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 Post subject: Re: Should you sometimes act against your conscience?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 7:00 pm 
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torn wrote:
How long do I have to wait before you are ready to answer? Could you just go ahead and establish "the principles of the moral law, reason, and conscience" and then answer my specific questions:



Are you a lawyer?

Are you conducting a cross examination?

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 Post subject: Re: Should you sometimes act against your conscience?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 7:28 pm 
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torn wrote:
Could you just go ahead and establish "the principles of the moral law, reason, and conscience" and then answer my specific questions
As I've said, discussing specific cases without establishing universal principles is premature. You believe that there are no universal moral laws or that universal moral laws cannot be known. You believe that whenever a person sincerely believes he is right, he is blameless no matter what he does. I'm expressing different views, namely, those of the RCC: A person's beliefs, even his 'sincere' beliefs, do not establish the objective right or wrong of his actions. Certainty is possible. Truth exists and can be known. The Church has the authority to command acts of conscience.

As long as we dispute the fundamental principles that govern specific cases, why discuss the specific cases? First, we need to resolve the principles according to which specific cases must be judged.


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 Post subject: Re: Should you sometimes act against your conscience?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 10:03 am 
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caleb wrote:
torn wrote:
Could you just go ahead and establish "the principles of the moral law, reason, and conscience" and then answer my specific questions
As I've said, discussing specific cases without establishing universal principles is premature. You believe that there are no universal moral laws or that universal moral laws cannot be known. You believe that whenever a person sincerely believes he is right, he is blameless no matter what he does. I'm expressing different views, namely, those of the RCC: A person's beliefs, even his 'sincere' beliefs, do not establish the objective right or wrong of his actions. Certainty is possible. Truth exists and can be known. The Church has the authority to command acts of conscience.

As long as we dispute the fundamental principles that govern specific cases, why discuss the specific cases? First, we need to resolve the principles according to which specific cases must be judged.


caleb wrote:
You are not listening.

Are you listening, caleb?

caleb wrote:
You believe that there are no universal moral laws
You are not listening, that's not what I believe.

caleb wrote:
You believe that universal moral laws cannot be known.
You are not listening, that's not what I believe.

caleb wrote:
You believe that whenever a person sincerely believes he is right, he is blameless no matter what he does.
You are not listening, that's not what I believe.

I have never believed nor said any of those things. Where do you get these false beliefs about me from? I have made myself very clear several times, and yet you still think I have said things which I have never said. Here is what I have said, which you need to read more carefully - try to read without imagining that I am saying something else:

torn wrote:
caleb wrote:
You believe that a person who sincerely believes he is right, can never be accountable for doing wrong. That is what I mean.

I don't know where you got that idea from. I have never said that. :scratch:


torn wrote:
caleb wrote:
Do you think a person can act with the sincere conviction that he is responding to the voice of God and therefore believe he is doing what his conscience demands, and not only be wrong but also be condemned by God for his actions?

A person can of course wrongly believe that he is following his conscience, when he is not following his conscience, and act from that belief with sincere conviction. Whether or how much God condemns him for his actions, I am in no position to judge. "Walk a mile in my shoes...".


torn wrote:
It's all very well to say there is a universal moral law, but how does a person know what it is and what it is not, unless there is something within him to let him know. What is the part of him that lets him know? I call it - as Cardinal Newman called it - the true voice of conscience which is in everyone (though in some people it can become very much buried and obscured through repeated improper behaviour and suppression and neglect, etc). What do you call that part of us that knows right from wrong, if you are not calling it conscience?


torn wrote:
caleb wrote:
Let's, however, take your notion of conscience to its logical end. If conscience is the infallible voice of right and wrong, then we should be able to reach an infallible answer to your question, and the answer should be the same for everyone. If conscience cannot be wrong, each conscience will give the same answer. What does the infallible voice of conscience say in response to your question? If you do not know offhand, then consult The Voice, deeply and sincerely and get back to us.

How many times do I have to make it clear to you that no-one is arguing with you that a person can make a wrong judgement when trying to follow his conscience? It's absurd for you to even think that I am suggesting otherwise.

But my point is as I have stated:
torn wrote:
No-one is suggesting that the judgement a person makes - after consulting his conscience - cannot be wrong. Obviously it can be wrong. But you are saying that it is the person's conscience that is wrong. You are saying that a person does not have a true voice of conscience which knows right from wrong. You are saying that there is no such thing. All there is, according to you, is a conscience which may be right or may be wrong.

