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Christian Ethics: Lesson 001

Christian Ethics Free Course: LESSON ONE: HUMAN RIGHTS (PART 1)

Read: Luke 4:18-19; Prov. 31:8-9.
Human rights are important because it is the basic issue that lies behind many of the ethical and social problems that society and the church face today.



A. A Definition of Human rights
The United Nations declaration of human rights proclaims the right:

* To life, to freedom from subjection, to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or to slavery, servitude or forced labour.
*To liberty and security of the person.
*To a fair trial.
*To freedom from retroactive criminal law or punishments.
*To respect for private and family life, home and correspondence.
*To freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
*To freedom of expression, peaceful expression and association.
*To an effective remedy against officials who violate these rights.
*To the enjoyment of these rights without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.

   Today, the majority of the people in the world are held in a bondage which denies all or most of the U.N. declaration. And even where democracy holds sway, human rights are seriously limited for many groups. Justice still works best for Western, white, wealthy males!

   This declaration is an example of idealism. It is an aspiration to human freedom in a world of political, racial, economic, sexual and religious bondage.

B. Christianity and Human Rights.
   Christians are neither idealists nor indifferent to human bondage and deprivation. Jesus’ message of freedom is the greatest single contribution to human rights in history. Here is His Nazareth Manifesto:
“To preach good news to the poor…. To proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” Luke 4:18-19)
   This has enormous spiritual implications largely ignored by modern society, but it also declares Jesus’ concern for the liberation of the whole person.
   Yet Christians have sometimes become the persecutors.
Christianity – the State version – has a bad record on human rights. Slavery, torture, class barriers, sexual subjugation, colonialism and many more vices have been justified in the Name of the One who came to abolish injustice. The church has sinned grievously, and many of today’s secular responses to human rights reflect a recognition of that fact.
   Not least has been the emergence of Marxism and its Christianised form known as liberation theology. Both stand in stark contrast to the authentic New Testament church – violent confrontation versus healing love and persuasive wisdom. If liberation theology is a Christian extreme, then so is an evangelicalism concerned only with salvation from personal sin and with preserving the faithful until they go to heaven. Jesus’ message implies far more than this.

C. A Biblical Approach to Human Rights
The issue of human rights confronts us’ squarely with the question: “What is man?”
(i) A MARRED IMAGE
   The gospel begins with creation. Man is dust into which God has breathed. He is midway between the angels and the animals. (See Psalm 8:3-8)
Man (or humankind) was created in two forms – male and female. Both were in the image of God, both were to have authority; both were made without reference to racial, social or intellectual characteristics. Alienation, between themselves and God, and between one another, was unknown.
Yet today we are magnificent ruins, made in the image of God, yet marred in every part.
This is the root of the denial of human rights (See Rom. 1:18-32).
(ii) A NEW HEART
   The gospel proposes a remedy. It isn’t a political solution imposed upon unwilling people but a new heart, which in turn is reflected in a new society. (See Heb. 8:10-12).
(iii) A NEW STATUS
   If the new heart produces a new attitude of love towards our fellow-creatures, then the gospel of grace also changes our status. The old categories of race, class and sex lose their importance. (See Gal. 3:26-29).
(iv) A POLITICAL SOLUTION?
   Grace must affect politics but politics cannot produce grace.
This is why Jesus would not lead a political revolution. (See Jn. 6:15).
He avoided an overt attack upon the repressive Roman government which, in His own nation, abused every known human right, simply because He knew that the most dangerous thing you can give to a man is his freedom – unless grace operates to sanctify his conscience and to discipline his heart.
   All rights carry responsibility (Gal. 5:13). We cannot embrace the ways of violence in order to achieve the goals of the Prince of Peace. Proclaiming the gospel of grace is the only sure remedy for injustice.
(v) THE RIGHT TO RIGHTS
   Human rights are not an absolute. Doing the will of God is.
Christians are called to sacrifice their human rights for the sake of the gospel. (Mt. 5:10-12; 38-42: 1 Peter 4:12-16).
   The Christian church today is the most heavily persecuted minority in the world.  Religious liberty is purchased with martyrs’ blood.
   This means, incidentally, that the believer can hardly be a supporter of religious persecution. In all this we follow Jesus who at the cross willingly put Himself into the hands of unjust men. The trial and crucifixion of Christ stand as one of the greatest denials of human rights in history. But it was the will of God. – See Isa. 53:10!
   We must face the fact that we will come into conflict with the powers that be when we speak up for the needy – and this is part of our calling – See Prov. 31:8-9; Rom. 12:14-21.

