Christian ethics

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Christian ethics
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{{short description|Branch of Christian theology that defines virtuous behavior and wrong behavior from a Christian perspective}}{{Use dmy dates|date=August 2018}}{{multiple issues|{{Religious text primary|date=March 2016}}{{more citations needed|date=March 2016}}{{POV|date=July 2018}}}}File:Bloch-SermonOnTheMount.jpg|thumb|250px|right|Sermon on the Mount (1877, by Carl Heinrich Bloch) depicts Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in which he commented on the Old Covenant and summarized his teachings. Christians believe that Jesus is the mediator of the (New Covenant]].Such as {{bibleverse||Hebrews|8:6}} etc. See also CE1913, Epistle to the Hebrews, : "The central thought of the entire Epistle is the doctrine of the Person of Christ and His Divine mediatorial office.... There He now exercises forever His priestly office of mediator as our Advocate with the Father (vii, 24 sq.).")Christian ethics is a branch of Christian theology that defines virtuous behavior and wrong behavior from a Christian perspective. Systematic theological study of Christian ethics is called moral theology.Christian virtues are often divided into four cardinal virtues and three theological virtues. Christian ethics includes questions regarding how the rich should act toward the poor, how women are to be treated, and the morality of war. Christian ethicists, like other ethicists, approach ethics from different frameworks and perspectives. The approach of virtue ethics has also become popular in recent decades, largely due to the work of Alasdair MacIntyre and Stanley Hauerwasweblink {{dead link|date=October 2014}}The curriculum for seminary formation of Catholic priests commonly includes multiple, required courses in Catholic moral theology. Required courses in moral theology or ethics are comparatively less common in Evangelical seminaries.{{citation needed|date=July 2018}}

Historical development


In the Wesleyan tradition, Christian theology (and thus Christian ethics) are informed by four distinguishable sources known as the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. The four sources are scripture, tradition, reason, and Christian experience.Wesleyan Quadrilateral, the {{Webarchive|url= |date=2 February 2017 }} - A Dictionary for United Methodists, Alan K. Waltz, Copyright 1991, Abingdon Press. Revised access date: 13 September 2016According to D. Stephen Long, Jewish ethics and the life of Jesus figure prominently in Christian ethics,{{harvnb|Long|2010|page=13}} but "The Bible is the universal and fundamental source of specifically Christian ethics",{{harvnb|Childress|Macquarrie|1986|page=88}} Long also claims "Christian ethics finds its source in diverse means, but it primarily emerges from the biblical narrative and especially the call of Abraham and Sarah and subsequent creation of the Jewish people".{{harvnb|Long|2010|pages=23–24}}Childress and Macquarrie state that "Many Christian ethicists have claimed that Jesus Christ is the center of the biblical message in its entirety and the key to scripture".{{Relevance inline|date=March 2016}}{{harvnb|Childress|Macquarrie|1986|page=59}} Other Christian ethicists "prefer a more Trinitarian rendering of the message of scripture".{{Relevance inline|date=March 2016}} Some modern Christians "understand 'liberation' or deliverance from oppression to be the message of scripture".{{Relevance inline|date=March 2016}}Christians today "do not feel compelled to observe all 613 commandments" in the Torah,{{harvnb|Long|2010|page=31}} but the Ten Commandments often figure prominently in Christian ethics."The Prophets ground their appeals for right conduct in God's demand for righteousness."{{harvnb|Childress|Macquarrie|1986|page= 434}} On the other hand, "It is not... true to say that for the OT writers righteousness is defined by what God does; i.e., an act is not made righteous by the fact that God does it.{{harvnb|Childress|Macquarrie|1986|pages=437}} Also noted as ethical guidelines adhered to by Old Testament figures is "maintenance of the family", "safeguarding of the family property", and "maintenance of the community".{{harvnb|Childress|Macquarrie|1986|pages= 435–436}}

