Recently I heard a politician tell his audience that he would make sure a certain bill was put forward because of the emotional wear and tear on victims of violence. He got applause. I thought about what he had said. Is that how laws are made…because events stir up emotions so we grab something that will soothe us at the moment? We’ll put a patch on it and hope it holds for a while. I thought about this politicians’s statement – was his action rooted in emotion? Is that how Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Nathan Hale, George Washington and other of our Founding Fathers did it? Was it emotion that guided Robert E. Lee as he stood for State’s rights? Was it emotion that ruled Martin Luther King as he battled segregation? And how about the Abraham as he left Ur? Or Moses? Or John the Baptist? They put their lives on the line. I doubt they would do that for a mere emotion. Their commitment must have been rooted in something far grander. It was bigger than they were.
I wonder if emotion as a guide is new to our time. Those that I mentioned above weren’t guided by emotion. Passion, yes, but not emotion. There is a difference. Passion is rooted in something deeper, more meaningful. Yes, passion can be misguided by emotion but passion has substance. Emotions are transient…they go in and out of style. What I am emotional about today I may not be tomorrow. Emotions will influence my passion and can direct my actions, unwise as they be. It would be foolish to let my emotions rule me. (I have done it and know how destructive it can be.)
My emotions and passions can be shallow and fickle. I remember being in love with my first car…a silver Pontiac with red carpet! I was passionate about taking good care of it. I was dedicated…then it went out of style, it got banged up, it lost its glossy finish… my love faded as did my passion. Then I spotted a newer one…and my emotional focus moved on. So fickle…that may be a silly illustration but you get the point. I do not believe our Founding Fathers, Robert E. Lee or Martin Luther King, Abraham, Moses (and many others) made decisions that way. I would suggest that we dare not let our emotions dictate our policy. Emotion may be the origination of our motivation to change things but it will not have staying power. Think about all those broken New Year’s resolutions…the divorce rates.
As a nation we have a Constitution. When that document was written the writers were originally motivated by emotion but through the emotion and passion they began to see truth emerge as if from a fog. That which they set down has stood the test of time. It was based on the the absolute truth that we are endowed by our Creator with certain rights. Those rights have been defended by blood through the years. Our Founders took it for granted that we have a Creator – there is someone in charge. And while politicians like to think they are – they are not. Politicians seem to act and make laws today because it feels like the right thing to do. What may they feel like tomorrow? Next week? Next year?
We have said “there are no absolutes”. If there are no absolutes then where do we go when faced with a major decision? If there is no standard how do we guide ourselves as individuals, communities, churches…as a nation.
There are absolutes! Absolutes that are not based on emotion or passion. That do not change according to which way the political wind blows. We can depend on them as we rule our own lives, communities, churches, nation. We dare not tamper with them. They are worth dying for. What, whom do you fear? For what would you die?
We are made in the image of God. He is our Creator and He has the authority over all. He is the source of all wisdom and knowledge. It is written, “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.”