A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Is the Christian’s Conscience Still Fallen and Therefore Untrustworthy? No!

The following link was provided to us by one of our readers. Many thanks to her. It is a lady named Mary Wilson and this, if I am reading the link correctly, was put on Twitter by The Gospel Coalition. Wilson says, “God does not call a woman to subject herself to anything that violates her Christian conscience, including willingly submitting to a husband’s physical or sexual abuse.” That is true of course but most all of our readers will immediately note that the quote does not mention emotional, spiritual, or psychological abuse.

But the primary issue I would like to deal with here is in regard to a comment made to Wilson’s presentation by one David Hodge whose handle is “preacherhodge” and would indicate he is a pastor. This is what Wilson said –

Remember, even your Christian conscience is fallen – better to heed God’s Word.”

WHAT!!?? Did we read that right? The Christian’s conscience is fallen, says preacher Hodge. Can’t be trusted. Better to heed God’s Word. That is to say, what Hodge means is that even if a believer’s conscience is telling her that the abuse she is suffering is wicked and that she can leave and be free of it, Scripture tells her she cannot leave and therefore she is to stuff her conscience and stay. Oh yeah, I have no doubt that is precisely what he means.

Well, preacher Hodge, just what does Scripture say about the Christian’s conscience? Not his flesh. His conscience. Here is the answer:

I am speaking the truth in Christ  — I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit — (Rom 9:1)

So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man. (Acts 24:16)

For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. (2Cor 1:12)

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. (2Cor 5:11)

How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. (Heb 9:14)

Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. (Heb 13:18)

Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, (1Peter 3:21)

The Christian cannot trust his conscience because it is fallen? NO! The Spirit of God and the Word of God work in harmony with the believer’s conscience, that conscience having been cleansed and renewed in Jesus Christ.

Preacher Hodge is wrong. In fact God’s Word tells the Christian to pay close heed to his or her conscience. When some supposed Bible teacher or professing Christian tells us that we must never trust our ‘gut,’ that we cannot listen to our feelings, THEY are the ones we must not listen to. They will keep us in bondage while the Lord is working by His Word, by His Spirit, and by our conscience, to set us free.

* * * *

Further reading on Conscience

Dealing with an overactive conscience

Conscience, emotions, and how they inter-relate

How do we know the difference between God’s conviction and self doubt?

Spiritual Abuse and the Church: Can a Church Bind Our Conscience?

Further reading on 1 Peter

1 Peter 3:6 — Sarah’s children do what is right and do not give way to fear

Should wives submit to harsh husbands just like slaves submitting to harsh masters? (1 Peter 2 & 3)

 

14 Comments

  1. Avid Reader

    AMEN!!!

  2. Seeing Clearly

    Thank you for speaking this important truth today. It is subtle untruths that add to confusion in the mind of one who is living in abuse.

    • I Can See

      Well said, Carol. I agree!

  3. MarkQ

    I think the question here is directional. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church: “However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.” (1 Cor 8:7)

    Paul acknowledges that the conscience does not necessarily line up with truth, even for believers, but what is important is the direction Paul takes – allow your “strong” conscience to be guided by love on behalf of your weaker brother, and don’t beat your weaker brother over your freedoms.

    But directionally, the quote here is not saying to strengthen your own conscience, I believe. Instead it’s sowing seeds of doubt, such that someone who is confused or weak can be abused by someone who portrays himself as not weak. The abusive church says, don’t listen to your own conscience. You’re weak. Instead trust our conscience.

    • Misti

      That example of the “weak” vs. “strong” conscience could also be read as speaking directly to those who were firm and could clearly defend their belief that the meat was fine, people who surely saw themselves as “stronger in the faith” than their “weaker” brethren.

      But even if not, the reference is still illustrating how we are to love and respect our brethren even when we think they’re wrong. That “love and respect” mean not pressuring others to act against their consciences.

      It’s notable that we are not forbidden from expressing disagreement or seeking to persuade others — just from pressuring them to sin against their conscience, which limits the contexts when we can kindly express disagreement or seek to persuade others. (Ex. If you’re going to open the discussion about evidence that Jesus drank alcohol, do so in a situation where alcohol is not being consumed; don’t bring a bottle of wine to a teetotaler’s party as a “conversation starter”.)

      Abusers and abusive churches redefine “love” and “respect” to reject folks’ right to be in disagreement or to have different practices that the abusers have not themselves authorized.

      I considered being a teetotaler, myself, at one point. Not because I thought anything was innately wrong with alcohol, but because my mother had told me alcoholism ran in the family. (I have reason to be dubious about her truthfulness, but that’s another story.) Some folks are teetotalers due to medication. It isn’t other people’s business why a person doesn’t do something unless that person decides to share it, and forcing the discussion disrespects the person.

      I miss merlot, myself, but to drink it would be to get a migraine.

      • MarkQ

        I agree. I wasn’t trying to open a discussion on weaker brother, but merely saying that our consciences can be different as to conviction. The point, which you highlighted, is that, while we with the “stronger” conscience may enjoy more Christian liberty, we are not to use our more informed consciences as a way to belittle those with “weak” consciences. We love and respect our brothers, and encourage them to follow their own consciences and convictions, seeing them as fellow travelers, but on a different journey with God.

