Theological Beliefs and Ethical Principles

Question

Provide an example of a possible confusion between theological beliefs and ethical principles in a commonly-held religious belief system. Are there practices within this faith that might be critiqued as unethical? How should we apply the fundamentals of ethical reasoning in this case?

Sample paper

Theological Beliefs and Ethical Principles

    Confusion exists between theological beliefs and ethical principles. This is because while individuals hold and accept ethical beliefs within their cultures, theological beliefs remain debatable (Paul & Elder, 2009). There are infinite ways in which individuals in a given community perceive the concept of spirituality. There exist multiple religious belief systems in society, passed down from one generation to the next. Individuals who ascribe to particular religious beliefs assume that it is the reasonable way or the reasonable belief system in the conception of divinity. However, these individuals lack the general understanding that their belief system is only one among multiple belief systems (Paul & Elder, 2009). An example of confusion between theological beliefs and ethical principles is in societies where majority of the members hold similar beliefs, but try to impose their beliefs on the few who hold contrary beliefs.

            Religious beliefs are often a source of conflicts in societies worldwide. In the U.S. for instance, Christianity has the largest following, while Judaism and Islam take second place and third place respectively. Although the U.S. is a secular state, Christianity shapes most of the people’s aspects, even though they belong to different religions (Schmidt, 2004). These aspects relate to values held by people, common beliefs held, and cultural practices. The rights and liberties enjoyed in the U.S. are the result of the influence of Christianity. For instance, Christianity argues that the law applies to all men in the same manner irrespective of the status. Similarly, a critical aspect of the U.S. law states, “no man is above the law” (Schmidt, 2004). Some components of the U.S. law borrow heavily from the Christian doctrines. For example, the justice system requires testimonies from witnesses before convicting an offender of a crime. This comes from the Bible in Deuteronomy 19.15, which states that there must be more than two witness for the accused to receive conviction of a crime.

            There are practices within the Christian faith in the U.S. that may be critiqued as unethical. A closer look at particular belief systems in the U.S. reveals unethical practices (Aquino, 2012). The Catholic belief system advocates for sexual abstinence, fidelity, and abhors such practices as homosexuality and use of contraceptives. In line with this, the church stands firmly against the use condoms, dismissing their use as counterproductive to individuals. The Catholic Church’s strong stand on sexual abstinence for those who are not married is criticized as unrealistic. Additionally, the Church’s stand on the use of condoms is unrealistic especially due to the risk of the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. The Church discourages members from using contraceptives. This position is unrealistic since it contributes to unplanned pregnancies, overpopulation, and poverty. Lastly, most of the U.S. citizens believe in gay rights as part of the basic human rights.

            Fundamentals of ethical reasoning can be applied in this case by understanding the basic principles that describe the area. In this case, one must first understand the basic religious principles that underlie Christianity and especially Catholicism. It is also important to understand the basic ethical principles that define the case (Paul & Elder, 2013). In this, the key thing is to identify the key ethical concepts that relate to the issue at hand. Another key in applying the fundamentals of ethical reasoning is to ensure that the egocentric and socio-centric thoughts do not crowd one’s judgments. This ensures that one makes impartial judgments.

References

Aquino, F. D. (2012). Communities of Informed Judgment : Newman’s Illative Sense and Accounts of Rationality. Washington, US: Catholic University of America Press.           Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com

Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2009). Critical thinking: ethical reasoning and fairminded thinking, part II.             Journal of Developmental Education, 33(2): 1-5.

Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2013). Critical thinking: Tools for taking charge of your professional and   personal life. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Schmidt, A. (2004). How Christianity Changed the World. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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