that can get. This common sense is not shared by everyone. Some men still believe they are better than women simply because they are men. I think the only way to really change attitudes of sexism, racism, etc. is to teach kids at a young age that these things are wrong. The ongoing cycle of teaching your kids what your parents taught you, and what their parents taught them, and so on has to break at some point for any real positive change to occur.

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