CHRISTIAN ETHICS STARTING POINT • Ethics is the practical application of belief • What constitutes appropriate conduct? • Morality refers to the decisions that an individual makes RELATIONSHIP Ethics are based on relationship • • • With God With one’s neighbours With self FOUNDATIONAL TEACHINGS 1. The Ten Commandments (Ex 20:2-17) 2. The Beatitudes contained in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7) 3. Jesus’ commandment of love (Lk 10:25-27) CHRISTIAN ETHICAL STANCE LOVE • God loves people as they are • As seen in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus • So a Christian responds by trying to live in accordance with God’s commands MORAL DILEMMAS • A Christian will often make the same decision as someone of another faith or no faith • The difference is the reason for making the decision • What would Jesus have done? “If I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet (Jn13:15) Paul in 1 Cor.11:1 “Follow my example as follow Christ’s Is the decision in accordance with the law of love? “I give you a new commandment: love one another; as I have loved you, so you are to love one another. If there is this love among you, then all will know that you are my disciples” (Jn 13:34) Summary of the Commandments All three synoptics record Jesus summary of the 10 Commandments. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mk 12:29-31, Mt 22:37-9, Lk 10:27-8) Paul’s version ‘All commandments are summed up in one rule, “Love your neighbour as yourself”: therefore the whole law is summed up in love’ (Rm 13:9-10) Paul’s Hymn of Love 1 Cor. 13:4-7 • A love which is central to all Christian morality; “Love is patient, love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful, not conceited, nor rude, nor selfish, not quick to take offence. Love keeps no score of wrongs, does not gloat over other men’s sins, but delights in the truth. There is nothing that love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope and its endurance.” John’s Love The love that is demanded of Christians being a gift from God to be received and shared. (1John 4:7,16,19) There is not and never can be ONE Christian ethic. Basing one’s response on love gives flexibility of action and variety to the possible answers to a problem In an ideal situation 1. Prayer Praying for guidance – the belief that God can guide the individual through the work of the Holy Spirit which Jesus promised would guide them into all truth (Jn 16:13) Demonstrates that the HS and speak to people through their consciences BIBLE 2. The Word of God is an important source of guidance Infallible --- studied in context --- applied to particular situations TEACHING 3. Traditional teaching does not exist on all moral issues. Sometimes one part of the church will offer clear guidance eg Roman Catholic Church – in the belief that God’s HS guides people through the tradition of the church as a body rather than as individuals. Denominational Filters Sources of authority eg traditional or Episcopal authority. • Protestants – Biblical primacy • Catholics – Natural Law • Pentecostals – the pastor’s instructions ABSOLUTES • Both Natural Law and Biblical Primacy are absolutes – certain actions that go against our human nature – Aquinas • It is RIGHT or it is WRONG SITUATION ETHICS • Based on the centrality of love • It depends on the context or situation in which it occurs • Situation ethics claim that Jesus came to do away with the legalistic approach replacing it with the law of love (Mt 5:17) BIOETHICS THE SANCTITY OF LIFE • Life is a gift from God but death is inevitable • Medical care can now prolong life in ways that it never could have before. • Is sustaining life at any cost appropriate?