My students are very fortunate that each year the local hospital Chaplain joins us for ‘Vicar in the Hot Seat.’ This basically involves asking him a series of questions and exploring his answers. He responds purely from his own perspective whilst offering general views of the Anglican community as well other Christian denominations.
This is an overview of the main points from our discussion:
Euthanasia (including whether Tony Nicklinson should have been allowed to commit euthanasia):
Totally accept severity of condition but we are able to palliate without euthanasia in most cases. Understand and respect right and choice of going to Dignitas. Legally allowing euthanasia could lead to a “slippery slope” scenario. The Law protects the vulnerable – if euthanasia were to be legalised then it could lead to exploitation of elderly etc.
“We shouldn’t accelerate the process of death. We shouldn’t terminate life prematurely.”
Q: Do you have non – religious reasons for disagreeing with euthanasia?
A: Even without faith, life is sacred and still has value. Life can be separated from ‘quality’ of life, where is quality of life line drawn? Life is important and worth it but it is still people’s own educated choice. Reasons against euthanasia are not religious in the law. Medical professionals would be going against their Hippocratic Oath.
“Not for me to stop that person.”
Pace Makers = yes as we owe it to do as much as we can to preserve life. Euthanasia is an accelerator instead of a preventative.
(Further thought: Does the sanctity of life invariably outweigh the quality of life?)
Against abortion “in principle” but context matters, in extreme circumstances can happen. Respects the right of every woman’s choice. Not a place to judge or intervene just to show compassion.
(This implies that ‘principles’ may be departed from, echoing the “Weak rule” Utilitarianism of Mill. Interesting because Mill included elements of Christianity, such as the golden rule, into a primarily secular theory.)
Has humanity exploited its dominion over the land and animals, have we neglected our purpose to be stewards (as outlined in Genesis). We cannot be assured that GM crops will not lead to detrimental consequences such as genetic mutations.
Ripples in the pond – all the ripples that come from a pebble/ one ethical decision. At what ripple is it decided whether the action is right or wrong? E.g. GM crops future implications.
Sustainability is an important issue, not opposed to improvements but worries about germ line influences.
Current affairs – Should scientists be allowed to artificially sustain embryos?https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/may/04/scientists-break-record-for-keeping-lab-grown-human-embryos-alive
War and Peace (including pacifism and Just War Theory):
Theology is connected with politics. After all the Just War Theory was created to align Christian Theology with Roman imperialism. Religious people hold seats in the House of Lords. It could be said that the presence of the faithful provides a conscience to parliament. You can’t disentangle religion and the state.
In theory, pacifism seems like the ideal attitude, however in practice, there may arise situations whereby warfare is considered necessary.
Current affairs – Justin Welby declared Syrian airstrikes to be in line with the Just War Theory.
Thank you to all student scribes 🙂