As a human, you have three elements to your being: mind, body and soul. These three elements work together in fascinating ways, with your mind and soul acting as the alpha members of the group. Each element has its own set of skills, priorities, and concerns. Each element makes critical contributions to you being able to function well as a human in this world.
Now of your three elements, your soul is the only one that cares about morality, God, and the greater meaning of life. When your mind is presented with a moral dilemma, it will choose the option that is best for your safety.
Suppose you pinched some money out of your mother’s wallet. When she accuses you, your soul wants you to come clean. Your soul was against the theft in the first place, because your soul believes stealing is wrong, and it wants you to be a moral person. But your mind doesn’t care a wit about morals. God designed your mind to be primarily focused on stress management—especially its own and your body’s. Right now, your mind is feeling very stressed because it’s carrying around a lot of unprocessed trauma from your crummy childhood. As a kid, you were severely bullied, and those experiences have caused your mind to be in constant dread of another attack. Now you’re in your late twenties and your mind has discovered that certain drugs give it some much needed relief from constant anxiety. The problem is that the drugs your mind wants are very expensive and you’re out of cash. So you just pinched some money out of your mom’s purse which will enable you to buy a few more rounds of relief. Your mind has no problems with you doing this, because your mind carries the enormous burden of trying to keep your entire system running as smoothly as possible. It was God who designed your mind to function as the central hub of your being. It was God who gave your mind abilities that your other two elements don’t have, such as the ability to maintain a massive memory archive and the skills to perform rapid threat assessments. Your body and soul have their own unique skills that are quite impressive, but their skills alone cannot keep your entire system on line. Your mind’s ability to function is critical to your well-being. Your mind understands this which is why it feels completely justified in putting its needs above the preferences of your soul.
Well, Mom is furious about the theft. Mom is also a large, strong woman who is prone to getting violent when she’s angry. She’s given you more than one thumping in life and as your mind quickly analyzes your mother’s flushed face, raised voice, and clenched fists, your mind concludes that confessing to the crime will likely result in your mom attacking your body. When your body is injured, it’s your mind that helps clean up the mess, because your body relies heavily on your mind for assistance in keeping itself running smoothly. Your mind is already feeling too stressed, which is why it is demanding more drugs. Your mind really doesn’t need the additional burden of an injured body right now. If your mind has to juggle too many problems at once, it starts dropping balls, which only puts additional strain on all of your elements. So when Mom demands a confession, your mind orders your body to lie and claim that you are innocent. Your mind also does some fancy maneuvers to help your body hide how nervous it feels at the sight of Mom’s fists. “I didn’t take the money,” you insist in a calm, cool voice while internally, your heart is racing with fear. “I’m sure it’s in the house somewhere. You must have just misplaced it. I have to go to work now.”
As soon as you make your escape, your body and mind sigh in relief but your soul is quite upset. Your soul protests that you’ve done something horribly wrong. Stealing from your own mother to feed some nasty drug habit is a whole new low and your soul just won’t have it. Your mind finds your soul’s protests quite annoying. From the perspective of your mind, your soul is always getting worked up over irrelevant issues. Who cares about morals? Your mind just got your body out of a dangerous situation and it secured the resources to give itself some precious moments of relief. Your mind feels the whole event was a winner, and it flicks off your soul’s protests as irrelevant. But your body wants its two bosses to get along and be happy, so your body starts feeling stressed as it listens to your soul’s rantings. Sensing your body’s distress fires up your mind’s protective instincts and it tells your soul to shut up and stop making trouble. But your soul resents the way your mind refuses to listen to it in the midst of crises. Your soul feels it has very valuable input, but as soon as there is a threat, your mind takes over like a bossy kid who won’t let anyone else play with the community toys.
As you drive to work, your soul and mind continue to argue while your body listens in and feels stressed out. You feel rotten all through your shift, and by the time you get home, your soul is adamant that the money must be returned. But then you see your usual dealer, and your mind seizes upon the opportunity to get more drugs. It feels even more justified in seeking relief now that it’s had to deal with your soul harping on it all day. By the time you get home, the money is gone, but you’ve got a lovely packet in your pocket. Your soul is now in a panic because it sees no way to right the wrong you’ve done. What must God be thinking? You’ve ripped off your own mother, you’re hooked on some foul substance, and your whole life is falling apart under the shadow of your obsession with getting your next high. Surely God must be disgusted with you and see all of your talk about pleasing Him as the hypocritical rot that it was…
Or was it?
Your soul is actually quite sincere in its desire to please God, but so what? Your mind and body are constantly getting into trouble. Just tonight you got an offer of more drugs if you’ll have sex with someone who goes by the name of “Tiger.” Apparently “Tiger” likes to sleep with both genders. And much to the horror of your soul, you actually agreed. So now you’re a prostitute on top of everything else. Obviously your dream of getting somewhere with God has been flushed. There’s no way He’ll do anything but spit on you until you get your act together, and your soul feels completely despaired about ever forcing your mind and body to start caring about morals. Clearly all hope is lost…
Or is it?
Putting the Soul in Charge
According to many religions in the world, you can only please God if you manage to somehow put your soul in the driver’s seat of your being. When you hear religious teachers condemning the idea of “sin” and saying that God will only accept those who live moral lives, what’s being said is that you must find a way to make your mind and body permanently capitulate to your soul. There’s only one teensy little problem with this plan: it’s not possible.
