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Nateskate
11-28-2006, 10:17 PM
I don't want to hijack the thread on sexual behavior and Christians. But a branch of this question deserves its own thread.

The question is basically this. Why do some people feel terrible about sinning while others don't feel bad at all? (Christians included) And should our "feelings" dictate our beliefs and how we should live?

The answer is complex. We are encouraged to follow our conscience, but there has to be some kind of clarification since some people's consciences never seem to bother them, while other's never stop bothering them.

My answer begins with this. The conscience is not an exact tool. By the time we hit the age of reason, we've got all kinds of barnacles attached to it. It might be overly numb or overly sensitive. So, following it exactly is not the prescription. Some think that being a Christian magically changes this dynamic, but that's not true. In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul is telling people they should feel ashamed of their conduct, perhaps because they had no shame. They lived in such an extremely permissive culture, that it seeped into the church. So, bad behavior and lack of remorse is unfortunately a historical reality from the birth of the church.

I'm convinced that nobody is born without a conscience. Rather, influences from our childhood can be so powerful one of two things can happen. In order to survive constant assault- we can disconnect to the point where we don't feel. In such a case, telling someone to use their conscience as a guide could lead to disaster.

The other extreme is an overactive coscience. In some cases parents or whomever have so overwhelmed a child with guilt, they feel shame over everything. If they overhear a song or happen to catch something out of the corner of the eye, they feel ashamed and dirty. For these, life is walking on eggshells.

In 1 John, the Apostle addresses this kind of situation, indicating that our hearts can condemn us when God does not, and that we can reassure ourselves- using our love for one another as the basis.

In this same letter, we are told that if we think we are without sin, we deceive ourselves. But if we walk in the light (love) - he is faithful and just to forgive us of unrighteousness.

False guilt is a horrible thing. No guilt is a terrible thing that always leads to damage. The good news is that a faulty conscience can be repaired or restored.

But here is a warning, if we routinely violate our conscience and think it is of no little consequence, we fool ourselves. The Bible also warns of a dangerous outcome, a seared conscience. This is in effect a process of becoming so numb to the voice of conviction, we don't feel bad when we should feel bad about doing something. In secular terms, that is the road to becoming a psychopath.

Feeling is necessary, but feelings should not rule us. Principles should.

As we mature and grow, our conscience should become more and more effective, rather than a hinderance. We should come into freedom where things that shouldn't bother us no longer do, and where we feel bad when we hurt someone or God, but not to the point of being crippled.

Becoming who we have the potential to become is actually a process that requires fine tuning. We don't always know we are doing wrong when we do it, and we must learn to actually train our minds/feelings to follow.

That may seem counterintuitive, because feelings are so strong. It seems that what we feel is really who we are. That is not so, we have a higher sense- knowing what is right and what we want to be- less judgmental and more forgiving, less harsh and more kind...etc.

Science calls this process of changing our thinking- cognitive restructuring. Paul calls it being transformed by the renewing of our minds. And he uses a phrase, "spirit of your minds"-

In order to grow, suppressing negative thoughts or inserting positive ones only helps so much and is an uphill battle. We actually have to change the "spirit" of our minds, or the way we think.

Nate

alices
11-28-2006, 10:33 PM
IBut here is a warning, if we routinely violate our conscience and think it is of no little consequence, we fool ourselves. The Bible also warns of a dangerous outcome, a seared conscience. This is in effect a process of becoming so numb to the voice of conviction, we don't feel bad when we should feel bad about doing something. In secular terms, that is the road to becoming a psychopath.

The simplest and best description I have ever heard regarding a consequence and why it dulls with age:

Consequence is like a metal star with sharp edges next to your heart, when you do wrong the star turns and the edges hurt your heart. If you keep doing wrong things, the points of the star become worn down and don’t hurt as much, until finally there is no feeling at all.

Nateskate
11-28-2006, 11:47 PM
The simplest and best description I have ever heard regarding a consequence and why it dulls with age:

Consequence is like a metal star with sharp edges next to your heart, when you do wrong the star turns and the edges hurt your heart. If you keep doing wrong things, the points of the star become worn down and don’t hurt as much, until finally there is no feeling at all.


