We’ve been taught, both by our culture and by the church, that emotions are not to be trusted. How do I know? Simple. If someone says, “You seem really rational today,” it sounds like a compliment. Yet if the same person told us, “You seem really emotional today,” most of us would take it as a put-down. But emotions aren’t our weaker side and it’s not emotions that always lead us astray. God created us as emotional beings, made in God’s image. This presentation will show the 5 critical myths we’ve been taught about emotions and spirituality. These myths get in the way of spiritual, personal & community growth. When we understand and embrace the emotions God has given us, we have access to one more avenue of God’s guidance in our lives.
Introduction: Most of the things you’ve learned in church about emotions are just plain wrong. Not only are they wrong when you consider what scientists have learned about the function of emotions in the brain, they are wrong according to the Bible. These myths are getting in the way of your relationship with God. Let’s take a look at them.
Myth #1 / God Doesn’t feel emotions. We’ve been told that God is beyond emotions, and that Biblical language in the Bible is just anthropomorphism. But the Bible presents a different story — God is profoundly emotional, and we were created in God’s image. We feel emotions because God does too. When we understand this, we no longer nee to feel guilt or shame over our emotions, and we can begin to understand them.
Myth #2 / Emotions can only lead you into sin. We’ve been taught that following our emotions leads us astray, doing what we feel, instead of what is right. Emotions do lead us, but they don’t always lead us astray. In fact, this is why God created them. Emotions are meant to give us motion, to move us to take action. When we understand our emotions and align our heart with God, our emotions become a powerful motivation to do good.
Myth #3 / Emotions are not spiritual. Often portrayals of deeply spiritual people show them unfazed by life, unmoved by their emotion. We’re taught implicitly that to become more spiritual, we must become less emotional. The expression of emotion is seen as immature. But this only leads to a superficial community where people pretend. Becoming more spiritual means becoming more whole, and this includes a powerful relationship with our God-given emotions.
Myth #4 / An emotional Christian is a shallow Christian. One of the threads in the frequent “worship wars” experienced by churches is the idea that hymns are rational and thus more mature spiritually, while contemporary worship is more emotional, and thus more shallow. This same attitude expresses itself in many other ways. We act like God created us rational, but sin made us emotional. That’s not true. A deeply spiritual person is both rational and emotional.
Myth #5 / Ignore your emotions and they will go away. The first 4 myths lead to this practical application. If we ignore our emotions, they will just go away. But this leads to families and church communities full of hypocrisy, hidden secrets, and immaturity. Working through our emotions and aligning our them with God’s heart, allows us to heal and become more mature.
Conclusion: The Bible presents God as an emotional being. Jesus was both spiritually mature and deeply emotional. Created in God’s image, we are also emotional beings. Jesus gave us a model of spiritually mature emotions. When we include emotions in the process of discipleship, we can become more whole, and can hear God’s guidance more clearly. There is simply no spiritual growth without emotional growth.
People interested in personal and spiritual growth, and understanding the role of emotions in faith. This presentation is also very helpful to people who grew up in more fundamentalist churches. This material can be presented to both youth and adults.
This material can be delivered as a keynote presentation, a workshop, or half-day seminar. Keynotes can range from 45–60 minutes to fit your needs. This presentation can serve as the introduction to a longer series that goes deeper into understanding emotions from a Biblical perspective. The full emotions and faith series can be presented in a multi-day retreat format with speaking, active learning, small group interaction, and personal reflection.
A summary of this presentation can be read in this blog post. 5 things you learned about emotions in church that aren’t true.
I don’t have current video of this presentation, but similar content can be found in a 6 week series that I presented at Bridge City Community Church.
- #1 Feel Like God
- #2 The Truth in Anger
- #3 The Truth in Fear
- #4 The Truth in Grief
- #5 The Truth in Compassion
- #6 How to be Happy
Other Presentation Summaries
- The 5 Declarations of Gratitude
- Clear Path to an Intentional Life
- 5 Things you learned about Emotions in church that aren’t true.