How did God design humans to function? The very foundation of God’s design calls human beings to determine how to act using their minds. Their wills then need to adopt the path designated by their minds in producing behaviors. My mind tells me that I must get up and go to work. My will responds to this direction of my mind, leading to successful behavior.
We see this process taught in Scripture right from the beginning. God commanded Adam and Eve regarding the trees from which they could eat. Their minds assimilated this information and their wills were to respond to it. Likewise, the Book of Proverbs teaches us to function based on wisdom, that is, following the direction of our minds, especially as our minds are guided by the teaching of Scripture.
Our emotions oppose this process. In the Garden of Eden we find that the desires of Eve and then Adam directed them away from the course designated by their minds, comprised of instruction given by God. Likewise, the book of Proverbs is full of admonitions not to follow the various urges of our emotions such as those toward sexual promiscuity, laziness, and anger, which oppose the wisdom proposed by our minds.
When my alarm goes off in my mind tells me to get up and go to work, my emotions encourage me to stay in my nice warm bed, which leads to my being late for work and losing my job.
The scenario above describes the struggle that confronts all human beings throughout all of their lives. We can either discipline ourselves to follow our minds in doing that which is wise, avoiding trouble and achieving success, or we can cave into our desires, which will lead to a life of chaos and failure.
As Christians we have the advantage of instruction from the Word of God in enabling our minds to identify the right path to take, and we also have access to the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen our wills to choose that path. However, even with these added advantages, the battle is essentially the same. Even the New Testament is full of commands ordering us to guide our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit based on biblical principles. The existence of these commands indicate that we must still exercise our minds in discerning the teaching of Scripture and our wills in following them.
Therefore, both Christians and those who are not Christians continue to engage in the same struggle throughout their lives, but Christians have more resources with which to engage in this struggle. When the alarm goes off in the morning, both must decide whether or not to get out of bed, the minds of both tell them that they need to get up, the emotions of both encourage them to hit the snooze alarm, and the wills of both must be engaged in making the decision. On a more serious note, both Christian and non-Christian face the same struggle related to fidelity in marriage, cheating at school or on one’s income taxes, and a host of other moral challenges.
Defying God’s Design
As described above, this struggle of life is reduced to following the mind in a productive direction and the emotions toward a destructive one.
The philosophy of the 1960s, which now shapes our current culture, advocates directing our lives by following our feelings. This orientation is captured in the slogan of the 60s, “If it feels good, do it.” Therefore, it encourages an approach to life diametrically opposed to God’s design. It encourages us to neglect the guidance of the mind and follow our emotions.
We see this orientation played out in virtually every aspect of contemporary American society. For example, the legalization of marijuana in Colorado manifests appeasing emotions rather than engaging our minds. Likewise, with the spending habits of Congress, which make no rational sense but appeal to the desires of Congressman as well as those of the American people. This deactivation of the intellect and empowering of the emotions has become the contemporary American modus operandi. We have turned God’s design on its head.
In light of this reversal of God’s design for humanity, the necessary outcome must be the chaos and disaster manifested in American society. Therefore, at least the most foundation efforts to fix America must constitute identifying areas in which emotions are empowered and putting the intellect back in charge.