Four Thoughts From Research and Ethics
Over the past one week, I was taking a class on Research in Ethics. It is a bit unfortunate that I have to take the class since I have already cleared my research module eons ago. Nevertheless, taking this class allows me to do some reflections on some interesting ideas that were discussed during the class.
It is easy for Christians to be apathetic to the current affairs that happen around them and one way to show apathy is to avoid having a position, or having too simplistic a position towards these issues. These issues include LGBT lifestyle, abortion and even environment. I realised, even in the course of my work, that many Christians do not have a clear position on these issues. Yet, is that what God really want for us?
Indeed, we received the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations, but that also includes teaching all that the Scripture teaches us about this world. This means that if there are issues that God is concerned about as depicted in the Scripture, then we, as His disciples, need to be concerned about these issues as well. I have grown up as a Christian primarily concerned about bringing people to know Christ and discipling them to be 'good' Christians but over the years, especially as I sit through the discussion in this class, I am increasingly convinced that I need to stand up and fight for some of these issues as well, not because these are good things to do but out of my identity as a saved disciple of Christ.
So perhaps the start for me is to engage in more discussions about pertinent issues such as family matters in maybe the cyberspace and other forums?
Navigating through Complex Ethical Discussion
We are often very prone to simplistic solutions as we pick isolated bible verses or pure hearsay to support our ethical position.
|And we may even quote it wrongly|
One example for me is my own position on abortion. I would have thought that because we know that God values life, hence we should not abort a child under any circumstances. Studying ethical situations (and on top of it, facing an impending marriage and formation of my own family unit) forced me to evaluate on my own position. But the situation may not be as simple as I hope it will be. After all, we need to accept that there are some issues that the Scripture does not spell out very clearly.
Say if my future child is diagnosed to have thalassemia, then am I going to abort the child? If let's say my future wife's life is in danger for carrying the child and abortion is the way to save the mother, am I going to say "no"? These are tough questions I realised that I have to address within myself because honestly speaking, the possibility is really real in my own case. Which lesser evil can I choose?
Team Learning V.s. Personal Excellence
I learn something new about group work everytime I take a block class and this is no different. During the course of the past week, I was reminded by the instructors of the class to let go of excellence in favour of team learning. This is particularly when the group assignment is not focused on content but the process. I think I have learned to appreciate group work over the past one year. My time doing Greek class and working with my group in those group exams have shown that working in groups does produce better result. As the proverb (modified) goes: if you want to fly far, you have to fly together. But this is a pretty hard lesson to learn especially in a situation where I know I probably have more experience than the rest of the group. It takes humility and trust for me to let go of personal excellence and to aim for team learning - that at the end of the day, the team learned something together and not just one person fronting for the entire group.
Leaning on Grace, Trusting on God
My last thought here is in the issue of grace and trusting on God. In the course of the module, we learned that Knowledge x Power x (Received - Deserved) = Ethics. The (Received - Deserved) is what we know as grace.
Understanding the grace of God in our lives and knowing that we have grace in our ethical decision making is the key to moving forward. Especially when we are Christian leaders, we make 1001 bad decisions which may cause us sleepless nights. But what I learned over the years and reinforced in this class is that God is in control and we get the grace from God every morning to start anew even though we have made boo-boo in our decision making. No doubt there will be consequences but I know that I can trust God and His grace to bring me through the difficult times even when I have made bad ethical decisions.