Christian Views on Ethics
by David Stone
There is a distinctive and coherent Christian approach to medical ethics based on what God has made known to us in the Bible.
When Christians make decisions about what is right and wrong their underlying rule is that what God wants and says is best. This does not necessarily lead to their conclusions being wildly different from those who leave God out of the equation. The Christian explanation is that God can make his will known, perhaps through our consciences, or in ways that are more up-front.
In any case, western culture’s ideas on morality stem very largely from principles that can be traced back to their roots in the Jewish and Christian religious. This means that plenty of people hold views that are more or less Christian without necessarily being aware of where they come from.
For Christians, the most up-front way God has ever made his will known has been through his Son, a man called Jesus Christ. He lived in Palestine about two thousand years ago. Ever since then, Jesus has been worshipped and honoured as Lord of everyone and everything. All over the world today, many millions remain convinced that his example and teaching provide a reliable blueprint about how to live.
This is why Christians take the Bible so seriously. First, because it gives us the fullest record we have of what Jesus was like and what he taught. And secondly, because Jesus himself is recorded as having immense respect for the value of these Scriptures.
He clearly regarded the scriptures that were around in his day as the ‘word of God’. We now call this set of writings of The Old Testament. Christians believe that the term ‘the word of God’ can also apply to the New Testament, those parts of the Bible written since Jesus was born. They say that it records what God chose to make known through Jesus and his first followers. Christians believe that understanding Jesus is the key to discovering God’s will.
Knowing God Personally
Although God wants us to do what is right and avoid doing what is wrong, it’s even more important to him that we should come to know him personally. Apart from anything else, this is where a life that truly pleases him begins.
Christians look mainly to the Bible in order to discover principles that will help them to determine right and wrong
For Christians, The Bible is a vital guide that helps them to establish and nurture their relationship with God.
The Bible is a source of principles that will helps Christians determine right and wrong. They try to follow these principles themselves and encourage others to adopt them. But it’s worth bearing in mind that this is only one aspect of what the Bible is for.
Christian believe that the Bible’s principal aim is to reveal what God is really like. Once people get to know him they can respond to him with love, trust and allegiance.
One of the foundations of Christian belief is the Ten Commandments. Jesus was once asked to say which he thought was the most important. His reply clearly puts God first: ‘”Love the Lord your God with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments'(Matthew 22:38-40).
For Jesus, right relationships with other people are based on a right relationship with God. This is the basis of his ethics. Once our lives become centred on God we can develop a growing capacity to love other people and a growing understanding of how best to do so.
Christian believe that God’s guidelines for human life are worth trying to follow even if you don’t believe in him. But they work even better when you do.
Although God wants us to do what is right and avoid what is wrong, it’s even more important to him that we should come to know him personally
Read more: Christian Views on Ethics part 02