Relational Ethics Relevance to Assisted Suicide
There are moments in life when humans forget the God’s commandments and find themselves trapped in the moral ambivalence. The deeds and thoughts of a doubting person bring frailty into his life and pave the way for the sins and anguish of body and mind. Numerous questions occur in the times of such ‘forgetfulness’. People are lost in the myriads of deeds and outcomes that shape their future in case something relevantly unethical is done. And that is when it is so important to remember God, trust and love Him with all our hearts and minds. God is wiser than any living authority, and has already given us the source of wisdom containing many answers on the questions that occur throughout human life.
In his book the “Dynamics of Faith” Paul Tillich talks about faith as the Ultimate Concern. Tillich states that faith is actually the “the state of being ultimately concerned.”
The object of concern is not as important as actually the state itself. And the objects of concern may vary depending on many things: religion, upbringing, values, etc. Tillich provides an example of how an object of concern may differ and how harmful and destructive it can be sometimes. Paul Tillich draws out attention to the blind nationalism, where ultimate concern is focused on the life and growth of a nation. He believes the extreme nationalism of our century is that the ultimate concern is bond to even the smallest concern of one’s daily life, while the other concerns – like justice, family, humanity, health and life are being sacrificed for the sake of the life and growth of a nation.
The promise of ultimate fulfillment (not necessarily defined) is what stands as the basis of the act of faith and the tool for unconditional demand to obey some idea.
Tillich provides an example from the Old Testament. Being ultimately concerned with Jahweh is what the Old Testament demands and the great command for it is embodied is the verse of Deuteronomy 6:5: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with and all your soul, and with all your might.
Another example Paul Tillich quotes in his book, is the ultimate concern with “success”, social standing and economic power – a problem more relevant to the modern Western society than any other. The promise of the demand for total surrender to the money and power is the “fulfillment of one’s being”. But the price for it, the author warns, is quite high. Those surrendering to the laws of “success” have to sacrifice the genuine human relations, personal conviction and creative eros, but in the end, the promise of this faith turns out to be empty, because it is a misplaced faith.
Still, a person is free to choose the object of ultimate concern, even if is not God. But we responsible for our choice and should answer for the consequences, no matter what our faith is focused on, because it may be either a positive thing or a destructive one.
A Moral Creed for All Christians by Daniel C. Maguire is a book that reminds us of the myopic concerns that prevent us from real unconditional faith. In this book Daniel C. Maguire explores the topics of the creative potential of the humans, justice and peace, enmity, militarism, and much more. In basis, the concept Maguire provides us with has a lot in common with the previous concept. Certainly, Maguire’s vision is different in many aspects – it is rougher, I would say. But basically, he offers us the same idea if belief in God as the source of inspiration and the return to the essence of being in terms of Christianity.
Maguire’s vision of God’s justice provides a solution to many questions. The justice of God should serve as the basis for the full meaning of life. Modern society suffers many diseases like corruption and hostility, the self-destructive mechanisms are already in power, and it is about time to make a step towards faith in its purest meaning. This means judging our own acts in terms of God’s justice and practicing Christianity in terms of its initial values of love, peace and moral purity.
Certainly, obeying the commandments of God is not an easy task. There are thousands of temptations and desires that tend to reign over our feelings. And even if a person knows what is right in terms of God’s word, he or she might still doubt because the human nature is weak and dubious.
If we take an issue of assisted suicide and discuss the relational ethics applicable to this topic, there will be arguments both for and against this act. First of God, suicide is a sin, despite the reason. The God has given us the time on Earth and all the ordeals for a reason, and there is no point breaking away. Suicide is a weakness and cowardice. The example of Jesus shows us what ordeals one can get over and live to the brighter day.
Secondly, an assisted suicide is, in fact, a murder. And God’s commandments prohibit us from murdering, it is a sin.
But if one thinks of the mercy God also commanded us, there is relational meaning to the issue of assisted suicide. The topic has already become one of the most controversial issues of our times. And the whole nations may consider whether for their community such activity is possible and acceptable. But that is simply the manipulation authorities use to influence the mass opinion and win cheap popularity. The decisions taken in the heat of populist activity may cause irrevocable harm to the concept of Faith. Maguire warned the reader of the myopic morality of different wings of Christian faith. His point is that Christianity should be based on the enduring relevance of Jesus and biblical Christianity determines the basis for a purer faith, faith as the Ultimate Concern, as Tillich put it.
The faith itself should be the basis of our life, not the convenient conditions we choose to suit our needs and the temporary values.
There is certain difficulty is changing the object of ultimate concern, especially if one has grown up believing it. There is a strong need for a new approach towards the core human values and it lies in the ancient script of wisdom called the Bible. If a person follows the commandments of God and loves Him beyond anything, this faith may be called real. There are no “convenient” commandments, the rules are common for all, and that is what makes them so valuable. They are for everybody, thus, they contain the source for equality, peace and love of people. If everyone followed them, there would be no relational ethics to the assisted suicide, because it is a double sin – a sin of a person who wants to cease the earthly being and the sin of a person helping the other to commit suicide, thus committing a crime of murder.
The faith should be the person’s ultimate concern and all the treasures and promises of the world should not be able to temp his strength. It is the basis for a better society, with common respect, understanding, love and peace. If the God’s reign is the basis of human relations, it would ban the earthly concerns of money, power, false humanism, and social inequality. Because most controversial issues are already solved in the Bible and have become the international wisdom known as the God’s commandments, only people tend to forget about them, pursuing their own earthly goals and sharing temporary egoistic values. I believe God’s command is the only reply to the question of assisted suicide.
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