Should we engage in germ line genetic engineering to put an end to inheritable genetic disease? Is it ever okay to use hormones and/or gender reassignment surgery? Does obedience to the command “Be fruitful and multiply”? (Gen. 1:28) justify using a surrogacy? Is capital punishment contrary to the gospel? Can the divorced ever serve in the church, or remarry? Can violence ever be justified in the name of peace? What does God’s economy have to say about capitalism? Is it ever okay to lie to protect the innocent? This is just a small sample of the moral questions confronting Christians—and everyone—today. Our culture offers a fairly standard moral menu captured in well-worn statements—“The end justifies the means,” “The greatest good to the greatest number,” “It’s what’s in your heart that counts,” “You’ll know the right thing to do when the time comes,” or even “Do unto others before they do unto you!”
But how should Christians go about offering responses to these issues that are faithful to the God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ and the Bible? Trying to nail down the fundamental concerns of Christian ethics is no less challenging than the questions introduced above which confront us on a fairly regular basis. What exactly is Christian ethics, and how does it differ from the common responses we so often hear? Should Christian ethics be concerned mainly with answering thorny problems and tricky dilemmas, or is it supposed to do something more?
Is ethics about obeying God’s commands in the Bible? And if so what do we do with those Old Testament commands that forbid wearing a garment of mixed fabrics (Leviticus 19:19) or boiling a kid in its mother’s milk? (Exodus 23:19) More generally, how do we use the Bible in Christian ethics? Is it safer to read morality off nature itself? Or should Christian ethics be more about character formation than providing answers? What role do consequences play in Christian ethics? Do our intentions matter?
Urbana Seminary’s Christian ethics course is designed to get clarity on these questions and concerns, both in terms of method and offering Christian guidance to today’s moral dilemmas. If you’ve been bothered by these questions or bewildered by what it means to be a Christian in a morally ambiguous, pluralistic world, this course is for you! It is a modular course scheduled to meet on four weekends during the semester, and it is not too late to register! For more information, contact email@example.com