Vol.VIII No.XII Pg.3
February 1972

Slaves To Emotions

Dan S. Shipley

People dont ask for facts in making up their minds. They would rather have one good, soul-satisfying emotion than a dozen facts. (Robert Leavitt)

Without a doubt, emotions do motivate the masses. Whatever their cause and whether they be good or bad these strong personal feelings are intensely powerful movers of men. Emotions have influenced all; dominated many. As strength is measured by its conquests, we see impressive evidence of just how strong emotions can be when such things as truth, right, justice, and good judgment are often made subordinate to their prompting. But perhaps nowhere is the narcotic- like effect of emotionalism more prominent or persuasive than in the spiritual realm. Even those who escape its inordinate influence elsewhere succumb to it here — and with the worst possible consequences. Truly, emotionalism is a popular and compelling power in religion; one that needs to be recognized and reckoned with.

But this is not to say that all emotion is wrong, or even that it is wrong in religion. What sincere person can read of the crucifixion of Christ and not be moved? Is not the Godly sorrow associated with repentance a strong feeling of remorse for having sinned against God? (2 Cor. 7: 10) Are we not to rejoice and weep with one another? (Rom. 12:15) This sort of emotion is altogether right and appropriate, being expressible within the bounds of Divine truth.

But there is a subtle and dangerous kind of emotionalism which leads many in the broad way that seemeth right (Prov. 14:12). These are the feelings that men come to trust and rely on, even above the word of God. This attitude is well-exemplified in the oft heart expression, I wouldnt trade the feeling in my heart for all the Bibles in the world! — which is just another way of saying that one has more confidence in his feelings than in the word of God. The man who trusts anything more than what God says insults the veracity of God!

However, others honor their feelings in less obvious ways. While God promises to save only those who do His will (Matt. 7:21), many persist in feeling that sincerity and good intentions are sufficient. With many, the matter of eternal torment becomes another emotional issue in which the word of God is made subordinate to feelings. Questions dealing with the religion of parents, whether one is judging another, whether everyone is going to hell except your bunch, whether one church is as good as an— other, or whether the Lords church can scripturally support an orphans home can easily become more emotional than scriptural issues — and the big problem with this is that not everyone appreciates scriptural answers to emotional arguments.

All important decisions, especially those affecting ones standing with God, ought to be based on something more substantial than emotions. Feelings of the moment, no matter how strong, can never be more trustworthy than Gods word which will judge all. The slave to emotion cannot be the servant of Christ.