New Testament

{{See also|Ethics in the Bible}}Much of Christian ethics derives from Biblical scripture and Christians have always considered the Bible profitable to teach, reprove, correct, and train in righteousness.Westminster Dictionary of Christian Ethics: "There is no 'Christian ethics' that would deny the authority of the Bible, for apart from scripture the Christian church has no enduring identity". {{harvnb|Childress|Macquarrie|1986|page=60}}Westminster Dictionary of Christian Ethics: Christian churches have always considered it a part of their calling to teach, reprove, correct, and train in righteousness, and they have always considered the Bible 'profitable' for that task. With virtually one voice the churches have declared that the Bible is an authority for moral discernment and judgment. And Christian ethicists—at least those who consider their work part of the common life of the Christian community—have shared this affirmation.{{harvnb|Childress|Macquarrie|1986|page=57}}The New Testament generally asserts that all morality flows from the Great Commandment, to love God with all one's heart, mind, strength, and soul, and to love one's neighbour as oneself. In this, Jesus was reaffirming a teachings of {{bibleverse||Deut|6:4-9}} and {{bibleverse||Lev|19:18}}. Christ united these commands together and proposed himself as a model of the love required in {{bibleverse||John|13:12}}, known also as The New Commandment.Paul is also the source of the phrase "Law of Christ", though its meaning and the relationship of Paul of Tarsus and Judaism are still disputed. The Pauline writings are also the major source of the New Testament household code.The Council of Jerusalem, as reported in Acts 15, may have been held in Jerusalem in about 50 AD. Its decree, known as the Apostolic Decree, was held as generally binding for several centuries and is still observed today by the Greek Orthodox.Karl Josef von Hefele's commentary on canon II of Gangra {{Webarchive|url= |date=20 December 2016 }} notes: "We further see that, at the time of the Synod of Gangra, the rule of the Apostolic Synod with regard to blood and things strangled was still in force. With the Greeks, indeed, it continued always in force as their Euchologies still show.{{citation needed|date=March 2016}} Balsamon also, the well-known commentator on the canons of the Middle Ages, in his commentary on the sixty-third Apostolic Canon, expressly blames the Latins because they had ceased to observe this command. What the Latin Church, however, thought on this subject about the year 400, is shown by St. Augustine in his work Contra Faustum, where he states that the Apostles had given this command in order to unite the heathens and Jews in the one ark of Noah; but that then, when the barrier between Jewish and heathen converts had fallen, this command concerning things strangled and blood had lost its meaning, and was only observed by few.{{citation needed|date=March 2016}} But still, as late as the eighth century, Pope Gregory the Third (731) forbade the eating of blood or things strangled under threat of a penance of forty days. No one will pretend that the disciplinary enactments of any council, even though it be one of the undisputed Ecumenical Synods, can be of greater and more unchanging force than the decree of that first council, held by the Holy Apostles at Jerusalem, and the fact that its decree has been obsolete for centuries in the West is proof that even Ecumenical canons may be of only temporary utility and may be repealed by disuse, like other laws."

Early Christianity

{{Off topic|date=March 2016}}Christian ethics developed during Early Christianity as Christianity arose in the Holy Land and other early centers of Christianity while Christianity emerged from Second Temple Judaism.{{citation needed|date=January 2015}} Consequently, early Christian ethics included discussions of how believers should relate to Roman authority and to the empire.{{citation needed|date=January 2015}}The Church Fathers had little occasion to treat moral questions from a purely philosophical standpoint and independently of divine revelation, but in the explanation of Christian doctrine their discussions naturally led to philosophical investigations.{{Relevance inline|date=March 2016}}Writers, such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine of Hippo all wrote on ethics from a distinctly Christian point of view. They made use of philosophical and ethical principles laid down by their Greek philosopher forebears and the intersection of Greek and Jewish thought known as Hellenistic Judaism.Under the Emperor Constantine I (312–337), Christianity became a legal religion. With Christianity now in power, ethical concerns broadened and included discussions of the proper role of the state.Augustine in particular made use of the ethical principles of Greek philosophy and Hellenistic Judaism. He proceeded to develop thoroughly along philosophical lines and to establish firmly most of the truths of Christian morality. The eternal law (lex aeterna), the original type and source of all temporal laws, the natural law, conscience, the ultimate end of man, the cardinal virtues, sin, marriage, etc. were treated by him in the clearest and most penetrating manner. Augustine identified a movement in Scripture "toward the 'City of God', from which Christian ethics emerges", as illustrated in chapters 11 and 12 of the book of Genesis.{{harvnb|Long|2010|pages=27–28}} Broadly speaking, Augustine adapted the philosophy of Plato to Christian principles. His synthesis is called Augustinianism (alternatively, Augustinism). He presents hardly a single portion of ethics to us but what he does present is enriched with his keen philosophical commentaries. Later writers followed in his footsteps.

