Moral Issues - How are Christians affected?

This paper is one and half hours long and asks five questions. You have to do three. (Doing any more is just a waste of time as they won't be marked). Each question is subdivided into three sections:

a) Describe - worth 8 marks, and reel off as much relevant info to the topic as possible. Remember Bible Quotes!

b) Explain - worth 7 marks. Remember Bible Quotes!

c) Evaluate - worth 5 marks, give both sides to the argument, and end with your opinion. Remember Bible Quotes!

Hmm, did I mention? Bible Quotes are pretty important... On with the revision!

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The Sanctity of Life

Most people think life is valuable, but most Christians feel even stronger; because of their belief that life is a gift from God, they believe all life is precious.

There are many Bible references

to support this (take a look at the Bible Quotes page) but probably the most famous is Exodus 20: "Thou shalt not kill".

So what exactly is the "Sanctity of Life"? Basically it's all the issues that are to do with life:

  • Abortion / Contraception
  • Euthanasia
  • Suicide
  • Embryology
  • Cloning

There's others, of course, but those are the main ones that the exam might ask you on...

Contraception

Contraception (or birth control) is a way of preventing pregnancy. There are a number of different ways this can be done (no doubt some of you will have experienced some...) For example: the Pill, (that's oestrogen for you science studiers) condoms, and the coil. A natural way is to only have sex when a woman is least fertile.

The Christian View: Like with most things, Christians are divided. Some think that contraceptives are terrible, as it is stopping God's decision that they should have a baby. This is usually the Roman Catholic interpretation, which is why devote RC families usually have many offspring.

God has a plan: Just where does life begin then? If we look towards the Bible, we're told that life begins even before contraception. According to Psalm 139, God has a plan, a reason for every human, and by using contraceptives we are preventing His way...

Think about this: than prevented pregnancy could have grown up to be anything, doctor, scientist, professor. Something that could have helped society. (Though they could always have ended up as some lazy good-for-nothing...)

Another interpretation is that life doesn't begin until birth, and so for other Christians, contraception is part of a their sexual relationship. For a responsible relationship, they think, you need control. For example, there are a number of situations where birth isn't appropriate:

  1. They may not want (any more) children.
  2. They might be too young to raise children properly.
  3. They may not be in a committed relationship.
  4. They may want to control the age gap between children.
  5. They might not be financially able to support a child.

Another useful thing to bare in mind about condoms is that they also protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

It's up to you: Where you stand only matters in an evaluation. Just as long as you understand the (varying) Christian stance, and can talk about it, that's all you really need to know about Contraception.

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Abortion

Linked to contraception is abortion. It's the next stage up: the expulsion of a foetus medically from the womb. Killing off an unborn baby.

It's been legal in Britain since 1967, if one (or more) of the following circumstances it met:

  1. Birth will put the mother's life at risk.
  2. Risk of severe injury to mother - physically or mentally.
  3. Risk of severe disability to child.
  4. Another child will physically harm the health of children within the family.

Since 1990, it has been lawful to abort the child until the 24th week of pregnancy. However, if either the mother or child are at serious risk, there is no time limit. For the abortion to take place, two doctors are needed to sign a certificate.

Arguments For
Arguments Against
For young girls it will wreck hopes for education, a future... Luke 12 - Life is precious.
Young people are also not responsible enough to look after a child properly. There's always adoption if the parents are unable to care for the child.
It would be awful for rape victims. "Thou shalt not kill".
What's better? Growing up in an orphanage, for ever wondering why your parents abandoned you, or never living at all? Child could grow up to be a doctor, the next Shakespeare, etc. 
Woman might die in birth and child might die too. Surely it's better to save one life? If you didn't want a child, you should have been more careful.
Keeping the population under control = richer country. Mother can be forced into abortion against her own will.
Child could grow up to be a trouble maker, thief, killer, etc. What makes it different to killing? That's against the law.
The child might be born with metal/physical disabilities.
Avoids problems of unsafe abortions.

Big stuff, isn't it? Share your views on the forums!

The Christian View: There are different views.