QUESTIONS:
1. Do you agree that human rights are the basic issue that lies behind the ethical problems of today’s society?
2. Is the U.N. Declaration in section ‘A’ realistic or idealistic? Why?
3. Can you add any other Biblical material to section ‘C’?
4. Do you have a different Biblical approach to that suggested here?
5. Can Christians support the work of:
(a) Amnesty International?
(b) Liberation Theology?
(c) Animal Rights?
(d) Greenpeace?
Give reasons for/against in each case.
6. Can we always allow others the free exercise of their rights? What about children? Criminals? Animals? Nature?

PERSONAL WORK:
1. Examine your own attitudes before God on this whole issue of human rights.
Have you given it much thought? lf not, then why not? What implication does this have for you in the future in thinking through ethical issues?
2. Have you found this first session boring? Interesting? Challenging? or threatening? Examine your reactions.
3. What positive steps are you going to take before God to get actively involved in ethical and social issues? ‘



15 Comments

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  1. Rev Charles Carter

    OUR RIGHTS AS A CHRISTIAN SHOULD NEVER BE COMPROMISED

  2. answer to Questions
    1 No.but it is important,basicly people need to understand that there is no rightiuosness without Jezus Christ.If we as a people live without the word of God being establisch inour live . We live in fain because no human rights can help us .My mening is it is ale there in the bible.
    2. it is idealistic, I feel that a selected group can benifit from it
    3. the right to act responsible, In the letter from Paul to the Philipian his call to the christians is to put on the attitude of Christ (2:5)it doesnot matter in what kind of situayion we are our reaction on the situation that we face should be acording th christ rightous
    4. no it is clear
    5.Yes and no,Amnesty International,To promote and defend Human Rigths around the world in not an bad idee,if it is done honesty and not been focus on a select group .I feel is can meet its purpose

  3. continue Question 5
    Liberation Rights, yes, the campagne for freedom, even God has given men freedom of choice – the out come is not always what we want
    Animal rigths, no men is to rule over animals, I am not saying that we must abuse them all I say is that it ismoral end ethical to own and use animals and eat meat

  4. continue Queation 5
    Green peace
    yes God has given men to take care of the earht
    of the environment, some time tier actions are out of controle., never the less it is for agood cause

  5. Questian nr. 6
    no :there is a limit God is not a God of chaos.
    Children supposed to obay thier parents . animals should be taken care for by men
    We should love our brothers and sisters even if they are criminals.

  6. this firts sesion has allow me to do alittle more research only to understand fully what was tought
    I have learn much
    I am asking Gid to help me to do the wright thing

  7. Between the theory of praying for an enemy and the practice is a very wide gulf that only God Himself can bridge. It is a very tough one, and I believe only those touched by His grace can accomplish that.

  8. Pastor Anthony Zwiener

    “OUR RIGHTS AS A CHRISTIAN SHOULD NEVER BE COMPROMISED”

    Interesting comment, what rights do you speak of?
    Have you not made Jesus Lord of your life? Are you not a bond servant of his? Are we not taught to put the others first? to be the least? What RIGHT did our example, Christ, hold up in his life and teach, do not let this be compromised?
    No Brother, the rights of the Christian have always been compromised, it is our walk that must not be!

  9. All people should have the rights to embrace the god that created them . So stateing such we should use christ’s examples to teach others and prophet size to others about what god has done in our own lives to show the others ways to embrace their walk with the creator.

  10. Chp. Candido Vendrell

    QUESTIONS:
    1. Do you agree that human rights are the basic issue that lies behind the ethical problems of today’s society?
    No, I don’t. Time had brought through process the way for individuals, groups, organizations, and even government to walk many and different walkways where choices are the fundamental bases of decisions. Using this principle we select the way we are or had select the passageway to attempt to satisfy oneself and via this way of thinking we develop the routes of life we are going to choose and not necessary will satisfy others need but our own needs. Then today’s society not necessarily encompass them self with ethical issues because this specific subject is absent with in their life and real care do not or had not germinate in there life.
    2. Is the U.N. Declaration in section ‘A’ realistic or idealistic? Why?
    I strongly belief, that this declaration is idealistic; Why? To expect today’s society to abide by a very small group of world leaders or optimist individuals who in one way or other will attempt to impose these concept with in the present society will not be able to spread the seed and see the fruit on the long or short run because individuals goals and objective were not take it into consideration when this degree was suggested or advice.

    3. Can you add any other Biblical material to section ‘C’?
    Exodus 23:1-3, 6-8 LEV 19:13-15

    4. Do you have a different Biblical approach to that suggested here?
    Even we all were created at God image, He gave us freewill and freedom on making our own decisions. This will bring the opportunity to charge to our own expectation of life the way we all select the field we had chosen to spread the seed and will plant and harvest later in life and in must time in our daily life the fruits of the spirit. In addition, the responsibility we had must be in one way or other; image the life of the two apostles who were responsible on their own way’s for the spread of the word of our savior Jesus Christ, the Apostles, Peter and Paul.

    5. Can Christians support the work of:
    The answer can be YES and also NO, however my own opinion on this matter and my personal approach may differ from others. But these are my choices.

    (a) Amnesty International? Yes, because is our responsibility to make choices, to belief on what we support or not. But if our decisions allow us to support our belief we should not confront any difficulties.

    (b) Liberation Theology? NO, if we depart from the principles of the first church and those who were call Christians for the firs time, then is our responsibility to watch and be responsible of the selection we make on each and every subject. Our daily conduct, our responsibility with the poor, the sick, and those in need can’t discriminate on any way or form.

    (c) Animal Rights? Yes. They were given to us by God for us to care for them, to make sacrifice to honor him, to satisfy our hunger when need it, and we must be responsible to our children’s in the future for taking care of our earth and each and every animal that we have and had the opportunity to name. We should not abuse them and we must understand the purpose they play in our daily life.

    (d) Greenpeace? Yes, because we must respect the law of our land, however we may not or should not interfere we the belief and customs of other cultures and way of life.
    Give reasons for/against in each case.

    6. Can we always allow others the free exercise of their rights? Yes, as far we always understand that their rights ends were the other individual rights initiates.
    What about children? Yes; Children does have rights and must also be respected, but we must understand again that culture, and custom, play a very important role in this subject and we must be careful not to interfere were our own personal belief may cause more damage than good.
    Criminals? Yes, to the extend permitted by law
    Animals? Yes, again we must always remember that animals were given to us and is our responsibility to take care of them. They are our source of food and we must be good stewardship with what was trust us with.
    Nature? Yes, our surrounding here or elsewhere is our inherit responsibility and we must taking care for today and tomorrow and until the Lord had pass on his promises to return and bring us to the kingdom of heaven,