Scholasticism and Thomism

{{More citations needed section|date=December 2011}}A sharper line of separation between philosophy and theology, and in particular between ethics and moral theology, is first met within the works of the great Schoolmen of the Middle Ages, especially of Albertus Magnus (1193–1280), Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274), Bonaventure (1221–1274), and Duns Scotus (1274–1308). Philosophy and, by means of it, theology reaped abundant fruit from the works of Aristotle, which had until then been a sealed treasure to Western civilization, and had first been elucidated by the detailed and profound commentaries of Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas and pressed into the service of Christian philosophy.{{Relevance inline|date=March 2016}}In his Summa Theologiae, Thomas locates ethics within the context of theology. For example, he discusses the ethics of buying and selling and concludes that although it may be legal (according to human law) to sell an object for more that it is worth, Divine law "leaves nothing unpunished that is contrary to virtue."Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica, "Of Cheating, Which Is Committed in Buying and Selling." Translated by The Fathers of the English Dominican Province. pp. 3 weblink {{Webarchive|url= |date=27 November 2012 }} Retrieved 19 June 2012 The question of beatitudo, perfect happiness in the possession of God, is posited as the goal of human life. Thomas also argues that the human being by reflection on human nature's inclinations discovers a law, that is the natural law, which is "man's participation in the divine law."{{citation |author=Thomas Aquinas |contribution=First Part of the Second Part (Prima Secundæ Partis) |title=Summa Theologica |edition=second and revised |year=1920 |others=English Translation by the Fathers of the English Dominican Province |contribution-url= |publisher=Kevin Knight at (2008)}}The meaning of the word love can be imprecise, so Thomas Aquinas defined "love" for the benefit of the Christian believer as "to will the good of another."WEB,weblink St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I-II, 26, 4, corp. art,, 30 October 2010,

Modern Christian ethics

{{More citations needed section|date=January 2012}}After a couple centuries of stagnation, in the sixteenth century ethical questions are again made the subject of careful investigation.{{citation needed|date=March 2016}} Writers include the Francisco de Vitoria, Dominicus Soto, Luis de Molina, Francisco Suarez, Leonardus Lessius, Juan de Lugo, Juan Caramuel y Lobkowitz, and Alphonsus Liguori. Since the sixteenth century, special chairs of ethics (moral philosophy) have been funded in many Catholic universities.Among topics they discussed was the ethics of action in case of doubt, leading to the doctrine of probabilism.With the rejection of the doctrine of papal infallibility and the Roman Magisterium as the absolute religious authority, each individual, at least in principle, became the arbiter in matters pertaining to faith and morals.{{citation needed|date=March 2016}} The Reformers held fast to Sola Scriptura and many endeavored to construct an ethical system directly from the scriptures.Lutheran Philipp Melanchthon, in his "Elementa philosophiae moralis", still clung to the Aristotelian philosophy strongly rejected by Martin Luther, as did Hugo Grotius in De jure belli et pacis. But Richard Cumberland and his follower Samuel Pufendorf assumed, with Descartes, that the ultimate ground for every distinction between good and evil lay in the free determination of God's will, an antinomian view which renders the philosophical treatment of ethics fundamentally impossible.In the 20th century some Christian philosophers, notably Dietrich Bonhoeffer, questioned the value of ethical reasoning in moral philosophy. In this school of thought, ethics, with its focus on distinguishing right from wrong, tends to produce behavior that is simply not wrong, whereas the Christian life should instead be marked by the highest form of right. Rather than ethical reasoning, they stress the importance of meditation on, and relationship with, God. Other important Protestant Christian ethicists include H. Richard Niebuhr, John Howard Yoder, Glen Stassen, and Stanley Hauerwas.Charles Sheldon's 1896 book, In His Steps was subtitled "What Would Jesus Do?"Sheldon, C. (1896). In His Steps {{webarchive|url= |date=7 November 2012 }}. First published by the Chicago Advance in serial form. and posed the question in the form of a novel. In a popular movement of the 1990s, many used the phrase "What would Jesus do?" (abbreviated WWJD) as a personal motto.{{Relevance inline|date=March 2016}}{{citation needed|date=March 2016}} The question was a reminder of their belief in a moral imperative to act in a manner that would demonstrate the Love of Jesus through the actions of the adherents.{{citation needed|date=March 2016}}

