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"Why should my freedom be determined by someone else’s conscience?"

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by Vouthon, Jan 25, 2019.

  1. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Apr 17, 2013
    Catholic Christianity
    Two thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul posed what I, at least, consider to be a very important rhetorical question:

    συνείδησιν δὲ λέγω οὐχὶ τὴν ἑαυτοῦ ἀλλὰ τὴν τοῦ ἑτέρου. ἵνα τί γὰρ ἡ ἐλευθερία μου κρίνεται ὑπὸ ἄλλης συνειδήσεως

    "Why should my freedom be determined/judged by someone else’s conscience?"

    (1 Corinthians 10:29)

    According to St. Paul, conscience is a principle of freedom and freedom should not be subject to the judgement of another person's conscience. For this would amount to allowing another person's scruples to undermine our own personal liberty. Elsewhere, he says that we must each live according to whatever convictions we hold before God.

    I detect the roots of proto-liberal philosophy in Paul's appeal, as do many scholars. He says that we are not bound by the conscientious scruples of other individuals when exercising our freedom of action or conviction, just as we are not allowed to influence them, in turn, to violate their conscience in such matters.

    This verse came to my mind while engaged in discussion on a thread about adultery and it made me wonder why fundamentalist Christians rarely seem to grapple with the implications of this statement and the surrounding argument Paul was articulating in his epistle to the church in Corinth. It's not a verse I see quoted, even amongst mainline Christians, all that often - yet its influence upon the course of intellectual history has been profound.

    How do you understand this verse?
    #1 Vouthon, Jan 25, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
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  2. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Aug 5, 2014
    As with any verse we need to consider its historic text as well as how it fits within the New Testament as a whole.

    Paul's first Epistle to Corinthians was probably written about 53-54 AD during the very early development of church. Paul's guidance on one hand exhorted high personal standards, on the other tolerance and forebearance towards others who failed to meet some standards. The specific example used is in regards to meat that had been sacrificed to idols. OTOH there were practices that were not to be tolerated. One of challenges facing any faith community is unity and St Paul lays the framework as to how Christians should treat each other. 1 Corinthians 10:29 speaks of a fundamental attitude that we should primarily be concerned with our own spiritual walk and not becoming overly concerned with those of others. Christ taught a similar principal (Matthew 7:1-4).
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  3. Windwalker

    Windwalker Integralist
    Premium Member

    Jan 5, 2013
    Love, Light, and Life
    Yes. Thank you for bringing this verse up. It had escaped my notice until now. And it supports what hidden gem which surfaced for me in all these debates on RF, which, as you pointed out, you do not hear in fundamentalist churches, which I believe is what you alluded to.

    Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

    One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.​

    This admonition settles disputes over days, and practices, and beliefs, as something governed by owns own conscious and spiritual relationship with the divine. It places the emphasis on one's own sincerity or truthfulness before God, which determines whether they stand or fall. And in all honesty, that is more truthful and sincere when listening to one's own inner guide to truth, then anyone claiming they are the true ones who are following the rules. I hear that as insincerity, personally. It hides one's soul behind group-think.
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  4. Nakosis

    Nakosis crystal soldier
    Premium Member

    Nov 16, 2011
    Atheist Libertarian

    Seems Paul is saying to not go about offending people. They may have beliefs you feel is unnecessary but honor their beliefs for their sake, not your own. The idea being to brings folks toward God, not drive them away.
  5. osgart

    osgart Nothing my eye, Something for sure

    May 1, 2017
    No Religion. I Sense The Higher Power.
    To me, i say let each person live according to who they are among their own kind. And to those that oppose and differ let them amongst their own kind too. And let no one infringe upon each kind as there is in the world.

    But the murderous, and abusive let no kind accept. For that kind is of no conscience toward anyone.

    In time , all according to each kind, they all shall bear themselves the fruits of their own choices whether they be good or bad.