Human beings are driven along by primal desires. Our primal desires reveal how God made us to function. Primal desires are not sinful, but such desires are almost always potentially unstable and can lead us into sin and ruin. Our primal desires are associated with strong emotions and feelings. For example, there is nothing wrong with wanting, owning, or collecting possessions. However, some are overwhelmed with their desire for possessions or money (See I Tim 6:10.). God commands us not to steal (Exod. 20:15) and not to covet our neighbor’s property (Exod. 20:17). These commandments speak volumes as to how God designed us to function. In other words, the Bible recognizes the individual’s right to own and control one’s private property and money, but we should function within God’s design. We do not have free access to the use of our neighbor’s property and money. Primal desires are deeply and strongly ingrained into humans because that is how God made us. However, make no mistake, God holds each individual responsible for his or her failure to control one’s primal desires.
I believe there are at least 25 primal desires: (1) food, (2) companionship, (3) sex, (4) possessions, (5) approbation, (6) money, (7) pleasure, (8) autonomy, (9) escape, (10) rest, (11) harmony, (12) peace, (13) tranquility, (14) novelty, (15) learning, (16) power, (17) offspring, (18) nurture, (19) status, (20) success, (21) home, (22) exercise, (23) seeking, (24) play and (25) justice. Yes, there is arguably some overlap, but there are also subtle differences. Because primal desires are often associated with strong emotions and feelings, our thinking can easily become clouded or distorted, which can lead to bad decisions. Primal desires are inherent and hardwired into humanity. To one degree or another, these primal desires are shared with all humanity, across cultures and history. However, in a mindless pursuit of primal desires, we can hurt or injure others, along with ourselves. We can become nothing more than a sophisticated beast oriented to the earthly, as opposed to the heavenly.
The Greek word epithymia is defined as “lust.” Lust is an inordinate desire, which is contrary to God’s will. Humans can easily move from a normal and primal desire to an inordinate desire (lust). Functioning within God’s will helps us to control our primal desires. For example, knowing that God disapproves of stealing helps us resist any inordinate desire to steal. Humans often put too much importance on their possessions. As Jesus taught, “Beware, be on your guard against every form of greed, for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).
All human primal desires can follow a similar pattern. The Epistle of James describes this pattern. We may start with a normal desire, like the desire for sex, but we can easily proceed to lust (an inordinate desire), then to sin, and then to death (Jas. 1:14-15). In this context, death is describing a spiritual death, not a physical death. Spiritual death is a state of insensitivity to God and His design for humanity. Because of the strong emotions and feelings associated with lust, we are easily entrapped and destroyed. For the same reason, we often seek to justify our lusts. It should be noted that sometimes the Apostle Paul appears to conflate lust and sin under the general heading of sin or the sin nature (Rom. 7:13-25). Paul taught that the spiritual life was the answer to the sinful inclination of humans (Rom. 8:3-17).
A mother’s desire to nurture her young is another example of a primal desire. Primal desires are often strongly connected to our survival, to include the survival of our offspring. Motherly compassion and empathy can be a wonderful thing. However, even the desire to nurture our offspring can become distorted and lustful. The Bible warns: do not “boil a young goat in the milk of its mother” (Exod. 23:19). In other words, do not turn a blessing into a curse. In their distorted desire to nurture, many women spoil their children as opposed to preparing them to be adults. Every child should be trained to be an adult.
We are all inclined to live according to the lust of the eyes, the lusts of the flesh, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16-17). We can become bound by our feelings and strong emotions, which inevitably lead to sin and death (insensitivity to God). On the other hand, God calls us to higher thinking. Because of the strong feelings and emotions associated with primal desires, our urges and desires must be mediated by higher thinking. Catholic Theologian Bernard Lonergan has described to us an excellent system of thinking that is helpful to both believers and unbelievers: We should seek to be attentive, intelligent, reasonable, responsible and function in love. This higher way of thinking is completely consistent with the Word of God. We should be attentive to our motives, words, and actions. We can ask ourselves whether or not we are functioning intelligently, reasonably, and responsibly. It should be noted that the entire American system of civil jurisprudence is based on each person’s obligation to be reasonable and responsible. Great sums of money can change hands in a court of law based on whether or not parties to a lawsuit acted reasonably and responsibly under the circumstances.
Ultimately, we can question ourselves as to whether or not we are functioning in love. We can ask, “Am I treating others how I would like to be treated?” (Luke 6:31). On so many occasions, strong feelings and emotions can distort, confuse, and cloud our thinking. From such distorted thinking comes inordinate competition, slandering, maligning, and hating.
In addition to the obligation to be attentive, intelligent, reasonable, responsible, and function in love, we must recognize and be cognizant of the Divine Order, which is imposed by God on humanity and revealed in the Word of God. These following 13 Divine Rules for Creation demonstrate why the Judeo-Christian heritage has had such an incredible impact on the United States. These rules, revealed in the Old and New Testament, are a mixture of moral, ethical, civil, and criminal commands. When humanity disregards these rules, cultures descend into chaos and/or tyranny. These 13 Divine Rules for Creation reveal how God made us to be. Whether in time or in eternity, these rules bring order to God’s creation.
1. God is the sovereign ruler of His creation (Exod. 20:2-6). As created beings, we are required to be obedient to our Creator. His commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3). God has promised that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt. 11:30).