  • Roman Catholics believe that abortion is wrong and should never even be considered. The same "God has a plan" quote can be used as contraception. The Pope totally opposes it.
  • The Church of England (protestant) believes that abortion shouldn't be chosen, unless it is the very last resort. They believe in some cases, abortion is the kindest option...

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Euthanasia

What is it? Euthanasia is "mercy killing". It is ending a person's life deliberately, but for compassionate reasons.

Think about these scenarios:

  • A person has lived a good, full life, but is now left suffering and will die soon anyway. Is it better to prolong the suffering, or kill them?
  • Extreme cases of physical or mental disability can leave someone as good as dead. Again, should we end this suffering?
  • A person may feel their life is terrible, and that they cannot go on...

The only trouble is a person could murder someone, then claim it was a mercy killing. It's illegal in Britain.

The Christian Stand: There is nothing in the Bible linked directly to euthanasia. Of course, there is Exodus 20, but denominations' views differ.

  • In the Roman Catholic Church, it is only acceptable if the dosage of painkillers would kill them -- they aim to stop the suffering.
  • Some denominations argue that it's quality of life that makes it precious.
  • The usual opinion is that is is wrong, because of all the pro-life teachings.

Arguments For
Arguments Against

Death is better than life in some cases, e.g. in suffering.

Luke 12 - Life is precious.
You might wish to die, but be unable to commit suicide. If you kill someone you love, you might regret it later.
It's the most loving thing - a mercy killing. "Thou shalt not kill".
People should have the right to decide whether or not they continue their lives. People exploit it - kill for money, for example.

If someone is so mentally/physically disabled, they have no idea what's happening and no chance of recovery, death is better.

The person may not be stable enough to make a decision.
It's legal in Finland, Switzerland, etc. Death is not the only option.
It costs to keep someone alive - money better spend on someone with a future. It's murder. You're "playing God".

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Suicide

What is it? Suicide is the act of taking your own life. It used to be illegal in Britain, but is now legal.

The Christian Stand: The most common stand is that it's wrong. Because of all the pro-life teachings. They believe that anyone that desperate needs help, not death.

  • Roman Catholics believe to take your own life will automatically lead you to hell.
Reasons For Reasons against
You should have a right to choose when you end your life. Pro-life teachings - e.g.: GENESIS 1, PSALM 139,
LUKE 12, 1 CORINTHIANS 3, EXODUS 20
People are desperate, and cannot go on with life.  Nothing is too bad that death is the only option. Counceling should be offered. 
Life is not worth living, i.e. in pain or suffering. It would hurt any loved ones left behind. 
Quality of life - not quantity.   It's "playing God".  

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Embryology

What is it? Embryo research is studying human embryos in order to prevent diseases and disabilities, such as Parkinson's Disease. The law states that embryos cannot be stored for more than five years.

The Christian Stand: Most Christians oppose it. Because of the belief that God has a plan, these embryos had a reason for existence (although it could be said that reason if to help develop a cure). Again, they think it's "playing God" and it goes against all pro-life teachings.

If embryology must take place, commented Andrea Minichiello Williams of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, "We believe that from the moment of creation, an embryo has value and dignity; the preservation of the life of that embryo is of paramount importance. An embryo is a human life and should be accorded commensurate protection." Find out other real opinions here.

Cloning

What is it? Creating a genetically identical human (in the case of human cloning). In England human cloning is banned. It is so complex, no one yet has succeeded. For example, the scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep did the procedure 227 times before it produced a viable lamb. And Dolly had genetic problems, that she aged and died much sooner than an ordinary sheep.

The Christian Stand: Again, Christians are strongly against it. They believe it morally wrong as well as religiously. It is against all pro-life teachings, the "God has a plan" and also a foundation for this is their belief in the soul, which a fetus receives on contraception. With cloning, this never happens.

Another interesting site: here.

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Wealth and Poverty

"The love of money is the root of every evil" -- 1 Timothy 6:10.

Money is a key issue for Christians. There are more teachings about it in the Bible than there are on heaven and hell. What does the Bible actually say?