  11. 1. Do you agree that human rights are the basic issue that lies behind the ethical problems of today’s society? Yes and no as it depends on the human rights, and if it is infringing on others rights. The term “infringing on others rights” though has been greatly misused. Which brings up the whole ethical part of this. It is unethical to abuse someones human rights, and it is unethical to use your human rights to knock someone else down. People are overusing their “human rights” to the extent they are turning them into something they were never meant to be.
    2. Is the U.N. Declaration in section ‘A’ realistic or idealistic? Once again this is a question that gets a yes and a no! Why? Other countries are far more oppressed than our own, but missionaries and such are trying to change that, but to say that white wealthy males is a bigamist statement. While that used to be the case, racism in America has had a dramatic decrease so things are much more equal these days. Also our country does try to help other countries become more democratic like ours.
    3. Can you add any other Biblical material to section ‘C’?
    4. Do you have a different Biblical approach to that suggested here?
    5. Can Christians support the work of:
    (a) Amnesty International?I am giving the same answer for all of these four questions. Yes you can as long as you are not promoting violence, you are doing it to help, and not self gratification, and you feel God let you to do that.
    (b) Liberation Theology? Yes you can as long as you are not promoting violence, you are doing it to help, and not self gratification, and you feel God let you to do that.
    (c) Animal Rights? Yes you can as long as you are not promoting violence, you are doing it to help, and not self gratification, and you feel God let you to do that.
    (d) Greenpeace? Yes you can as long as you are not promoting violence, you are doing it to help, and not self gratification, and you feel God let you to do that.
    Give reasons for/against in each case.
    6. Can we always allow others the free exercise of their rights? What about children? Criminals? Animals? Nature? I think to a degree we have to or we are being hypocritical, but at the same time just like there are consequences for adults actions, there should be for all the others. Now for criminals their human rights change to a degree while incarcerated, but they still have some and should be allowed the “some” they get.

    PERSONAL WORK:
    1. Examine your own attitudes before God on this whole issue of human rights.I admit sometimes I wish certain people didnt have human rights since the said people tend to abuse them.
    Have you given it much thought? lf not, then why not? What implication does this have for you in the future in thinking through ethical issues? I think about it all the time. I was originally going to school for social work, so I learned a lot. Like I said some people abuse them, but we shouldnt abolish human rights for a few bad apples.
    2. Have you found this first session boring? Interesting? Challenging? or threatening? Examine your reactions.I found it none of the above, but I did find it something that should be discussed since it seems to be a privilege that many people take for granted, and/or abuse.
    3. What positive steps are you going to take before God to get actively involved in ethical and social issues? ‘Work on my own issues first, and learn from the teachings of Jesus on how we should handle such things.

  12. Good views. Freedom of choice is a gift from God. Good first lesson.

  13. 1. No, I do not agree that human rights are the basic issue that lies behind the ethical problems of today’s society.
    The basic issue is true ‘Faith’.

    Most people said, they have faith, but the truth is they don’t have. because they are hypocrites.

    Mat 15:8-9 -Jesus said, These people said they honor me, but they don’t really make me an important part of their lives. Their worship of me is for nothing. the things they teach are only rules that people have made.

    there are still lots of human rights violated to date. the victims are the poor.

    2. The U.N. declaration is idealistic. because human rights are applied to the people the chosen few.

    3. John 7:24 – Jesus said, “Stop judging by the way things look. Be fair and judge by what is really right.

    4. Just be godly all the time.

    5. Be a good example like Jesus did, whatever happens.

    6. Respect others rights, even God gave us free will. Just show yourself as a model, so that by your deeds, people will glorify God.

    PERSONAL WORK:
    1. Only God reads our mind.
    2. Interesting
    3. Love your neighbor as yourself.

  14. RunFromThisWebsite

    This website does NOT teach sound biblical doctrine… it is mixing political propoganda and the true word of God to create an immoral “social gospel”.
    The secular government’s idea of “Human Rights” (ie United Nations) and God’s truth about our fallen, inheritant sin nature are very different. God knows we are born sinful and separated from God and the only way back to him is to turn from our sins (sexual immorality including homosexuality and premarital sex, lying, murder/abortion, envy, jealousy, hate, etc) and accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as our ONLY Lord and Savior.

  15. This is the whole parts Christ must be seen thru his people. HE SAID TAKE UP YOUR CROSS AND FOLLOW ME. IN THESE ISSUES WE MUST BE COURAGOUS.

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