a) Explain the ethical principles of the religion you have studied (25). The main idea of ethical principles in Christianity is to use them as guidance on how we should live our lives to be closer with God and prepare for His Son’s return. One of the main ethical principles in Christianity is love. This is shown through the teachings of Jesus. Christians get their ethical principles from the Bible, Church authority, the Holy Spirit, using their conscience and Natural Law (Catholics). The Bible is the main source of where Christian ethical principles come from. It gives us moral guidelines to follow. In Genesis, the Creation story is found which is important to Christians as it shows the intrinsic value of human life. This is significant because humans were made in the image of God and therefore we must do everything that we can to preserve life. Some Christians also believe that God gives and takes away life which makes certain acts such as murder or abortion, wrong.
The Bible also contains the Ten Commandments which are found in the Old Testament. These are absolute, deontological and objective which means that they never change no matter the circumstances. Out of the 613 laws mentioned in the Old Testament, this is the main standard that is followed by Christians. As the Bible is the Word of God, Christians follow the laws that are put in place which includes the Ten Commandments. Another example of an ethical principle in the Bible is the parable of the Good Samaritan, which is found in Luke 10: 25-37. Christians use this parable to help to promote equality and as a guideline to show how we should live harmoniously with each other in our communities and make good relationships a priority. Situation Ethics is also used by some Christians as one of the main ethical principles. The main idea of Situation Ethics is to do the most loving thing in a situation. It has four main principles on which it rests on.
These are Pragmatism – course of action that works, Relativism – you shouldn’t use absolutes e.g. never of always, Positivism – voluntarily choose to have faith that God will guide/help you and Personalism – put people’s best interest first, agape. The New Testament talks a lot about love ethics. In 1 Corinthians 13 and Galatians 5:22-23, Paul teaches the importance of love and throughout many of his other teachings. This gives some Christians the reason to use Situation ethics as an ethical principle. Natural Law is used by Catholics as a main ethical principle. It contains the Divine Law and separated into two precepts known as the primary and secondary precepts. The primary precepts contain 5 main principles. These are to preserve life, reproduce, worship God, live harmoniously in society and educate the young. The secondary precepts are then put in place to break down the primary precepts to make them more flexible.
This makes the precepts easier to use in different situations. Natural Law puts forward the idea that “good is to be done and evil is to be avoided” which is a part of Christian teachings and therefore used by Catholics as one of the main ethical principles. Forgiveness is another main ethical principle of Christianity. In the New Testament forgiveness is taught as an important principle by Jesus. In Matthew 18:21,22 Jesus tells one of his disciples, Peter that he must forgive his forgive his brother “seventy times seven” times, meaning that no matter what he must always forgive his brother. Because Jesus taught the importance of forgiveness, Christians puts it forward as a main ethical principle. Christians use the different sources of authority to put forward the main ethical principles of Christianity, the Bible being the main source of authority. These main principles are used in many situations and stay the same. b) Some religious ethics are too rigid for moral decision making (10). There are many different ethical laws in Christianity which come from different sources of authority.
However, they are not too rigid for moral decision making. Firstly, absolute rules such as the Ten Commandments provide a means in which we can measure an action. They are straight forward and give a clear guideline therefore making it easier to make a decision in difficult situations. However, it could be said some of the Christian ethics contradict each other as they are many different things said in the Bible which go against each other. In the Old Testament it says “…an eye for an eye” but in the New Testament Jesus say that we must “…turn the other cheek.” This causes a lot of misunderstandings as people wouldn’t be sure on what to do if they were in an argument or a fight. Nonetheless, this does not cause Christian ethics to be rigid because two options are given that can be followed in such encounters. Many of the religious ethics taught in Christianity focuses on love as a central point such as Situation Ethics.
The moral value of an action is judged according to the consequences which it produces. This principle is not too harsh as the first priority of others is put first therefore making decisions easier to make. It gives you the option of choosing the right course of action and encourages coherent calculation of a circumstance to make decisions. Other the other hand, religious ethics can be viewed as rigid as it does not allow cultural relativism such as polygamy or polytheism which could be seen as being intolerant. For example in some countries such as China, still practice capital punishment and therefore would be viewed as wrong and would disagree with Christian ethics.
Nevertheless, some religious ethics seem reasonable such as the Golden Rule – treat others in the way you like to be treated. Situation Ethics is an example of this as it puts others best interest first – agape. This means that you would think about what you would do in a situation that would have a good impact on the person involved. It also puts the importance of the sanctity of life as a key principle of Christianity therefore recognising the intrinsic value of human life. Although some religious ethics such as the Ten Commandments may seem strict and arbitrary there are still many Christian ethics that are flexible and rational. These include Situation Ethics and the Golden Rule which work in all circumstances.