Virtues and principles

The seven Christian virtues are from two sets of virtues. The four cardinal virtues are Prudence, Justice, Restraint (or Temperance), and Courage (or Fortitude). The cardinal virtues are so called because they are regarded as the basic virtues required for a virtuous life. The three theological virtues, are Faith, Hope, and Love (or Charity).
  • Prudence: also described as wisdom, the ability to judge between actions with regard to appropriate actions at a given time
  • Justice: also considered as fairness, the most extensive and most important virtueWEB,weblink Cardinal Virtues of Plato, Augustine and Confucius,, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 4 March 2016,
  • Temperance: also known as restraint, the practice of self-control, abstention, and moderation tempering the appetition
  • Courage: also termed fortitude, forbearance, strength, endurance, and the ability to confront fear, uncertainty, and intimidation
  • Faith: belief in God, and in the truth of His revelation as well as obedience to Him (cf. Rom 1:5:16:26)BOOK, The New Catholic Encyclopedia, Faith, Pickar, C. H., 792, Washington D.C., 1967, 1981, 5, Catechism of the Catholic Church n. 2087
  • Hope: expectation of and desire of receiving; refraining from despair and capability of not giving up. The belief that God will be eternally present in every human's life and never giving up on His love.
  • Charity: a supernatural virtue that helps us love God and our neighbors, the same way as we love ourselves.

Areas of applied Christian ethics


Christian views on abortion has a complex history as there is no explicit prohibition of abortion in either the Old Testament or New Testament books of the Christian Bible. While some writers say that early Christians held different beliefs at different times about abortion,When Children Became People: the birth of childhood in early Christianity by Odd Magne Bakke"Abortion and Catholic Thought: The Little-Told History" {{webarchive |url= |date=18 February 2012 }}Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood by Kristin Luker, University of California Press others say that, in spite of the silence of the New Testament on the issue, they condemned abortion at any point of pregnancy as a grave sin,Jeffrey H. Reiman, Abortion and the Ways We Value Human Life (Rowman & Littlefield 1998 {{ISBN|978-0-8476-9208-8}}), pp. 19-20 a condemnation that they maintained even when some of them did not qualify as homicide the elimination of a fetus not yet "formed" and animated by a human soul.Daniel Schiff, Abortion in Judaism (Cambridge University Press 2002 {{ISBN|978-0-521-52166-6}}), p. 40 The Didache, a Christian writing usually dated to sometime in the mid to late 1st century, prohibits abortion in Ch 2.Didache "English translations of the Didache at Early Christian Writings"The Roman Catholic Church teaches that "human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception."Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2270 {{webarchive |url= |date=8 October 2011 }} Accordingly, it opposes procedures whose purpose is to destroy an embryo or fetus for whatever motive (even before implantation), but admits acts, such as chemotherapy or hysterectomy of a pregnant woman who has cervical cancer, which indirectly results in the death of the fetus, is morally acceptable.David F. Kelly, Contemporary Catholic Health Care Ethics (Georgetown University Press 2004 {{ISBN|978-1-58901-030-7}}), p. 112 Since the first century, the Church has affirmed that every procured abortion is a moral evil, a teaching that the Catechism of the Catholic Church declares "has not changed and remains unchangeable".Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2271 {{webarchive |url= |date=14 November 2015 }}Since the twentieth century Protestant views on abortion have varied considerably, with Protestants to be found in both the "anti-abortion" and "abortion-rights" camps.BOOK, McGrath, Alister E., Marks, Darren C., The Blackwell companion to Protestantism,weblink 5 January 2012, 2004, John Wiley & Sons, 978-0-631-23278-0, 294, Conservative Protestants tend to be anti-abortion whereas "mainline" Protestants lean towards an abortion-rights stance. African-American Protestants are much more strongly anti-abortion than white Protestants.BOOK, Olson, Laura R., Filled with spirit and power: Protestant clergy in politics,weblink 6 January 2012, 1 June 2000, SUNY Press, 978-0-7914-4589-1, 83, Even among Protestants who believe that abortion should be a legal option, there are those who believe that it should nonetheless be morally unacceptable in most instances.Although scripture is mostly silent on abortion, various elements of scripture inform Christian ethical views on this topic, including Genesis 4:1; Job 31:15; Isaiah 44:24, 49:1, 5; and Jeremiah 1:5, among others.{{harvnb|Childress|Macquarrie|1986 || page=2}}