Great quote. Fortunately with God, things can also work in reverse. He can make a way where none existed.

Nate

alices
11-29-2006, 12:10 AM
Great quote. Fortunately with God, things can also work in reverse. He can make a way where none existed.

Nate
MAN (generic male and female) differs from an animal because man has a conscience. If one now assumes that that conscience is a God given emotion, this emotion can have been given at any point along the evolutional chain and at that point God “created” man. Therefore, evolutionary theory and creationism need not conflict.

Like you, I believe God can add/bolster a conscience where one did not exist.

BruceJ
11-29-2006, 09:59 PM
Well put, alices. The only caution on this, though, is clarifying which strain of 'evolutionary theory' you mean. Some angles on it include randomness in the creative process, which--depending upon where it's applied and how much direct control you see in the sustainment aspect of Christ--can't peacefully coexist with creationism. Evolution itself, alas, has become a trigger word because you can't be sure what is being meant by it. Does the person merely mean adaptation, or random spontaneous creative action?

alices
11-29-2006, 10:33 PM
Well put, alices. The only caution on this, though, is clarifying which strain of 'evolutionary theory' you mean. Some angles on it include randomness in the creative process, which--depending upon where it's applied and how much direct control you see in the sustainment aspect of Christ--can't peacefully coexist with creationism. Evolution itself, alas, has become a trigger word because you can't be sure what is being meant by it. Does the person merely mean adaptation, or random spontaneous creative action?
Does it really matter if it is called natural selection, or random spontaneous creative action? If one happens to belief in a higher being/entity, God, etc. and that Man was created by such an entity, the primary question and objective would be to define “Man”. I used an oversimplified definition, conscience to distinguish Man from other species as it is my understanding that this is a unique trait to Man. IMHO, when and at what point a conscience was imbedded into (__fill in the blank__) was when Man was created.

A link you may find interesting: http://www.meta-library.net/evolution/creat-frame.html (http://www.meta-library.net/evolution/creat-frame.html)

Alice

BruceJ
11-29-2006, 11:15 PM
I was thinking it may matter if you extend creationism beyond just Man, ala intelligent design. If God did create and does sustain the universe, I guess I'm not sure where randomness fits into the picture.

Not arguing with you, hope I didn't come across that way. Just meant my last post as a passing thought on creationism and evolution.
:flag:

alices
11-29-2006, 11:37 PM
I was thinking it may matter if you extend creationism beyond just Man, ala intelligent design. If God did create and does sustain the universe, I guess I'm not sure where randomness fits into the picture.

Not arguing with you, hope I didn't come across that way. Just meant my last post as a passing thought on creationism and evolution.
:flag:
No your reply did not come across as argumentative at all, and I sincerely hope mine did not!

This is probably the wrong thread to use the term “devil’s advocate”, but that what I was attempting. :)

God gave Man free will and does not interfere with Man’s actions, although sometimes I wish God did (please notice I did not say “he”…:D ).


I guess I don’t fully understand why you feel randomness would alter God’s creation of Man? I would love to hear more about your views on it.

BruceJ
11-30-2006, 12:00 AM
No your reply did not come across as argumentative at all, and I sincerely hope mine did not!

This is probably the wrong thread to use the term “devil’s advocate”, but that what I was attempting. :)

God gave Man free will and does not interfere with Man’s actions, although sometimes I wish God did (please notice I did not say “he”…:D ).


I guess I don’t fully understand why you feel randomness would alter God’s creation of Man? I would love to hear more about your views on it.

Good, I'm glad my intent came across. I guess I flinched unnecessarily at all the italics in your response. ;)

I think we probably come from different points on the spectrum of free will and determinism, which is fine. We do have free will, but I believe God does indeed intercede in the affairs of man. If He (neutral gender - but I'm not going to say "It" - :tongue ) does have a plan, I don't think man is going to accommodate it, left to our own devices. Scripture has Him actively sustaining the Christian's walk (Phil. 1:6) the Church (Rev. 1:19ff) and the Universe (Heb. 1 et al). We may be talking about two different types of "interference/intercession" though. Please forgive me if I misunderstand you.

