Think vs Feel

General Musings

A dear friend of mine is learning about the sacrifices necessary to follow the Lord and the truths of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Like him, I have lost cherished friends of many years because they "felt" I was on a path of apostasy.

They were not willing to "reason together" but became emotionally uncomfortable with subject matter inconsistent with official LDS institution dogma. Emotions are more powerful than most desire to accept. Such denial makes easy dupes or, as we call them, TBMs*.

Here's what my friend pondered:

"I guess suffering at the hands of your family is bound to happen when you leave what they think is the right path."

This was my response:

The problem is not that they "think" their path is right, rather that they "feel" their path is right. "Thinking" is what rational and intelligent beings do. "Feeling" is what TBMs do and that's why, in fact, they are TBMs.

Feelings can be easily manipulated. At times, I voluntarily participate in such manipulation. There are movie scenes or music selections that move me to tears because they touch on tender human interactions. I allow myself to be engulfed by the experience of intense emotion like a warm blanket thrown over my shoulders on a cold night. At the same time, though, I know it's just a movie or music, but I still enjoy the experience.

TBMs use the church as I use those movies and music. They enjoy their dopamine rush from hearing Pavlov-style stimuli such as "feel the Spirit," "the church is true," "we have a true and living prophet," "follow the prophet,"  "the prophet cannot lead the church astray," and the big one, "if I feel discomfort about something someone says about the church or its history, that's the Lord warning me and I should run." 

If people were thinking as rational and intelligent beings, they would be able to discern the truth of things by the Spirit. Because they rely on manipulated feelings and emotion, they are easily misled and can be guided around like a dog on a leash. The leash is their emotions. The Adversary plays those leashes like a musician plays a violin, sometimes tenderly, sometimes boldly, but always with the intention of focusing our attention on emotion rather than thought.

That focus keeps us from becoming rational and intelligent, and separates us from the Mind of God and becoming one with Him, as the Savior instructed us to become. He also invited us to become one, by the same means, with each other. Living by and through manipulated emotion and using those feelings as a "reason" to follow some man is exactly what Paul  warned us about in Corinthians. And then, in direct spiritual and intellectual opposition, we teach our children to sing, "Follow the Prophet." This manipulated disobedience separates us and keeps us far from God and His Spirit.

That separation also keeps us from the three things "necessary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation." (Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith, Lecture 2, Verse 2.) We read that sentence and rush right into the "three things." We pass over the prerequisite, thinking we can gain knowledge by feeling it. Such is the dogma of the current LDS institution. Joseph makes clear the prerequisite of becoming "rational and intelligent." Only through the conduit of rationality and intelligence can we understand and experience the light and truth offered by the "three things."

Emotion is easy—just sit back and feel. Thinking requires decidedly more effort. One has to ask: Whose plan was the easy one that offered an easy return to where we began? Whose plan offered much more work and danger but which offered a glorious reward of eternal growth and expansion? The former is all about feeling. The latter requires a great deal of thinking, pondering, and decision-making and the resulting consequences. Success with the latter requires rationality and intelligence. There is no other way.

Thinking, pondering, praying, considering, reading, all lead to worship as we discover more about the Lord, His existence, His character, perfections, and attributes, and the correctness of our path, difficult as it may be. Hearkening to manipulated feelings leads us to the intellectual equivalent of the couch, junk food, and TV. The former leads us to knowledge, glory, and growth. The latter leads nowhere but a "dark and dreary waste." (1Ne 8:7)

*TBM=True Blue Mormon, or one who is an emotional slave to the modern LDS institution and its dogma.

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