On Politics and The Binding of Consciences

Don’t try to be the conscience of other believers in gray areas.

Over the past several years, and seemingly (to me) increasingly in the past few months there is one issue specific to the church in the United States over which many seem more than willing to attempt to bind other’s consciences, voting behavior. The epicenter of the issue is voting for the current president, Donald J. Trump, but to me this issue really has nothing to do with the man, it is so much bigger than Him; It is an issue of believers trying to usurp the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of other believers.

 

The binding of a fellow Christian’s conscience is strange business. For the purposes of this discussion I’ll define the binding of conscience this way: to tell a fellow believer that their conviction or practice in an area of adiaphora (something that is neither prohibited or mandated by Scripture) is wrong and that they must change their conviction and practice in order to be right.

It seems like a no brianer, right?  Well it is a no brainer, for one simple reason. Scripture says not to.

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother…The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. – Rom 14:1322-23.

The context there is an issue specific to the Roman church, the eating of meat sacrificed to idols (or more practically eating meat bought in the marketplace that may have been sacrificed to idols), but the principle is plain and transferable in application; don’t try to be the conscience of other believers in gray areas (hear me clearly, I’m not saying not to call fellow believer to repentance for sin), don’t use your conscience as the barometer of what is right for others, and to act in way not congruent with your own conscience is sin.

Over the past several years, and seemingly (to me) increasingly in the past few months there is one issue specific to the church in the United States over which many seem more than willing to attempt to bind other’s consciences, voting behavior. The epicenter of the issue is voting for the current president, Donald J. Trump, but to me this issue really has nothing to do with the man, it is so much bigger than Him; It is an issue of believers trying to usurp the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of other believers.

Make no mistake, telling someone that their biblically informed conviction about voting is wrong and they should just change how they act without changing their conviction is telling them to sin. It’s no different than telling them to steal something they want but can’t afford. Yes, I think it is that serious.

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