After last week’s episode, I was already prepared to look at this episode through the language of Christianity. It’s surprisingly easy to do: Kokoro Connect’s message mirrors Paul’s epistles remarkably closely.
Desires of the Flesh and of the Spirit
Heartseed’s new game is to make the characters subject to the whims of their desires, greatly weakening their powers of self-control. According to Paul, there are two types of conflicting desires:
Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. — Galatians 5:16-17
Not all desires are evil. In fact, I don’t think I would label any of the desires acted on in this episode as “desires of the flesh” with the exception of Inaba’s. And even hers wasn’t that bad. Aoki and Yui want to protect others out of love. Iori and Taichi desire to talk to each other and strengthen their relationship. Those two should definitely benefit from acting on their desires more.
Despite the fact that many desires are spiritual, some are desires of the flesh, such as Inaba’s. Paul says, You are not to do whatever you want. By hitting on Taichi, Inaba hurts both Taichi, Iori and herself. As we discussed in depth last week, Inaba’s fleshly desires are a product of her fear of death. Preventing her fleshly desires outright is likely impossible, they can only be reigned in with self-control. But Heartseed’s interference makes this impossible for Inaba. Heartseed’s interference is not the increase of desire, but the removal of self-control.
What, specifically, are the desires of the flesh and of the Spirit that Paul refers to?
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
— Galatians 5:19-24
The last “fruit of the Spirit” is self-control, which Heartseed has taken away. Also note the language in the final sentence: “have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” This is the same idea we discussed last week. Iori and friends have died and crucified the flesh along with its passions and desires. But it is still a constant struggle in self-control to remain free from the desires of the flesh. Paul once again exhorts:
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. — Collosians 3:5
Becoming enslaved to the desires of the flesh is idolatry. Normally these are idols that Inaba and friends are able to partially resist, but with Heartseed’s interference they are powerless, conscripted into the service of the principalities and powers.
I still don’t think that Heartseed is evil, or just doing this to have fun. But what could Taichi and friends hope to gain from this temporary forced idolatry?
This entire episode reminds me of the teacher’s search for wisdom in Ecclesiastes:
I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
and this was the reward for all my toil.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
— Ecclesiastes 2:10-11
Perhaps they will learn the futility and meaninglessness of the desires of the flesh.
But I think an even bigger aspect is that they are afraid to act on the desires of the Spirit. Normally, Yui would be afraid to stand up for the girls. Aoki would be afraid to stand up for Yui to the police. And Taichi and Iori would be afraid to frankly and honestly discuss their relationship. I’d imagine that this will help alleviate some of that fear.
As Paul said, the desires of the flesh and the desires of the Spirit are in conflict. Let’s go back to another of Jesus’ parables about seeds (which may have a similar motivation to Heartseed’s name). Jesus is likening seeds scattered on the ground to people who hear the word of God:
Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.
— Mark 4:18-20
I see Heartseed as attempting to plant Taichi and friends in good soil, by freeing them from the fear of death and its twin, the desires of the flesh.
Inaba is afraid because she believes she is alone. Taichi and Iori have each other. Yui and Aoki have each other. But Inaba is the fifth wheel. She has no one.
Loneliness is rooted in the fear of death. Death is, after all, the ultimate loneliness.
But Inaba isn’t alone.