ABRAHAM Lincoln was a president under fire during his term. However, though he knew he would make mistakes, he resolved never to compromise his integrity. His strong resolve: “I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of power, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me.”
Conscience, according to an online dictionary, is a term that describes an aspect of a human being’s self-awareness. The following is its description:
It is part of a person’s internal rational capacity and is not, as popular lore sometimes suggests, an audience room for the voice of God or of the devil. Conscience is a critical inner awareness that bears witness to the norms and values we recognize and apply. The complex of values with which conscience deals includes not only those we own, but the entire range of values to which we are exposed during life’s journey. Consequently, there is always a sense of struggle in our reflective process. The witness of conscience makes its presence known by inducing mental anguish and feelings of guilt when we violate the values we recognize and apply. Conscience also provides a sense of pleasure when we reflect on conformity to our value system.
Joe Carter examined about conscience and decoded five themes:
- Conscience is an internal rational capacity that bears witness to our value system.
- Conscience is a trustworthy guide only when it is informed and ruled by God.
- Conscience is to be subordinated to, and informed by, the revealed Word of God.
- To willfully act against conscience is always a sin.
- Conscience can be suppressed by sin.
Our sense of right and wrong is not a judge or a legislator; instead, it is a witness to what we already know. If we listen to our conscience, we feel relieved, but when we deviate, we become angry or feel guilty.
So can we know that we have sinned by merely listening to our inner nudge? To answer this question, let us clarify how sin should be understood. Sin is not just defined as being misaligned with our values, but rather, choosing our own will over God’s will. According to RC Sproul, “[W]e have to remember that acting according to conscience may sometimes be a sin as well. If the conscience is misinformed, then we seek the reasons for this misinformation. Is it misinformed because the person has been negligent in studying the Word of God?” If we feel out of tune vis-a-vis our values, we must always look into something not fallible and changeable—the Bible. Our feelings can be misleading without it.
The coming week is not the only time to reflect one’s moral alignment. The process should be done everyday. Conscience leads us to forget our self-interest for the general welfare. It ushers us to embrace sustainable values such as caring for the environment, workers and other stakeholders tobuild better communities and societies. It prods the religious to no longer use Christian teachings as a means for profit.It stops us from taking what should have gone to public services and amenities.
Keep Douglas McArthur’s quote: “The world is in a constant conspiracy against the brave. It’s the age-old struggle: the roar of the crowd on the one side, and the voice of your conscience on the other.”