In studying forgiveness this week, we delved in to Luke 17:
3 Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you,[b] saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”
5 And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
6 So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. 7 And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? 8 But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. 10 So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’”
The interesting thing about forgiveness is that here Christ commands it, as a duty, which is especially noteworthy in a society that cultivates self-gratification, the fulfilling of emotional desire, and the alleviation of consequence from duty or action. The pleas for help against the strength of emotion are not merely a product of today, but of the weaknesses of all mankind, and is illustrated here by the apostles themselves, when they ask Jesus for increased faith. They wish for a greater faith to overcome the emotions set against forgiving others. It is as if they are saying, “no one can forgive someone over and over on their own!”
Jesus’ response? It is your duty. Don’t hem and haw and finally decide to forgive, so that you may then turn around and ask for praise and adulation for simply doing what is commanded. If you follow me, if you love me, then you will forgive, because that is what I have done for you. It is your duty.
Society will absolve guilt and duty with phrases and mantras such as:
“You shouldn’t have to apologize for your feelings,”
“We can’t control our emotions,”
“We should allow for our feelings to guide us in our decisions.”
I admittedly am an emotional person, given to highs and lows, and do struggle with the discipline of not letting un-caged emotion drive my decisions. However, we must remember that we are Christians because it is true, and there is hope in truth. Yes it is emotional, but God has also provided a great many evidences, not the least of which is the reality of a resurrected messiah.
John MacArthur has said, “Pertaining to the bible, its prophecies are fulfilled. Its miracles are true and attested to. It is scientifically flawless and accurate. Its history and archaeology are verifiable to the smallest detail.”
He goes on to assert, “The basic task of the church is to teach sound doctrine. It is not to give one pastor’s opinion, to recite tear-jerking illustrations that play on emotions, to raise funds, to present programs and entertainment, or to give weekly devotionals.”
When it comes to forgiveness, it is described as a duty that should supersede emotional qualms. This also implies that forgiveness is not waiting on the emotion to join the intent, but instead is action taken despite emotion. But what action?
Forgiveness is simply releasing the right for revenge. The action of not disparaging a person who sins against you. To not gossip about them. To even speak well of them. To not seek or hope for their demise, or punishment, or just desserts. These are actions. These can rise above emotion.
Put another way, the act of forgiveness can be carried out as a duty until the emotions match the actions. If however, we wait on the emotion, the weakness of our flesh, to entice us to follow God’s command, would it ever happen?
Another instance of an emotionally driven construct of today is the transgenderism issue, a delicate one, and one that not only defies God’s will for us based on emotion, but also defies very real and understandable science and genetics. Scientifically stated, there is no such thing as transgenderism. It is a construct of our society. We see similar psychological disorders with anorexia and the like, a person who perceives reality and the biology of their body differently than what is real. Consider this denial in who you are, this rebellion against how you were made, total denial in the identity of yourself. This is akin to suicide, the end of your life as what you were designed to be. Couple that with the mutilation of one’s body to fulfill the emotional desire to not be oneself, and you have not only physically harmed the body, but have harmed chances of a marriage, of having your children with a spouse, to connect with people of the same and opposite sexes on a meaningful level in many ways. This is why those in the transgender world are 19 times more likely to commit suicide than other people groups. A group forever forced to adopt the persona of what they are not.
Dr. Paul R. McHugh, is the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry, and is the author of six books and at least 125 peer-reviewed medical articles. He states that transgenderism is a “mental disorder” that merits treatment, that sex change is “biologically impossible,” and that people who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder.
“This intensely felt sense of being transgendered constitutes a mental disorder in two respects. The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken – it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.” Regarding his willingness to reassign gender through surgery, he said this: “And so at Hopkins we stopped doing sex-reassignment surgery, since producing a ‘satisfied’ but still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs.”
We could go on and on with this subject, discussing an “everything is normal sex education”, child abuse, etc. But the point here and of this article is, we must be aware that truth and morality are objective things. They are verifiable things, and therefore, we must make a choice not to fall into the tempting pattern of blaming and cultivating emotions not anchored to truth, in order to absolve ourselves from reality.
Especially with the support of society, it can be easy to simply blame emotion for all of the situations we find ourselves in, but those not squarely rooted in God’s will tend to leave people in tumult, whether it be in anger, or anxiety, or depression. As we mature in Christ, it should become clearer that the discipline of our actions define who we are. Galatians lists fruits of the spirit in chapter 5, one of which is self-control. Ephesians 4:14 says, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” We must ask ourselves, when society plays on feelings and emotions to convince us that reality is false, do we consult the word for truth, or succumb to the continued and pervasive relativity of popular opinion and PC pressure. If we allow our emotions to be victorious over reason, what do we gain? What do we lose?