When My Freedom Conflicts With Your Conscience (On Bodily Autonomy & Vaccine Mandates)

Introduction

In my last post, I spoke about individual freedom: I argued that all people are free because God made them so. This includes the innate freedom to think, to speak and to choose. I focused on the freedom of the individual. In this post, I will provide a biblical framework for thinking about individual freedom as it plays out amidst other free individuals.

Today, I will develop a biblical answer to the question: What happens when one person’s freedom to choose comes in conflict with another person’s conscience? What is the amicable solution?

In particular, I will apply the answer to this question to the issue of individual autonomy and vaccination. That is, cognizant that all people have bodily autonomy and freedom to choose, what is the loving thing to do when my choice bothers the conscience of my neighbor? If given the option to vaccinate, would it be loving to sacrifice my medical freedom[1] for the sake of my neighbor? How can a person who declines vaccination (against anything) respond to being called irresponsible, selfish, foolish and a threat to others? Are those who decline arrogantly and brazenly exercising their “freedom” at the expense of those around them? And, if my free choice conflicts with the will of an organization or the State, does that entity have a right to impose a vaccine mandate? In what follows, I hope to provide clarity and meaningful answers to these questions.

The Biblical Principle

So, what is a biblical way to think about interpersonal relations when my freedom conflicts with your conscience? Overall, as long as a person does not violate the principle of non-aggression, the maxim “My body, my choice” is valid. Certainly, “My body, your choice” is never valid.

As I wrote in my last post:

Even though a person may possess individual autonomy, they are not autonomous: they do not have absolute freedom and are not free to sacrifice the freedom of another for their benefit. As long as a person does not violate the personal or property rights of others, then that person is free to choose and to do what they please. As stated, that does not imply what a person chooses to do will be virtuous or moral; they remain at liberty to choose accordingly.

For further answers, we will go to Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church. In chapters eight through ten of that epistle, Paul addresses a question that members in the church asked him: whether it was lawful to eat food that had been sacrificed to idols. In chapter eight of I Corinthians, the apostle cautions people to take care with their liberty. He says in I Corinthians 8:8-9:

Now food will not bring us close to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. But take care that this freedom of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.

Paul is making the point that eating meat sacrificed to idols is a morally neutral, free choice. That is, the decision to eat the foot or not is neither virtuous nor sinful. However, the apostle cautions people to be mindful that their choices do not become stumbling blocks to others. In the next chapter, Paul writes about his use of freedom and how he endures many things for Christ. Yes, Paul is free, but he exercises that freedom for the sake of the gospel. Next, in chapter ten, Paul brings closure to the issue.

In I Corinthians 10:23-30, the text says:

All things are permitted, but not all things are of benefit. All things are permitted, but not all things build people up. No one is to seek his own advantage, but rather that of his neighbor. Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions, for the sake of conscience; for the earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains. If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions, for the sake of conscience. But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of that one who informed you and for the sake of conscience; now by “conscience” I do not mean your own, but the other person’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered about that for which I give thanks?

Paul expresses the same principle here that he wrote about two chapters earlier. On the one hand, he says that when you are in the presence of an unbeliever, eat anything they set before you without asking questions. On the other hand, he says if another says to you, “This meat is sacrificed to idols,” then don’t eat it for the sake of the other person. What is Paul’s point? It is not about what a person does because, depending on the context, the apostle advocates doing opposite things. Paul says the people are free to either eat food sacrificed to idols or not, because the eating itself is morally neutral. The food isn’t the point, God is; for how could eating or not eating bring a person closer to the Lord? Yes, other people may be bothered by how Paul advocates for the use of Christian liberty, but the apostle asks a powerful question in verse 29:

[W]hy is my freedom judged by another’s conscience?

In other words, if God has made man free to do these things, then who is one man to cast judgment on his neighbor? This logic helps to explain what Paul writes next in verses 31-32:

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all things for the glory of God. Do not offend Jews or Greeks, or the church of God; just as I also please everyone in all things, not seeking my own benefit but the benefit of the many, so that they may be saved.

Here, then, is a biblical principle laid out for us: when it comes to matters that are morally neutral—meaning there is neither an explicit command to do something (making it virtuous) nor a prohibition against it (making it sinful)—whatever you freely choose to do, do it all for the glory of God. In exercising your Christian freedom, let not another condemn you, for why is your freedom judged by another’s conscience?

