The Dangers of Compartmentalizing Faith

By Julie Roys
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How could a psychology class lead to ethical compromise? The answer was recently revealed to my son and me as we discussed an essay he’s writing. You see, my son is applying for a scholarship at a Christian college. And, as part of the application process, he has to write an essay on how faith influences education.

This isn’t a new topic in our home. My husband and I have worked hard to help our children adopt a thoroughly biblical worldview. Our dinnertime conversation often focuses on how biblical truth applies to a current event or to some topic one of our children initiates. Yet, when I was discussing my son’s essay with him, I discovered he was really struggling with the concept. He understood that Christians should apply a biblical moral code to all areas of life. But, how does a Christian worldview impact how one views mathematics, science, or psychology?

So, I explained how mathematicians today don’t view math as true. They’ve rejected the notion of a rational Creator and with it, belief in absolute right and wrong. Consequently, they don’t believe mathematical models reveal God-designed laws; rather, these models simply are man-made constructions that happen to work. “Huh?” my son replied. I could tell I wasn’t communicating.

Okay, take psychology, I said. Many psychologists believe human beings are simply the sum of their parts. All feelings and convictions are reduced to mere chemical responses in the brain. But, as Christians, we know people contain a soul and a spirit. We’re not just a bag of chemicals; we’re God’s creatures made in His image. Though our feelings and convictions may spawn chemical reactions, we understand they have a spiritual dimension, as well.

My son thought for a moment and then a surprised look came over his face. “Mom, that’s partially what allowed me to lie to you and dad,” he said. You see, recently my son had gotten in trouble at school. And, rather than tell his father and me, he had covered it up. This is a child who has a vibrant relationship with the Lord, so his father and I were really surprised when we discovered what he had done.

Our son explained that the naturalistic worldview presented in his psychology class had really affected him. Whenever the Holy Spirit convicted him of his sin, he rationalized that the guilt he felt was simply a chemical response in his brain. And, this view enabled him to ignore his guilt and continue his sin. Interestingly, our son didn’t reject his Christian faith; he simply compartmentalized it. He kept it relegated to the private realm of religion and failed to apply it to his understanding of human psychology.

I share this story with my son’s permission. He’s repented and received forgiveness. Yet, equally important, he now understands why faith needs to be applied to all areas of life. As the apostle Paul says, we must “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.” Failing to do so not only leads to wrong beliefs, it eventually leads to wrong behavior and renders believers incapable of living victoriously in Christ.

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2 thoughts on “The Dangers of Compartmentalizing Faith”

  1. A wonderful lesson to learn so early in his college experience. I pray he will continue to access the wise counsel of his parents and the Sword in order to sharpen his mind and cut through the bilge that masquerades as education in many of our educational complexes today.

  2. A wonderful lesson to learn so early in his college experience. I pray he will continue to access the wise counsel of his parents and the Sword in order to sharpen his mind and cut through the bilge that masquerades as education in many of our educational complexes today.

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