Definition of Christian ethics
The word ethics comes from a Greek term ‘Ethikos’ which means custom, or conduct. Ethics are moral principles, which influence a person’s behaviour. Ethics are defined as the systematic study of human actions and behaviour. We use ethics to judge, determine and assess the right and wrong of human behaviour. Morals refer to human character, which is the inclination to behave in one- way or another. Ethics is the study of morals and they determine and influence personal and societal behaviour. Christian ethics is the study of human conduct or behaviour from a Christian point of view.
Basis of Christian ethics
Sources of Christian ethics: -
1. The bible, teachings of Jesus Christ
2. Human reason and experience
3. Natural law
4. The Christian community – the church
5. Situation ethics
6. Authoritative Christian literature – based on the bible
7. God's revelation – through prophets
These are internal thoughts that guide us when we are making decisions and taking actions. We use our minds and thoughts when confronted by situations. They also rely on internal thoughts in their life experiences.
Internal guiding thoughts have many parts. One is our Conscience. This is our inner self that tells us and lets us know what is right and wrong. There are four types of consciences; doubtful conscience, sensitive conscience, certain conscience and perplexed conscience.
For a Christian, rights and wrongs are in the Bible. God gave the Law of Moses to Israelites. Jesus came and explained the Old Testament and taught new scriptures in the New Testament. These teachings, which we have covered from Form one to three, explain very clearly what is right and wrong. When doubtful of the morality of an action, Christian consults the Bible to know if a decision is right or wrong.
These are internal and external guides
Types of conscience
To make a decision one should have
- Facts about the act, its aims, circumstances.
- One should be free to perform
A decision ought to be thoughtful
3. Intuition: – inner feeling, insight
It’s an internal moral sense to do good or avoid evil. Intuition is important in situations that require quick and immediate that requires quick and immediate action.
Feelings are subjective e.g. it feels good to do so this, hence will do…” it can be dangerous to make decisions purely based on feelings especially in marriage friendship etc.
Guides here include authoritative persons such as parents, teachers, police, civil leaders philosophers, and religious leaders.
Rules from secular, religions, and African traditional culture are part of external guides.
The bible, quoted in the text but now out of text guides Christian behaviour. God communicates to his people through the
Bible. The Bible offers answers to questions in relation to the life of a Christian.
Today, there are ethical issues not found in the bible e.g. HIV / AIDS, sexual and reproductive health rights, contraceptives, abortion, globalization, cloning, environmental degradation, genetically modified foods, terrorism, international trade etc. this gives reason and other sources / factors are basis of Christian ethics in addition to the bible.
Moral principles in the bible
- They are mostly found in the teachings of Jesus and the ten commandments, sermon on the mountain
- Christians are also encouraged to have
- The virtues encouraged include generosity, love, kindness, faithfulness, patience, humility, peace, mercy, loyalty etc.
Christian community – church
Church leadership can make decisions, which touch on their followers. They guide people on ethical issues e.g. politics,
land, justice, abortion, contraception etc.
Church organizations give rules on those conduct of their members.
- The awareness that one has to choose good and avoid evil
- If one studies human nature and reflects upon it he/she will discover natural laws of human behaviour
- Natural law, natural rights such as right to education, life own property many etc. are incorporated into the constitution of any nation.
- The constitution then guides the behaviour of list citizens; Christians being citizens of a country are guided in their behaviour by the constitution.
One should reason out the rightness or wrongness of an act. The rightness or wrongness of an act depends on its uniqueness, the circumstances
- Christians are warned against making decisions based on circumstances or the situation e.g. a pregnant student seeking abortion as the option so as to continue with education.
God reveals himself to people through prophets, natural events, the law, dreams and visions. Through such ways God guides Christian on how they should approach certain issues. God’s revelation does not contradict with the bible.
1. What is the meaning of Christian ethics?
2. What is the basis or source or foundation of Christian ethics?
3. List the basic life skills that one needs to be able to lead a better life TOPIC TWO: CHRISTIAN APPROACHES TO HUMAN SEXUALITY, MARRIAGE AND FAMILY
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