A Personal Ethics Reflection
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Published: Tue, 09 May 2017
It appears that my ethical framework may be somewhat eclectic. Nonetheless, having happened to read the articles on Deontology and Utilitarianism (Kay, 1997; “Deontological Ethics”, 2008), I have come to the conclusion that my ethical framework largely revolves around the duty aspect of Deontology. Up to this point, I was unable to put a name to my ethical beliefs/value system. I knew for sure though that my values were strongly based on my experiences as a Christian. I strongly believe that rules are meant to be kept-not broken as is the commonly heard expression. For me, life consists of a set of rules and duties-typical of a Deontologist. . I believe strongly that one’s duty is strongly stipulated by Christ; for example, the “Great Commission”, and the living a righteous life that is pleasing to God. Here is an example: recently I was to complete some readings for one of my courses but I was unable to do all the readings as I had previously made plans to attend a function at church. When I attended the class, I considered the possibility of being questioned directly about one of the articles that I had not read. Knowing that lying was not an option, I would have (as is my moral duty) had to tell my lecturer that I had been unable to complete that particular reading. Had my moral principles revolved largely around Utilitarianism and Consequentialism, I would have told a lie because it would have prevented me from being suspended from the seminar which would have affected my attendance percentage Thus at the end of the day, my ethical principles are incorporated with the whole idea of the ‘Trinity’ residing in me.
Now one may argue that it would be different if I had a family member who was a homosexual or committed homosexual acts. I concur, it would be different. In fact, I would be more emotionally and spiritually invested which would be the precursor to more intense prayer and fasting for that loved one. My Bible points me to the ‘availing power’ of the “effectual and fervent prayer of the righteous” (James 5 verse 16). Therefore, based on the fact that I would hate to see my loved one sent to hell, I would be on my knees praying for that person’s deliverance. As I noted before, there is a mixture of duties and consequence. I have my Christian duties that if not fulfilled have great consequences for my soul. Additionally, I have as a ‘new man in Christ’ an understanding of God’s specific commands, so it does not matter who the person is; that is, there is no agent-relativity.
Within my ethical framework, I think my primary ethical principle revolves around the concept of “Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Within this principle, some of the rules that I subscribe to relate to a passage of Biblical scripture that require Christians to avoid judging and condemning others whilst ensuring that they are merciful and forgiving (St. Luke 6 verse 36-37, King James Version). The idea of avoiding judgement and condemnation does not imply that one is to accept or encourage an act that is not of God. The Bible gives specific guidelines as to what activities are condoned and prohibited. Thus, it is my duty to uphold the Christian laws and bring the Word to a non-Christian (St. Matthew 28 verse 18-20). Therefore, the principle regarding judgement and condemnation does not conflict with the stance I took with homosexuality (Romans 1 verse 24-32; 2 Corinthians 6 verse 8; 2 Thessalonians 3 verse 6).
I will give a further example of the principle regarding judgement and condemnation. I have recently found myself in a quandary whilst interacting with persons who are not Christians. The most recent example was whilst interacting with a lecturer in class about Professor Stephen Hawking’s most recent theory on the creation of the universe. My lecturer became instantaneously excited once Professor Hawking’s name was mentioned. In fact, he proceeded to declare how awesome Professor Hawking was in his ability to explain the creation of the universe without acknowledging the presence of a supernatural force. Of course I thought this was absolute blasphemy and pitied my lecturer for what appeared to be atheism and his sure eternal damnation. It was not until after the class that I was sent back to my principle and rules about judging others. I was reminded that it is not my duty to decide on my lecturer’s fate though I am required to be a witness.
In my estimation, ethics is a convoluted concept that requires much emotional, spiritual and cognitive investment. I also believe that the formation of my ethical principles has gone through and will go through several revolutions. The revolutions I forsee involve a strengthening of my present beliefs. Of course, it is expected that future exposure will likely hone the way in which I presently express my beliefs and so I will possibly become more tactful whilst voicing my principles. My ethical principles have been formed due to life experiences. When I was much younger, my principles were probably more a function of fearing the ‘belt’ (consequences) versus what was my inherent DUTY. With age, emotional, cognitive and spiritual maturity, I have progressed from a more concretized way of accepting principles. The Bible speaks to allowing God to reveal Himself to us (1 Corinthians 2 verse 9-14; Life Application Study Bible, 1991) and in questioning certain things ranging from the presence and ‘development’ of God to the importance of God’s grace; the Lord has proven Himself to me as a being who is worthy of my praise. Thus, I believe the fundamental framework, principles and rules that I subscribe to will remain with me until death.
I also recognize that my beliefs and values transcend all areas of my life. Thus, whereas some persons subscribe to the law of the land as the highest form of power; the laws of my creator supersede all others. Therefore, within my professional and personal life, the Trinity reigns supreme and will continue to influence the way in which I define my ethics. Second Timothy 4 verse 16-17 notes “ALL scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (Life Application Study Bible, 1991).
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