As Pastor John MacArthur writes in his New Testament Commentary, Paul’s instruction here teaches “liberty over legalism” and “condescension over condemnation.” Liberty over legalism means that freedom in Christ is a privilege; that privilege should be forfeited only when it may clearly offend someone else and thus deter the work of the gospel. Notice that for matters that are morally neutral, there is no Law and therefore no compulsion. A free person therefore freely sacrifices their own freedom, and a person ought not to voluntarily sacrifice their freedom unless it is for the purpose of building someone else up. Hence, when one person limits their liberty, they do so with the intent of helping a weaker brother grow in their understanding of their liberty.

Condescension over condemnation means we may modify what we do for the sake of others, but we should not modify our conscience. Violating one’s conscience is a sin and a world in which people constantly modify their consciences merely to accommodate others would be ruled by unbelief, legalism and depravity, while faith, liberty and righteousness would be forgotten. Thus, instead of arguing or trying to impose my freedom on another, I act (or refrain from acting) so that someone else will be edified. Coercion, or me trying to supplant your freedom with my conscience, would be sinful legalism and a violation of condescension over condemnation. Furthermore, the legalism of others should not make us legalistic and judgmental; rather, it should produce gratitude that God has gifted us with the liberty to either eat or not to eat. Condescension over condemnation also means that we are not called to exercise our freedom in a way that causes someone else to stumble; this offense implies actual harm. Thus, the relationship between individual freedom and concern for others is dynamic and there is constant give and take. The ultimate focus is never me or my neighbor; it’s God and His truth.

To reiterate the principle: for morally neutral matters, the Bible teaches us to prefer liberty over legalism and condescension over condemnation. In whatever Christians choose to do, they must demonstrate the majesty of the Lord and ensure their behavior exalts the gospel and does not pollute it.

Application: Vaccination and Vaccine Mandates

That’s the principle of how individual freedom plays out amidst other free individuals. Now, let’s change gears and apply said principle to the issue of vaccination and vaccine mandates. I think this application is fitting considering what is happening all around the world, as well as the fact that freedom doesn’t get much more personal than the right of individuals to choose what is put into their bodies.

Getting a vaccine is morally neutral. The Bible is silent when it comes to vaccines, so we should not make a law where God has not spoken. This means that, biblically speaking, whether you choose to vaccinate or not is neither righteous nor sinful. So, cognizant that all individuals are free and possess the innate right of bodily autonomy, what happens when one person’s freedom to choose comes in conflict with another person’s conscience? Should the bodily autonomy of an individual be sacrificed for the individual autonomy of another or a group?

The answer is, so long as a person is free to vaccinate or not, there is neither a right nor wrong answer. Certainly, a person may freely decide to vaccinate (or not) for the sake of another, but that is a free decision consistent with conscience. However, when a person is coerced, the bodily autonomy of an individual should never be sacrificed. Why? Because any situation where one person is forced to act against conscience violates both the divine image and individual freedom. Again, a person may freely modify what they do, but they are not called to modify their conscience for another person. Conscience animates action; coercion, therefore, compels an individual to act against conscience, which is a sin. Degenerating toward coercion creates a paradigm of legalism over liberty and condemnation over condescension. Specifically, coercion in the form of vaccine mandates violates natural law and innate human dignity. Hence, because coercion in morally neutral matters equates to gross violations of biblical principles, vaccine mandates are wholly unbiblical. The ominous reality is that, if you say yes to sacrificing your bodily autonomy, then you will say yes to anything.

Any truly free society demands adherence to the non-aggression principle. No person should initiate force against another and force should only be used in self-defense to protect life. Mandating that substances like vaccines be injected into someone else’s body cannot be justified as an act of self-defense, because no actual harm is quantifiable. How can defending forced vaccination as self-defense be justified when it can never be shown with certainty that the non-vaccinated person would have been responsible for another person’s harm? No vaccine is risk-free; therefore, how can it be demonstrated that the potential harm of the vaccine is lower than the potential harm to another?