My point is that deep inside we know what is right or what is wrong, otherwise we could not be blamed for not doing the wrong thing. However, for various possible reasons, we may not always be true to the true voice of conscience, we may not be open to what it can tell us. We may get it wrong, but if we get it wrong it's not because we cannot know what is right. It's not because the true voice of conscience is misleading us that we get it wrong. But we can still get it wrong, for many possible and complex reasons.

Whereas you are saying that even if we are true to the voice of conscience, it may not be true to us, it may mislead us.

In that case then we cannot be blamed for doing the wrong thing, if we do not know it is the wrong thing. However, you are saying that we can be blamed because there is a way of determining "with certainty the right and wrong of specific actions" through human reason. So explain to me how that works, because I don't understand how it works. Do you have to have above average intelligence to "determine with certainty the right and wrong of specific actions" by means of "human reason"? Is the process different for Catholics and non-Catholics? I'm really in the dark as to what you mean. I have always been taught that I should always consult and follow my conscience is such matters. I have never been taught what you are proposing. So please explain.

caleb wrote:
torn wrote:
For example, suppose a health worker in a poor African district is in a position to supply condoms to prostitutes (to help prevent the spread of AIDs). Should he?

I would say he should consult his conscience, deeply and sincerely.
In the case of supplying condoms, a Catholic health worker has the advantage of relying on the moral teachings of the Catholic Church which obligate him, so your example may not be the best example.

I think that is a very good example precisely because the moral teaching of the Catholic Church in regard to that precise situation is very unclear. So a Catholic health worker in that situation would either have to follow his conscience, or - according to you - use "human reason" to "determine with certainty" what he should do. So how would he go about using human reason to determine with certainty whether he should supply condoms to prostitutes in areas of Africa where AIDs is killing people?

You can answer it first of all, for a Catholic health worker, and secondly for a non-Catholic health worker, if you wish.


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 Post subject: Re: Should you sometimes act against your conscience?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 10:07 am 
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Do I really have to explain it all again? Are you listening?

I believe - as Cardinal Newman believed - that in every person there is a true voice of conscience by which he knows right from wrong. In Cardinal Newman's words:
Quote:
But, of course, I have to say again, lest I should be misunderstood, that when I speak of Conscience, I mean conscience truly so called.
If a person did not have a true conscience, or never had a true conscience, how could he possibly be blamed for wrong actions, if he has no way of knowing that his actions are wrong?

You, caleb, are saying that it is not by means of his conscience that he knows what is right and what is wrong. But you are saying that he can nevertheless know by some other means - through "human reason" - what is right and what is wrong. It is not clear to me whether you mean that a person can always know through human reason what is right and what is wrong, or that he cannot always know. But if he cannot always know, then my point is that on the occasions when he is unable to know, then he cannot be blamed for choosing to do the wrong thing, as long as he at least attempts to do the right thing (i.e. by consulting his conscience).

But please try and understand: I believe that a person can always know what is right and what is wrong, what he should and should not do, by listening to the true voice of conscience within himself. You are the one saying he cannot know by listening to his conscience. It is you who is saying that, not me.

Al that I am saying is that if a person has no way of knowing what is right and what is wrong - and never had any way of knowing - then he cannot be blamed for doing the wrong thing, as long as he sincerely tries to do the right thing. That is as clear as can be.

So either a person has a way of knowing right from wrong, or if he hasn't, he cannot be blamed. So which is it? Does a person have a way of knowing right from wrong, always, or not always? If not always, then do you agree that on those occasions when he has no way of knowing - and if he never had a way of knowing - then he cannot be blamed if he does the wrong thing?

Or, if you think a person always has a way of knowing right from wrong actions, could you please tell me how he can know, if not by listening to the true voice of conscience?

Please illustrate your explanation by explaining how a person can decide the right course of action - other than by listening to the true voice of conscience within himself - in these situations:

If a single man and a single woman (e.g in a committed loving relationship) want to sleep together without going to all the trouble of having to wait to get married first, how are they to know that it is wrong if they both believe that, according to their conscience, it's absolutely okay, there is nothing wrong with it, they are doing no-one any harm, they are just like a married couple without the piece of paper? How can they be blamed if they have no way of knowing that it is wrong? Or if they have a way of knowing that it is wrong, please explain what that way of knowing is.

