The Death of Christian Conscience

When Christians look to political leaders to save their country, America, then that is a tell-tale sign that the Christian conscience has died. (Reminder: Jesus Christ is our only Savior.) When alleged pro-life evangelicals turn a willing blind eye to the murdering of gay people throughout the world, but instead engage in further LGBTQ-slamming culturally, then that is yet another tell-tale sign that the Christian conscience has died. When Christians use holidays and high holy days to promote their preferred political party then that is further evidence that the Christian conscience has died.

The conscience is an inner "awareness of morality in regard to one's behavior; a sense of right and wrong that urges one to [think and to speak and to] act morally." (link) As Christians we believe theologically that God has instilled within mortals an inner sense of basic morality -- to know inherently what is good and what is evil -- to distinguish between justice and oppression, edification (building someone up) and dehumanization (tearing someone down), mercy and judgment (or due consequences).

Our "fallen" state, however, may instrumentally cause us to fail the enactment of our moral compass. How else can the Christian explain the murdering of the innocent, slavery, the oppression and marginalization of the weak (or minorities) and the degradation of others? We are all depraved, though not wholly evil, but certainly not wholly good. What of our conscience? How does our fallenness effect the conscience?

Ironically, someone like Christian professor J. Budziszewski, author of The Revenge of Conscience: Politics and the Fall of Man, can call our attention to the pitfalls of pluralist ideology, while relegating LGBTQ folk to the epithet of "sodomites." He has, thus, objectified LGBTQ people, created in the image of his God, as mere thingummyjigs of assumed inherently-perceived despicable, deplorable, demonic sex acts. Where is his conscience? One is forced to appreciate the manner in which the conservative moralizes, politically and socially and theologically, by demoralizing people created in the image of God. Am I actually expected to heed these conservatives as a biblical voice?

The apostle Paul writes to young pastor Timothy: "The Spirit clearly says that in later [or, in the last] times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron." (1 Tim. 4:1, 2 NIV) I was taught by conservatives that these references belonged to godless liberals. I now see that these verses may apply to many conservative Christians. I mean, in truth, the context seems to regard professing believers. For, according to an apparent a priori for the apostle, the unregenerate already deny the faith, pay attention to lying spirits and reject the moral compass of their conscience, at least with regard to the righteousness of God. This passage, then, belongs to professing believers. They will, in the last days, deaden their conscience.

This seems to indicate, then, that professing believers will not be able to distinguish between that which is right and just and wrong and evil. These professing believers will allow those whose conscience is deadened to deceive them and lead them astray from the faith. How else can we explain how conservative evangelicals could support one of the most immoral men, Donald J. Trump, for President of the United States?



From Franklin Graham, Eric Metaxas and Jerry Falwell, Jr., to the average Southern Baptist and socially-conservative Pentecostal, these individuals still defend the degrading, shameful, and despicable words spewing from Donald Trump's mouth and Twitter feed. These people do not care what filth comes out of his mouth. They find any way possible to justify his words and actions and consider themselves God-blessed, Christian, and righteous. Donald Trump said that Ben Carson's "pathological temper" is akin to the sickness of a child molester (link), which is rich in and of itself coming from such an immoral creature, and Carson, regardless, not only defends Trump but takes part in his abominable administration. Where is the Christian conscience?

A more important question may be: What deadened the Christian conscience? The apostle does not inform us as to what deadened the conscience of Christians who were deceived -- only that the conscience of believers would be rendered senseless. He does not even mention what deadened the conscience of the ones who deceived the former believers who abandoned the faith. In his second letter to young Timothy, however, the apostle reaffirms a last-days mentality of professing Christians thusly:
But mark this: There will be terrible [lit. violent] times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love [familial affection], unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God -- having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. (2 Tim. 3:1-5)
Those who do not follow Christ do not portray themselves as possessing "a form of godliness" and, so, the passage is outlining the thoughts and behaviors of professing Christians in the last days. Here is a description of people harboring a dead conscience, a skewed moral compass, lacking discernment between good and evil. Self-lovers, greedy, boastful, proud, without love, rash, conceited -- these are the people who select teachers and leaders of their liking: "For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear." (2 Tim. 4:3) If the leaders of the Religious Right reflect the values and beliefs of the Religious Right then the very scriptures that warn us about apostasy in the last days is actually, and quite ironically, pointing to the Religious Right. We have been warned.

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J. Budziszewski, author of The Revenge of Conscience: Politics and the Fall of Man (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2010), 9.

ABOUT WILLIAM BIRCH

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My name is William Birch and I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition but converted, if you will, to Anglicanism in 2012. I am gay, affirming, and take very seriously matters of social justice, religion and politics in the church and the state.