faith, myths

Don’t Follow Your Heart

This idea that we should follow our hearts is so prevalent that we don’t even think about it not being true.

Entire books have been written about people following their hearts. A whole genre of novels –romance– has been published with this underlying theme. Movies have been made and songs have been written all encouraging us to follow our hearts.

One of the biggest culprit in this area, in my opinion, is Hollywood (Disney and similar companies) which begins instilling this follow-your-heart mentality in children at a very young age. Disney, for example, takes traditional stories which were intended to be warning encouraging to children to make good choices and turns the story around to glorify the bad choices under the guise of following your heart.

For instance, did you know that in the original story, the Little Mermaid followed her heart, disobeyed her parents, ended up dying, and doesn’t marry the prince? Not very romantic, because it was a cautionary tale.

I like a good story as much as the next person, but I have grown increasingly aware of what the creators of a movie or TV show are communicating through what the story they tell. The idea behind a story was brought to my attention when I did a writing course many years ago. Every author has something that they are trying to communicate, a bias from which they write.

As a writer-in-training, I was encouraged by my teacher to consider what I was trying to communicate through my writing. As a parent, I try to be aware of the message behind what is written. Sometimes the message is overt. Sometimes it is very subtle.

Even as a teen, I remember hearing other Christians encourage me to follow my heart.

The mentality went something like this: God knows we are emotional creatures. He made us this way and uses emotions to communicate with us.

The problem with this idea is that it cannot be backed biblically.

What does scripture say about the heart?

He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.

Proverbs 28:26

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Jeremiah 17:9

Are we supposed to be guided by our heart, our emotions?

Nowhere in scripture does it tell us to be guided by our emotions.

Instead, we are told over and over to focus our mind on Christ and the scripture. This is because emotions and feelings come and go.

We cannot base our life’s decisions on how we feel about life right now.

Imagine what a horrible marriage I would have if I only acted loving toward my husband on the days I felt loving. That doesn’t make for a very good marriage.

In the same way, a life based on emotions will not be a good one — at its best it will be very turbulent.

Our hearts –the center of our emotions– need to be controlled by Jesus, and our minds need to be renewed in Him.

Do not be conformed to this world,

but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,

that by testing you may discern what is the will of God,

what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

 “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts:

and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people….”

Hebrews 8:10

Our thoughts actually influence our emotions. (Doubt me? Think sad thoughts and see how you feel.) That is why such an emphasis in scripture is put on controlling our thoughts.

I was once told, “The things that fly around in your head settle in your heart” meaning the stuff you think becomes feelings, attitudes, and actions.

We shouldn’t be following our hearts, our emotions. We should be seeking counsel , reading scripture, and praying for wisdom. Then, we should make thoughtful decisions.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,

    but a wise man listens to advice.

(Proverbs 12:15)

 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching,

for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

 (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God,

who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

(James 1:5)

This topic reminds me just how diametrically opposed the world and God are.

Here, scripture teaches us something that is direct opposition to what the world –and even many Christians– hold as the right way.

This is yet another reason that we need to study the word, comparing what the world, our churches, and even our American Christian Culture says.

This is just another Christian Myth, something held to be true by many people but not backed by the truth of scripture.


Sarah Forbes

(Originally a Facebook post from 2015)


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