What is More Spiritual; Emotion or Rational

rational vs emotionWhether intentional or not we have all been taught since grade-school that we should make decisions based on reason and not emotion. Only after we have tested things out with our reasoning can we begin to “feel” good about a decision. We have a tendency in our society to think that our emotions are something to be suppressed, that they are a base part of our personality and something to be overcome. We view them as something from our soul, our “carnal” nature and not something “spiritual.” If we can really get honest with ourselves however we will find that using our rational to suppress our emotions is equally carnal.

The Charismatic movement gets a lot of heat for being overly emotional. This makes a lot of sense when you look at some of the abuses in the movement however they do have one thing going for them… you cannot deny the power of God moving through them to Heal the sick and change lives. Many of the people I know who have come out of traditional Christianity have come out of the charismatic movement (myself included). This, I believe, is because the Charismatics are more open to listening to what the Spirit is saying and they are more open to change based on how He is moving them as opposed to what their current understanding and training have taught them.

It is a believe first, understand second mentality.

It’s the mentality that Abraham had to take on his journey to becoming a Hebrew.

Don’t get me wrong, being overly emotional is not spiritual by any means. Being overly emotional simply makes you a quack…

God did, however, give us our emotions for good reason. They are a tool to be used in worship of Him.

Being Overly Rational

In modern society being rational is seen as the pinnacle of sophistication and savoir-faire.

Unfortunately, being sophisticated is not the same as being spiritual.

In fact, it has the exact same effect as being overly emotional. When you use your natural faculties to suppress your emotion you are being just as carnal as when you allow your emotions to overtake you.

Either way you still end up being controlled by your carnal nature and not your spirit.

While you may become a rational man by overly suppressing your emotions, you will not become a spiritual one.

As a Teen

As a teen we are run by emotion. We do whatever feels good to us whenever we want. We don’t think of the consequences or the impact our decisions will have on ourselves or those around us.

This continues into early adulthood but ideally we grow out of it…

Then we reach a phase in our lives where everything has to be practical and reason becomes king.

Life becomes far too serious with bills and responsibilities for the foolishness of our youth. We essentially go from one extreme to the other.

It is not until much later in life (retirement) that we can again revert to the playful seeking of what our hearts desire. Surely this isn’t how God intended it.

We Need Both Our Emotions and Our Rational

The fact of the matter is that both are necessary for a happy, fully functioning human being and both are necessary for a happy, fully functioning spiritual life.

The key is allowing Holy Spirit to show us when we need to use which faculty.

Both our emotions and our rational have a proper place… in submission to the Sprit of God.

It is healthy to become excited when Holy Spirit is excited; when a family member comes to faith, during a powerful time of worship, when you see a healing or when an angel walks into the room. These are exciting times and should be treated as such.

At the same time when Holy Spirit is using our rational to teach us a new truth or reveal an insight we had never seen before we will find ourselves equally blessed and these times can be most beneficial to our spiritual walk.

Our Natural Tendencies

We all have a tendency to move more to one side than the other. I tend to err on the side of rationality, my wife on the side of emotion.

This can cause friction not just in a marriage but also in the body of Messiah.

Here again we must learn to submit to the workings of Holy Spirit if we want unity and healthy interaction with each other.

Neither way is better by default. We must learn to value the other’s opinion and take it to God in prayer because it may be the opinion Holy Spirit is trying to share.

Question: What side do you tend to fall on? The rational or the emotional? Does your spouse go the opposite way? Let me know in the comments below.