        My former church used this argument as a way, ironically, to tell the “strong” that they could not enjoy their Christian liberty (even in private), and again ironically refusing to accept the implication that they had the “weaker” conscience. (I think this is somewhat what Joe says below)

        To your question below, I think it IS somewhat important. I am willing to forgo my Christian liberty out of love for my weaker brother, IF ONE EXISTS. If I accepted that the mere theoretical existence of some weaker brother was enough to restrict Christian liberty, then, by consequence, no Christian liberty exists, because one can always imagine a weaker brother. Paul was talking about a real situation with real people being hurt by their brethren, who were so enamored with expressing their Christian liberty that they were causing their brothers to stumble.

    • joepote01

      I’m reminded of a sermon I heard many years ago. The pastor argued that Paul was using the term “weaker brother” tongue-in-cheek, as ‘obviously’ the brother with the ‘more sensitive conscience’ is the stronger brother. It didn’t ring true for me then…and even less so, now. For multiple reasons, I now consider that pastor as having been spiritually abusive. Reading your comment, I realized that his twisting of this passage to mean the opposite of what it says works rather nicely with the mentality of an abuser.

      • Misti

        The pastor argued that Paul was using the term “weaker brother” tongue-in-cheek, as ‘obviously’ the brother with the ‘more sensitive conscience’ is the stronger brother.

        Well, obviously not, since most people don’t get that out of the verse…

        Any argument that relies on calling something “obvious” gets my hackles up. That’s such a propaganda tactic.

        Sentences in English start with a capital letter, but even such a simple grammar rule isn’t innately “obvious” to anyone trying to learn the language, depending on the environment where they’re getting exposed. (I’ve known folks who were learning via online games and therefore had no way of knowing that rule.)

        Personally, I suspect that verse was intended to be a bit tongue-in-cheek, but ultimately, the tone is irrelevant. The questions “Who’s the stronger brother?” and “Who’s the weaker brother?” are irrelevant in Paul’s instruction. It’s those who believe themselves stronger in the faith who need the reminder to be loving and respectful to those who they think weaker in the faith.

    • I Can See

      Yes, and that’s exactly what my old church said to me. “Stop whining and ranting. You’re acting like a child. ” “if you’re not going to stop being angry, I’ll have to go.” (I was explaining what had happened) “We’re here to help you make wise decisions.” (end of conversation)

      Really they refused to listen and they refused to let me make my own wise decisions. In fact they lied to me about something huge instead. They’ve shunned me since.

      One by one they’ve all turned against me.

      A member from there recently said she’s believes allah and God are the same. I corrected her. Nobody knows God there! !! They know how big their prayers are and big their mystical genie version of God is. They love it and defend it angrily.

      Thanks for your comment Mark.

  4. Lea

    Thank you for posting this list of verses! I have always felt spirit and conscience were linked.

  5. Herjourney

    My Conscience was clear and right in walking into the court house after the abuser walked out and made no attempt to repent from his manipulation and triangulation. I waited over two years to finalize my toxic marriage.
    While he the abuser did everything in his Conscience to destroy my testimony for Christ.
    He still may be ?? I would call this evil from the pit of hell.
    Standing on my gut instinct has been the only safty from toxic people.
    Thank God for gut feelings and a clear Conscience !

  6. Herjourney

    Spiritual abuse is almost as bad as emotional and psychological abuse.
    Now that my Conscience and gut feelings match up.. I now know how to fight the war.
    Jesus blood and rightiousness.
    Not my flesh. It is weak. The weaker the flesh becomes the stronger the spirit prevails.
    God I pray that those reading this will kill the desires of the flesh in order for your spirit to become a mighty shield to fight the enemy! There is NO other way to win the raging war against Satan and his minions. Amen

  7. bright sunshinin' day

    After the fall, man’s will became unable to choose good unless God had first breathed life into the will, conscience, spirit of man, enabling him to choose good (Romans 6-7).

    Until we are fully sanctified in heaven, we continue the process of sanctification by “putting off” our sins and “putting on” the Lord Jesus Christ. I would think this applies to the conscience. Once saved, our conscience continues to be renewed and strengthened toward good as we daily strive to set God before us (Ps 16:8).

    How do you think 1 Corinthians 4:4 applies to this conversation? Paul stated,

    “My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.”

  8. kind of anonymous

    Our consciences may no longer be fallen but they aren’t reliable guides if not trained to discern between good and evil. I have walked into enemy snares where the proper alarm bells didn’t ring, possibly in part because my knowledge of God’s character and ways via His word, was so incomplete that there was nothing to draw on. in fact I remember once being under spiritual attack and frantically trying to figure out what scriptural principles applied but winding up being unable to succesfully defend myself because there was alot I didn’t understand. Our consicences can falsely exonerate us and falsely accuse us. The final arbiter has to be the Word of God and the Spirit.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: