Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Violating One's Conscience

I draw a distinction between something that is in opposition to my conscience and to something that I don’t want to do. After all, one of our core articles of faith is that we allow everyone to worship according to the dictates of individual conscience. We don’t honor that as well as we should, especially among ourselves within the Church, but that is the foundation of our standards and theology in this sort of discussion.

If I have a thought or feeling that says I should do something that violates my conscience, I am very wary of doing so – and I have to take a long, serious look at why it might be okay to do it. There are multiple reasons why I still might do it, but I would have to study it out in my mind, find a reason I could accept and then re-examine it in my heart before I would do it – and that is true no matter the source. I believe doing something that violates my conscience without such soul searching is relinquishing my agency in a very real way. If I make a mistake in that arena, I would rather err on the side of my conscience than on the side of violating it.

If, however, I consider something that I simply don’t want to do, the consideration becomes much easier – based on whether it would violate my conscience to do so and what the impact of my action would be on others.

In a nutshell, I try to base my actions in these situations on how I believe those actions would “hang” under the two great commandments – and it takes a truly extraordinary situation and what I consider to be indisputable, extraordinary revelation to make me go against those two commandments and/or my conscience (and how I view the two great commandments might be a good definition of my conscience). 

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