I like anatomy. I like studying how God designed the body to function, how each part works with each of the others, how the whole is a beautiful testimony to God’s eternal attributes.
But recently I discovered a whole new branch of anatomy, which I am voraciously studying. It is both fascinating and exhilarating, and I want to share with you some of my discoveries. The kind of anatomy I am talking about is spiritual anatomy.
The Bible makes it very clear that we have ‘inward parts’, separate, definable, individual pieces that make up our invisible man. We are not just flesh and bones, no, nor electrical impulses in the world’s greatest computer. These are only the tangible extensions to a magnificent work of art and machinery invisible to the mortal eye; they are merely the tools for a great being unseen to our mechanical eyes.
The Bible also makes it clear that we can’t truly examine ourselves. We can cut ourselves open and see the blood coursing through our veins, we can take pictures of our skeletal structure, but we cannot see our spirit, our soul, our mind, our heart. The Bible says that the Lord is the one who tries the heart, and knows it. We ourselves cannot, for our inward parts are deceptive and tricky: we cannot trust them (Jer. 17:9). We must use the Word of God (Jam. 1:22-25) and rely on the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14-16) to see ourselves in the way that God sees us: to study our anatomy.
Now to take a little leap to the side, and come at my topic from a slightly different angle.
People like to talk dogmatically about things like romance, love, relationships, etc. They announce that it is sin or consummate folly for someone to do such and such, and condemn those who disagree with them (or at least their beliefs). This attitude is practically ubiquitous.
But when pressed for their reasons, their foundations, they do not bring up any Scriptures (except for generic things like those teaching us to think of other first, which tell us why we ought to figure out the problem, but not the solution itself). Instead, they bring up personal experience, or the personal experience of reputable people, or statistical analyses, all of which are fallible, easily misinterpreted or misunderstood or miscommunicated, or simply mistaken. In any case, they miss the mark for what they should be bringing forth.
One of the primary things I see brought forth are analogies in the style of ancient Greek philosophers. They liken the heart to a sieve, to a jar, to a pipe, to a cookie, and to innumerable other things, and then draw dogmatic conclusions from these analogies.
A prime example: the command to not give your heart to too many people of the opposite sex or else you won’t have any left to give to your spouse, and your heart will be broken when you have to move on. This injunction has good motives, and the application doesn’t always go wrong, but think about it: this whole idea is founded upon likening a person’s heart to a cookie. You break off pieces of a cookie and give them away, it will of course run out eventually. And if the goal is to keep the cookie whole, then that would be a bad plan indeed.
But where is their basis for this likening of the heart to a cookie? No where. It is an arbitrary assignment, and they draw conclusions from it. The ancient Greeks did similar things, and drew ridiculously erroneous conclusions about practically everything under heaven. They analogized instead of studied.
And that is the problem: we are analogizing, instead of studying. Our attempts are doomed to failure, merely because we are trying to study ourselves on our own.
Remember? We can’t study our hearts on our own!
So how do we go about this? We go to God’s Word. It can show us what we need to know: it cuts right through the problems we have with seeing ourselves as we truly are, and clearly and articulately demonstrates to us what we are like inside. And it is all done by the world’s greatest communicator, and the one who originally made the heart. Surely God would know how to explain it all!
And He does.
Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Our hearts are treasure houses. A vessel for containing things. The amazing thing about this analogy is that it is so extremely consistent. All across the Bible, in every single mention of the heart that I have studied (which is most, but I can’t say I have examined all, there are tons, and this study is still a work in progress), this analogy is either consistent with the passage, or the passage supports it, or the passage clearly teaches it.
So I took that as a working hypothesis, and dug a bit deeper, looking at other parts of our inward man to see if they could shed further light on this concept. And the further I go the more astonished and surprised I am at how beautifully intricate and consistent the whole picture is.
Now remember, I am still doing this study, so a huge part of it is incomplete and I won’t stand behind all of it dogmatically. But this part I am absolutely sure about: the workings of the heart, at least the overall picture of it (the fine details are intricate beyond our ken, as the Bible makes clear).
So for this blog post I will focus on the heart, and that is plenty. And it is pretty important too.
Alright, so now I want to bring up a few clues as to how relationships work in God’s eyes.
Judges 20:11 So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, knit together as one man.