Current views on alcohol in Christianity can be divided into moderationism, abstentionism, and prohibitionism. Abstentionists and prohibitionists are sometimes lumped together as "teetotalers", sharing some similar arguments. However, prohibitionists abstain from alcohol as a matter of law (that is, they believe God requires abstinence in all ordinary circumstances), while abstentionists abstain as a matter of prudence (that is, they believe total abstinence is the wisest and most loving way to live in the present circumstances).BOOK, Kenneth Gentry, God Gave Wine, Oakdown, 2001, 0-9700326-6-8, 3ff, Some Christians, including Pentecostals, Baptists and Methodists, today believe one ought to abstain from alcohol. Fifty-two percent of Evangelical leaders around the world say drinking alcohol is incompatible with being a good Evangelical.WEB,weblink Global Survey of Evangelical Protestant Leaders, Pew Forum, 2011, 31 October 2013, [E]vangelical leaders are divided over the consumption of alcohol. About four-in-ten (42%) say it is compatible with being a good evangelical, while 52% say it is incompatible. Leaders from sub-Saharan Africa are especially likely to oppose alcohol use; 78% of them say it is incompatible with being a good evangelical, as do 78% of evangelical leaders who live in Muslim-majority countries., Evangelicals in Asia, Africa, and also in Muslim-majority countries are decidedly against drinking.


Christian views on divorce are informed by verses in Matthew, Mark, Deuteronomy, and others{{harvnb|Childress|Macquarrie|1986|page=161}} and political developments much later. In the synoptic Gospels, Jesus emphasized the permanence of marriage, but also its integrity. In the book of Matthew Jesus says "Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.e.g., {{bibleref2|Matthew|5:31-32}}, {{bibleref2|Matthew|19:3-9}}, {{bibleref2|Mark|10:2-12}}, {{bibleref2|Luke|16:18}}, see also Expounding of the Law#Divorce When Jesus discusses marriage, he points out that a certain talent is needed to live together with another human being. Not having assets of their own, women needed to be protected from the risk of their husbands' putting them on the street at whim. In those times marriage was an economic matter.Henry Chadwick, The Early Church, {{ISBN|978-0140231991}} A woman and her children could easily be rejected. Restriction of divorce was based on the necessity of protecting the woman and her position in society, not necessarily in a religious context, but an economic context.Jonathan Hill, What Has Christianity Ever Done for Us?: How It Shaped the Modern World 978-0830833283 Paul concurred but added an exception for abandonment by an unbelieving spouse.The Catholic Church prohibits divorce, but permits annulment (a finding that the marriage was never valid) under a narrow set of circumstances. The Eastern Orthodox Church permits divorce and remarriage in church in certain circumstances.See Timothy (now Archbishop Kalistos) Ware, The Orthodox Church {{Webarchive|url= |date=17 July 2012 }} Most Protestant churches discourage divorce except as a last resort, but do not actually prohibit it through church doctrine.

