The Role of Emotions in the Life of the Christian

I found this to be an excellent article. It is called Stop Worshipping Emotions.

In it, the author says the following:

Use your emotions as your major decision making tool and you are sunk.

Now, do you want to know why?

Let me set the scene. As we grow we experience bodily and mental ‘feelings’ as we experience current or think about past events. We win a race, everyone cheers, we see our parents smile, we get feelings we come to label as ‘good’ or ‘positive’. We also get feelings that are not so pleasant which we often label as ‘bad’ or ‘negative’.

These are mental classifications, ways we categorise our experience, and we then respond to those as if they were real when in fact they exist only in our body and mind.

Emotions are created in the psychological-physiological space between the way we think about the world and our actual experience of it. When we get what we expect we tend to feel the nicer emotions. When we get less than we expect or something different and unwanted we experience the ‘negative’ emotions.

Emotions, as a general rule, only tell us about OURSELVES and what already think. They are a feedback mechanism giving us the ‘temperate’ of our current thinking, so to speak.

To make this clearer I will quote Albert Ellis, author of the wonderful How to Stubbornly Refuse to Make Yourself Miserable about Anything Ever Again (Yes, ever).

We feel our thoughts.”

There – that’s it in a nutshell.

We feel OUR thoughts. But we are not always AWARE of those thoughts – sometimes we have the feeling that “it just feels right.”

The UK has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe. Now, whilst I think part of that is due to the general decline of sensible moral boundaries (and yes, I do love my country!) the other reason is probably that “it felt right at the time”. Try telling that to the aborted babies, the children born outside a stable relationship. To be clear I am not down on single parents per se – I was raised by one.

But those children could have been born into better circumstances if the people involved were not thinking with their groins or with the awareness elevating participation of alchohol.

If we elevate good or bad feelings to the role of the deciding factor in our decisions we are setting ourselves up for trouble. Emotions, essentially exist as echoes of our thoughts manifested in the body (we are not just a body carrying a brain, our brain expresses its responses IN our body – what is called somatism) and they reflect our current thinking.

How can a feeling (however strong and labelled as ‘right’) evaluate the quality of a decision? How can it compare options, decide the worth of criteria?  How can it reason, eliminate, take different perspectives etc.

Its not designed to do that. It’s a symptom of a cause – the Energy in Motion (E-motion!) in your body proceeding from the thoughts you ALREADY have. Primarily using your emotions as your ‘yes’ or ‘no’ indicators cannot give you the quality of decision that learning to think things through can.

Emotions do work as information but a very poor quality information overall.  The quality of the feeling from ‘wonderful’ to ‘awful’ can only tell us about how we feel about a circumstance.

Now having read this (and the entire article) perhaps we can ask how a Christian can use their emotions to glorify God.

The way I see it is the following:

1. You can’t place your emotions over the Bible. The Bible is the sole authority of faith and practice. So if you ‘feel’ this may or not be the right course of action and it violates the text, you need to place your emotions under the authority of the Bible. By the way, when you wake up tomorrow and don’t ‘feel’ like a child of God or ‘feel’ that God has left you, the first thing to do is to feed your mind on the Word of God. Stick with what the Bible says about you and what it says about how God views you. Otherwise, you will be a very instable Christian.

2. Also, when a person from another faith tells you they ‘feel’ so strongly that their religion is the correct path, please ask them for evidence for their beliefs.

3. Realize what Jesus said about loving God with all our being. I  have written more on that here. Remember, we are becoming a more emotionally driven culture every day. Technology is not helping! Remember that God gets no glory by his children when they don’t use their minds! See our article called “Why Christians Don’t Think!”

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4 thoughts on “The Role of Emotions in the Life of the Christian

  1. Ed Atkinson May 26, 2015 / 10:32 am

    Excellent Chab.

    I did not realise that you are UK based. Are you in range of central London? I am helping set up a discussion group there for believers and skeptics/atheists in a pub-style setting. It is under the banner of Justin Brierley’s brill Unbelievable show. Please message me on facebook if interested (Ed Atkinson of Henley on Thames) or look out for a the group on Meetup

    • chab123 May 26, 2015 / 2:23 pm

      Ed, no, I am not in the UK. I am in the U.S.

      • Ed Atkinson May 26, 2015 / 2:31 pm

        Sorry – the article you quote is from the UK, I got it now, apologies Ed. (PS I hope you know about Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable show from Premier Christian Radio)

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