Christian View of Morality
The Christian view of human persons considers that humans are exceptional creatures. While being among the created, humans do not possess characteristics similar to those of other creatures in that they are not only made in the image and likeness of God but they also have dominion over all the other creatures. The creation of mankind is unlike any other creation in that all the other living beings were created by words, where God said “let there be” and they became while humans were made by God himself through molding with clay and issuance of the breath of life. The human nature therefore is sanctified by virtue of the image and likeness of God which man embodies as well as the dominion that man has over other creatures (Ross, 2013). Even though the image of God (Imago Dei) may have been lost partially through the original sin, it still remains in sufficient magnitude to foster morality in humans.
Human nature, through imago Dei, is compatible with the theory based on human properties. The theory posits that human properties distinctively confer the moral status to a being. Being human alone is sufficient rationale for any being to be subjected to a moral status. This is because from the beginning, God gave man the opportunity to make choices, mostly between the moral and the immoral (Ross, 2013). The image of God in which man is made gives mankind the required wisdom to know the difference between the two. Unlike other creatures, man had the obligation from the beginning to choose between right and wrong, and to have dominion over other creatures, making man a potentially moral being (Shelly & Miller, 2006). Any being with a full human genetic code and having been conceived from human parents is subject to a moral status.
The theory on human properties is intricately linked to the concepts of human value and dignity. According to Agich (2007), the distinction of human dignity is somewhat connected to the concept of autonomy of humans. Considering every human being as autonomous and capable of making decisions subject to guidance and support, is the premise for the value on human life as well as respect for each individual. The decision to treat others with dignity regardless of who they are and the challenges they are going through is a consciously moral decision that every human makes from one time to another. The possession of human properties therefore, as a premise for the moral status acquisition, is sufficient requirement for the treatment of others with dignity.
Theories on Morality: Case Study
Considering the various theories to morality, the case study on the abnormal fetus presents a situation in which different characters apply different moral theories. The decision to act in a certain way is always driven towards compliance with the principles of a moral theory in which one believes. Jessica for instance, is the mother of the unborn fetus. Through the case, it is clear that she is at a loss between complying to Christian moral standards and focusing on building their family financial capacity. For this reason, she can be said to be under the theories of sentience and cognitive properties. The theory of sentience suggests that the capacity to feel pain and pleasure is sufficient for consideration as a moral being (PHI-413V, 2019). In this case therefore, Jessica feels pain due to the abnormality of the fetus hence the relative indecision. Similarly, the cognitive properties theory confers that processes such as awareness, understanding, perception and thinking are what contribute to the moral status of mankind. This would mean that any being with the capacity to engage in those processes is subject to a moral status.
Dr. Wilson and Jessica are thus both compliant with the cognitive properties theory, even though the compliance is stronger on Dr. Wilson’s side. The capacity to assess the situation, provide probable options for solution and lean towards a particular option, are all indications of cognitive processes, hence of moral status subjectivity (PHI-413V, 2019). Aunt Maria on the other hand, uses both the human properties theory and the relationships theory. The human properties theory attributes the moral status to human properties. Aunt Maria’s advise to let the child live for what God intends is compliant with the respect for human dignity in accordance with imago Dei. Human are not made in their kind, but rather in the image and likeness of God and any person that has human genetics has that image. For the relationships theory, Maria refers to the position of Jessica as the mother of the unborn to act as guidance on her decision regarding how to handle the situation. Marco can be said to be complaint with the theory of moral agency, considering that he is willing to support any decision that Jessica makes. The moral agency theory further holds for the ability to choose between right and wrong where the actions can be judged from a moral perspective (PHI-413V, 2019). However, Marco’s willingness to support any decision implies that he can be swayed and that there is no guarantee of a moral action from his side.
From the different perspectives shared by the actors in this case study, the decisions made are influenced by the morality theories to which they are subject. For instance, Jessica is still undecided about whether to abort the baby or to have the baby even though she already understands the consequences of each course of action. She is torn between the perception/ cognition of the cognitive theory, which would let her consider even the financial aspects of their life, and the sentience theory, which would demand for her to feel the pain of losing the fetus. For Marco, the decision to support Jessica’s decision is founded on the awareness of the consequences of deciding to either keep the baby or to abort the baby. Maria’s actions namely, praying, imploring Jessica to keep the baby, and referring to Jessica’s role as a mother, are all in accordance with the theories she subjects to (human properties and relationship). Dr. Wilson’s own recommendation to have the baby aborted is also an indication of his cognitive reliance
From the various theories considered, the theory of cognitive properties seems to be the most applicable and recommended ones for this particular case as it considers both the medical condition of the fetus, its quality of life and the financial status of its family. Dr. Wilson’s recommendation to abort is therefore alright.
The Christian perspective to moral status holds that humans are intrinsically subject to moral decision making by virtue of their creation in the image of God and their distinction from other creatures. However, it may not always be possible to make a decision considered moral particularly due to the complications that life presents such as in the case of the abnormal fetus. Consideration of different perspectives is important in such a case, hence the decision to abort would be recommended in line with Dr. Wilson’s recommendation.
Agich, G.J. (2007). Reflections on the function of dignity in the context of caring for old people. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 32(5), 483-494.
PHI-413V. (2019). Topic 2 overview: God, humanity and human dignity. Course Notes.
Ross, M. (2013). Imago Dei. Tabletalk Magazine. Retrieved from www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/imago-dei/
Shelly, J.A., & Miller, A.B. (2006). Called to care: A Christian worldview of nursing, 2nd Ed. Inter Varsity Press.