“Human feelings change as the world changes. Their easy excitement can occasion a saint to lose his spiritual balance. Their constant disturbance can affect a believer's peace in his spirit.”
- Watchman Nee
Over the last 3 years we have been in the midst of a substantial shift in our culture. This shift has moved all that we know and understand about objective truth into a realm of doubt and unbelief - fanned into flame based on largely emotional response.
Objective truth has become subjective… it is nearly indistinguishable from fantasy, with little discernible connection to reality.
Perhaps I sound to conspiratorial?
Let’s review a recent headline…
In a July 6th article from the New York Post we read that the CDC has now provided guidelines for healthcare professionals to coach biological men to nurse babies. Let's pause to allow this to fully sink in… biological males… nursing babies.
Really, we could spend hours going over the abandonment of long held scientific process during 2020 and 2021, the near annihilation of Women’s rights in sports which seems to defy understanding and is a massive setback for Women's rights. It seems as if our culture has become a place where we are unhinged from reality.
Instead of waking up… even some Christian Pastors are diving into the delusion and parroting cultural mantra. Feelings are what matters in the culturally acceptable Church… how you feel is the truth about you!
This is the all consuming lie. Feelings however have never gone well for the human race. There are remnants of altars built all over the world from ancient cultures that believed in the sacrifice of humans, often children. In Jeremiah we read that the Israelites would be punished because they sacrificed their children to the small g god named Molech. The leaders of Israel, much like our current Christian leaders chose to bless and imitate culture because it “felt” like the right thing to do. Culture demanded acceptance of child sacrifice... so the Priests chose to accept it as normal practice rather than stand apart from the culture.
The more things change the more they remain the same. It seems that history repeats itself fairly regularly. God calls us to be set apart and holy… and some Christian pastors are becoming echo chambers of culture instead of conduits to healing.
Many North American Christian leaders are trying to preach with significant scriptural somersaults an alignment of the Christian faith and the surrounding culture… in essence attempting to make Christianity “cool”. These teachings often have one thing in common… they take the words that Jesus or the New Testament writers have to say and add their culturally queued opinion that "this is what He “meant” to say".
Our modern day ”theology” is changing to align with our feelings… it is a house built on shifting sand.
Recently, several Christian leaders I deeply respect started teaching that hell is not eternal… while every theologian struggles with the concept of an eternal hell… we cannot rework Jesus own words and the scriptures overall to rebrand hell. The fact is there are things about faith that can make us uncomfortable… it's okay to be uncomfortable with things we do not comprehend. This is where trust in Gods perfect justice comes in... just as a child trusts their parent on things they don't understand - those who have learned to trust Christ through a deeply personal relationship with Him can come to a place where they can trust HIS justice will be fair… that figuring out who goes to hell or not isn’t going to be something we can comprehend in our limited capacity on this side of heaven.
Theological somersault’s like this are often launched from an emotional response to hard questions instead of an intellectual one. We don’t want something to be true so we begin to create our own narrative to "line up" with our feelings.
I have spent time going down the path of experiential faith - apart from intellectual faith. They can work together… but I chose to embrace a faith founded primarily in how I felt. This caused huge problems for both myself and my family. Even as I struggled with anxiety and occasional bouts of depression I made decisions based on my feelings… with sometimes disastrous results. I went through bankruptcy because I made emotional life choices with finances.
Recently I was struck with several bad news situations I found myself spiralling into an emotional abyss. I shared that with my wife… and reassured her I would be alright and just needed to know she had my back as I worked through the emotional roller coaster and reviewed my bearings… to know where the horizon was and what truths I was grounded in. A week or two later after consistently monitoring my emotional environment and working through my feelings - balancing them with facts I began to pull out and find a level place again. I’m certainly not saying we should abandon our feelings… and I’m definitely not saying we should crush or ignore them as our feelings may have usefulness in telling us that something is off… but we should realize that we cannot trust them to be accurate in finding a path to freedom and wholeness. Those feelings will lead us into deception more often than not.
During my depression years ago… I had to work on searching out truth… and learned to meditate on truth, I had some counselling that redirected my head to look for what’s real and talk things through with friends and family where appropriate. Slowly I began to feel differently, I laughed more, I could govern my feelings because I knew the truth didn’t always line up with my feelings.
