Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Cognitive Dissonance

In modern psychology, cognitive dissonance is the discomfort experienced when simultaneously holding two or more conflicting cognitions: ideas, beliefs, values or emotional reactions.  This term seems quite appropriate to apply to what it means to live the Christian life.

For example the Bible, particularly the New Testament, is fraught with examples of sacrificial love.  Scripture teaches us that there is an indescribable joy that comes from loving our neighbor as much as we love ourselves.  Husbands in particular are called to be other-centered as in love your wife as Christ loves His bride the Church.  We all need to hunger and thirst for righteousness; as well as to be merciful.  We are to be pure in heart; we are to be peacemakers; and we are to rejoice and be glad when we are persecuted for being obedient to God.

Talk about counter-cultural.  We live in a society that screams that we are to “grab for the gusto” ; “be all that we can be”; “just do it!” and that  “we deserve a break today.”  We are bombarded with messages that encourage self-centeredness, as if any of us needs encouragement.  How many people do you hang out with who “hunger and thirst for righteousness”?  Being merciful takes a little less imagination but being pure in heart– what does that look like?  I tend to be more of a peacekeeper than a peacemaker because confrontation does not come easily for me.  Finally, it is sad to say, I don’t believe I have been persecuted because I’ve been obedient to God.

I’m going to suggest you pick one of those attributes to work on, more specifically why not work on becoming other-centered. I believe it is easier to know when you are putting yourself first or when you are putting the needs of your spouse ahead of your own as opposed to trying to determine if you are more pure of heart today than you were a week ago or your hunger for righteousness has increased by ten percent.  The Great Commandment calls us to love God with all our mind, heart, soul and strength so love must be extremely important, not to mention that the second commandment is like the first, i.e. to love our neighbor (which includes our spouse) as we love ourselves.  Love demands sacrifice.

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