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.

What It Means to Fall in Love a Dozen Times a Day

Sometimes, I like to tell my friends that I fall in love at least a dozen times a day. I tend to get a lot of weird looks and people yelling at me when I say things like that. I obviously don’t mean that I daily go through the complicated process that might end in marriage or that I think the real falling in love thing requires no social interaction.

What I mean by it, then, is that I develop crushes like nobody’s business. Are you an artist? Then I probably have a crush on you. Are you a musician? Then I probably have a crush on you. Can you speak intelligently and convincingly about something? Then I probably have a crush on you. Are you driven? Then I probably have a crush on you. Are you passionate about something? Then I probably have a crush on you. Do you consistently love people in really big, awesome ways? Well, you get the idea…

Believe me, I understand how silly all of this is.

But, a crush is simply defined as an “usually temporary infatuation.” And this is what my crushes signify. It’s not that I believe I could spend the rest of my life with almost every woman I meet or even that I believe I could successfully navigate a relationship with them, it’s that there are things about almost every woman my age that I find temporarily infatuating.

And then I got to thinking. Right now, these “crushes” are really unproductive. I recognize them as “crushes.” Society tells me that crushes are important. I don’t want relationships with all crushes. I avoid until crush is over. Silly.

I figured out a way to make crushes really productive though: I recognize them as things about people that I really admire and like. I tell the person in question about her quality that I really admire and like and why I admire and like it. I spread good cheer. Awesome.

See, I do that last strategy with my male friends all the time, or I like to think that I do. I tell them that I love them and when they do something awesome, I tell them. But I’m all jittery about doing it with my female friends, mostly because I think when I recognize something cool in them, it means I’m crushing. It’s probably time to graduate junior high.

What types of things make you “crush”?

Is He-Man The-Man?

I try to read opinions that are different than mine. At first that sounds really noble, but then you ask me why I do it, and I might tell you it’s so I can note how irrational those other views are compared to me. So not that noble.

Anyway, I was fiddling around on the internet the other day, and I came across this from Pastor Mark Driscoll:

One of the reasons I believe we [Mars Hill Church] were named [as a place to meet singles] among such places as gyms, bars, and (naturally) dog parks—there are more dogs per capita in Seattle than kids—is because we tend to verbally beat boys who can shave (men who are adults chronologically but kids in terms of responsibility) like drill sergeants. The ones who don’t leave to blog about their hurt feelings tend to stay, grow up, man up, and eventually get married to a nice gal who would like to have babies but does not want to be married to one.

I usually ignore Mark Driscoll. It makes my life easier, and certainly, he has said things stranger than the above quote. I have never had dinner with Mark Driscoll. I have never had coffee with him or lunch or any other sort of social meal. But I have the strong suspicion that he would make fun of me if we did meet. That hurts my feelings and makes me want to blog.

Is this not a man?

Is this the only type of man?

A long time ago, I had a project where I was trying to figure out what manhood meant. How did boys become men? What I discovered on that journey is that there is a social process and an inner process. In the social process, manhood is judged on these outside things (which are all really silly socially constructed arbitrary goals), but in the inner process, we learn how to respect ourselves and develop a cool self-confidence. That’s not really unique to men, though; that’s how girls become women, too.

I don’t know. I think I fear sometimes that we are going to limit what being a man means. Why can’t a man talk about his feelings on his blog?