Lately, I have been reflecting on what a consistent Christian life ethic might look like, and I would invite your responses as well.
This question comes up from time to time, especially in political debates. Ordinarily, Republicans focus on protecting the unborn and preventing euthanasia, whereas Democrats tend to promote care from the cradle to the grave with social programs, including health care, welfare, etc. The only problem is that both parties have glaring inconsistencies. I believe a consistent Christian ethic needs to cover all of life, not just the ones that are convenient to further one's own agenda.
That's why it is time for us to think of a consistent Christian life ethic; one that truly values human life in all of its phases and offers care when it is needed.
So what does that look like?
I do not propose to be an expert in these matters at all, so I hope to open up some dialogue through this post. However, to get the wheels turning I will offer a few of my own ideas.
First, a consistent Christian life ethic will embrace the truth that all people are created in the image of God, and therefore all people have intrinsic value and require our respect. We must concern ourselves with the needs of each person, as we consider what is best. No one is expendable, no one gets left behind. A consistent Christian life ethic will value relationships over labels, and seek to see people as God sees them.
Second, a consistent Christian life ethic will not seek first what is most convenient or self-serving, but will seek first to serve the needs of others rather than to be served in furthering our own agendas. I want to argue that a consistent Christian life ethic cares for children (whether or not they are born in the US or not), offers encouragement to those who are hurting, stands up for those with no voice (whether they reside inside or outside of their mother's womb), and extends grace to anyone who needs it. Not because people deserve it, but because that is what Jesus did, and that is what Christians are called to do.
Third, a consistent Christian life ethic seeks justice for the oppressed, marginalized, and victimized.
Justice means to set right what is wrong. Now, unfortunately, as human beings we are limited in righting every wrong. Sometimes we just don't know what it will take to make things right. Yet we must try. Seeking justice means holding people accountable for their actions, especially criminal behavior, because when one person's actions harm another person accountability is required so that the victim is valued, whether the victim is dead or alive. Seeking justice also means working to provide truly equal opportunity to every person, so that each person can use the gifts God has given them to care for themselves, their family, and contribute to the betterment of their community.
In short, a consistent Christian life ethic will take seriously Jesus' command "to love your neighbor as yourself". To really love our neighbors well will require us to get to know our neighbors, listen to them, empathize with them (really trying our best to walk a mile in their shoes), seek to understand them, and work together toward a God-glorifying result.
It will not be easy. Developing a consistent Christian life ethic will require a lot from us. Still we must remember that the One we serve is the same one Who gave His all for us, and He has called us to in turn take up our crosses and follow Him.
So what about you? What do you think is involved in a consistent Christian life ethic? How can we take steps to embody that ethic? I invite you to share your own thoughts as we journey together along the way ...