Feelings are sure to lead us into a place we don’t wish to be… and to make life altering decisions or change theological understanding starting with an emotional response or desire is a sure way to regret with often serious complications and consequences. This is evident as stories begin to surface of regret after radical procedures have been performed on young adults as they process their emotional self awareness.
In truth it has always been a challenge. Men and women struggle with balancing real versus perceived truths...
Bob and Audrey Meisner, married over 17 years... appeared to have everything together. They had a successful TV and media ministry, a growing family and Audrey was a successful author as well. Their busyness left them both in a state where they felt isolated and alone. A man they knew started to listen to her, compliment her and it made her feel special. She ended up in an affair that lasted several weeks before she found the courage to end it. She describes in her recent media appearances feeling as if the attention and companionship was at first a form of "rest"... until it was not. Emotions rarely are right... as they can be so easily manipulated. Today Bob and Audrey run a marriage ministry to help others... but it could have ended very differently.
Many men today find themselves in a porn addiction… they justify their actions by feelings… likewise, many women flirt to feel good about themselves… there is even a large segment of women who struggle with porn. I think the statistics are 65% of men and 18% of women struggle with sexual addiction in some way… those numbers don’t change for the Church.
Britney De Lamora, a former adult movie actress who was in the porn industry for 7 years says of her experience:
“Sin is always pleasurable in the beginning, until it’s not… and then it rots away at your soul and your just… like… why am I here? I’m miserable… I am broken… but I’m a slave to this and it’s controlling me… and I’d give anything to be free from it!”
Today Britney is a full time Pastor who runs Love Always Ministries together with her husband Richard. She describes how she was pulled into the sex trade as it gave her the feeling of validation and affirmation she so wanted as a teen and young woman. What started as pleasurable ended up pulling her into a life of Drugs and depression.
Feelings are often wrong… again that doesn’t say we should ignore them… but it doesn’t say we should embrace them. We may be getting pulled into deception by our feelings - heavily influenced by our basest flesh nature... I think of this quote by CS Lewis:
"Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire, which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only arouse it, to suggest the real thing."
I had a difficult relationship with my oldest daughter when she was a young adult. I was a broken, depressed man at the time… and she needed a strong Father who wasn’t there. I was trapped in my hurt, bound by my shame from bankruptcy and failure, shackled by my past… and I just wasn’t there. We began to believe lies about each other… each in our own fabrication of reality. One day she approached me as a young married adult and said we needed to talk.
I had prayed for this for years… I was beginning to walk in a better place by that time. My feelings had begun to align with Gods truth… so when she approached me I was ready. I prayed about this… and I knew we needed to get this right, so we both agreed to meet at church with an objective third party. As I prepared my heart for this long awaited moment I could hear the Holy Spirit say to me “Gord you need to shut up”. I was shocked… because obviously words fix everything right? Um…. The Holy Spirit reminded me how my words had messed things up in the first place. I heard the phrase in my head “Gord the only thing you can say is that you would parent differently today”.
We met… and I held my feelings in check. I stayed quiet and let her talk… and when it was my turn said this…
“I would parent differently today”…
At this point the atmosphere in the room changed. We had a beautiful reunion… and our relationship forever changed. Today we can talk about pretty much any subject, even the ridiculous and uncomfortable and we KNOW we love each other. There is NEVER a doubt about whether or not we love each other.
I share this because there are many Christians who believe lies because their feelings have deceived them. They are making decisions based on these lies they believe. Some of those are financial, some are physical body changes and some are relational. I know people that lived entire lives in utter bitterness because they have never dealt with their feelings… they often either crush them or they embrace them… but only by bringing them into the light of truth can they find healing.
I pray that someone finds this article and begins the painful walk towards truth… even toward Christ. The one who brought me the healing can lead you into deeper truth as well. He can help you lay the shame aside. He can help you cast aside the condemnation.
The truth is not found in embracing a lie... it is not found in embracing culturally shifting sands, it is certainly not found in "our true self" as author Eckhart Tolle and other new age teachers say. Instead truth... True peace is found when we question everything including our own feelings, when we question even our doubts.
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.””
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning - Psalms 30