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talljasperman's avatar

What is freedom of conscience?

Asked by talljasperman (21858points) January 26th, 2012

I heard that term came around the 15th century from the trial of Martin Luther. What does this freedom feel like, and what does it feel like not have it?

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10 Answers

CaptainHarley's avatar

You miss it more when it’s gone than you enjoy it when you have it. Having it is like being weightless, like flying. Not having it is like drowning. Like being strangled. Like being thrown into the ocean with a lead weight around your feet.

talljasperman's avatar

@CaptainHarley Not having it is like drowning. Like being strangled. Like being thrown into the ocean with a lead weight around your feet. Lol you have just described what I feel when I had to go to work, school, church, unnecessary appointments… and why I don’t enjoy going to those places any more. Thank you for helping me gain insight into my life.

Blackberry's avatar

When you have nothing to hide and know you’re a decent person, it’s a good feeling. I’ve tried to get away with stuff and it’s just more stressful to always live a lie. When you come to the good side, it kind of feels like this.

talljasperman's avatar

@Blackberry Is freedom of conscience being able to choose what the good side is for yourself?

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Sounds kind of like passing out.

Blackberry's avatar

@talljasperman I guess so, yeah. Some people intentionally try to manipulate or hurt others, so if you decide to not be that person, you’re free.

bkcunningham's avatar

According to Martin Luther, the definition of conscience if: “For the conscience is not the power of acting but the power of judging which judges about works. Its proper work (as Paul says in Romans 2) is to accuse or to excuse, to cause one to stand accused or absolved, terrified or secure. Its purpose is not to do, but to speak about what has been done and what should be done, and this judgment makes us stand accused or saved before God.”

Freedom of conscience is the true revelation that salvation isnt’ abour works, according to Luther. Instead of constantly striving to do good and uphold to the Law through sacrements and repeated prayers and atonements like the Church; you have freedom through Christ of the real love of God.

submariner's avatar

Weird! I was just writing about freedom of conscience in relation to the abortion issue when I decided to take a break and check my email and Fluther.

Freedom of conscience is the freedom to decide for oneself what the good and the right are. It seems Martin Luther did not believe that he was free in this regard; he claimed that he had no choice but to to believe what he believed. It’s interesting that the rise of capitalism coincided with attempts to redefine freedom (in theology by Luther and Calvin, in philosophy by empiricist philosophers such as David Hume).

The hard part is figuring out what freedom of conscience means politically/legally/constitutionally. Forcing citizens to belong to a state religion is obviously a violation of freedom of conscience. What about taxing people to fund policies that they oppose on moral grounds, or requiring medical professionals to perform procedures that they object to, or teachers to teach content that they disagree with? And so on. We want to let people follow their own lights, but the state cannot be neutral on certain issues, and therefore it will favor certain conceptions of morality over others.

Coloma's avatar

I’ve been joking for awhile now that as long as one is not a sociopath everything else can be worked on. lol
Having a clear conscience is tantamount to truly happy living.
Iif you don’t like the man/woman in the mirror, no matter what else, you are living in a state of abject poverty.

I LOVE your description @CaptainHarley! ;-)

CaptainHarley's avatar


You’re very welcome! : ))

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