AO1- Explain the beliefs Christians hold about their responsibility for those at the beginning and end of their lives.
The heart of Christian ethics is love, which has its source in God. Christianity is based on the principal of love,’ love thy neighbour as yourself’ is the greatest teaching and in this context means having concern/caring for others. Christians extend this teaching further when considering those at the beginning or end of their lives.
Christians believe that an unborn baby or foetus is created in God’s own image, which is why they would regard every child and living person as precious, and whilst in the womb it is closest to perfection (completely innocent).
Christians believe that all human life is sacred as it has eternal destiny and as an unborn child a potential life an unborn child/ foetus is treated with protection and respect, as a human should be. In general Christians feel it is their responsibility to take care of the body carrying an unborn baby and because traditional Christian teaching places the highest value on human life most Christians condemn the concept of abortion as it would involve destroying something so innocent and going against God’s will because God chose to give the life. Christian’s regard abortion in any sense as murder which goes against their moral teachings, the fifth commandment states ‘Thou shall not kill’.
“If anyone does not take care of his relations especially members of his own family he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” this is a quote from Timothy 1 in the new testament and this quote can have a lot of meaning for a Christian as a parent because it states that it should be their responsibility to care for all their family which would include a conceived child who should be given the chance to live and cared for else a Christian would really be a hypocrite to their beliefs.
Christian’s also hold great responsibility as a parent of a newborn child. Christian’s believe it s their duty to baptise their child. The service of baptism washes away a child’s original sin and symbolises their membership to the church. As a parent a Christian is opening the door to the Christian faith (GOD) to which their child can later choose to become part of through their own will when they are older by being ‘confirmed’. It is a Christian’s duty to give their child this opportunity whether or not they choose to take it.
As a child grows up it is also the parent’s responsibility to educate the child about the Christian faith, for example sending them to a Christian/catholic school and teaching them about Christianity at home?
When considering Christian responsibility for those at the end of their lives the concept is very similar. Christians believe that only God gave life and only God can take it away. They believe killing an innocent person is unacceptable ‘thou shall not kill’ regardless of whether it is an embryo, foetus, child, adult, old person, or someone who is terminally ill and dying.
Some Christians may feel that Euthanasia should be allowed as in some circumstances it would be more ‘loving to let someone die if letting them carry on living was causing them so much pain. Most Christians however do not agree because they say human life is sacred and only God has the authority to take it.
Christian’s treat a terminally ill, unconscious adult with the same protection as a conscious adult. Christians are against euthanasia but would try to make the time before a person’s death as easy as possible by caring for them and knowing that they will die when God wants them to. The care that the old and terminally ill need can be provided by a hospice. Christian’s support the hospice movement. They are Christian based foundations similar to a hospital but are designed for people to go there to die. The relatives of patients are given care and support and the patients are made as comfortable and happy as possible and the emphasis is on controlling pain and allowing people to die with dignity.
AO2 -Faced with the issues of abortion and euthanasia, explain the different ways Christians might respond.
The different denominations of Christians and Christian individuals would react in different ways when faced with these issues.
When looking at abortion it is fair to say that all Christians believe it is unacceptable and should be avoided. A roman catholic would believe that a deliberately procured abortion is a serious sin as it would be regarded as a murder no matter what time in the pregnancy it took place, as a roman Catholics belief is that God implants the soul at the moment of conception.
In today’s society there is a lot of sexual crime such as rape and incest. If a woman were to become pregnancy as a result of this crime her actions may be different depending on what kind of Christian she was. A roman catholic would be strictly against abortion and believe that although the father committed and evil crime the unborn child should still be considered innocent and part of God and should not be killed because its father committed an evil sin. A true Roman Catholic would go ahead with the pregnancy but once the child was born may take other steps such as adoption if keeping the child was too distressing and she felt she could not love it.
However looking at this situation from a Protestant perspective it would be acceptable for the woman to have an abortion as having the baby would remind her of the trauma of the sexual crime and the child may not be brought into the world into a loving family, as it should deserve. It is in this way that views differ, members of the Christian Churches accept that sometimes abortion may be the lesser of 2 evils like in the result of a sexual crime, if the child was sought to be handicapped, deformed or likely to die soon after birth and if the foetus is likely to endanger the life of the mother.
There are also some extreme exceptions for Catholics. The principal of double effect in the Roman Catholic church if in some complex situations like if the mother was likely to die would allow an abortion to take place, and there are also some occasions where an operation needs to be carried out with a purpose to cure a life threatening disease which may kill an unborn child, the Roman Catholic church teaches that this is permissible and necessary.
When faced with issues of euthanasia different most Christians react in similar ways.
Some Christians think it is acceptable to help someone to die by stopping their medication, turning off a life support machine etc as long as they are not directly taking their life simply putting a stop to methods that are trying to preserve it.
The Roman Catholic belief is that any action intended to cause death as a relief from suffering is,” a grave violation of the laws of God” (John Paul II). Catholics believe that no one should try to take someone’s life for them, as it is still a form of killing. But they do not believe that life has to be preserved at all costs and find turning off a life support machine acceptable if the person can no way be cured and is otherwise in a vegetative state. Christians also support the use of painkillers such as morphine, which hasten death provided their aim is to ease pain. If a Christian had a friend who was terminally ill and dying and asked them to help them to die quicker as they were suffering a Christian may agree to do so because they think it is more ‘loving’ than to let their friend experience immense suffering or they may stop their medication which is keeping them alive to help them die faster.
AO3 – What Christians believe about life is up to them. They should not make others accept their position. Do you agree with the statement?
A Christian has their own views and ideas about life. Everyone has the right of freedom and should therefore be able to believe their own things without having to be bothered about what others think. This could be argued by some people as not right because when it involves the taking of a life, it can never really be justified as right
As a Christian however it is acceptable for them to give advice to others based on their believes whether or not the other person chooses to accept it. As a Christian one should not judge others for being different and this includes having different views and beliefs to themselves, “Judge not others lest you be judged”.
I can relate this to a modern day situation by saying that if a Christian had a close friend (non Christian) who was considering an abortion who asked for their advice it would be fair for a Christian to share their advice and views with this friend but if they still chose to go ahead with the abortion as a Christian the person should still stand by their friend and support them regardless of whether they feel they are making the wrong decision.
From another point of view Christians should make others accept their position because God commands them to share the good news with others and take the gospel to all the people’ therefore a Christian would not be fulfilling their duty as a Christian if they did not spread the word of God to others. Other people can choose not to be influenced by their ideas but as a Christian I Think they need to pass on their beliefs about God to other people.
Overall I think that a Christian should tell other people when they are doing something which in society could be considered as very wrong i.e. Murder and a Christian also has the right to share there believes with others in hope that they may accept them. However it is the individual’s choice to believe what they want in the end and another person should force no one into accepting a certain position.