That also kind of answers the randomness question. How can something be random if it's created by design and being sustained? Again, maybe a matter of semantics. (Help...)

Good thread, though, and although I'm not sure we're going to agree on everything, I do appreciate you weighing in on it.

Nateskate
11-30-2006, 12:11 AM
Sorry, if you guys want to delve into creationism vs evolution. I have no energy for those debates. I know what and why I believe what I believe, but only get drained trying to explain it.

Still, the important issue is conscience and it's purpose- for those who believe God gave it to us- I do, it's important to know what it is and how it works, and when exceptions apply.

If we look at the conscience like everything else we have been given, like sight, sound, ears, and appetites, they are useful and have a function. But we must also know that the Bible describes us as missing the mark of God's intention. Christian or non-Christian, nothing about us is quite what it was meant to be. Christian appetites can work against us, against God's purposes, just as much after belief. The eyes and ears can be gateways to an evil ends as much as to a blessing.

This has to be said because some will say, "Always follow your conscience..."

As a general rule, yes, this is good, and mostly a spiritual principle. But we must know there are exceptions. It (the conscience) was given to us as a tool for a specific purpose, just as sensitivity to heat and pressure was given to us so that we wouldn't stick our toes in the fire or walk on glass.

With certain medical conditions, the sensations in our skin can be off- and unless we are aware of this, we are in danger. If we are not feeling- as with neurologic disorders- we might walk on glass and never know it until we see a pool of blood on the carpet. Or if we're feeling way too much- we might not be able to turn a book page or tolerate socks against the skin.

The conscience can be just as askew. Some people feel condemned all the time, when in fact, that isn't the case. They simply have a hypersensitivity, and need to know this, and have others speak into their lives or they tend to walk in perpetual guilt- fear. Others don't feel bad about anything, and they reason, "Then if my conscience doesn't bother me, then I'm okay!" Well, proverbs says that a way may seem right unto a man and lead to death.

The conscience is an imperfect tool, but fortunately it can be fixed. Still, knowing these principles helps keep us in balance. If something doesn't bother me, that doesn't mean it's good. If something bothers me terribly, that doesn't mean it's bad or evil. Balance is very hard to find, but necessary for living a purposeful life.

alices
11-30-2006, 12:42 AM
Good, I'm glad my intent came across. I guess I flinched unnecessarily at all the italics in your response. ;)

I think we probably come from different points on the spectrum of free will and determinism, which is fine. We do have free will, but I believe God does indeed intercede in the affairs of man. If He (neutral gender - but I'm not going to say "It" - :tongue ) does have a plan, I don't think man is going to accommodate it, left to our own devices. Scripture has Him actively sustaining the Christian's walk (Phil. 1:6) the Church (Rev. 1:19ff) and the Universe (Heb. 1 et al). We may be talking about two different types of "interference/intercession" though. Please forgive me if I misunderstand you.

That also kind of answers the randomness question. How can something be random if it's created by design and being sustained? Again, maybe a matter of semantics. (Help...)

Good thread, though, and although I'm not sure we're going to agree on everything, I do appreciate you weighing in on it.
I love silly and simple analogies, keeps my brain from straining too much! :D

God’s intervention (transmission) can only work if the receiver is open/on, free will determines if you want to turn on the receiver or not. Granted there are exceptions but they usually related to a personal crisis/catastrophic event, then in the pain and chaos you turn the receiver on to look for solace or blame God.

Ever notice that we define Acts of God as everything bad? If things go good, I did it and if things go bad…God takes the hit. Check the wording on your insurance policy!

As for randomness, could it appear random to us because we don’t understand God’s plan? Calculus looks like a random bunch of numbers and squiggle lines until you understand its principles and purpose.

