Biomedical Ethics in the Christian Narrative
Grand Canyon University: PHL 413
November 20, 2016
Case Study: Biomedical Ethics in the Christian Narrative
Christians are at times faced with moral, ethical or spiritual dilemmas where hard decisions have to be made, whoever, for a Christian the aspect of faith comes strongly since the Bible emphasizes on having faith in God in difficult times. At the same time, applying spirituality in almost everything contradicts the physical aspect of life. In this regard, it becomes very paramount to balance between spiritual and physical dimensions of life. Additionally, one has to consider the ethical side of everything before making some decisions. Although God maintains that we always have faith in him, the same God appreciates the application of wisdom in decision-making processes. In the case at hand, Joanne and Mike needed to apply not only Christian narratives but also ethical values. Ethics and morality mainly emphasize on what is wrong or right. In this matter, Joanne and Mike ought to have considered the morality of this issue. To get this clear, this paper will give a critical outlook on Christian narratives and beliefs versus ethical decision making as far handling medical issues is concerned.
The Christian Narrative
Any Christian should have strong belief in God, who is seen as a supreme being, with answers to every circumstance. To begin with, it is worth noting that Mike and Joanne were right in their thinking. The case goes ahead to highlight that their decision was to a great extent influenced by the sermon they had received sometimes back. It is, therefore, possible that the sermon had touched mainly on the need to have unwavering faith in God. Faith in this sense means fully trusting in God as an instant answer to every problem (Shelly &Miller, 2006).In most cases, such sermons come with practical references from the Bible where several people were healed while others raised from the dead.
In this regard, Mike and Joanne have to demonstrate that they were not just hearers but also doers of the word. It is possible that the two had heard of instances when God indeed worked miracles. If what the Bible said was something to go by, then, Mike and Joanne were fully justified to try the miracle route. The only thing that they forget was the fact that the same Bible that talks of miracles talks of faith without action being dead. In this case, the wisest action is seeking medical help while still praying to God for healing.
When his son Samuel chooses to be the donor, Mike still brings spirituality to the matter. He talks about the will of God. He is in a dilemma whether to allow Samuel donate the kidney or wait for a miracle to happen. What is interesting is the fact that he relates his dilemma with a test. Therefore, the decision he would make would determine whether he passes the test or not. Being a strong believer that he is, waiting for God to perform a miracle was the right way of passing the test. On the other hand, allowing medical practitioners do a kidney transplant, which is considered wrong by some Christians, would signify his lack of faith in God (Robson, Razack& Dublin, 2010).
Ethical Issues in the Case
Ethics mainly focuses on the wrongness or rightness of decisions, especially when people are faced with dilemmas. In this case, the dilemma is whether to seek medical help or wait for God to do a miracle. The ethical thing to do is taking the right path that would save James life. Waiting for God is not bad, but medical practitioners are God sent angels to help save lives. What if doctors are God’s miracle workers? In this case, the most ethical thing is to seek the best way that could have helped to improve James’ condition.
Ethically, good health is a basic human right for all children. We have heard cases where people are prosecuted for allowing others to die in the name of “having faith in God.” Ethically, having faith in God does not mean allowing others to die of certain sicknesses while waiting for miracles to heal them. Ethically, Joanne and Mike should have been responsible enough to secure James’ health through seeking medical help.
Additionally, it would have been ethical for Mike to respect Samuel’s autonomous decision to save his brother by donating one of his kidneys. It is unethical to relate every dilemma with a test. This can only be compared with sleeping throughout without eating and waiting for God to miraculously feed you through osmosis. Therefore, Mike was supposed to apply both ethics and spirituality to reach the soundest decision regarding this case.
The physician has an obligation to save a life. Although physicians are expected to respect the autonomy of the patients, the seriousness of this case could have limited that autonomy (Choi, 2015). Being a trained health practitioner, he could have been in a better position to make Mike and Joanne see sense in the whole issue. What is not clear is why the physician allowed Mike and Joanne to take the move. Ethically, the physician should have been wise enough to know that miracles do not always work and seeking medical help is always the right thing to do. He should also have taken a legal action against the two give the seriousness of the sickness. Legally, allowing others to die in the name of “waiting for miracles” is wrong. Therefore, it was unethical for the physician to be convinced by Mike and Joanne that miracles could have saved James.
Analyses of the Case
It is quite clear that the Christian narrative, treatment refusal, patient autonomy and organ donation are intertwined. Like earlier noted, applying one and ignoring the other would bring crises. To start with, Mike and Joanne ought to have known that having faith in God does not imply treatment refusal. They should have understood that medical help and God working miracles ought to complement each other. In this aspect, they ought to have sought medical help first then pray to God to see James through the condition. Additionally, the issues of patient autonomy should not have come in given the seriousness of the sickness. The physician ought to have advised Mike and Joanne on the way forward. He ought to have overruled their decision to seek miracles to save James. Finally, Mike should have appreciated the freedom of his son Samuel to donate his kidney to James.
How Christians ought to think about Sickness and Health
Christians ought to know that God is the giver of divine health and according to Meilaender (2013) sickness and suffering is not always a punishment from God.. However, this does not mean that they will never fall sick. Since God knew this, he commanded man to fill the earth and subdue it. One way of subduing it is the man using God-given wisdom to provide a remedy to the problems he faces daily. One of these problems is sicknesses. Christians should, therefore, trust the men and women who are given wisdom by God to provide a remedy to sicknesses.
Christian narratives and ethical issues are two overlapping principles of life. Like seen in the case, the right thing was to involve the input of the Christian narratives, ethics as well as the physician’s recommendation. Therefore, spirituality, ethics, and morality are inseparable since the application of one requires reference to the other. Applying one and ignoring the other would result in a crisis. However, balancing of the two would significantly reduce any crisis as far medical decision making is concerned.
Choi, P. P. (2015). Patient advocacy: the role of the nurse. Nursing Standard, 29(41), 52-58.
Meilaender, G. (2013). Bioethics: A Primer for Christians (3rd Ed.). Grand Rapids, Michigan / Cambridge, U.K: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Robson, N. Z. M. H., Razack, A. H., & Dublin, N. (2010). Organ Transplants: Ethical, social, and religious issues in a multicultural society. Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health.
Shelly, J.A., Miller, A.B., (2006). Called to care: A Christian worldview for nursing. (2nd ed.). Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press.
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