In the West, the last time a society openly embraced denying bodily autonomy and experimenting on people was Nazi Germany. That regime arguably committed the greatest violations of human rights in modern history, including forced scientific and medical experimentation on human beings on a mass scale. Subsequently, after the fall of the Third Reich, in 1948, the United Nations passed its Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In that Declaration, Article 3 states, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” Additionally, the Nuremberg Trials (1945 to 1949) resulted in the Nuremberg Code (1947), which provided a set of 10 standards that addressed questions of medical experimentation on humans. The Code established a foundational global standard for ethical medical behavior that included the voluntary informed consent of the human subject. In 1966, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights declared in Article 7: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.” Forced medical procedures and medical coercion are especially monstrous violations of basic human dignity and autonomy. The world of the 20th century learned this lesson the hard way. But it seems to have been unlearned amid the current era when fear reigns supreme. The age-old maxim is true: those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

In the end, living in a free society is the biblical ideal, even though free societies are often messy. That is the price of freedom. To live in a society where freedom is sacrificed means bearing the burden of living a life that is not human. To live in a free society, one must be willing to tolerate people who make bad decisions and bad choices, as long as they don’t directly infringe on the rights of others. Of course, the person making a bad choice may be you.

Application: The Results of My Freedom to Vaccinate or Not on Others

Now, before I leave the issue of medical mandates and vaccination, let us take one line of thinking to its ultimate conclusion. A person may reason to themselves and say: Given the option to vaccinate or not, wouldn’t the loving thing be to sacrifice my freedom (bodily autonomy) for the sake of my neighbor(s) if that would protect them? If I neglect to vaccinate, that may cause someone else to get sick. Doesn’t that make me unloving, selfish and a threat to others? Of what value is my Christian freedom if that liberty hurts other people?

First, if we look back to I Corinthians 10:23-30, it is clear that the text speaks about the use of individual freedom in the context of another individual. So, for example, in verse 24 Paul says, “No one is to seek his own advantage, but rather that of his neighbor.” Neighbor is singular. Furthermore, to be judged by another’s conscience implies being judged by another singular person. Groups or segments of society do not have a collective conscience. Therefore, the text does not talk about the use of individual freedom in the context of nebulous ideas or fuzzy groups, such as the “betterment of society” or “for the greater good.” Biblically speaking, the collectivist social contract does not exist and the text does not talk about using your liberty to be mindful of potentially offending a whole group of people; it speaks about actually offending an individual that you know. What a burden it would be for a man to live worrying about offending strangers he will never meet! Therefore, when a Christian considers the free exercise of his or her liberty, they should keep specific individuals in mind: this typically means friends and family that are close by.

Second, another potential argument for vaccination is that people tend not to get sick as isolated individuals. Instead, when one person gets sick, so does the village around them. Hence, if enough people decide not to vaccinate, they threaten “herd immunity,” which refers to the state when a large portion of a community (the herd) becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease unlikely. As a result, the whole community becomes protected, not just those who are immune. This argument states that the unvaccinated are a threat to everyone because they threaten herd immunity and are delaying the time until herd immunity is achieved. The problem with this logic is that when you talk about diseases in crowds, it’s sick people who pose a threat to healthy people; it’s not the unvaccinated threatening the vaccinated. And do not forget that no vaccine is perfect and that pathogens change. This simply means that not everyone who is vaccinated develops immunity and not everyone who is unvaccinated becomes infected. All people can get sick. As a result, healthy unvaccinated people pose no threat to anyone because they are not sick. To further suggest that unvaccinated people get a “free ride” off the back of vaccinated people is a misdirection, because vaccinated people are never denied the benefits of their own individual health decisions.

Third, another potential argument for vaccination is that getting vaccinated would protect a person from social ridicule. But when has righteousness ever been determined by the crowd? Was it not the mob that said, “Crucify Him”?

We now live in a culture where vaccination is erroneously associated with virtue and non-vaccination is associated with vice. The logic behind this moral calculus is that a person’s behavior can affect the harm caused by a disease and it is therefore right not only to mandate vaccination but also to make life difficult for those who do not conform. If we take this logic to its natural conclusion, that also means in every other area of life, whenever a person engages in any behavior that can cause adverse health consequences for other people, they should be punished. This, therefore, means all the following people should be guilted, shamed and molested in their everyday lives: smokers, the obese, diabetics who drink soda, hypertensives who consume too much salt, fast drivers, absent-minded drivers and those who play contact sports. Let us also not forget those who murder children by elective abortion and those who facilitate infanticide by their vote, their approval or their direct assistance (i.e., healthcare providers). Ultimately, if we try to artificially constrain life so that all health-related risks are minimized, we are left with no life at all. To live invariably means being exposed to the risks of normal life: death, disease, accidents and pathogens.