Just a few thoughts.:Shrug:

alices
11-30-2006, 01:04 AM
Sorry, if you guys want to delve into creationism vs evolution. I have no energy for those debates. I know what and why I believe what I believe, but only get drained trying to explain it.

Still, the important issue is conscience and it's purpose- for those who believe God gave it to us- I do, it's important to know what it is and how it works, and when exceptions apply.

If we look at the conscience like everything else we have been given, like sight, sound, ears, and appetites, they are useful and have a function. But we must also know that the Bible describes us as missing the mark of God's intention. Christian or non-Christian, nothing about us is quite what it was meant to be. Christian appetites can work against us, against God's purposes, just as much after belief. The eyes and ears can be gateways to an evil ends as much as to a blessing.

This has to be said because some will say, "Always follow your conscience..."

As a general rule, yes, this is good, and mostly a spiritual principle. But we must know there are exceptions. It (the conscience) was given to us as a tool for a specific purpose, just as sensitivity to heat and pressure was given to us so that we wouldn't stick our toes in the fire or walk on glass.

With certain medical conditions, the sensations in our skin can be off- and unless we are aware of this, we are in danger. If we are not feeling- as with neurologic disorders- we might walk on glass and never know it until we see a pool of blood on the carpet. Or if we're feeling way too much- we might not be able to turn a book page or tolerate socks against the skin.

The conscience can be just as askew. Some people feel condemned all the time, when in fact, that isn't the case. They simply have a hypersensitivity, and need to know this, and have others speak into their lives or they tend to walk in perpetual guilt- fear. Others don't feel bad about anything, and they reason, "Then if my conscience doesn't bother me, then I'm okay!" Well, proverbs says that a way may seem right unto a man and lead to death.

The conscience is an imperfect tool, but fortunately it can be fixed. Still, knowing these principles helps keep us in balance. If something doesn't bother me, that doesn't mean it's good. If something bothers me terribly, that doesn't mean it's bad or evil. Balance is very hard to find, but necessary for living a purposeful life.
I agree with you 100%

BruceJ
11-30-2006, 02:33 AM
Sorry, if you guys want to delve into creationism vs evolution. I have no energy for those debates. I know what and why I believe what I believe, but only get drained trying to explain it.

Still, the important issue is conscience and it's purpose- for those who believe God gave it to us- I do, it's important to know what it is and how it works, and when exceptions apply.

If we look at the conscience like everything else we have been given, like sight, sound, ears, and appetites, they are useful and have a function. But we must also know that the Bible describes us as missing the mark of God's intention. Christian or non-Christian, nothing about us is quite what it was meant to be. Christian appetites can work against us, against God's purposes, just as much after belief. The eyes and ears can be gateways to an evil ends as much as to a blessing.

This has to be said because some will say, "Always follow your conscience..."

As a general rule, yes, this is good, and mostly a spiritual principle. But we must know there are exceptions. It (the conscience) was given to us as a tool for a specific purpose, just as sensitivity to heat and pressure was given to us so that we wouldn't stick our toes in the fire or walk on glass.

With certain medical conditions, the sensations in our skin can be off- and unless we are aware of this, we are in danger. If we are not feeling- as with neurologic disorders- we might walk on glass and never know it until we see a pool of blood on the carpet. Or if we're feeling way too much- we might not be able to turn a book page or tolerate socks against the skin.

The conscience can be just as askew. Some people feel condemned all the time, when in fact, that isn't the case. They simply have a hypersensitivity, and need to know this, and have others speak into their lives or they tend to walk in perpetual guilt- fear. Others don't feel bad about anything, and they reason, "Then if my conscience doesn't bother me, then I'm okay!" Well, proverbs says that a way may seem right unto a man and lead to death.

The conscience is an imperfect tool, but fortunately it can be fixed. Still, knowing these principles helps keep us in balance. If something doesn't bother me, that doesn't mean it's good. If something bothers me terribly, that doesn't mean it's bad or evil. Balance is very hard to find, but necessary for living a purposeful life.

Agreed, Nate. Sorry for the digression.