Pastoral Psychology and the Heart 04

Moral truth was firmly established before Creation.

The fatal flaw in choosing the Forbidden Fruit is that the human intellect is utterly incapable of being objective. Reason leading to objective truth is just a myth. Inevitably the traffic feeding into your consciousness includes influences that pollute the process. The brain cannot function any other way, so it will always include in its calculus things you only wish were true, but it comes out of the reasoning process as quite logical.

That’s because there has to be something giving moral value to everything. The key to knowing and doing rests on first deciding what matters. That is the definition of moral judgment. And the human soul without divine input cannot possibly come up with the right answer, because the right answer can only come to us from the One who made all things.

Instead, everyone comes to adulthood decision-making with a load of conscience, the collected nagging of those who helped us socialize and adjust to life on the way to adulthood. Typically that would be our parents, but plenty of other people step into the role, knowingly or not. The result is a collected and conflicting body of moral principle that registers in our memory as a person; that’s how we are designed. It serves as our conscience, and it’s okay to call it the superego, because that personifies it as someone inside your head who isn’t really you. This person has a ton of influence, but it isn’t you.

It’s quite possible to sort through the stuff this person says to you, and eventually learn to ignore some stuff that makes no sense. However, that tends to drive his/her influence into the background of the subconscious and you still haven’t really dealt with it. This is what neuroses are made of. If you manage to keep it all conscious, you’ll still have to get used to being conflicted.

God has granted us a much better mechanism, but it requires first expanding your ego to include the heart/will. There is no clinical explanation of how to do this. Once you become aware of the possibility, it either happens or doesn’t. Most of the problem is that the ego will have to recognize that it is not only separate and independent from the intellect, but that it is actually above it. You have to learn that you aren’t required to listen to the reason and intellect, that your brain can be wrong and should not run the show.

The proper interface between ego and will is the conscience. But if we associate it with the conscience, it is also a repository of its own, collecting all the nagging (sadly) along with the good guidance (hopefully) and presenting a presence that is hard to ignore. Such as it is, this is your starting place for restoring sanity as God intended. Obey your conscience as best you can, because this breathes life into it and makes it correctable. Keep pushing your conscience to double check against your will. This requires you first become conscious of a body of conviction hidden somewhere in your soul.

Your opinions are reasoned and subject to amendment with better information. Your convictions are written in your soul by the finger of God. They clearly have a far different quality from mere socializing influences. They are the imperatives that can be heard in the voice of your conscience. The idea here is to keep directing your conscience back to the convictions until, given time, the mixed up crap from human nurture is eclipsed in the voice of your superego. The message will gradually become more consistent and reliable.

The process can be enhanced by speculative polling. That is, when you hear about a moral quandary someone else is having, ask your conscience what your convictions have to say about it. What would you do in their place? If you should repeat the same question again later, you may well find a different answer, as the superego matures.

Of course, this all assumes that your spirit has been raised from death. None of this will work any other way, because convictions come to life only when your spirit is alive. It’s not that spiritually dead people have no convictions, but their convictions aren’t necessarily from God. They don’t speak with the same force as convictions in communion with the Creator.

An underlying point I’ve already slipped in here is that proper progress in moral discernment means you must learn to view reality as filled with persons. You must learn to personify everything possible; that is how the Bible views the world. Indeed, the only sane approach is to start with personifying reality itself. It can be an ally, but it requires you to cultivate a friendship and treat it with respect. And so it goes, in that your conscience is a separate person, the person your nurturers tried to make you be. And the grass under your feet, the bushes and trees, birds in the sky, rocks on the ground, the moon at night, the wind and the very molecules and subatomic particles — all of them live individually and in communities, each with a unique personality and will. Without that approach, you cannot properly grasp the mechanics of anything that matters.

God revealed Himself in such terms. He is the one who taught humanity to regard all Creation as alive, individually and in community. This is the proper frame of reference for understanding the whole of revelation.

The divine moral character of God is woven into the fabric of reality.

About Ed Hurst

Disabled Veteran, prophet of God's Laws, Bible History teacher, wannabe writer, volunteer computer technician, cyclist, Social Science researcher
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