Reason, not emotion, is our best guide to good decisions

Ron Kelsey is the archdiocesan consultant for the pro-life office. You can email him at: profile@archkck.org or call him at (913) 647-0350.
Ron Kelsey is the archdiocesan consultant for the pro-life office. You can email him at: profile@archkck.org or call him at (913) 647-0350.

by Ron Kelsey

It seems that much of our public discourse these days is emotional and contentious, perhaps even more so during this tumultuous election season.

Civil discourse appears to be rare; subjectivity tends to prevail over objectivity; and disrespectful attitudes reign. Emotions rule over reason. This scenario is certainly witnessed in the public debate on important social and pro-life issues.

I believe that most people would agree that when we make decisions based solely on our emotions it often leads to poor decisions. Making good decisions normally involves utilizing our gift of reason, our ability to think in a comprehensive way. Why then, in today’s culture, do we often set aside the use of reason? Certainly, this is representative of our weakened human nature. But I would like to offer that this is aggravated by three societal trends: moral relativism; radical secularism; and so-called sexual freedom.

Moral relativism essentially means that what I think or feel is right, and objective truths do not exist. Under moral relativism, emotions are all that are required for my decisions, because what I feel is morally right for me — no need to be burdened by reason.

Radical secularism pushes God out of the way and any boundaries that consideration of God involve. Humility, that is, dependence upon God, vanishes and pride fills the vacuum. Considerations of eternity are brushed aside by worldly considerations.

So-called sexual freedom allows me to dispense with any moral constraints that limit my ability to act in the sexual manner that I desire. People become objects to be used by me, rather than children of God who deserve my love and respect.

All three of these trends can be boiled down to a common denominator of acting in accordance with my will, not God’s will. Self-love trumps respect and love of others. It is easy to see how public discourse is negatively impacted by the above. Respect for individuals is minimized with minimization of objectivity and reason.

I submit that the above three trends — each missing proper reason — are, logically, unreasonable.

Proper use of reason brings one to thoughts and actions in accordance with church teaching. Surely, it makes no sense that a loving God would give us the faculty of reason that, properly used, could bring us to decisions contrary to church teaching. Church teaching is our compass to truth, our compass to Christ.

Reason is indispensable in both civil public discourse and in good decisionmaking. We must resist the temptation to make important decisions only emotionally. Society is advanced authentically when we align our will with God’s will. Therefore, reason — not emotions, not subjectivity, not party loyalty — should be our primary guide in voting in the upcoming crucial election.

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