If a health worker in a poor African district is in a position to supply condoms to prostitutes (to help prevent the spread of AIDs), should he? How would he know what is the right thing to do if not by listening to the true voice of conscience within himself? If there is no way for him to know what is the right thing to do, but he sincerely acts according to his conscience, then how can he be blamed if he does the wrong thing?

In other words, ought he be able to choose the right course of action? If so, how ought he be able to?

For the benefit of Ancient Oracle, you do not have to answer any of my questions, caleb. But if you don't, I will draw my own conclusions. Please don't say yet again that it's too soon to answer them. It's been a long time now. I don't mind if you say anything else you want to say before answering them, as long as you then answer them, or else say that you are unable to answer them.

I am really very interested in hearing how a person can know what is the right thing to do without listening to his conscience, in these situations I have outlined, and generally.


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 Post subject: Re: Should you sometimes act against your conscience?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 3:17 pm 
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torn wrote:
You, caleb, are saying that it is not by means of his conscience that he knows what is right and what is wrong.
I'm saying that conscience alone is not a law unto itself and is therefore only a part of what leads a person to know right and wrong. What you're leaving out in your opinion of conscience is this: The conscience is a subjective faculty. The conscience isn't a repository of rules, as if the conscience were a book that a person only needs to consult. The conscience is a sense. Conscience is personal responsibility. This fact is why we say that a person develops his conscience. He develops his conscience by consulting the moral law. The moral law is an order that exists independent of individual circumstances and that governs them. It is from this moral law that the legitimacy of a person's actions comes; the legitimacy doesn't come from his conscience. The moral law is also unwritten, but we have codified judgments, prescribed by the Church, that represent the moral law and that are therefore binding.
Newman wrote:
But, of course, I have to say again, lest I should be misunderstood, that when I speak of Conscience, I mean conscience truly so called.
Why is Newman taking such care to make sure he isn't misunderstood. The reason is that Newman is speaking of conscience aligned with reason and the moral law. A person must always follow the certain judgment of his conscience. With regard to the conscience, certainty means that the person knows definitively that an action would either break from or conform to reason and the moral law. Having such knowledge, a person must act in accordance with it.
torn wrote:
In other words, ought he be able to choose the right course of action? If so, how ought he be able to?
As I said above, the Church codifies some principles, and a certain conscience will always conform to these codifications because the Church commands interior acts. The Church commands acts of conscience.


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 Post subject: Re: Should you sometimes act against your conscience?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 5:39 pm 
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caleb wrote:
torn wrote:
In other words, ought he be able to choose the right course of action? If so, how ought he be able to?
As I said above, the Church codifies some principles, and a certain conscience will always conform to these codifications because the Church commands interior acts. The Church commands acts of conscience.

So how then would a person go about ascertaining the moral law and deciding what is the right course of action in this situation: If a health worker in a poor African district is in a position to supply condoms to prostitutes (to help prevent the spread of AIDs), should he?


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 Post subject: Re: Should you sometimes act against your conscience?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 8:17 pm 
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torn wrote:

caleb wrote:
You are not listening.

Are you listening, caleb?



More "So's your old man" response ...

You still need the Holy Spirit if you wanr wisdom and understanding.

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 Post subject: Re: Should you sometimes act against your conscience?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 5:08 am 
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Ancient Oracle wrote:
torn wrote:

caleb wrote:
You are not listening.

Are you listening, caleb?



More "So's your old man" response ...

You still need the Holy Spirit if you wanr wisdom and understanding.

And so do you.


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 Post subject: Re: Should you sometimes act against your conscience?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:42 am 
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torn wrote:
Ancient Oracle wrote:
torn wrote:

caleb wrote:
You are not listening.

Are you listening, caleb?



More "So's your old man" response ...

You still need the Holy Spirit if you want wisdom and understanding.

And so do you.


"So's your old man"

The real answer to all your squirming is still to be found outside of you.

