Conscience: Accuser and Defender
In explaining that everyone has the moral law within them, Paul says in Rom. 2:14-15 that the Gentiles are a law for themselves even though they don’t have the law (Scripture) “since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.”
But how is the conscience both an accuser and a defender? If a man leaves his wife for another woman, his conscience will accuse him of his wrong. How do we know he feels accused? The noble reasons he uses to defend himself give him away. He may say, “I wasn’t being honest to myself…I never loved her,” or “I found the courage to follow my heart,” or “She’s deserves better than me.”
A conscience can be hardened, seared, ignored, or suppressed, but it usually doesn’t remain silent. And even if it becomes severely damaged, God gave us an external standard, the Bible, to recalibrate it.
1) Paul also said;
“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” Corinthians 14:34-35
“If a woman refuses to cover her head in church, then her head must be shaved.” Corinthians 11:5-6
Should everyone’s conscience not speak to these truths if the Bible is the “external standard… to recalibrate” our conscious?
2) “A conscience can be hardened, seared, ignored, or suppressed, but it usually doesn’t remain silent. And even if it becomes severely damaged, God gave us an external standard, the Bible, to recalibrate it.”
But then you run into psycho and sociopaths. Many lack the brain structure(s) that are required for feeling emotional attachment to other people. It’s not just that they don’t care, it’s that they CAN’T care. Some people are born this way and some are made this way after injury and they do not/cannot care about the “external standard” put forward by your God. Presumably God made them this way yes? Why is that?
With all seriousness and no snarkiness intended, why do these issues matter to you?
You made an interesting comment earlier to Sean about Hitler being a Christian. As you can imagine, I think that’s a bizarre notion but I need to ask, what do you think being a Christian means?
“…why do these issues matter to you?”
I suppose that’s a fair question. Here’s the short answer.
Stem-cell research is the most promising branch of biological research for treatment of the most debilitating and painful diseases and injuries and the ONLY reason it is opposed and stifled is because of religions indulgences on morality.
The teaching of science in this country (America) is under attack constantly from religious groups taking control of school boards and forcing science teachers to teach Biblical creationism in the science class room.
The only reason that abortion is as big an issue is, is because of religion.
Every year in America and/or around the world, religious politicians attempt to use the Bible/Qur’an/Torah/etc. in campaigns or to justify passing laws on economics, woman’s rights, minority rights, immigration, exclusion of non-Christians/Muslims/Jews/etc. from politics, and/or to claim hereditary rights to a thrown, christen a dictatorship or gain political power; with demonstrably negative effects.
The Catholic church for the past 30 years has been publicly known to be harboring child abusers, child rapists and sexual sadists and aiding them in remaining in the clergy and relocating them so they can have a fresh batch of victims. It’s a criminal organization dedicated to child rape: Why is not being perused by legal authorities?
And right now there is a child and/or an elderly person being accused of witchcraft who will be tortured maybe even until death because a holy text tells the tortures to do so.
Right now there is a gay person, a woman who has been raped, or a child who has misbehaved (which includes everything from disobeying a school rule to learning how to read) who is in fear of being oppressed, beaten, disfigured and/or executed in the most brutal fashion imaginable because of the imposition of religious rules on a society.
Right now there is a person being infected with HIV or other sexually transmitted disease which could be prevented through the use of a condom but won’t be prevented because of the explicit religious taboo surrounding sex that prevents proper sex education from being part of a standard school curriculum or a holy man told them that condoms are evil.
All of this is just the tip of the iceberg in modern times let alone throughout history.
If this were ANY other phenomena causing these things on the scale that religion does – a disease, a disorder, a political group, a government, an alien mind ray that only affected certain people, anything – it would be universally and unequivocally opposed by everyone not in the group of people doing those things and every effort would be made to wipe it from the face of the earth.
“…what do you think being a Christian means?”
That’s a bizarre question. The only thing that one really needs to be a Christian is the believe that a man named Jesus really existed, preformed miracles, was the son of the god of Abraham, was sacrificed (either to or by that same god) in penitence for original sin, was resurrected 3 days after his execution and belief in this is the only way to enter into heaven. Hitler was a baptized and confirmed Catholic (who by the way was never and still has not been excommunicated by the Catholic church for his crimes) and frequently talked about his belief in God and Jesus in writings and speeches.
Thanks for the thorough explanation. I’m sorry that Christians/the Bible/church have impacted you so negatively. Have you ever had a positive experience with a Christian? I know that if you visited my church and acknowledged that you were an atheist but were sincerely seeking truth, that everyone I know there would be thrilled to have you b/c many have been in your shoes. One of my best believing friends, an intelligent and sarcastic guy, said that when he was atheist he used to heckle people who prayed over their food by saying dryly, “put in a good word for me.”
A great way to put it, and it’s an old but true saying, is that a Christian is “just one beggar showing another beggar bread.” Really, that’s how I see myself and how most sincere believers do. We know that we’re not deserving of having Jesus die for our miserable souls, and we want others to experience his grace too. Jesus said that it’s not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. True Christians recognize that apart from Christ we are spiritually sick (actually dead, as Paul continues the metaphor further in Romans) and church is a place for accountability, support, and purpose within the body.
Your description of what being a Christian means is accurate but a little incomplete. Belief in the things you mentioned is the first part, but only the beginning. I can believe in parachutes, but if the plane is going down, that belief does me no good. I first have to trust it enough to strap it on. So belief is one thing (“even the demons believe and shudder – James 2:19), but relationship is another. If I truly believe that Jesus died for me, then that should affect how I live. 2Cor. 5:15 says, “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” And that’s the real point. People can do a lot a of things in the name of religion. It doesn’t matter what someone’s religious affiliation is, or where they were confirmed, or how often they go to church, etc. if their life doesn’t honor Christ, they are not a true believer (1John 3:10, Col. 2:6-7).