2. God designed the vast majority of humans to function in male/female pair bonds. Very few are designed by God to be single. As the Scripture states: “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). This male/female pair bond is the basic building block of the family and culture. The male/female pair bond should seek to function as one flesh—a single entity. Each must be thoughtful to the needs and desires of the other, living in mutual and complementary beneficence. If you destroy the male/female pair bond, you destroy the family and culture. The male/female pair bond is foundational and set apart as the unique and protected human relationship (Exod. 20:14,17).
3. God designated the male as the head of the household (Eph. 5:23; Tit. 2:3-5).
4. A couple’s decisions regarding sex must be governed by mutual consent (1 Cor. 7:3-4).
5. Certain sexual behavior is classified as sexual immorality (Lev.18:6; 20-24). As the Creator, God has the right to prohibit certain sexual behavior like incest, bestiality, child abuse, or rape.
6. Children are designed to function under their parent’s authority until they reach the age of majority. Optimally, both a father and mother are needed for parenting children. Children should honor their mother and father (Exod. 20:12), but parents should not exacerbate, frustrate, or provoke their children to anger (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21). As a central purpose, parents are required to train and prepare their children to be responsible adults. Further, if parents fail to properly train their children to be adults, they will not be ready for marriage, and most likely, their marriages will fail.
7. Humanity is commanded to be obedient to governmental authority (Rom. 13:1; Tit. 3:1).
8. In turn, the people have certain inalienable rights, like the right and duty to worship God in accordance with their own conscience (Exod. 20:5).
9. As stated above, the people also have a right to own property, which includes the right to own businesses (Exod. 20:15-17).
10. Further, humanity should not be burdened by over-taxation. As an example, under the Old Covenant, the ancient Israelites were subject to a 10% tax every year, together with another 10% tax every three years for the poor and needy (Gen. 28:22; Num. 18:20-22; Deut. 14:28-29). Exorbitant taxation is just another form of stealing. Nothing in the Bible supports socialistic schemes for redistribution of wealth. Other than around 10% every three years, all other charity should be voluntary. If someone wants to give all of their wealth to the poor, the appropriateness of such a gesture is between the individual and God.
11. A righteous man cares for the needs of his animals (Prob. 12:10).
12. The courts should be impartial and governed by rules of evidence (Exod. 20:16; Deut. 16:19, 20; 27:19; 1 Sam. 8:3; Isa. 28:16). The show trials of Communist and Fascist nations provide obvious examples of injustice and partiality.
13. Humanity is commanded to not commit murder (Exod. 20:13).
The reader might notice that all of the above describe a balance between freedom and legitimate authority. God uses legitimate authority to bring order out of chaos. If authority is tyrannical or oppressive, the people lack the necessary freedom to live life to the fullest and serve God. Fascism, Communism, and Political Correctness are all diabolical systems that seek to attack the Divine Order on multiple levels.
In addition to general higher thinking (attainable, to some degree, even by unbelievers), there is yet a higher way of thinking and living. The highest way of thinking is the Spiritual Life, which can be succinctly described as walking by the Spirit, wherein the Word is a light to our feet, trusting in Christ Jesus, while having no confidence in our fleshly capacity to live this supernatural way of living. This is the highest calling of every Christian — to live nonstop, 24/7, in the presence of and in fellowship with God. This way of living can also be described as believing and loving by means of the Spirit and Word. We are challenged to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, while loving our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). This is obediential living. If we do not obey God, we do not love God. His commands flow to us by means of the Spirit and Word. This is what it means to function en Christ (Rom. 8:2). We must function in, by, and with Christ. We should live in dependence on the Providence of God and understand that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
Abraham began to fully experience this life when he was 99 years of age. The Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty, walk before Me and be blameless” (Gen.17:1). In other words, Abraham was commanded to live nonstop (of course, none are perfect) in the presence of and in fellowship with God. Abraham was not going to be sinless, but he was commanded to be blameless. He demonstrated an obediential love for God and a love for his neighbor. He relinquished his autonomy from God. Very few believers function as Abraham functioned. This is the true meaning of circumcision — a putting off of the flesh, which should be the goal of every Christian. The circumcised phallus reminded every ancient Jew to put off the flesh. As Christians, we put off the flesh when we consistently walk by the Spirit. God must show us this new way of living (Rom. 8:3-17).
Finally, it should be noted that we have the incredible privilege to participate in our own creation. As we draw near to God, He transforms us. Sometimes the transformation is not pleasant. We must have humility and see the need for our own transformation. When we are arrogant, we stubbornly resist the necessity of our own transformation. The arrogant find it much easier to remain stubbornly resistant as opposed to drawing near to God.
 Hank Panksepp taught that there were seven primary emotional systems, to include seeking, care, play, lust, fear, sadness, and anger. Panksepp came up with the term “Affective Neuroscience.” He provided a secular and scientific view of our primary emotional command systems. See Panksepp, Hank. Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions. Oxford University Press, Inc., 1998. Update: At my friend Ruth’s suggestion, an additional primal desire, justice, has been added since the first publication of this blog post.
 “G1939 – epithymia – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (NASB).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 17 Apr, 2020. <https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1939&t=NASB>.
 Lonergan, Bernard J. F. Method in Theology. University of Toronto Press, 1971, pp 20,106,109, 268.
 “G1722 – en – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (NASB).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 17 Apr, 2020. <https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1722&t=NASB>.