Doesn’t Scripture also argue against Bound Conscience?
I think it is fair to make that claim. It is important to consider passages said to argue against Bound Conscience.
In Acts 15, as we have noted, Paul and others are sent out with a letter indicating that circumcision is not to be required of the Gentile converts to Christianity. Apparently, the past behavior of John Mark was too much for Paul, and he did not want John Mark to accompany him. They parted company. (Acts 15:36-41) I suggest that this is not so much about respecting the Bound Conscience of another as it is a decision about someone’s work ethic or commitment to the task. It was not a matter related to scripture, a condition we’ve established when referring to bound conscience.
1st Corinthians 5 is often cited as an example against bound conscience. Paul not only urges the congregation to dismiss from the assembly those who are engaged in sexual immorality (or an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber) but also gives permission to judge those who are “inside” the assembly. Left to God are those who are not part of the congregation.
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Should you not rather have mourned, so that he who has done this would have been removed from among you? 3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present I have already pronounced judgment 4 in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. 6 Your boasting is not a good thing. Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch, as you really are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral persons– 10 not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since you would then need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother or sister who is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber. Do not even eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging those outside? Is it not those who are inside that you are to judge? 13 God will judge those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:1-13)
There is nothing in this passage that even hints of respecting the bound conscience of another. Respecting the bound conscience of another does not mean excusing all behaviors as being valid, but rather as we have said, respecting that Scripture is understood differently by different readers. In the example of meat sacrificed to idols and circumcision, there are different readings of scripture at stake. Here, there is immoral or prohibited behavior with no claim of scriptural support. Respecting the bound conscience does not mean tolerance.
What we do encounter in this passage is another difference that I think is related. In Romans Paul has argued that we are not to judge a brother or sister, and here, that we are to judge those inside the assembly. In Romans the argument was related to scriptural interpretation. In 1 Corinthians, it is related to immorality. We have said that our references to bound conscience apply to understanding of scripture.
Challenges from those opposing Bound Conscience
Bound Conscience and the current controversy
On a Personal Note