Conversations on morality: what about emotions?

There are times when I experience toxic emotions that can lead to sinful behavior. In the past, I used to battle distinguishing the emotion from the behavior, which meant that in an effort to avoid bad behavior I ended up avoiding bad emotions. I guess that having bad emotions made me feel like a bad person, and so I began to strive to be an ’emotionally’ good person. On the positive side, I think I learned good self control, which is a fruit of the Spirit after all. I wanted to obey God’s commands to rejoice, to be patient, to not be anxious. In some ways it worked. I didn’t allow myself to entertain or indulge unhealthy emotions. On the negative side, by moralizing my emotions I actually closed the curtains on the window to my soul. I treated bad emotions like sinful choices, and forgot that there was something under them. So in some ways I lost touch with myself. Lately I find that I am becoming more ‘real’ instead of ‘right’ with my toxic emotions, and I feel more authentic. Yet there is this nagging feeling that it might not always be a good choice.

ARE emotions choices? Are they moral in God’s sight? Or are they merely like the lights on a car’s dashboard that He designed to let me know what’s going on under the bonnet? What is the balance between being real and being right?

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3 thoughts on “Conversations on morality: what about emotions?

  1. Wow! I love how you put this, and I DEFINITELY can resonate with this struggle. I feel like you and I have been going through similar seasons at similar times. This is great for me—to have someone vocalize my internal workings—but as I saw that this post ended with a question, I was bummed that you (too) didn’t have an answer yet. Ha!

    Guess we’ll have to work through this together…

    In the end, we know that God always knows our heart and that it’s this (our motives) that’ll ultimately be evaluated; AND that no matter what fuels our heart, He loves us! He may not be pleased or proud, but He loves us. And when we realize this, it certainly purifies our motives.

    The Truth will set you free.

    So maybe it’s not as important to gauge the state of our emotions and whether or not they’re valid dispositions to be esteemed on par with actions… cause in the end, He loves us. And it is the realization of this fact that changes us—from the inside (our heart) out (actions).

  2. Hi lylelife,

    My answer at the moment is that I need to be honest to myself and to God about what I feel, even if it is sinful, and then exercise spiritual self control and do the right thing even if I don’t feel like it. I can’t live from my feelings, but I need to live with them and trust that through sincerity and walking in the light my ‘real’ will become more ‘right’ through sanctification…

    Don’t get me wrong, the flesh will never be sanctified – the old man is an emotional mess that will never convert, but the new man in Christ has the hope of righteousness. We waste our energy trying to restore our (emotional) righteousness in the flesh. The only way forward is to live filled with the Spirit, who crucifies the flesh. Perhaps this is what God will hold us accountable for, rather than for crucifying our own flesh, because being filled by the Spirit is within our grasp…

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