As Christians, we sometimes have the temptation to use our feelings as moral compases – and this is okay, right? After all, society tells us to follow our hearts, and do what feels right. From an early age, we hear phrases such as “Do what makes you happy,” or hear people justify their actions and core beliefs by how strongly they feel. If we could graph this idea, we’d have a direct relationship between our level of compulsion, and intensity of pursuit. “I feel like that person (who doesn’t share my core beliefs and values) should be my next spouse because they give me butterflies. I’m going to do all that I can to make them mine.”
While feelings have compelled people to perform heroic, and selfless acts in both past and present times, there is a danger in using our feelings as the primary determinant for our decisions.
Firstly, such a mindset fails to realise that emotional responses are just that…emotional responses. They are fickle, easily influenced by peers, hormones, and experiences. Our feelings are not unwavering facts, or objective truths, and are certainly not what we, as Christians should use as our moral compass or yardstick. Rewind over a hundred years ago and you’ll that find many self-professing Christians felt that Africans were less than human and deserved to be forced into slavery, despite the Bible affirming that we were all equally made in God’s image. Their feelings did not equate to truth. A more contemporary example would be the issue of abortion. While many Christians may feel that it’s okay to kill an unborn human life, this does not make the said action, objectively right.
Contrary to our society, the Bible tells us that as humans, our default setting is to gratify our carnal desires, and revel in sin – we enjoy it. We justify it. We trivialise it. We have all fallen short of God’s standard, hence why Christ’s blood was required to cancel our sins. Why then, would we trust the feelings that stem from our wicked hearts (Jeremiah 17:9), to lead us to truth?
Making judgments based on our feelings also places God in subordination to us, and in the process, reduces his instructions, promises, and moral frameworks to a list of suggestions open for debate. Take a look at the following quotes.
“Getting drunk isn’t that wrong if I’m feeling really stressed”
“Sure, females should not be pastors but I really feel like she can reach souls”
“I know God is always with me, but I don’t feel like it right now.”
“I’ve committed a really bad sin and feel like God’s grace can’t cover it.”
These are all examples of times when our emotional responses are at a discord with the truth. And trust me, I get it. It’s easy to trust your feelings – particularly if they seem so tangible. I’m as guilty of that as the next person. It’s a constant struggle between at the flesh and the Spirit. But as Christians we have the Good News! We’ve been given the freedom to make decisions according to His truth. We don’t have to be slaves to our feelings and following them wherever they lead us. God has already given us a moral compass, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. We can turn to His Word FIRST and FOREMOST, and know that it is right regardless of what context or culture we find ourselves in. I’m not saying there won’t be times where our feelings will not come into play, but let us, as those who proclaim to believe in Christ Jesus and the authority of scripture turn first to the truths of His Word, and not our feelings.