The Voice of Conscience

Not long ago, the Tasmanian Parliament enacted a statute compelling their citizens to use preferred pronouns when requested. According to an ACL spokesman, “This move could see people dragged before Tribunals for causing unintentional offence to trans people, by misgendering them. That is a new threshold in compelled speech, never before seen on Australian shores.”

(Incidentally, it was this issue of compelled speech that helped to propel Dr Jordan Peterson into international fame. See here, for example.)

What is going on here, and with other legislation legitimising particular gender expressions?   Why should such folk want to enforce recognition upon others? Why not simply accept that their activities, etc. are no longer illegal in most Western societies, and that others have no desire to persecute them?

The Lord Jesus said, “How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44). The Jewish leaders counted the affirmation of others more important than that of God himself. They had elevated personal peer review to an art form!

What was the problem? I think that it’s the matter of the conscience – that inbuilt sense of right and wrong, implanted in mankind at creation. It’s the facility that exercises judgement (“It’s not fair”), and either praises or condemns others (see Romans 2:1).

We are all rebel-sinners both by nature and by choice, but our conscience still nags us – at the start, anyway. However, conscience is a sensitive beast and it can be suppressed. When we choose to sin, we suppress conscience, and the more we do that, the more hardened in sin we become.

How do we suppress the protests of our conscience? There are many ways, but one of them is to seek the approval of others for our actions. The voices of our friends drown out the quiet pleadings of conscience, and so we plunge ever deeper into self-justification for our behaviour and for our rebellion against the holy God.

I think that this is a major factor in the push for ever-expanding legislation: it’s to drown out the voice of conscience, and compel others to join in the chorus of approval — whether they want to or not. Because it’s not about the freedom of others, their preferences or beliefs: it’s all about ME and what I want. It’s about drowning out my conscience.

But what really matters in the end? Jesus said, “How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?”