What Happens When "Feelings" Rule the World?

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

EmojisOne of the major, unseen battles going on today in our lives is the attempt to define the relationship between truth and feelings. This conflict is at the heart of the entire Biblical story of redemption, yet sadly it is rarely discussed today. So then, what is the relationship between truth and feelings and why is this issue so important to the Lord and His work in our lives?

For a long time, our society has been moving toward to a place where feelings define reality instead of the truth. In other words, if people feel something is right it must be right, even if it makes no sense or is hurtful and destructive. As an example, if people feel that 2+2=5 then that must be correct, and it becomes the new standard against which mathematics must be measured. The real message of a feelings-driven world is that truth doesn't exist outside of a person's subjective experience of reality. In such a world, facts never matter. Most of us have been in such a conversation with someone where the facts didn't matter, and the conversation ended up becoming an argument that went nowhere. Sadly, this exact issue is where our media, culture and society has been moving for years...and the worst is yet to come. When feelings take over and run the world you are headed for a disaster. That is true because reality eventually shows up at our door and it usually gets ugly! As an example, just imagine filing our taxes using 2+2=5 math. Sooner or later the IRS would audit us, and we might even end up in prison, as a result of our feelings about math and how we define truth.
Now the Lord has created a beautiful and orderly world of truth to reflect Himself. The heart of that Creation is set up around the objective reality that the Creation is a fact. That fact or truth produces a reaction or feeling in us, NOT the other way around. When we look at majestic mountains, glorious flowers, awesome stars or beautiful sunsets that reality creates certain feelings in us.  Creation just exists; it is a fact, and it is true however we feel about it. Once again, feelings must always be downstream from facts and truth. Along those same lines, we feel good when our math teacher tells us that our answer of 2+2=4 is correct. We never decide that mathematics is true because of our answers. Math judges the student's answer, not the other way around.

Let's take a more practical and current example of how this reversal of truth and feelings is dramatically impacting our lives. Many people are telling us today that we are not supposed to look at the reality of male and female and the physiology associated with those genders. The message is that a person's gender is defined by how they feel. If a person doesn't feel they are a man or woman, then they are not that gender, no matter what the evidence may say to the contrary. Society is then told that we must support that new-found reality or be considered hateful and intolerant. Sadly, what is happening with gender issues could be applied to most areas of society today where truth, facts and reality has become the servant of feelings. This growing disconnect between truth and feelings has created a chaotic reality at many of our top universities and colleges, whose main purpose was and is to educate the next generation. It is hard to tell what our young people are learning today in our politically correct world.

Now all this confusion between truth and feelings is connected to the entire understanding of sin and our relationship to the Lord. After all, if you go back to the Garden in Genesis 2-3, Adam and Eve were told the truth about violating God's standards (Genesis 2:17). But another media and cultural voice emerged that told them God's truth might be wrong and that they could make a subjective judgment based on how they felt. Adam and Eve came to believe that the truth of the matter was established by how they felt when they saw that the fruit was pleasing to their senses (Genesis 3:6). The Biblical story in the Garden is the foundational story of what happens when truth is lost, and subjective feelings and judgments replace it. Every person in the world today is living out the consequences of that confusion and loss of objective truth and reality.

The moment we lose the truth of the Lord and His Word, we always end up replacing it with feelings and we start becoming as "god." After all, that was the lie in the Garden...you shall be as "god." The reason that is true is because without truth to test, direct, interpret and make our feelings accountable to reality, we all turn into ourselves more and more....and become as a "god." This is the path that every person takes when we begin to focus on ourselves and leave the Lord behind. This is ultimately the path of narcissism. Without truth as our anchor, we all end up little narcissists, little "gods." We replace the real Lord with self and our pride fuels our narcissism as we dethrone God and join the devil, who is the king of the proud and all true narcissists. After all, the devil was the first narcissist in history.

How interesting then, that the Bible describes the times we are living in now as "terrible times," characterized by people who are "lovers of themselves" (II Timothy 3:1-5). As a result, we see that narcissism, and the inordinate influence of our feelings, has become the dominant driving force in our culture. Increasingly, we are told that our feelings are sacred, and they entitle us to whatever we want. A notable example of this can be seen as billions of people are sending trillions of emojis telling others how they feel. Few say much about truth...does it matter? The really important issue is telling people how something or someone made us feel. And so the defining question in these last days has become "How did that make you feel?" Few seem to care whether anything is right, true, good, moral or even Biblical. Feelings have been divinized and are directing our society at every level. Anyone who dares to stand up to these "god-like feelings" becomes an enemy that must be dealt with on some level.

Regrettably, one the surprising places where you see this major battle and confusion between truth and feelings going on is in the Lord's Church. It is a rare church today that is known for preaching and teaching the truth. Many of the best known and most popular churches in America are measured and evaluated by how they make people feel. We call them today, "Feel Good Churches." Have you heard that term? Did you ever stop and ask what that means? Does that phrase, or terminology appear anywhere in the Bible? Did Jesus always make people feel good when He shared Himself and His Word with others? If we are honest and really look at the truth of the Bible, we would have to say that Jesus upset a lot of people's feelings with the truth. As a matter of fact, so many people got their feelings upset with the truth He taught that our Lord was crucified.

As we look at what is happening today to our world and our churches, the best thing we can do is just go back and rest our lives on the finished work of the Cross and the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our salvation and future never depend on how we feel, but on what the Lord had said and done. That foundation is the ONLY basis of life now and forever more. The truth always sets us free as our Lord reminded us in John 8:31-32. The Bible never says our feelings will do that. Sadly, people focused on their feelings, at the expense of the truth, often end up living a very empty and joyless life as they aimlessly search for that special feeling, when the truth of the Lord is right before our eyes.

May the Lord Jesus Christ set us free today to live and be directed by the truth in every issue from the Church to our Nation and daily lives and may we share that glorious truth with as many people as we can in this dramatic and confusing hour. This is an article to pass on to the people we know and love.