An example of a likely confusion between theological beliefs and ethical principles inside a commonly-held religious belief system is defining the distinction between religious values and morality. Religious values and morality are different belief structures that guide actions. Morality is a term referring to an active manner that controls an individual’s behavior through reason whereas spiritual values are established frameworks that are designed to guide believers in understanding what is proper and wrong. The two structures usually create confusion despite having a number of avenues of interpretation such as religious leaders, holy books, as well as written and oral traditions. Morality and religion are not synonymous because religious values, as opposed to ethical principles, can extend or diverge from various commonly-held modern moral positions (Knapp, Lemoncelli, & VandeCreek, 2010).
Yes, various practices within the religious context might be critiqued as unethical, and an example of such practices is complete opposition to euthanasia. Euthanasia refers to the practice of painless killing of individuals suffering from painful and incurable diseases, or persons in irreversible coma conditions (Hardesty & Westerman, 2009). Euthanasia is a highly-contested practice between ethical principles and theological beliefs. According to religious beliefs, an individual’s right to life is the fundamental natural right upon which other human rights build. Therefore, attempts to justify acts of euthanasia by using some contemporary legal provisions have proved to be problematic since believers consider it a violation of the primary human rights granted by God (Hardesty & Westerman, 2009). Besides, according to the natural law, everyone has an equal right to live, and no individual or entity, or societal belief is entitled to deprive someone of that right, a provision firmly-held by religious believers (Hardesty & Westerman, 2009).
However, according to the fundamentals of ethical reasoning, it is unethical to intentionally subject a terminally ill person to a continuous pain, when it is clear beyond reasonable doubts that such a person’s condition is incurable (Knapp, Lemoncelli, & VandeCreek, 2010). Although it is illegal and against the religious values to terminate one’s life, certain factors and conditions may make acts of euthanasia ethical. According to the natural law, life should be lost naturally, and it is only God who has the power to control an individual’s life in any given circumstance. However, acts of euthanasia can take place under a person’s right to make personal life decisions. One may decide to ethically take his or her life, especially in situations of terminal illnesses (Knapp, Lemoncelli, & VandeCreek, 2010).
The fundamentals of ethical reasoning can be applied in a broad range of ways in the case of euthanasia. One of the ethical approaches to euthanasia is seeking the consent of the relatives of the terminally ill person (Hardesty & Westerman, 2009). Additionally, it is ethical to confirm beyond reasonable doubts that the terminally ill person is under intense pain and that the condition is incurable by all humanly means. Also, the principles of ethical reasoning should apply when determining whether euthanasia is the best option for a given patient (Hardesty & Westerman, 2009).
In overall, euthanasia remains a very controversial topic between ethical principles and theological beliefs. Believers hold on to the natural law that everyone has the fundamental right to live regardless of the circumstance, and that it is only God who has full control of one’s life. On the Other hand, ethical principles attempt to emphasize morality by seeing the sense of relieving terminally suffering individuals of pain through various practices such as euthanasia.
Hardesty, A., & Westerman, J. (2009). Relating Religious Beliefs to Workplace Values: Meta-Ethical Development, Locus of Control, and Conscientiousness. Academy of Management Proceedings, 2009(1), 1-6. http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/ambpp.2009.44242997
Knapp, S., Lemoncelli, J., & VandeCreek, L. (2010). Ethical responses when patients’ religious beliefs appear to harm their well-being. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 41(5), 405-412. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0021037