Sexual morality and celibacy

{{See also|Celibacy|Catholic teachings on sexual morality}}Modern Christian sexual morality rejects adultery,{{harvnb|Childress|Macquarrie|1986|page= 10}} extramarital sex,{{bibleref|1Corinthians|6:9-10:}} prostitution,Catechism of the Catholic Church 2355 {{webarchive |url= |date=24 July 2013 }} and rape.Catechism of the Catholic Church 2356 {{webarchive |url= |date=24 July 2013 }} Christian views on the moral benefits of celibate and marital lifestyles has varied over time.In his early writings, Paul described marriage as a social obligation that has the potential of distracting from Christ. Sex, in turn, is not sinful but natural, and sex within marriage is both proper and necessary.Will Deming, Paul on marriage and celibacy: the hellenistic background of 1 Corinthians 7. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2003; 2nd edition. In his later writings, Paul made parallels between the relations between spouses and God's relationship with the church."Husbands love your wives even as Christ loved the church. Husbands should love their wives as their own bodies" {{bibleref|Ephesians |5:25-28}} Paul encouraged both celibate and marital lifestyles.{{bibleref|1Corinthians|7:1-16}}While Jesus made reference to some that have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven,{{Bibleref2|Matthew|19:12}} there is no commandment in the New Testament that Jesus' disciples have to live in celibacy. The general view on sexuality among the early Jewish Christians was quite positive.Geels, Antoon & Roos, Lena. Sexuality in world's religions. University press, Lund, Sweden 2010.During the first three or four centuries, no law was promulgated prohibiting clerical marriage. Celibacy was a matter of choice for bishops, priests, and deacons.Today, the Roman Catholic Church teachings on celibacy uphold it for monastics and priests.Celibacy {{Webarchive|url= |date=14 March 2008 }}. Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2009. 31 October 2009.Protestantism has rejected the celibate (unmarried) life for preachers since the Reformation. Many evangelicals prefer the term "abstinence" to "celibacy." Assuming everyone will marry, they focus their discussion on refraining from premarital sex and focusing on the joys of a future marriage. But some evangelicals, particularly older singles, desire a positive message of celibacy that moves beyond the "wait until marriage" message of abstinence campaigns. They seek a new understanding of celibacy that is focused on God rather than a future marriage or a lifelong vow to the Church.Colon, Christine, and Bonnie Field. Singled Out: Why Celibacy Must Be Reinvented in Today's Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2009.


Within Christianity there are a variety of views on the issues of sexual orientation and homosexuality. The many Christian denominations vary in their position, from condemning homosexual acts as sinful, through being divided on the issue, to seeing it as morally acceptable. Even within a denomination, individuals and groups may hold different views. Further, not all members of a denomination necessarily support their church's views on homosexuality. In the Bible, procreative marriage is presented as "the norm"{{harvnb|Childress|Macquarrie|1986|page=580}} and homosexuality is discussed in the New Testament,{{harvnb|Childress|Macquarrie|1986|page=272}} but in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries whether or not the Bible condemns homosexuality, and whether the various passages apply today, have become contentious topics.


In modern times, Christian organizations reject any permissibility of slavery,WEB,weblink Mennonite Church USA, "Preamble: To join with other Christian denominations in a united voice against the evil of human trafficking, we present this statement of our opposition to all forms of human slavery.", 11 February 2016, WEB,weblink Pope Francis, "Inspired by our confessions of faith, today we are gathered for an historic initiative and concrete action: to declare that we will work together to eradicate the terrible scourge of modern slavery in all its forms.", 11 February 2016,weblink" title="">weblink 16 February 2016, dead, dmy-all, WEB,weblink Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, "At a time when faiths are seen wrongly as a cause of conflict is a sign of real hope that today global faith leaders have together committed themselves publicly to the battle to end modern slavery.", 11 February 2016,weblink" title="">weblink 16 February 2016, dead, dmy-all, WEB,weblink Southern Baptist Convention, "...Be it further resolved, that we lament and repudiate historic acts of evil such as slavery from which we continue to reap a bitter harvest...", 11 February 2016, but Christian views on slavery did vary both historically. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century debates in the UK and the US, passages in the Bible were used by both pro-slavery advocates and abolitionists to support their respective views.