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 Post subject: Re: Should you sometimes act against your conscience?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:53 am 
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torn wrote:
So how then would a person go about ascertaining the moral law and deciding what is the right course of action in this situation: If a health worker in a poor African district is in a position to supply condoms to prostitutes (to help prevent the spread of AIDs), should he?
"Deciding the right course of action" isn't a process that depends first on the situation. As I've said before, the judgment of specific circumstances is always subsequent to the moral law and to reason, from the consultation of which the will proceeds to action. The circumstances, no matter how complex and no matter how compelling, don't create the rule of action that the person must follow. To the contrary, the moral imperative of the law precedes the circumstances, and the law already contains the circumstances.

No matter how mutable the human condition is, the moral law remains static. No matter how hard the moral law is to know or to follow amid the vicissitudes of life, the moral law retains its coercive force. I take it that these points are the stumbling block, so without acknowledging the primacy of the law and reason, we can't address circumstances. Why not? Because the question you're asking with many colorful descriptions is no different than the question, Should a person supply condoms?


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 Post subject: Re: Should you sometimes act against your conscience?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 5:24 pm 
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caleb wrote:
torn wrote:
So how then would a person go about ascertaining the moral law and deciding what is the right course of action in this situation: If a health worker in a poor African district is in a position to supply condoms to prostitutes (to help prevent the spread of AIDs), should he?
"Deciding the right course of action" isn't a process that depends first on the situation. As I've said before, the judgment of specific circumstances is always subsequent to the moral law and to reason, from the consultation of which the will proceeds to action. The circumstances, no matter how complex and no matter how compelling, don't create the rule of action that the person must follow. To the contrary, the moral imperative of the law precedes the circumstances, and the law already contains the circumstances.

No matter how mutable the human condition is, the moral law remains static. No matter how hard the moral law is to know or to follow amid the vicissitudes of life, the moral law retains its coercive force. I take it that these points are the stumbling block, so without acknowledging the primacy of the law and reason, we can't address circumstances. Why not? Because the question you're asking with many colorful descriptions is no different than the question, Should a person supply condoms?

The question I am asking is the question I am asking:

So how then would a person go about ascertaining the moral law and deciding what is the right course of action in this situation: If a health worker in a poor African district is in a position to supply condoms to prostitutes (to help prevent the spread of AIDs), should he?

It is a very important and very practical question for those in that situation, for which a practical answer is required, but to which you do not appear to have any practical answer.

Conscience is very useful and very practical.


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 Post subject: Re: Should you sometimes act against your conscience?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 5:34 pm 
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Quote:
So how then would a person go about ascertaining the moral law and deciding


Deciding?

What deciding do you have to do?

Once you have ascertained the moral law, there is nothing left to decide.

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 Post subject: Re: Should you sometimes act against your conscience?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 5:43 pm 
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Ancient Oracle wrote:
Quote:
So how then would a person go about ascertaining the moral law and deciding


Deciding?

What deciding do you have to do?

Once you have ascertained the moral law, there is nothing left to decide.

How do you answer this question then?:

So how then would a person go about ascertaining the moral law and deciding what is the right course of action in this situation: If a health worker in a poor African district is in a position to supply condoms to prostitutes (to help prevent the spread of AIDs), should he?


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 Post subject: Re: Should you sometimes act against your conscience?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 5:43 pm 
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torn wrote:
It is a very important and very practical question for those in that situation, for which a practical answer is required, but to which you do not appear to have any practical answer.
A person in a difficult situation no doubt feels himself in a special circumstance. He may even feel that his case is so special that it allows him a special exception to the moral law. But from the point of view of God and the law, his situation is in fact quite ordinary. Why not deal with the overriding issues that govern all cases? I've reduced your circumstantial question--and that is all your question is--to an even more "practical" question. Answer my question or explain why yours is any different.


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 Post subject: Re: Should you sometimes act against your conscience?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:12 pm 
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caleb wrote:
torn wrote:
It is a very important and very practical question for those in that situation, for which a practical answer is required, but to which you do not appear to have any practical answer.
A person in a difficult situation no doubt feels himself in a special circumstance. He may even feel that his case is so special that it allows him a special exception to the moral law. But from the point of view of God and the law, his situation is in fact quite ordinary. Why not deal with the overriding issues that govern all cases? I've reduced your circumstantial question--and that is all your question is--to an even more "practical" question. Answer my question or explain why yours is any different.

Could you please answer my question first, as I asked it first. Then I will certainly answer your question if you state it clearly.

Please note that my question is not merely:
Quote:
If a health worker in a poor African district is in a position to supply condoms to prostitutes (to help prevent the spread of AIDs), should he?

