So, why is "follow your heart" bad advice? It sounds so helpful and harmless. How could this conventional wisdom be problematic? Because saying follow your heart is the same thing as saying follow your feelings and our feelings are (more often than not) not a good gage of reality or of what will make us happy in the long run. Our feelings are usually very subjective and, for a fleeting pleasure, they tempt us to make a choice that can have long-term negative consequences. As my mother always told me: "Do not make a permanent decision based on a temporary emotion."
Jesus said "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8) but how many can truly say that they are pure of heart, pure enough to see God. Probably not very many. Instead there are many more who need to heed the following: "Out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander" (Matthew 15:19) or "Live by the Spirit and do not gratify the desires of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16) for "If you sow to your own flesh you will reap corruption from the flesh, but if you sow to the spirit, you will reap eternal life in the Spirit" (Galatians 6:8). Gratifying the desires of our flesh or sowing to our flesh are just other ways of saying follow your feelings or "follow your heart."
Instead, we need an well-formed conscience - which is informed by facts and the guidance of Scripture and the timeless teachings of the Catholic Church. We need to pray for the grace to be obedient to God's wisdom even when it requires sacrifice. As another one of my mom's sayings goes: "Your feelings should be the caboose; not the engine. Do the right thing and your feelings will follow."
The seemingly simple phrase "follow your heart" has caused much unnecessary suffering. Following this advice:
- has ended more marriages,
- caused more addictions,
- mutilated more bodies,
- destroyed more souls,
- and ended more lives
- than satan could have ever hoped for.
It's one of hell's most effective slogans.
Don't follow your heart! Follow the One who created your heart! Follow Jesus, the way, the truth and the life.