Fourth, another potential argument for vaccination is that failure to vaccinate hurts other people, either directly or indirectly. Oliver Wendell Holmes once articulated the libertarian idea of non-aggression when he said, “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.” The analogy often used is that the unvaccinated person is the one who is actively swinging their disease-laden fists in someone else’s face. The problem with this line of thinking, however, is that the person who uses their liberty not to vaccinate is not taking an action at all: they are choosing inaction. And do not forget that the fist-swinger is not immune. He, too, can get sick and is the first person to suffer the consequences of an illness. In fact, he may be so unwell that he’s not out in the street; he may be home in bed away from everyone else, without the strength to swing.

The only way the analogy would work is if an infected person with malevolent intent goes to someone else and coughs directly into their face. Additionally, a person who is swinging their fists intends to hit and hurt someone else, whereas the pathogens from an infected person operate independently of the person’s will.

As the saying goes, “The healthy have no need of a physician, but the sick do.” I now say, “The healthy have no absolute need for vaccines, but the infected need treatment.” Therefore, a healthy unvaccinated person cannot be held guilty for being a threat to someone else when they haven’t done anything wrong. The principle is worth repeating: morality in the Bible is based on concrete, actual phenomena in reality; not potential and nebulous effects. An unvaccinated person is only potentially, not actually, infected, and only what is actual can properly be a threat.

Fifth, another potential argument for vaccination is that we are presumably in a so-called “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” On the level of language, this statement is blatantly false because pandemics of the unvaccinated do not exist; pandemics of the infected who have a contagious disease exist. Why would you have to compel someone to take a vaccine if it’s beneficial to you? If vaccines work and produce robust, enduring immunity, then that means everyone who is vaccinated is safe and everyone who is unvaccinated is unsafe. This means that, through time or contagion, everyone without a vaccine suffers, so they are a threat only to themselves. If vaccines do work, then why would a vaccinated person need to worry if they are already protected? If they are not protected, then why would anyone else get the vaccine? The reality is, we are not in the midst of a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” but we have been living in the midst of gross human foolishness since the Garden of Eden. A person is a fool if they believe there is wisdom in forcing others to undergo a medical procedure if they would remain unprotected from everyone who doesn’t undergo the procedure. If anything, that’s a logical argument for vaccine refusal.

Application: What Vaccine Mandates Tell Us About Where We Are

In an ideal, free world, all people would be free to do as they please as long as they do not aggress others. Unfortunately, what has happened in the past 18 months is the progressive medicalization of life so that a healthcare decision an individual makes in one small area affects all other parts of reality; this explains how entities like the State and private businesses conspire with healthcare providers to collectively compel individuals to sacrifice their God-given right to bodily autonomy. This should pierce the conscience of all people because the medicalization of everyday life is one of the first steps on the path toward totalitarianism. Politics is the use of persuasion and power to rule masses of humans. Economics is the realm of voluntary, free exchange. Medicine is the application of science to the furtherance of human health. These are all fully separate disciplines. To subordinate medicine to politics (i.e., to use the power of politics to coerce a medical procedure) degrades medicine and creates a perverse system of healthcare that abandons serving people and adopts authoritarianism as an operating principle. Because independent spheres are now perversely being meshed together, we live in a culture where politics makes medical decisions, business enforces political matters and the best medicine is determined by what’s best for business.

Medicine is a branch of science, which is not an organization but a process of testing and trying to falsify ideas. Science certainly is not based upon authority and it is very certainly not allied with power. Real medicine and real science, therefore, have nothing to do with social pressure. Sadly, providers are no longer guided by the oath “Do not harm,” but instead religiously follow the mantra “You must obey.” This sends a message to the masses: that they are nothing more than subordinate pawns of the State. This perverse paradigm means culture is now regressing toward accepting the darkness of totalitarianism. For the Christian, this paradigm-shift highlights a very important lesson: as secular authority’s actions become more evil, resistance of unjust authority becomes more virtuous. For those who are hesitant to accept the truth of the last sentence, let us not forget that the Bible, natural law and human history all confirm that undiscerning, uncritical or unconditional submission to unjust authority does not produce peace, love and joy but rather strife, enmity and misery.