File:Blessed are the Peacemakers.gif|thumb|Blessed are the Peacemakers (1917) by George BellowsGeorge BellowsChristian pacifism is the position that any form of violence is incompatible with the Christian faith. Christian pacifists state that Jesus himself was a pacifist who taught and practiced pacifism, and that his followers must do likewise. Notable Christian pacifists include Martin Luther King, Jr., Leo Tolstoy,Colm McKeogh, Tolstoy's Pacifism, Cambria Press, 2009, {{ISBN|1-60497-634-9}}. and Ammon Hennacy.Jesus opposed use of violence in his statement that "all who will take up the sword, will die by the sword", which suggested that those who perpetrate violence will themselves face violence. Historian Roland Bainton described the early church as pacifist – a period that ended with the accession of Constantine.Roland Bainton, quoted in Robin Gill, A Textbook of Christian Ethics, 3rd ed, Continuum, 2006, {{ISBN|0-567-03112-8}}, p. 194.In the first few centuries of Christianity, many Christians refused to engage in military combat. In fact, there were a number of famous examples of soldiers who became Christians and refused to engage in combat afterward. They were subsequently executed for their refusal to fight."No known Christian author from the first centuries approved of Christian participation in battle; citations advocating pacifism are found in → Tertullian, → Origen, Lactantius, and others, and in the testimonies of the martyrs Maximilian and Marcellus, who were executed for refusing to serve in the Roman army. Grounds for opposition to military service included fear of idolatry and the oath of loyalty to Caesar, as well as the basic objection to shedding blood on the battlefield.", Fahlbusch, E., & Bromiley, G. W. (2005). Vol. 4: The encyclopedia of Christianity (2). Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leiden, Netherlands: Wm. B. Eerdmans; Brill. The commitment to pacifism and rejection of military service is attributed by Allman and Allman to two principles: "(1) the use of force (violence) was seen as antithetical to Jesus' teachings and service in the Roman military required worship of the emperor as a god which was a form of idolatry."BOOK, Who Would Jesus Kill?: War, Peace, and the Christian Tradition, Mark, Allman, Mark J., Allman, Saint Mary's Press, 2008, The first conscientious objector in the modern sense was a Quaker in 1815.The New conscientious objection: from sacred to secular resistance Charles C. Moskos, John Whiteclay Chambers – 1993 "The first conscientious objector in the modern sense appeared in 1815. Like all other objectors from then until the 1880s, he was a Quaker.4 The government suggested exempting the pacifist Quakers, but the Storting, the Norwegian " The Quakers had originally served in Cromwell's New Model Army but from the 1800s increasingly became pacifists. A number of Christian denominations have taken pacifist positions institutionally, including the Quakers and Mennonites.Speicher, Sara and Durnbaugh, Donald F. (2003), Ecumenical Dictionary: Historic Peace Churches {{Webarchive|url= |date=3 March 2016 }}Pacifist and violence-resisting traditions have continued into contemporary times."Members of several small Christian sects who try to literally follow the precepts of Jesus Christ have refused to participate in military service in many nations and have been willing to suffer the criminal or civil penalties that followed."Encyclopædia Britannica 2004 CD Rom Edition – Pacifism.Evangelium VitaeWEB,weblink Orthodoxy and Capital Punishment, Incommunion, In the 20th century, Martin Luther King, Jr. adapted the nonviolent ideas of Gandhi to a Baptist theology and politics.BOOK, King, Jr., Martin Luther, Clayborne Carson, Peter Holloran, Ralph Luker, Penny A. Russell, The papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., University of California Press, 1992, 0-520-07950-7,

