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Friday, August 05, 2016

Feelings as Foundation

I've seen advertisements lately. In one, an older woman is trying to find out if she and her husband can get life insurance. Oh, good. They can. The husband asks what the agent is saying. "She says we can get insured," she answers. "I feel good about this." In an ad for a product for cleaning your teeth, an advocate says, "When I floss, it feels like I'm hurting my gums; when I use this product, it feels like I'm healing them." There you have it. Good reasons to buy the insurance or the floss substitute. We feel good about it.

We live in the Age of Empathy, a term coined to speak of today's version of "reality" which is determined by "how I feel". In today's world "I feel" trumps "I think" or any other facts you might want to bring to bear. It is this single principle that has changed the positions of countless people on the topic of homosexual behavior as a sin. Time and again we have heard of people that held (with Scripture) that the behavior was a sin ... until someone close to them "came out", and all of the sudden their position (and apparently Scripture) changes. Why? Because "I feel" it's so.

The odd thing is that no one has to be told that feelings are often wrong. Although "Trust your feelings" has become axiomatic today, it really makes little sense. People have panic attacks over small things. There is depression and narcissism when neither is justified. And how often is "self-righteous anger" a product of clear facts? Sure, we might get a "gut feeling" about something and it might be wise to heed it in some cases, but the truth is that our emotions are a product of how we think. It would be far better to think through things rather than allow our emotions to be our foundation for our choices and values.

Demagogues excel at emotional manipulation. America today excels at embracing demagogues. "The right thing" in our society today is most often "how I feel". It is considered taboo to question that. But you can see why Satan would want us to go in that direction. The Bible says our hearts are deceitful and wicked (Jer 17:9). The Bible says the gospel is foolishness to the unsaved (1 Cor 1:23). The Bible says that those in the world are blinded (2 Cor 4:4). It would seem obvious that clear thinking would not be a benefit to Satan's followers. What we ought to do is trust in the Lord (Prov 3:5-6) and be transformed by the renewing of the mind (Rom 12:2). We can't change how the world operates, but we can be sure we're not operating on the shaky ground of "how I feel" as a foundation for what is right. We've been given a better foundation (1 Cor 3:11; 2 Tim 2:19). Feelings have their place; it's just not as the foundation.

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