  • Exodus 20: "Thou shalt not covert" (desire). Want of money is just another form of desire, which you shouldn't be desperate for.
  • Matthew 19: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God". Rich people should help the poor. In heaven, then, they will have the true treasure.
  • Matthew 19 (again): "You cannot serve God and Money".
  • Luke 21: The story of the Widow's Mite - she gave the least, but in the eyes of God she gave the most, as she gave all she had. Use your money to help those less fortunate.
  • Leviticus 25: "do not take advantage of each other". Don't cheat.

So, it's pretty obvious that Christians have an obligation to help the poor, whether they themselves are rich or not. Money is not the root of all evil (a common misinterpretation), but the love of it. Christians are not discouraged from gathering wealth, (lawfully), but it's what they do with their money that is important.

We see this is the case with many Christians. A large organisation is Christian Aid (it's recently been Christian Aid Week, so it would be good to mention this in the exam). They aim to provide help to poor countries, and provisions in times of war, but their greater aim is to help make countries self-sufficient.

You may have heard a number of their quotes. For example:

“Give a man a fish & feed him for a day. Give a man a rod & feed him for a lifetime.”

"You add. We multiply".

Using their money, Christian Aid will "fight" on the behalf of the people in lawsuits for the land, "fight" for democracy, and aim to educate the people. Education is the one way they can break free of this Cycle of Poverty.

The Cycle of Poverty

Breaking the Cycle

 

Also, it would be useful to look into Liberation Theology and Gambling.

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Discrimination and Prejudice

What's the difference? Prejudice is a preconceived opinion or bias, usually negative against something. Discrimination takes this one stage further, as you are acting on the prejudice. For example, hating Jews is prejudice, having them all slaughtered in Discrimination

While both prejudice and Discrimination are illegal (the Universal Declaration of Human Rights/Sex Discrimination Act) it doesn't stop them happening. Even in Britain today, the amount a woman can earn is lower than a man in the same position. People are turned away from jobs, just because of their race, etc.

The Christian Stand

On a whole, Christians are against Discrimination Turning to the Bible (as ever) we see many, many examples that show equality. Here are a few you could use:

Luke 10: Parable of the Good Samaritan. Only the "enemies" of the Jews would help the man, showing you should treat everyone equally.

Luke 7: Jesus heals a Roman Soldier.

John 8: Jesus saves a woman from adultery.

As you can see, Jesus was willing to mix with anyone. Probably the best quote though, for equality is:

Galatians 3: "There is no Jew nor Greek; there is no bondman nor freeman; there is no male and female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."

However, it would be very valid to mention that not every Christian organization stands against prejudice. One group that openly told of its prejudice was the DRC (Dutch Reformed Church). They actually supported the apartheid. They believed that though humans are spiritually the same, they aren't physically equal. They claimed from Genesis 1, as God separated animals, plants, etc, He also separated humans into black and white.

When they were challenged by the DRMC, they eventually repented their views.

Reasons for and against prejudice...

For Prejudice Against Prejudice
It's impossible to stop it - you cannot see/change people's opinions.  All people have the right to be treated the same. How would you feel if someone was prejudiced against you?
We might be "spiritually equal" but we aren't physically.  Pre-made opinions are usually wrong. You should get to know someone before making a judgment. 
People can't help the views they've been brought up to believe.  Prejudice often escalates into real crime, which has to be stopped. Wars have been started because of it.
We're supposed to have free will. Doesn't that include the right to believe what ever I want?  There are so many different races/religious/etc, it's impossible to live peacefully with prejudice. 
Jesus mixed with anyone.
"Foreigners come over here, take our jobs, disrupt out economy, etc".  Genesis 1 and Galantines 3 tell us everyone is equal. 

Why's there gender inequality?

It's not down to men being stonger than women, or whatever. Religion has such a huge influence over the world. Remember the Goddess? Anyways, it all comes down to the downfall of Eve, which lead to "Original Sin". Kind of stupid really, since the world wasn't created in 6 days, it's an extended metaphor at best, Genesis.

Two different Bible interpretations:

1 Timothy 2: "But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence". Women should remain silent and have no authority over men.

Galatians 3:28: "There is no Jew nor Greek; there is no bondman nor freeman; there is no male and female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." There is no male or female, everyone's equal in God's eyes.

