A Fair of the heart: Should you ‘follow your heart’?
It’s State Fair time in Oklahoma, and that means families are shelling out the cash for the food and rides, as well as Disney on Ice.
When I looked at Disney on Ice tickets this year, though, something stopped me in my tracks from making this expensive purchase.
The characters—Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Buzz Lightyear—were the same as usual. But the theme was “Follow your heart.”
That seems to be a recurring theme I have been increasingly hearing in movies marketed to children and youth, including the new release “Leap!”
This is, of course, nothing new. There are millions of people around the world following their hearts, which lead them into certain relationships, careers, hobbies and habits.
As Christians, what are we to think of the principle, “follow your heart”? If we believe the Bible, we should be cautious of this kind of thinking because God’s Word says “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9).
Further, the Bible says to trust not your own heart but God’s. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5-6).
Popular Christian writer and pastor Timothy Keller put it this way: “What the heart trusts, the mind justifies, the emotions desire, and the will carries out. Everything follows the heart.What the heart trusts, the mind justifies, the emotions desire, and the will carries out. Everything follows the heart.When you finally get everything your little heart desires, your little heart will find something else to desire.”
The easiest arena to see the joys and pitfalls of following your heart is the arena of romantic love. On the good side of the equation, God has given people the capacity to “fall in love.” On the bad side of the equation, if you can fall in love, you also can fall out of love.
C.S. Lewis said it this way, “Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing… It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called ‘being in love’ usually does not last. If the old fairy-tale ending ‘They lived happily ever after’ is taken to mean ‘They felt for the next 50 years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,’ then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were.”
Lewis continues, “What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from ‘being in love’ — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be ‘in love’ with someone else. ‘Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.”
We see clearly here that our heart, while it makes a good engine, it makes a poor steering wheel. Our hearts need to be transformed by Christ and conformed to His.
So should Christians follow our hearts? The short answer is “no way!” If you do, the cost could be even higher than Disney on Ice tickets at the State Fair.