What imaginary fears are you supporting with contrived evidence? What role do rampant emotions play in your life? It is likely that what you feel, right or wrong, is a pervasive force in determining your behavior day by day. Emotional experience in the western world has become the primary motivation of values and actions and even spiritual beliefs. Furthermore, (and this is the point), we are living in a day when people are being encouraged to release their emotions, to grant them even greater power in ruling their destinies. We are told, "if it feels good, do it!" The popular song, "You Light Up My Life," carries this phrase, "It can’t be wrong, ‘cause it feels so right." (Hitler’s murder of the Jews probably felt right to the Nazis at the time). Most love songs, in fact, make it clear that a commitment to one another is based on the excitement the couple shares. Thus, when the thrill evaporates, so goes the relationship. By contrast, the greatest piece of literature ever written on the subject of love, the 13th Chapter of I Corinthians, includes not a single reference to feelings: "Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong." (I Corinthians 12:4-5 TLB)
It is my opinion that we should take a long, hard look at the "discovery of personhood," which seeks to free our emotions from restraint and inhibition. The pop-psyche movement, so prevalent in San Francisco and other California cities, encourages us to get in touch with our feelings...to open up...to tell it like it is. We’ve come through an emphasis on "encounter groups," where participants were urged to attack one another and cry and scream and remove their clothes and even whack each other with foamy "encounter bats." Great stuff.
I have no desire to return our culture to the formality of yesterday, when father was a marble statue and mother couldn’t smile because her corset was too tight. But if our grandparents represented one extreme of emotional repression, today’s Americans have become temperamental yo-yos at the other. We live and breathe by the vicissitudes of our feelings, and for many, the depression of the "lows" is significantly more prevalent than the elation of the "highs." Reason is now dominated by feelings, rather than the reverse as God intended. "But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Galatians 5:22 TLB)
This need for self-control is emphasized by the difficulties and stresses that occur in the lives of virtually every human being on earth. As Mark Twain said, "Life is just one darn thing after another" It’s true. At least once every two weeks, someone gets a chest cold or the roof springs a leak or the car throws a rod or an ingrown toenail becomes infected or a business crisis develops. Those minor frustrations are inevitable. In time, of course, more significant problems develop. Loved ones die and catastrophic diseases appear and life slowly grinds to a conclusion. This is the nature of human experience, like it or not. That being true, nothing could be more dangerous than to permit our emotions to rule our destinies. To do so is to be cast adrift in the path of life’s storms.
This statement was intended to convey one primary message: emotions must always be accountable to the faculties of reason and will. That accountability is doubly important for those of us who purport to be Christians. If we are to be defeated during life’s spiritual pilgrimage, it is likely that negative emotions will play a dominant role in that discouragement. Satan is devastatingly effective in using the weapons of guilt, rejection, fear, embarrassment, grief, depression, loneliness and misunderstanding. Indeed, human beings are vulnerable creatures who could not withstand these satanic pressures without divine assistance.