Paul says that God's law is "written on the heart." And although we can be desensitized to evil, we can't really forget that it's evil. Even if you drive your conscience underground, you can never erase it.
Listen to these examples taken from the recently re-released classic What We Can't Not Know by J. Budziszewski. At a meeting of fellow abortionists, a physician and a nurse described a survey of fifteen of the physician's present and former staff. You might think that abortion didn't trouble them, but you'd be wrong. Some of the staff reported that they refused to look at the aborted fetus.
Others looked but felt "shock, dismay, amazement, disgust, fear, and sadness." Two thought that abortion "must eventually damage the physician psychologically." One found herself becoming increasingly resentful about the casual attitudes of some patients, even though she approved of abortion herself. Two of the staff described dreams about vomiting up fetuses or about protecting other people from looking at them.
Yes, even these hardened abortionists and their staff show the signs of buried conscience.
In another story, Budziszewski tells about the "abortion pill," RU-486. It was once expected that RU-486 would be an easy way to have an abortion because swallowing a pill is simpler than undergoing a surgical procedure. The facts are much different: RU-486 can cause severe bleeding, cramping, and nausea. The expulsion of the embryo may take several days, and the woman may be able to recognize the remains of her child in the toilet or collection bucket.
But get this: Pro-abortion researchers in clinical trials of RU-486 argued that for some women, these awful burdens are just what makes RU-486 attractive. These women welcome the increased suffering because they regard it as a price they ought to pay, a kind of atonement for having an abortion -- interesting. Now why would they be trying to atone if they didn't know that abortion is wrong?
You may have friends who have had abortions and say that they have never felt guilty about them. What they say may be true in their minds, but as I explain in today’s Two-Minute Warning, which I urge you to watch at ColsonCenter.org, conscience is not just about what people feel.
Budziszewski quotes a pro-abortion counselor who told a pro-abortion journalist, "I am not confident even now, with abortion so widely used, that women feel it's okay to want an abortion without feeling guilty. They say, 'Am I some sort of monster that I feel all right about this?'" That question is revealing. Plainly, if a woman has guilty feelings for not having guilty feelings, she must know that what she did is wrong. Her conscience is very much alive.
To learn more about the hidden workings of conscience, I strongly recommend J. Budziszewski's re-released book What We Can't Not Know. We have it for you at the Colson Center bookstore.
But before I go, let me once again urge you to watch my Two-Minute Warning. Because it is critical in this age of me-first moral relativism that we understand just what exactly conscience is — and what it is not. And I’ll break it all down for you on my Two Minute Warning at ColsonCenter.org.
This article published on July 20, 2011. Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.