Rules & Ethical Guidelines

Christian values are based upon the life and teaching of Jesus. Jesus’ moral ethic is summarized in Matthew 7:12a “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you”. In the Sermon on the Mount, chapters 5 – 7, a definition of Christian ethics is expounded by Jesus.

Bob Bowie writes – “there is a wide variety of approaches to Christian ethical decision-making. Catholic ethical thinking involves natural moral law, virtue theory and ideas about conscience. Other Christian denominations have various ethical approaches, from the very liberal protestant situationist approach to the more conservative absolutist understandings of biblical teachings. (See also Global Issues.)

For some Christians the primary moral authority is Church teaching, for others it is the Bible and for others again, it is individual conscience, or a combination of all three. This diversity means that it is very difficult to generalise about Christians when expressing their beliefs about certain moral issues. Conservative Christians might oppose abortion, homosexual relationships, sex outside marriage, while liberal Christians may well take different views.

Some Christians take pacifist views on war and violence (such as Quakers and some non-conformist traditions) while others take a view that wars may be just (Aquinas’ Just War Principles). Some American conservative Christians believe the death penalty is a justifiable form of punishment for a Christian community while others disagree. It is also important to note that not all Churches require their followers to adhere to all of the Church’s statements of moral theology, while others maintain quite a strict view of how the followers should live. There are dissenting voices within single traditions.”

In Luke’s gospel Jesus says, “… Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.  If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:27-31).

Right and wrong for a Christian is to be viewed through this attitude to people – that of unconditional love. In I Corinthians 13:4-8a St Paul defines this further, “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

For a Christian, these words are the starting point for how a Christian arrives at an understanding of what right and wrong are.

Although many Christians would hold to the principles of the 10 Commandments as a guide for living, many would interpret these according to the pressures upon their own lives.

Thus attitudes to finances, sexuality, family and so on would be seen through the way in which the Golden Rule (“Do to others as you would have them do to you”) is applied to both individual and community.

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