I have noticed that when the subject of faith, morals, and truth comes up, many resort to using emotionalism. Christians and non-Christians alike can fall into this method of communication and at times, it can be somewhat be manipulative and lack a solid foundation of reason. It is something I have been guilty of, and as the years have passed I have been working on correcting, though it isn’t easy.
Many will use emotions to justify choices or their moral preferences because it is simply easier to be subject to emotion than to reason. Do we do the same when we are trying to have important conversations with people about the faith? Do we resort to emotion first rather than providing sound information rooted in logic and reason?
I have found in my experience that what may make me feel one way may make someone else feel completely different. This is because our emotions are completely subjective. Emotions are unique to us, and are rooted in our personality. Although emotions can help us in sharing an experience, or perhaps help others relate with what we are saying, emotionalism cannot stand up on its own in a rational dialogue with someone.
When we use emotionalism to try and convey a truth, we may find ourselves frustrated when people do not understand us. We may feel so passionately about something, and then when we seek to explain why, our explanations will inevitably fall short. An emotional response or the way something may or may not make a person feel is not a valid consideration when approaching the truth. I am not saying that we shouldn’t share our experiences, nor am I saying they are completely invalid. I am, however, saying that it should not end there.
Throughout history there have been countless men and women who have had an experience of God in their lives. These encounters with the Lord have helped aid them in their spiritual life and the impact that their experience had has even lead many people to the Church. These people, however, who were effective witnesses in the world, were able to not simply point to an experience but to a reality. St. Peter in his epistle reminds us to “always be prepared to make a defence to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15).
Let us always seek the truth that goes beyond emotion and to convey that to the world “with gentleness and reverence.”