Because of these conflicting views, there has been much conflict in recent times over female priests. The Roman Catholic and Orthodox, for example, still won't let females be priests. They believe:

  • When a priest celebrates Mass, he is recreating Jesus' sacrifice. Jesus was male.
  • There were no female disciples. (Mary Magdelene, anyone?)
  • Above bible quote...

Hmm...

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Martin Luther King, Jr.

Probably one of the most famous campaigners against Discrimination is Martin Luther King. There's almost always a question asking you about the work of a famous Christian, and he's a great example.

Background: Martin Luther King was born January 15th, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Though he

originally wished to become a lawyer, he became a Baptist Minister, and gained a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1951.

In 1935, when he was just six years old, he was told he couldn't play with his friends, because they were white and he was black. This was perhaps one of the early factors that lead him to disagree with the segregation of blacks and whites in America.

Being a strong Christian, he also saw the many preaching of Jesus, how there should be equality. This was clearly not the case in America, where black and white people had separate bus seats, building entrances, parks, cinemas, swimming pools, etc.

When a woman named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus, in compliance with the Jim Crow Law, she was arrested, and this was the trigger for the Montgomery Bus Boycott, led by King. It lasted for 382 days. Though King's house was bombed and he was imprisoned for a time, his actions caused the US Supreme Court to outlaw racial segregation on buses. This was only the beginning to King's protest.

What techniques did King adopt?

  • King was a firm believer in non-violence (see below). He looked to the example of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • He organized boycotts such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, and lead marches, for example in 1963 to Washington. This was also where he gave his famous "I have a dream" speech. (Listen to his speech and you should be able to identify all his persuasive devices for english.)
  • He also gave interviews, wrote books, preached about equality.
  • Because of his educated background, he was able to get his opinions across to anyone, politician or common person.

Martin Luther King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Ironically, he was shot down in 1968, but he had left his mark. Others continued to fight for his belief.

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War and Violence

There are varying views on war and violence within the Christian denominations. All the pro-life teachings (Exodus 20, Luke 12, 1 Corinthians 3) would suggest that Christians should be against it.

In Matthew 5, Jesus said:

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."

Some Christians would argue, though, that to allow your enemy to hurt you is a sign of weakness, and you should defend yourself. They might also support war on the premise that it is "the lesser of two" evils. For example, it was better to stop Hitler, than let him slaughter further.

A Just War?

Despite Jesus being "divine" there is one mark of humanity, in the Bible, where he turned over the tables in the Temple. (Mark 11). Though he used violence, he hurt no one, and Christians believe it was justified.

Therefore, some Christians think war can be justified. To meet this requirement they have set out a number of conditions:

  1. The war must be started and controlled by the authority of the state or ruler.
  2. There must be a just cause; those who attacked must deserve it.
  3. The war must be fought to promote good or avoid evil. Peace and justice must be restored afterwards.
  4. The war must be the last resort; all other possible ways of solving the problem have been tried.
  5. There must be ‘proportionality’ in the way the war is fought, e.g. innocent civilians should not be killed. Only enough force should be used as is needed to achieve victory.
  6. The good gained by victory must be greater than the evil which led to war.

Holy War

This is where Christians believe they are fighting on God's behalf. The most famous example is the Crusades of the Middle Ages, where Christians fought Muslims to "free" Jerusalem.

However, a Holy War seems to be a contradiction of all that is "holy". "blessed are the peacemakers" said Jesus in Matthew 5, and yet Holy Wars have slaughtered millions. Even in the modern world, look at the extreme Muslims. Suicide bombers who think they are fighting for their God.

Pacifism

This is the belief that war is not, on any level, acceptable. Jesus was a pacifist. Another useful quote is: "Put your sword back in its place… for all who draw the sword will die by the sword." (Matthew 26).

Quakers are the group most strongly associated with pacifism, although pacifists exist in all denominations of Christianity. Martin Luther King was a famous pacifist, who followed the example of Jesus and Gandhi.

In the First and Second World War, many pacifists were imprisoned or even killed because of their beliefs. These "conscientious objectors" refused to join the army, or fight.

