Posted by: dacalu | 10 March 2014

Summary of Core Ethical Principles

This post continues a series on ethics (which began here). My goal is to work my way through an Anglican process for developing sexual ethics.

I would like to summarize briefly, the core ethical principles I have settled on for my exploration. Core ethical principles will be the foundation for further analysis, not replacing the vast treasure trove of wisdom from scripture and tradition, but serving as a lens to focus our attention and give us a place to start.

Love

“he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’” Mark 12:28-31

My ethics will be based first and foremost on love of God and neighbor, interpreted (through I Corinthians 13) as valuing a thing for its own sake rather than for what it provides you or someone else. It requires curiosity, caring, and a willingness to sacrifice personal good for a greater good to the other. It respects the preferences of others as well as our preference for them.

Stewardship

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.” Genesis 2:15

Stewardship extends love of God to love of that which God has created. It entails a responsibility to care for all things in the world, not just humans.

Obedience

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15

Obedience is not a value in and of itself, but it is an extension of our love of God. Respecting God’s preferences, we attempt to see that they are carried out. It should be noted, however, that God’s preferences are not always clear and require discernment. Obedience must be for the sake of love; thus any apparent conflict will be resolved in favor of love.

Purity

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.” Ephesians 1:3-4

Often masked as obedience, purity is not a Christian value. The gospel supersedes Hebrew purity laws, which should be viewed as safety protocols for living in the vicinity of the Most High. It also speaks against Greek ideals of good spirit trapped in bad flesh. Christians, appealing to Jesus Christ, God incarnate, believe God is approachable and flesh redeemable. Purity and holiness are gifts of God to be desired, but they cannot be achieved by our merits.

Justice

“What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

Justice extends love of neighbor into those areas where there are too many individuals to deal with on a one-to-one basis. Though love for a particular principle will always trump generic and theoretical justice, several social values play an important role in ethical considerations: liberty, equality, and responsibility.

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