My question is:
Quote:
So how then would a person go about ascertaining the moral law and deciding what is the right course of action in this situation: If a health worker in a poor African district is in a position to supply condoms to prostitutes (to help prevent the spread of AIDs), should he?

My answer to my question is that the health worker should listen to all the expert advice available and use all his God-given intelligence to understand and be guided finally by his conscience.

What's your answer to my question? Are you too scared to tell me? Or do you just not know?


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 Post subject: Re: Should you sometimes act against your conscience?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:49 pm 
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torn wrote:

What's your answer to my question? Are you too scared to tell me? Or do you just not know?


I suggested at the top of this page, are you a prosecuting attorney?

We are not in a court, and you are not in charge.

Ask you questions (even if you ignore our answers) but understand that this is a discussion, not a cross examination.

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 Post subject: Re: Should you sometimes act against your conscience?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:21 pm 
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torn wrote:
Could you please answer my question first, as I asked it first.
You asked first? Are we children on a playground? I readily admit that I can't answer your question until the overriding principles behind your question are agreed on. Perhaps you have an answer that doesn't need to establish an agreement on principles first. Perhaps you think that the circumstances create the rules. Yes, Is that your thinking? What then? Can a health worker in Africa can give condoms to prostitutes? What about a health worker in Las Vegas? Can he give condoms to prostitutes? If so, can he give condoms only to prostitutes or to anyone else who seems to need condoms? Does this apply only in Africa and Las Vegas, or everywhere? Can a Regular Joe with no health training give out condoms to prostitutes? Can a high school counselor give condoms to students in Surrey? Can a child abuser give condoms to children in London? Can a teenager in Rome give condoms to his sexual partner? Can a husband in Ontario give condoms to his wife?

Does any rule govern all these people, or are they all the deciders of their own rules? As I said before, I disavow the premise of your question. Strip the question bare. Then answer: Should a person supply condoms? What is your answer to that?
torn wrote:
Then I will certainly answer your question if you state it clearly.
My question is clearer than yours. Should a person supply condoms? Why is my question, stripped of the colorful characters and descriptions that your question adds, less clear? Mine is clearer. Mine strips the question bare and demands a universal answer. Or is there no such thing? Are people free to do as they please according to their preferences in any given circumstance?

I'm clear compared to your quibbles. Here's the reason: Seemingly unique circumstances are in fact quite ordinary because every possible eventuality is contained--in the full sense of that word--by the moral law. Let's deal with the fundamentals. Give the fundamental rule on which your conclusions are based. Then individual circumstances will follow the lead of the fundamentals.


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 Post subject: Re: Should you sometimes act against your conscience?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:15 am 
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torn wrote:
Ancient Oracle wrote:
Quote:
So how then would a person go about ascertaining the moral law and deciding


Deciding?

What deciding do you have to do?

Once you have ascertained the moral law, there is nothing left to decide.

How do you answer this question then?:

So how then would a person go about ascertaining the moral law and deciding what is the right course of action in this situation: If a health worker in a poor African district is in a position to supply condoms to prostitutes (to help prevent the spread of AIDs), should he?


I'd say, definitively, you need the Holy Spirit in your life.

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 Post subject: Re: Should you sometimes act against your conscience?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 4:31 pm 
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Ancient Oracle wrote:
torn wrote:

What's your answer to my question? Are you too scared to tell me? Or do you just not know?


I suggested at the top of this page, are you a prosecuting attorney?

We are not in a court, and you are not in charge.

Ask you questions (even if you ignore our answers) but understand that this is a discussion, not a cross examination.

Are you an idiot?


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 Post subject: Re: Should you sometimes act against your conscience?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 4:33 pm 
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Ancient Oracle wrote:
torn wrote:
Ancient Oracle wrote:
Quote:
So how then would a person go about ascertaining the moral law and deciding


Deciding?

What deciding do you have to do?

Once you have ascertained the moral law, there is nothing left to decide.

How do you answer this question then?:

So how then would a person go about ascertaining the moral law and deciding what is the right course of action in this situation: If a health worker in a poor African district is in a position to supply condoms to prostitutes (to help prevent the spread of AIDs), should he?


I'd say, definitively, you need the Holy Spirit in your life.

So do you, definitely.


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