1 Samuel 18:1 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
1 Chronicles 12:17 And David went out to meet them, and answered and said unto them, If ye be come peaceably unto me to help me, mine heart shall be knit unto you: but if [ye be come] to betray me to mine enemies, seeing [there is] no wrong in mine hands, the God of our fathers look [thereon,] and rebuke [it.]
Colossians 2:2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
Colossians 2:19 And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.
That is just an introductory summary to the huge plethora of examples all across the Bible of this concept: a relationship is the tying of two hearts together (the heart is a part of the soul, in case you are wondering about some of the above passages: just trust me on that one until a later blog post, okay?).
This would of course be done by strings (what else would you knit with?). And this concept is also supported across Scripture.
Now things get complex, because it is mostly logical deductions drawn from other principles in Scripture. Mostly stuff like “The Bible says this does this, how does that fit into this model of the heart? Aaaaaahhhhh… so that’s how it works,” and etcetera.
And that is enough for a book. So I will kinda skip ahead. Realize that what I am going into now is more theory than fact, at this point. It has been confirmed by every test I have put it through, remains solidly consistent with Scripture, and only grows and strengthens as time goes by. It is also consistent with the other things mentioned up above: personal experience, experience of respected people, and statistical analysis. This isn’t the foundation, though, merely a fact that supports its claim to being a law of nature.
Heartstrings are a product of our hearts, coming out of them like everything else in our lives (“the issues of life” Pro. 4:23). They come out of our hearts and go out to other people to attach to their hearts. And depending on what we allow into our hearts, the kinds of strings we attach, and to whom we attach them will change.
When we choose to invest in someone else, in any way (time, words, gifts, etc.), you are sowing seeds of relationships in your heart, and those will come out as surely as the sun rises. Those seeds will come out as soul-threads that reach out to another person. That person has a choice: to accept or reject it (of course if they don’t recognize it they can’t accept it, which is where love languages come in: lexicology!).
If they reject it, it will attach itself to the outside of their heart. They will not feel attached to you, or have any ties to you, but you will be attached to them. In the same way, God’s love is attached to us no matter what we do or say. If we accept His love, it comes inside and gives us life (for that is what these threads are for), but if it is rejected, it stays outside, constantly there, constantly waiting, constantly drawing us.
If they accept it, it goes into their heart as another seed sown, and it rises again and goes back out to that person.
Now, there is a crucial point at this stage in the junction: if the original person accepts the returning thread (he doesn’t have to), the relationship is sealed. Some people only want to tag along, and actually don’t want any love returned: these people reject the returning love, and the returning thread attaches outside his heart. It has nothing else to do. This isn’t a healthy relationship.
What should happen, is for the first person to accept the thread into his heart again, sending another back out. This means they are in a healthy, friendly relationship: they have a “three stranded cord.” It will not easily be broken, and when it does, it will hurt both hearts: break them, and leave wounds. This must sometimes be done, but only God “healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)
This is where we get such phrases as “he is attached to me,” or “she is stuck on him,” I believe, from this principle.
Now, we can harden our hearts, blocking all love from everyone, or exercise discernment through Christ to decide who to accept. To harden our heart is to damage it: blocking it from the love of God, which is the foundation of all virtue and godliness in life. Not a good idea.
Some people say they can put up walls around their heart and leave their heart the same: this is impossible. What they are doing is hardening their heart, not creating new additions to the structure.
So what about my original example? What about romantic relationships and whatnot? Still studying it, but here is what I have so far.
There are friendship threads, and romantic threads. They are tied differently. If you tie a romantic thread with someone, it is harder to break than a friendship thread (the right kind of romance, at least). And when you marry, all your romantic threads ought to be with that one person, not with half a dozen people. You belong to that person, and not all the others. So if you tie bunches of threads, you will have to break them at some time or other, or suffer the consequences. If you break them, you damage your heart, and make it harder for you to tie more threads that you should be tying. Of course, as I said, God can heal, but only if you let Him, and rely on Him to do it.
We have a choice about what to allow into our hearts. We must guard them with all diligence, because once something goes in, it will out again in the issues of your life.
So that is what I have so far, at least in part. A very small part, actually, come to think of it.
So what are your thoughts? Am I off my rocker? Have you noticed similar things? Do you have questions about how this could be implemented in various situations? 🙂