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Understanding Scriptures

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 Blooming Stars

Humanity to be Cleansed

             No authority can supplant one’s conscience. God will not do it. It will not make sense if God does it. There was no need for God to give it to us in the first place if God plans to take it away from us. Tampering with one’s conscience is a great crime. The region of conscience belongs exclusively to God. One experiences God’s sacred presence there. That is where God is present most in a human made in the image of God. Autocrats, dictators, monarchs, and religious authorities take upon themselves to supplant sincere persons’ consciences with their will and mandates. They threatened legitimate expressions of freedom and consciences in the past with penalty of death and eternal damnation. They inflicted these penalties by force.

            They made themselves God by usurping powers and authorities that did not belong to them. Ironically some of them were killed by the very same force (sword) they used to kill others. Now they may not deal in deaths, but may try to kill others ostracizing, excommunicating, taking away their livelihood, or ruining their reputation. They bind people in self-serving knots. Their logic begs the question. On the one hand the autocrats say they respect a person’s conscience. On the other hand they say a conscience is deluded or is not right if it is not formed according to their norms. With them there is no winning for losing. They say they only censure a conscience that is not properly formed. Again they decide on the proper formation of a conscience. They are the judge and the jury. They give themselves the felicitous task of being the custodians of people’s consciences! They impress upon us the gravity of their task by asking for prayers for God’s guidance.

            Even in a democracy like that of the US when protests and demonstrations broke out in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s against the Vietnam War the political and religious (Christian) authorities were not at all happy, and penalized the young men and women protestors considering them rebels and traitors. Many of the young men and women were conscientious objectors. Many of them did not see the point in losing their lives in a far away land fighting a war that was unnecessary and unjust. Quite a few of them fled to Canada to escape stringent penalties to save their conscience and their lives. My question is where were the special class of religious authorities entrusted by God to interpret the scriptures? Where were they during centuries of immoral slavery? Where were they when immoral kings and rulers usurped power and oppressed poor people with unbearable taxations, or waged Thirty Years’ or Hundred Years’ wars in which they had no say, and in effect sentenced them to death at whims with no regard for their lives or families? Where were they when, in a Christian country like Germany, the most heinous crime of the last century – the mass murder of 6 million (60 lakhs) Jews – took place? Was not God working in them at such times? If history does not teach us, if we do not learn the right lessons from history, if we still think that autocratic religious leaders interpret scriptures and God’s will for us, we are utterly stupid, nay insane, and do not deserve any better than what we get from them.

            The numerous blunders the autocratic religious leaders committed through their acts of commissions or omissions through the centuries tell us that they have an awful track record or they are not any better than we are in interpreting the scriptures or discerning God’s will. Of course we need to take responsibility in studying scriptures, history, traditions, and customs before we can make informed and enlightened comments and decisions. While guidance and consultations are indispensable with regard to obscure matters, we cannot shirk our responsibility or delegate it to someone else in making vital decisions that affect our temporal and eternal life. We cannot let anyone or any authority claiming some extraordinary power or commission from God downplay or undermine the importance of our conscience. I might also add that over forty years of my clinical practice in the US and in India I have come across quite a few persons and families use pressure on and influence social service agencies, legal system, psychologists, and psychiatrists to declare others mentally sick or mentally incompetent to get their ways.

            The requisites for forming a good conscience are 1. Utter sincerity, 2. A passionate desire for truth, 3.The knowledge of good and evil, and 4. The best available knowledge related to the matter to be decided on at the time. 5. Determination to bear the consequences of one’s decision made on the basis of one’s conscience. Humanity needs to be thoroughly cleansed from the past, and needs a new orientation guided by universal ethics, morals, and conscience.


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