Part 3: ♪♫ “Feelings…trying to forget my feelings…”♪♫, musings from a Virginia Beach Counselor
What Does Scripture Say About Feelings?
I agree with Henry Cloud and John Townsend, authors of the book Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life. Feelings have gotten a bad rap in Christian circles.
While its true that Scripture warns against letting your emotions take over so much that you’re ruled by them, it also provides many examples of how feelings play a large role in influencing our motivation and behavior. Scripture shows that feelings should not be dealt with at either extreme, neither being ignored nor placed in charge.
Both the story of the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10:33) and the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk. 15:20) provide examples of how one’s emotions motivate them towards good. In the former story, the Samaritan’s feelings of sadness over the injured Israelite’s plight moved him to take action. In the latter, the father’s pain over his lost son and then his joy over his return moved him to forgiveness and to welcome him with open arms.
A deeper understanding of the person of Jesus also reveals a lot about what Scripture has to say about feelings. Christ, who the Bible tells us is perfect and without sin (Jn. 8:46; 2Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 1Pe. 3:18), was fully human. This means he possessed a human body, soul, and spirit and demonstrated the characteristics of a human being.
Jesus experienced hunger (Mt. 21:18), fatigue (Jn. 4:6), and suffering (Lk. 22:43-44). He also possessed and expressed a full range of emotions just as we do. He felt, for example, pain and sorrow (Lk. 19:41; Mt. 26:37), joy (John 15:11), anger (Mk. 3:5), and loneliness (Mt. 27:46; Mk 15:34).
For Jesus, feelings were just feelings. They weren’t overwhelming or terrifying but were merely part of being human. They were felt and acknowledged. In therapeutic terms, they were “owned,” accepted, and validated.
In such a way, it seems that Scripture models and affirms this therapeutic model of how to view and handle emotions, charging believers to rule over their feelings instead of allowing their feelings to rule them. In essence, it calls people to validate their feelings, to feel them, instead of running from and medicating them. We must take responsibility for our feelings and the state of our hearts so that we can begin to find an answer to whatever issue they are pointing to.