I will not bind your conscience

“I have no idea what you should do and no intention of binding your conscience.” These words reverberated through my soul the other day as I read them in an email from a friend. Instantly I realized a root cause of much personal anguish: my conscience has been bound. I have been hesitant to ask for help in any area of my life. I realized one reason is because when I have asked for help from spiritual leaders, they immediately tell me what to do or how to react. Some have been so quick to bind my conscience to an idea or an action that I have not had time to think issues through properly.

As I searched various church websites, I happened to come across this statement (I’ve never been to this church and have no idea what they do, but this statement thundered across my mind because I’ve always held so dearly to the priesthood of all believers teachings.)

“A Reformed idea of equal significance to the priesthood of all believers is the assertion that each Christian has the right of conscience before God. No church governing body can compel or bind a person’s conscience. While the church teaches and exhorts, faith and practice are to be resolved as matters of conscience by individuals before God.” (source)

So now I commit myself to not bind other people’s consciences. I repent for doing this in the past. I now seek to guide or coach, giving people the means to make their own conclusions and their own decisions, whatever they may be. Actually, one of my favorite songs of all time by Whiteheart says this really well: Sing your freedom.

4 thoughts on “I will not bind your conscience

  1. Brian,

    “my conscience has been bound. I have been hesitant to ask for help in any area of my life. I realized one reason is because when I have asked for help from spiritual leaders, they immediately tell me what to do or how to react. ”

    I find this an interesting topic of “Binding the conscience” . How does that happen? Unless of course you allow yourself to be bound. I am of a strong belief that we are not slaves to anyone. God did not make me a robot. Instead He gave me free will. He also has given us a Holy Spirit that helps us to discern and be convicted of certain matters. We are responsible for our choices. If someone asks me to do something whether its a spiritual mentor or not , I have the freedom to say yes or no to agree or disagree. I also have that same freedom to choose to be bound, but then it becomes our choice to allow this to happen. I cannot blame or become a victim of what we have chosen. Does that make sense. My only master is God. He is the only one who has power to bind my conscience.

  2. “How does that happen?” It does not happen quickly. I’m not referring to a couple major life decisions. And certainly we are all responsible for our choices. But I am talking about a process that happens over many years; a pattern that re-occurs daily and weekly. Binding a person’s conscience happens like the proverbial frog boiling in water because the temperature is turned up one degree each day. As a shepherd, I have to ask myself, am I binding people’s conscience to a church idea or am I leading them to independent faith in Christ? When people ask me for help, do I instantly tell them what to do or do I listen and then give them one or two thoughts to help them make their own choice?

    I remember thinking I was independent, thinking just as you wrote, that I can say “yes or no to agree or disagree”. But as I got older, I found this is not really true much of the time. For example, as a father my choices are normally bound by my children. Often we want to make a certain choice, but cannot make that choice due to our relationship with other people.

    Also, there is a lot of secular teaching about managing people. Management classes can teach you how to persuade someone to make a decision that they think is their own decision, but in reality, their decision supports your goals as a manager. Ever wonder why most managers at work seem to get all the credit, while the employees usually get all the blame? That happens for a reason. You can (and have) been persuaded to make choices that you thought were your own.

  3. As far as I understand, UBF is all about manipulating people. People are made believe they decide on their own, but in reality their decisions are evoked by means such as the atmosphere purposefully created on a conference, or by withdrawal of affection, or flattering people, or guilt-tripping people, or telling them this was the direction given them by God via the leader, or group pressure or authoritarian pressure or constant repetition of the same mantras in all the testimonies and messages. In UBF you are not even given the time to breath freely or really think about what you’re doing, because the UBF wheel is spinning every week.

    Also, UBF teaches that you must obey leaders no matter whether you endorse what they tell you, just because they are God’s servant and obedience and trust are a virtue in themselves (even towards men), and in the end God will bless you if you just follow and trust and obey “the servant of God”. After some time in UBF you start believing these things.

  4. Chris, as of 2011, your thoughts are still correct. People leaving UBF and discussing issues openly and publicly are still viewed as distractions to “student ministry” by ubf elders. I’m coming across more and more ubf members who say they agree with some of the points I’ve made on this blog and elsewhere, but the elders show hardly any signs of agreement. Two elders called me and said they agree with what I was saying on the phone, however, I see no action. In my view, those calls were just a form of appeasement. There is also some talk of “sneaky reform” by members, but I reject that approach, especially after reading Scott Moreau’s longstanding advice for ubf people.