Some Reasons for and against War and Violence

Reasons For Reasons Against
Mark 11: Jesus turned the tables. If it can be justified, it can be right.  Life is precious (Luke 12); "Thou shalt not kill (Exodus 20); etc... 
The lesser of two evils would be to go to war.  "turn the other cheek", "blessed are the peacemakers". (Matthew 5) 
You cannot stop people from being violent; if you're attacked you should defend yourself. Killing can only lead to more killing. If everyone believed in non-violence, there would never be any wars. 
Fighting on God's behalf.     War kills many innocent people. It can never be justified.   

What do you think? Discuss on the forums!

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Family and Relationships

This stuff is more general, than specifically Christian, but there are some useful quotes to bringing up children in the Bible:

Ephesians 6: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right."..."And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath". Basically it should be an equal relationship: children should respect their parents, and parents should respect their children.

Exodus 20: "Honour thy father and thy mother".

How to raise kids - the Christian way

At a child baptism, the following question is particularly important: "Do you promise to raise your child in the love and knowledge of our Lord?" This shows the stress that Christianity put on indoctricati....teaching young children the Christian belief.

To what extent this is, of course, varies between families.

Other important family values are:

  • Respecting and caring for the elderly.
  • Spend time together.
  • Teaching both religious and moral values to children and in effect...
  • ...moulding young children into mature, responsible adults.

Marriage

Marriage is one of the seven sacraments, so in the eyes of Roman Catholic and Orthodox denominations, it is still very important. In today's day and age though, marriage is lessening, as more couples choose to live together unmarried...

What does the Bible say?

In Matthew 19, Jesus said: "Whosoever shall put away his wife, except [it be] for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." In other words, if you remarry you are in effect committing adultery.

The Bible is very clear on the matter of not committing adultery -- Exodus 20: "Thou shalt not commit adultery."

Marriage is a lawful contract in the eyes of God, in which Christians should keep until "death do us part". (There is no marriage in heaven as everyone is at one with God...) Many Christians practice Chastity (not having sex before marriage) and Fidelity (only having sex with husband/wife). Basically if they don't, they are committing adultery.

The words of a marriage: (Not to be confused with Bible quotes).

To have & to hold
From this day forward
For better or worse
For richer or poorer
In sickness & Health
To love & to cherish
Till death us do part

Marriage has three purposes in Christianity:

  • Sex
  • Children
  • Companionship

Divorce

Like with most things, Roman Catholics are strongly against divorce, so much so, that they don't allow it at most. The best you can get as a RC is annulment, which sort of pretends there was a problem with the lawfulness of the marriage, and cancels it.

We've got the adultery quotes that can be used again.

Other Christians, though, such as the Anglican denomination, have a less extreme view. They accept that some relationships just don't work out, and will allow divorce. However, it's often the aim of a priest to convince a couple to stay together and help them sort out their problems. In the Roman Catholic Church especially, priests often become skilled marriage counselors.

Remarriage

The Churches are no longer as strongly opposed to this (besides RC of course) and it is now possible to be remarried in a Church. Because the Bible teaches forgiveness, some Christians believe you should get another chance too. The circumstances of the previous marriage are taken into account, and it's usually up to the priest to decide.

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Environment

The environment is another important issue for Christians. (And the last I'll talk about, yey!) There're all kinds of environmental problems we face (most of them caused by us). For example:

  • Deforestation (Poor Amazon...)
  • Global Warming
  • Pollution
  • Depletion of natural resources (which of course is a strong contributor to both pollution and Global Warming

Christians believe it's very important to protect the world. In Genesis 1, God placed us as "masters" of the world, "stewards" or protectors.

Ways to save the world

  1. Cut down on wasted resources, food, fuel, electricity.
  2. Go renewable!
  3. Recycle more things. Paper, plastic, etc.
  4. Public transport/bikes etc. reduce the number of cars on the roads. (cars = pollution).
  5. Joining organisations like Greenpeace.

Of course, this issue is important for us all, so c'mon guys, save the world!

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All text copyright © 2006 to Elizabeth Taylor. Page Template created by James Taylor. Site created: 10 April, 2006. Last revised: June 20, 2006 .