Conclusion: Freedom is Our Mental Backbone

We have moved from the general principle of individual freedom to its specific application to bodily autonomy and vaccine mandates. I will now return to general principles and ask again the question I asked at the beginning: What happens when one person’s freedom to choose comes in conflict with another person’s conscience? The answer depends on if you are living in a free society or not. In a free society, individuals honor and respect the freedom of their neighbors. Here, there is a preference for individual freedom. In an unfree society, individuals are only allowed to live by permission and there is always a preference for the so-called collective conscience. The collective will always attempt to impose its will on individuals, which is why freedom is our mental backbone.

Voltaire once said:

So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men.

It is not surprising that secular power is trying to increase its freedom at the expense of people. After all, this is what secular power has always done. What is surprising is how people have so quickly adapted to giving up their God-given freedom and never stop to ask themselves if what they are doing is right or if it is consistent with the truth. Over the past 1.5 years, the people of the world have been asked to accept a “new normal.” However, this process of normalization often means accepting how things are without discussing how they should be. Truly, the “new normal” isn’t normal at all, but is being uncritically accepted as regular and ordinary because people are asleep. For a concrete example, think about how many times the goalposts have moved since the Spring of 2020. First, we were told to lockdown for two weeks to flatten the curve, then everything will return to normal. That was a lie. Next, we were told to mask up and distance, and everything would return to normal. That was a lie. Then, we were asked to place all of our faith in vaccines, and once they arrived, they would save us. That was a lie. Do you notice a trend? With each new ask, people are becoming more demoralized and less free. Subsequently, would you rather continue to be led by “the experts” into the darkness or wake up and open your eyes?

In the democratic West, people tend to think that tyranny will look like the tyranny that our ancestors endured. Instead, the totalitarianism that is nurtured by the root of democracy is more pervasive and subtle; it degrades people without overtly molesting them. Because it is a silent threat, it is more dangerous. After all, a people who do not realize they are losing their freedom will not fight for it. They will simply let it slip through their fingers. The person who, therefore, bothers my conscience is my neighbor who unquestioningly yields their freedom and wants me to do the same so they can feel happy and we both can be slaves.

The new normal is also being uncritically accepted because people are demoralized and afraid. A people who are uprooted and alienated lose their sense of who they are and what the world means; as a result, a freedom-consuming totalitarian ideology that claims to answer all questions and soothe all anxieties has a certain irresistible, hypnotic charm. A people who are terrorized and afraid forget about their innate human freedom and flock to the State to ask it to please take their liberties away so that they will be safe. Thus, an essential aspect of totalitarianism is the consignment of reason and conscience to a higher authority; people place their faith in the system because they fear all other objects of faith. And fear, as history shows, is the method most often used by secular power to increase its strength. History also demonstrates time and time again that the State is capable of mass murder and terror far beyond what individuals can do. Accordingly, totalitarianism is an ideology of darkness, but this darkness only grows in the absence of light.

Do you ever stop and consider the world around you and get frustrated? Do you ever meditate on what’s happening and get angry that people seem to passively accept lies and live as if what is true and right doesn’t matter? If the spirit of the age nudges you to live by lies and that bothers you, that is a good sign. It means you are not asleep and recognize the lie for what it is. It means your conscience—which never stops preaching the truth—has not been silenced. And, your conscience is not alone. That is, the specter of dissent is haunting the world of immoral secular power. This specter has not come from nothing but is the inevitable consequence of the present moment in which governments act in defiance of divine Law and with the arbitrary application of power. Dissent exists when a person refuses to let go of the truth in the midst of the lie.

I don’t want you to get angry and then become so demoralized that you either give up and become apathetic or resort to violence. Instead, my hope is that you will strengthen yourself in the Lord and find your all-sufficient source in Him. My hope is that, through meditation on the Word and prayer, you consider that perhaps the madness all around you is not designed to make you crazy but, rather, draw you closer to sanity; perhaps all those who sheepishly succumb their wills to the lie will provoke you to strengthen your resolve in the truth. With this perspective in mind, perhaps this time is a gift intended to grow your spiritual fruit, sharpen your reason, and make concrete your will to fight for freedom. Therefore, be courageous and don’t lament the situation, but rather embrace it.

