Every once in awhile I see political or religious leaders speaking of women’s rights. These are mostly (but not always) men who know nothing of what it means to be a woman. They claim authority based on their adherence to a religion or some public policy. They profess to be following their conscience. What conscience? I know from being an ex-member of the fundamentalist Jehovah’s Witness religion on the far end of the spectrum that there are various definitions of conscience. According to Wikipedia, conscience is an aptitude, faculty, intuition, or judgment of the intellect that distinguishes right from wrong.
Some religious people claim they have a “Bible-trained” conscience. In fact, I was one of those people. To me, that meant I had a scripture to prove every belief I had, no matter how ridiculous. For example, I used to believe that going door-to-door marketing the religion was a way of being “spiritual.” Now, I know that I was just following religious rules. It’s easy for me to differentiate now — but certainly not while I was steeped in the indoctrination of belief.
To me, the exercise of conscience, by its definition, means that a decision to act a certain way is made by me, internally. Now, I know that conscience is truly an “inner-knowing” that guides me — rather than the rigid rules of a religious order.
“Bible-Trained” Conscience is a term religious elders use to enact rules of conduct for it’s members. but that is not the same as our inherent conscience. Not by a long shot. A “Bible-trained” conscience is a distorted explanation of conscience. Too many times the bible advice flies in the face of common sense. True conscience in an inherent “knowing” what is right for me and what is not. The bible is a book of antiquated rules suited to a bygone age — if even then.
Bible Debunks “Bible-Trained” Conscience
Even according to their own Bible, Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t seem to grasp the true meaning of conscience. For folks who still rely on the bible, remember that the biblical Apostle Paul spoke of those extremely kind and hospitable people who rescued and assisted at his shipwreck — yet had no knowledge of god. Truthfully, a person doesn’t need religion to have compassion for others, as the Apostle Paul confirms:
For whenever people of the nations that do not have law do by nature the things of the law, these people, although not having law, are a law to themselves. They are the very ones who demonstrate the matter of the law to be written in their hearts, while their conscience is bearing witness with them, and between their own thoughts, they are being accused or even excused.—Romans 2:14-15 (NWT) [Bold text mine]
Here’s a perfect example of the cognitive dissonance within Jehovah’s Witnesses belief system. The Apostle Paul himself admitted that people who did not know the Bible nevertheless could have a law naturally written within their hearts. In other words, they had “common sense” or “intuition” to treat one another with respect naturally, without having ever read a scripture. It’s natural law — the law of nature — which beats the bible hands down.
Is this an example of following my conscience? Image courtesy of AthiestRepublic.com
Intuition and Common Sense
Intuition and common sense are a recognized natural means humans may rely on for direction. That means that we do not need a religion to dictate to us what was right and wrong. The “biblically untrained” people noted above knew this intuitively. And sometimes they knew more about respect instinctively than religious people, who were swayed adversely by extreme religious views, man-made rules, and just plain stupid laws.
Freedom or Force?
I believe everyone has the right to choose their own beliefs, without being judged adversely for it. People have the right to change their beliefs, too, without being condemned for doing so. The Jehovah’s Witnesses shun their members who leave, in an attempt to force these “erring ones” back into the fold. I trust religions who take this action as a form of punishment will step into the 21st century and realize it is time to stop trying to control their flock using force. It is time to acknowledge the inherent faculty of intuition and common sense.
It is time to honor women’s gifts of intuition and common sense as inherent conscience in each one. Step aside, heartless religious doctrine. Allow women the freedom to plumb the depths of their own inherent wisdom.
I welcome your comments.
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