Wealth and poverty

There are a variety of Christian views on poverty and wealth. At one end of the spectrum is a view which casts wealth and materialism as an evil to be avoided and even combatted. At the other end is a view which casts prosperity and well-being as a blessing from God. Some Christians argue that a proper understanding of Christian teachings on wealth and poverty needs to take a larger view where the accumulation of wealth is not the central focus of one's life but rather a resource to foster the "good life".BOOK, Church and Society: Orthodox Christian Perspectives, Past Experiences, and Modern Challenges, George P., Liacopulos, Somerset Hall Press, 2007, 88,weblink 978-0-9774610-5-9, Professor David W. Miller has constructed a three-part rubric which presents three prevalent attitudes among Protestants towards wealth. According to this rubric, Protestants have variously viewed wealth as: (1) an offense to the Christian faith (2) an obstacle to faith and (3) the outcome of faith.Miller, David W. "Wealth Creation as Integrated with Faith: A Protestant Reflection" Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Views on the Creation of Wealth 23–24 April 2007American theologian John B. Cobb has argued that the "economism that rules the West and through it much of the East" is directly opposed to traditional Christian doctrine. Cobb invokes the teaching of Jesus that "man cannot serve both God and Mammon (wealth)". He asserts that it is obvious that "Western society is organized in the service of wealth" and thus wealth has triumphed over God in the West.WEB, Eastern View of Economics,weblink John B., Cobb, Jr., 10 April 2011, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 6 September 2015,


{{Synthesis|section|date=March 2016}}Simon Blackburn states that the "Bible can be read as giving us a carte blanche for harsh attitudes to children, the mentally handicapped, animals, the environment, the divorced, unbelievers, people with various sexual habits, and elderly women".{{harvnb|Blackburn|2001|page=12}} Elizabeth S. Anderson, a Professor of Philosophy and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, states that "the Bible contains both good and evil teachings", and it is "morally inconsistent".{{harvnb|Anderson|2007|page=336}} She concludes that, "Here are religious doctrines that on their face claim that it is all right to mercilessly punish people for the wrongs of others and for blameless error, that license or even command murder, rape, torture, slavery, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. We know such actions are wrong."{{harvnb|Anderson|2007|page=337}}Blackburn notes morally suspect themes in the Bible's New Testament as well.{{harvnb|Blackburn|2001|pages=11–12}} He notes some "moral quirks" of Jesus: that he could be "sectarian" (Matt 10:5–6), racist (Matt 15:26 and Mark 7:27), placed no value on animal life (Luke 8: 27–33), and believed that "mental illness is caused by possession by devils". He also did not repudiate any of the more brutal portions of the Old Testament. Anderson notes the Christian apologist argument that the Jesus of the New Testament is "all loving".{{harvnb|Anderson|2007|page=338}} She states, however, that the New Testament has some morally repugnant lessons as well: "Jesus tells us his mission is to make family members hate one another, so that they shall love him more than their kin (Matt 10:35–37)", "Disciples must hate their parents, siblings, wives, and children (Luke 14:26)", children who "curse their parents ... must be killed", and Peter and Paul elevate men over their wives "who must obey their husbands " (1 Corinthians 11:3, 14:34–5, Eph. 5:22–24, Col. 3:18, 1 Tim. 2: 11–2, 1 Pet. 3:1) in the New Testament household code.

See also

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  • BOOK, Anderson, Elizabeth, Elizabeth S. Anderson, 2007, If God is Dead, Is Everything Permitted?, The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever, Hitchens, Christopher, Philadelphia, Da Capo Press, 978-0-306-81608-6, harv,
  • BOOK, Blackburn, Simon, Simon Blackburn, 2001, Ethics: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-280442-6, harv,
  • BOOK, Childress, James F., Macquarrie, John, 1986, The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Ethics, Philadelphia, The Westminster Press, 0-664-20940-8, harv,
  • BOOK, Long, D. Stephen, D. Stephen Long, 2010, Christian Ethics: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-956886-4, harv,

Further reading

  • De La Torre, Miguel A., Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins, Orbis Books, 2004.
  • Doomen, Jasper. "Religion's Appeal", Philosophy and Theology 23, 1: 133-148 (2011)
  • al-Faruqi, Ismail Ragi. Christian Ethics: an Historical and Systematic Analysis of Its Dominant Ideas. McGill University Press, 1967. N.B.: Written from an Islamic perspective.
  • Hein, David. "Christianity and Honor." The Living Church, 18 August 2013, pp. 8–10.

External links

{{Catholic virtue ethics}}{{Christian theology}}{{Christianity footer}}

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