God is the One who designed your elements, and God is the One who decided that your mind would have a much greater influence over your actions than your soul does. Your mind and body have a very intimate relationship in which your mind is constantly helping your body solve its problems and locate resources that it needs. When your body needs more Vitamin C, it is your mind that recalls what brand worked well for you in the past, what store you found it in, and where that store is located in relation to your house. When your body is cold, it is your mind that calculates which of your outer layers will be the warmest just by looking at their material and pulling up information about those textures and fabrics from its massive memory archive. Wool is warm but scratchy. That cotton number lets all of the cold air through. The knit is nice, but the loose weave doesn’t trap heat. The polyester hoodie looks too thin to do anything but your mind knows from experience that it is quite warm. So your mind instructs your body, and your body performs a dazzling array of precisely coordinated motions to get the hoodie out of the closet and onto you. If your soul were to take over for your mind, it would never be able to perform these kinds of functions or countless others that are essential to getting you through the day. Your soul is simply not designed by God to take the lead in your being. It is your mind—specifically, the subconscious part of your mind—that is so fabulously equipped to keep you safe, enable you to communicate with others, help you find necessary resources, and turn the daily flood of new information into an organized, efficient database.
For the most part, religions do not acknowledge the critical role that the mind plays, nor do they respect its needs. Instead, they talk as if the soul is all that matters, and then they demand things from the soul that the soul cannot do. At the same time, most psychiatrists don’t acknowledge the soul or the reality of supernatural beings, and this results in all kinds of misdiagnoses and useless advice. But while humans often find it impossible to sort out their own innards, God understands us inside and out.
As the Creator and Sustainer of your complex little self, God is the only Being in existence who has reasonable expectations of what you can and cannot do. Since God also wants you to be able to succeed with Him, He puts success well within your grasp by only convicting you to do things that He knows you actually have some hope of doing.
Most addictions are driven by intense psychological stress. When your soul tries to rip away a crutch that your mind feels is vital to getting itself through the day, your mind is going to fight back. God knows this. God is the One who came up with the concept of addictions in the first place. God is also the one who designed your mind, soul, and body to have different priorities.
Understanding that your soul is the only part of you that will ever care about pleasing God or cultivating a positive relationship with Him is vital to being able to recognize when God is pleased with you. When your soul sincerely desires to please God, He is pleased with you. Yes, it really is that simple. Of course this fact tends to infuriate humans who can’t stand the thought that the scum of society have just as much of a shot at pleasing God as they do. And yet God has intentionally evened the playing field by judging us each according to the resources He knows we have.
To the well-adjusted fellow with an untraumatized mind and calm body, abstaining from sex until marriage might be quite possible to do. Knowing how possible it is, God might well demand these things from him. But for the sex addict whose traumatized mind sees sex as a powerful symbol of its deepest fears and needs, abstaining from sex and staying away from perverse forms of sexual interactions can be quite impossible. God does not demand the impossible from anyone, and since we all have different resources at our disposal, God’s demands for us vary quite a bit. This is why it is so important to learn to how to tell the difference between when God is talking to you versus when He’s talking to someone else. Happily, this is something God will teach you how to do as you progress in your relationship with Him.
At the end of the day, God holds you accountable for how you responded to His convictions—not for how you well you obeyed the demands of humans and demons. In life you will have countless created beings yammering at you to do this or that, and many of them will set the bar of success impossibly high over your head. A woman who has no understanding of how sexual arousal works will want her husband to never feel aroused by the sight of another woman. This is simply not possible for her husband, yet humans often demand the impossible from each other. A father with an extroverted temperament who has no idea how drained introverts are by social interactions will expect his introverted son to maintain a busy social calendar. Such a demand is only going to make the boy miserable and internally exhausted. The father wants to help his son, not harm him, but he doesn’t understand what his boy really needs. In life, many well-meaning humans will pressure you to pursue activities, mindsets, and solutions that will only make your problems worse. God is the only One who will never ask for more than you can give, and He is the only One who will never give you useless advice.
God judges you by your soul’s response to Him. In my earlier example of the drug addict, it was quite clear that the person’s soul wanted to please God, wasn’t it? But it was also easy to picture how other humans would have judged that person from the outside, where the soul’s desires would neither be seen nor valued. In this world, there are many people who are up to their eyeballs in loathsome behaviors. There are many who repulse us with their acrid personalities, bad social skills, and long rap sheets. But while humans judge each other by what they do and say, God judges us by what our souls desire.
When your soul longs to please God, you are pleasing Him. Succeeding with God is easy to do because He makes it easy. Of course many of us can’t be bothered with the idea of pleasing God, and in this world many snarky souls are lurking behind moral behaviors and pleasant personalities. With so much inconsistency between our souls and our actions, it is impossible for us to stand on the outside of a man and accurately assess what his soul attitudes are toward God. But so what? It’s not our place to judge each other, and even when we do, our judgments carry no weight. God is the only One who you will be answering to for your life, and God is very easy to please even when your mind is a mess and your life is falling apart.
Looking for advice? You can submit an anonymous request through the Ask a Question page.