SOR1: Christianity - Bioethics

Ethical Teachings for SOR1 Christianity

Table of Contents
  • Christian ethics provide a guide for Christians so that their daily living reflects scriptural principles and adheres to the principles of the faith

  • Many elements of Christian ethics are based on the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) and the Beatitudes

  • However, there are denominational differences:

    • Protestant ethics are primarily focused on the scripture itself
    • Catholics and Orthodox base their ethics on natural law (the idea that nature reflects God’s will), and Church documents such as Papal Encyclicals and Apostolic Constitutions

Key Principles

  • Christian ethics has a heavy focus on God’s will to “be done on Earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10 NIV)
  • These principles are the general outlines that are used for more specific or nuanced decisions

Sanctity of Life

  • All human life is considered sacred, as humans are made Imago Dei (In the image of God)

“God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

(Genesis 1:27 NIV)

  • God tasked humans with caring for his creation (Genesis 2:15 NIV)
  • Since humans are created by God, and humans were tasked with caring for God’s creation, then by extension, humans are responsible for the preservation of human life

Divine Sovereignity of God

Sovereignty: to have authority over an area or tract of land

  • God is the creator of the entire universe (Genesis 1:1 NIV) , including humanity (Genesis 1:27 NIV)

  • Because he created all of humanity, he has authority and sovereignty over all humans as well

    “In Him we were made heirs, having been predestined according to the plan of Him, who works everything out in conformity with the purpose of His will,”

    • In other words: before birth, God has already planned out each individual’s life “in conformity” with his greater plans for the universe
  • This implies that if humans interfered with the start, quality and/or end of life, they would be disrupting God’s plan and violating His sovereignty

Jesus' Commandment of Love

  • In the New Testament, Jesus teaches people to “Love one another as I have loved you” (Ephesians 1:11 NIV)
  • Based on this, all ethical decisions in Christianity are rooted in the concept of love
  • As well as loving your proverbial neighbor, Jesus also taught to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength”(Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV)

Ethical Issues - Abortion

All Christian denominations OPPOSE abortion, although to differing extents

Scripture and Ethical Teachings

  • By opposing abortion, Christians are able to uphold their religious ethical principles
    • Sanctity of Life: not killing people is a good way to preserve human life

I think it’s pretty self explanatory to be honest

  • Divine Sovereignty: Only God has the right to kill humans. By allowing abortion, humans take the decision into their own hands and violate Divine Sovereignty
  • Jesus' Commandment of Love: All lives should be valued equally, and therefore treated to the same ethical standard, even before being born

Variant Differences: Catholicism (Completely OPPOSES)

  • The Catholic Church maintains that abortion is not acceptable under ANY circumstances

Sources

  • Catechism of the Catholic Church - 2273

    “The inalienable rights of the person must be recognised and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by the society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the persons by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life … from the moment of conception until death."

  • Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae (1995)

    “I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being."

  • Pope Francis, Rome (29th May 2019) 1

    “Is it legitimate to take out a human life to solve a problem?” Francis asked attendees at a Vatican conference on the issue, repeating one of his most contentious remarks on the issue. “Is it permissible to contract a hitman to solve a problem?”

Variant Differences: Church of England/Anglicanism (OPPOSES under MOST circumstances)

  • The Church of England encourages people to think through the issue of abortion very carefully and recognises that each individual will have differing views on the subject.2

Sources

  • General Synod (2005)

    “The Church of England combines strong opposition to abortion with a recognition that there can be - strictly limited - conditions under which it may be morally preferable to any available alternative."

  • General Synod (1983)

    “In situations where the continuance of a pregnancy threatens the life of the mother a termination of pregnancy may be justified and that there must be adequate and safe provision in our society for such situations."

  • Church of England Board of Social Responsibility (1980)

    “In the light of our conviction that the foetus has the right to live and develop as a member of the human family, we see abortion, the termination of that life by the act of man, as a great moral evil."


References


  1. BBC World Religion. (2009, August 3). BBC - Religions - Christianity: Abortion. BBC - Home; BBC Corporation Ltd. https://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/christianethics/abortion_1.shtml#h2 ↩︎

  2. BBC World Religion. (2009, August 3). BBC - Religions - Christianity: Abortion. BBC - Home; BBC Corporation Ltd. https://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/christianethics/abortion_1.shtml ↩︎

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Pranav Sharma
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Year 12 Student, site owner and developer.

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