Are there hypocrites? Absolutely. But there are also genuine believers. Jesus said, “Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.(Mat. 7:20-21) If you know someone who claims to be a Christian but their life bears no marks of transformation, they only have a ‘said’ faith, not a true relationship with Christ. Christians will still sin b/c we still live a tainted body in a tainted world, but our life should show a desire for that sin less and less as time goes by (sanctification).
Everybody struggles with something, and some of those struggles will last a lifetime. I know that sometimes my sin almost makes me physically sick, b/c I realize how far from Christ’s standard I actually am, but b/c I received his sacrifice he can forgive me (that’s not a blank check – no one who is truly saved can sin indiscriminately – there will be revulsion and/or shame.) Hitler ‘s life is a testimony to a devotion to wickedness, not that of Christ.
Barna research shows that only 9% of Americans have a biblical worldview (i.e. absolute truth exists, one does NOT earn their way to heaven by good works, Jesus lived a sinless life, Satan is an actual being, the Bible is accurate in its teachings, etc.) The study also shows that only 19% of professing born-again believers accept those things – that’s a problem. Many profess to be Christians but few actually are (“narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” [Mat. 7:14]).
It may sound weird to you, but the Christians I know would love for you to find the narrow road as well. Sorry for the length. Thanks for listening.
Of course I’ve had positive experiences with people who are Christian. What kind of question is that? My gripe is not with the people but the Christian in people, it is never what they think it is. Christianity and all other religions that I’ve encountered, no matter their stripe or intensity, only allow people the self-license to do good or bad things for bad reasons.
A good thing for a bad reason would be to feed the homeless or take pity on and helping those less fortunate. The Bible tells you to do this and so you do. You don’t need the Bible to tell you to do those things and neither does anyone else. This bad reasoning on the part of the religious people to do a good thing leads many believers to associate that good thing with nothing else but that bad reason which in turn leads to reasoning that people who do not believe in their reason for doing the good thing are incapable or less likely to do that good thing. Religious reasoning, bad reasoning especially on moral grounds is dehumanizing by it’s very nature.
You even dehumanize yourselves with bad reasoning based on your holy text. “True Christians recognize that apart from Christ we are spiritually sick…” You are not spiritually sick. You’re told that you’re sick and then commanded, by the book that has told you that you ARE sick, to be sound by holding the book closer and spreading it’s message of sickness: It’s perverse.
Not a message of hope and it sure as anything isn’t like a parachute.
The only thing Christianity is good for in the parachute sense is saving one from the torments of hell and/or ascending to heaven when you die yes? You say you must trust it enough (i.e. believe in it enough) to “strap it on” like a parachute? Tell me, ever seen a parachute work? Ever tested one? Ever heard of one being tested and working in your own lifetime or in the lifetime of anyone you knew or heard about in multiple sources and instances? Is Christianity the same? Have you seen people’s souls saved from the torments of hell? Ever tested it? Ever heard of it being tested and working in your lifetime or in the lifetime of anyone you knew or heard about OUTSIDE of the Bible?
Do you believe that the Spanish inquisitors of the 15th century were not “genuine believers” or merely believe in the Bible and do not have a relationship with Christ? What about the crusaders of the 13th, the witch hunters of the 17th, the slave owners of many eras or many of the racists of the 1960’s (just to name a VERY few of the well known examples) all of which derived their reasoning directly from scripture? Are they less Christian than you? Are they all roasting in hell or, at the very least, deprived of heaven because they do/did not agree with your interpretation? I’m very sure they were all as “genuine” as you and their relationship with Christ was at least as strong if not stronger. Do you condemn them to eternal suffering for their belief in Christ because they were wrong by your interpretation? I’ll bet you anything, that 1John 3:10 and Col. 2:6-7 (especially 1John 3:10) has been used in a witch/heresy trial against an old woman or a child by a better versed theologian and more devout believer than yourself.
Your “narrow road” is much broader than you think. People who identify themselves as Christians make up 80% of this nation. 60% of them believe in the creation myth of Genesis believing the earth is less than 10,000 years old. 70% of the American public believes in Angels. Do I need to carry on? You are not a minority.
Aside: Is it a custom of people on religious websites to not use the reply function so that the person they’re writing a response to will not be informed of their response?
Regarding the reply convention, definitely not trying to make it difficult for you to read the reply – should have done so rather than as a comment.
Regarding your anger, I’m afraid can’t continue the dialogue further. Your first response was to ridicule and continues to be so despite courtesy shown to you.
Nothing I’ve said was in anger.
Most of what I did in my first post was NOT mockery but asking pertinent questions that apologists such as yourself seem to be incapable of answering to any degree worthy of note in. I think the mockery is perceived by you because it wasn’t intended.
The posts that followed should be read in a tone of concern, not anger. I believe that if you do actually see anger in my writing, you’re probably projecting your own anger at having been challenged. I’ve not used foul language, called you names, or said or even suggested that Christians are unintelligent or evil people. Prone to self abasement maybe but that’s not an insult, just a statement of fact.
Refusing to continue talking, even IF there were anger in my words, only signifies an unwillingness to challenge yourself and your beliefs; not maturity and especially not patience and a desire to change one’s self and others. You’re a self proclaimed apologist, should you not revel in the defense of your faith in the face of adversity and challenge from dissenters no matter their stripe be they religious or non?
Answer this question. Do you think your a good person themanofearth?