The real “normal” is how things should be and is the way God designed them to be: for people to live not by lies but to live in the truth. One of the truths of life is that all people are inherently free: this includes their right to bodily autonomy. Freedom is our mental backbone: once you realize that you are already free and no one else must grant you permission for liberty, you can start living in the truth and take local, personal action as a free individual. If you are strengthened in the truth and recognize your God-given dignity, when someone else’s conscience attempts to supplant your freedom, you can calmly say, “I will not comply.” In practical terms, living in the truth refers to any means by which a person or a group revolts against manipulation, such as speaking up and saying something when reality defies common sense or refusing to participate in a ritual if it perpetuates a lie. It is only by non-violent resistance that tyrants will be put in check, because once you resort to violence, you have become like them.

But be mindful: do not seek someone else to fight for your freedom. Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that someone else will take risks for your values. Freedom-fighting begins with you, and the most meaningful struggles are not televised in prime time; they often are never reported and involve people no one has ever heard of. The most significant struggles for freedom also happen locally, every single day. One may object and doubt the power of living in the truth if it has no large media presence and if it is dispersed and disconnected. That is simply because the power of living in the truth is qualitatively different than the power of tyranny. You see, you cannot attack what you cannot identify, and you cannot localize that which is not centralized. So, what matters most is not one big event seen by everyone; what matters most are small, persistent changes that happen every day in individual lives. And, once you begin to stand for freedom and the truth prevails, you will begin to see effects: you will begin to see people-promoting, life-affirming, community-building, freedom-preserving effects beyond anything you thought possible. The most important fruits, though, are not what you see in the lives of others, but in your own.

Freedom is your mental backbone because the bold and courageous person does not derive their strength from others. They derive their strength from the divine, who enables one man to stand in the truth against the tyranny of the majority. As Mark Twain wrote in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:

The pitifulest thing out is a mob; that’s what an army is—a mob; they don’t fight with courage that’s born in them, but with courage that’s borrowed from their mass, and from their officers. 

I reference this quote not to speak against an army per se. I use it to speak in favor of the bravery it takes to stand up as an individual. Bravery cannot exist when it is diffused in and amongst the crowd. True bravery only exists when no one else will stand and only the individual remains to act in courage. For was it not David alone who asked the question, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine who taunts the armies of the living God?” and then walked up to the giant Goliath? (I Samuel 17:26, 40). Subsequently, if the world hates God, should we expect someone else of the world to take a stand and refuse to compromise on divine truth?

For many, what has happened in the last 18 months is a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. For some, it has been the most adversity they have ever experienced and the greatest attack on their values they have ever known. But what I hope you understand, dear reader, is that perhaps you have been given an opportunity for such a time as this. Perhaps you recognize that God places His agents in fit places for doing His work, He restrains His enemies so that His work is accomplished, and in His providence, He tests His people. By God’s grace and daily supplies of divine strength, you will be refined to persevere so that you can endure more. The preparation is the point.

So, let freedom be your mental backbone and let not your freedom be judged by another’s conscience. As the saying goes, the funny thing about responsibility is that you carry it with you everywhere you go. Hence, if you can embrace the current adversity for what it truly is—an opportunity to rise to the occasion—then you will begin to do exactly that. To paraphrase the words of the late Czech dissident Vaclav Havel, freedom is not merely doing things you want to do; it is reflecting upon the things you should do, and occasionally taking a risk. Living within the truth means stepping out of line, denying the lie of unjust secular authority and, therefore, denying it in principle, threatening its very existence. Hence, the power of the powerless rests not in their possession of any physical or actual power but, rather, in the actions they take to go beyond themselves and illuminates their surroundings. The power of the powerless is living in the truth, which continually breathes life into its disciples. The consequences of such actions are limitless. Therefore, live free and recognize that your ultimate responsibility is never to the conscience of another; it is to God Himself and the truth that He infused into your conscience and into the world that He created.

Dr. C. H. E. Sadaphal

 

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  1. There are two aspects to medical freedom. One includes patient autonomy or the right of one individual to make medical decisions. This includes bodily autonomy and the right to either consent or not to consent. The other aspect is the freedom of discussing ideas and differing opinions. For the purpose of this post, I refer primarily to the first aspect of medical freedom.

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