Christian Morality Section 4: Respecting Life and Sexuality
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • The gift of life is God’s greatest gift to us. • All humans are created in the image and likeness of God, so to end one’s life is a sin. • Jesus taught that not only should we not kill, but that we should avoid feelings of hatred and vengeance. • Abortion and euthanasia are grave sins against the Fifth Commandment; even war, unless it is justified against a unjust aggressor.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • People often take life for granted until we witness a birth, experience a near death experience, or lose a loved one. • Human beings naturally struggle against death. • Humans try to avoid thinking about death and try so hard to prevent it because God did not make humans to die, but rather for eternal life. • The Fifth Commandment, “Thou shall not kill,” reminds us of the true blessing all life is from our Creator.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • God breathed life into Adam’s body, uniting spirit with body, placing the divine image in us, setting humans qualitatively apart from all other creatures. • Adam was conceived the moment when God breathed His spirit into Adam. • This is why at the moment of conception, at the moment that God breathes life anew, we must defend life to the fullest. • God is the sole author of life and death.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • Jesus, however, teaches that the Fifth Commandment is not just about killing, but also about loving your enemy and turning the other cheek. • Thoughts of anger or revenge are against the Fifth Commandment because they lead to actions against life, such as murder or abuse. • Any word or action against human life then is a sin against the Fifth Commandment, such as rape, torture, and terrorism.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • Actions that bring about potential harm, such as drunk driving, are also a sin because they bring about the possibility of life being hurt, injured, or ended. • Governments and businesses are also called to act properly under the Fifth Commandment by: • Fighting for the common good • Not sell harmful products • Never experiment on human life • The teaching that we are all made in the image and likeness of God is at the heart of Christian morality.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • The Fifth Commandment calls all people to defend life at all stages, from conception to natural death. • The concept called the “seamless garment of life,” shows that all issues of the Fifth Commandment are seamless related: that all life at any point is sacred to God and deserves the right to life. • This refers to the seamless garment that Jesus wore yet was not torn apart by the soldiers on Calvary after Jesus was crucified,
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • Abortion is the deliberate termination of a pregnancy by killing the unborn child; it is a grave sin and a crime against human life. • In the 1970’s, abortion became legal in the United States, yet that does not mean it is moral. • Conception is the point where egg and sperm meet and when life begins to form, cell by cell, from head downward and chest outward. • Women who have abortions AND the people who perform the abortion are both in mortal sin.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • Direct abortion is when a mother deliberately wants to end the life of the child she carries. • Indirect abortion occurs when the mother is seriously ill and a procedure is done to try to save mother and baby, yet sometimes the baby dies, though not intended. • Life begins at conception because when sperm and egg meet, the child immediately has DNA, a DNA Code that no other being on this Earth will ever have again. • While women are allowed to make choices about their body, the body of the child is a separate entity of itself and not involved in the mother’s decision making process about her own body.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • Society also must take the burden off the mother and make fathers accountable for the pregnancy as well. • Adoption can give the child a family that can support him or her, especially if that family cannot have a child of their own.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • The canonical penalty for having an abortion is excommunication from the Catholic Church. • A sinner who is excommunicated can repent and be reconciled to God; it is a wake up call that the person needs to change their life. • The Church reaches out to women who have had abortions, especially those who regret it, and help them through the pain and to bring them back home to God and His Church.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • Prenatal testing, or prenatal diagnosis, tests the embryo or fetus in the womb for any diseases or possible birth defects. • If prenatal testing is done to help cure the child and does not bring harm to him or her, prenatal testing is morally acceptable. • However, if prenatal testing is done to decide whether or not to abort the child, it is against God’s moral law. • An unfortunate diagnosis must never be a death penalty for the child.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • Genetic Engineering is morally wrong because it falsely puts human beings in God’s role to determine the uniqueness of each child He creates by changing their hair color, gender, etc. • Certain forms of genetic engineering however are morally permissible, such as gene treatment, when used to help prevent a disease from occurring in the fetus. • Stem cells are cells that have the ability to reproduce themselves as different human tissue and organs.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • One main source of stem cells is fetal tissue, and some scientists want to take aborted fetuses and use them to harvest stem cells. • Stem cell research when NOT using fetal tissue is okay since it does possess a great deal of possible success; however, killing a child for stem cells is never morally right. • A good intention NEVER justifies an evil action. • Just because we have technology does not mean technology is morally right; life has a superior standing than technology.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • Death is only the end of life with our physical body; our soul lives on. • The end of life issues revolve around ending a life that may seem worthless or unproductive, diseased, or depressed. • In none of these situations should life be ended. • Euthanasia is the direct action or deliberate lack of action that causes a person to die who is handicapped, sick, or dying.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • The person choosing end their life and the people who helps him or her is in mortal sin. • People who support euthanasia like to call it “mercy killing” to make the process sound better. • In reality, a wolf in a sheep’s costume is still a wolf, and murder is still murder. • Euthanasia has been made out to be an issue of human freedom, yet goes against God, who is the sole author of life and death, not man.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • Three components to determine the morality of any human action are: • Object • Intent • Circumstances • If either the object or intention is bad, it’s a sin. • In this case, the object (euthanasia) and the intent (to end life) are bad, making euthanasia a sin. • To say euthanasia should be used to spare suffering and pain means to miss an aspect of life: suffering is part of life, even for Christ Himself.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • We do not need to prolong life that is near natural death with extraordinary means; it is acceptable to reject any treatment to prolong life at its end, such as breathing apparatuses. • Painkillers are fine as well in natural death situations to ease pain and suffering since the person is so close to the end of life. • Rejecting euthanasia is not a lack of compassion for the dying; it is rejected to show we place our trust in God alone, even at the moment of our death.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • Suicide is a grave offense against the Fifth Commandment since it is the ending of our own life for various reasons. • Life can seem overwhelming at times; Yet the solution to being overwhelmed is notsuicide. • People who commit suicide are taking on qualities of God: they decide when and how they die, a power only God has.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • Suicide is the ultimate rejection of God’s gifts of hope and love. • The Church prays for those who commit suicide, since God is merciful, and understands that some mental illnesses cause people to take their own life. • If you know anyone who is thinking or spoke about committing suicide, even if it means breaking a promise of confidentiality, it is pivotal to tell someone, such as a parent, teacher, etc., so that way the person can get the help that they need and get their life back on the right track.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • War has been one of the greatest threats to human life for millennia. • Between 40 and 70 million people died in World War II alone, and not just soldiers, but also civilians. • “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are the children of God.” • Injustice is the breeding ground for armed conflict; just societies have no need for war.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • In the Old Testament, many wars are waged, some in the name of God and at His command against the unjust societies surrounding Israel. • Jesus broke into the world and showed that God was not a violent God, but is the Prince of Peace, preaching love of enemy. • Christ did not use violence against His enemies, but accepted death. • Saint Stephen, the first deacon and martyr, and millions after him, died for their faith in God and in peace rather than resorting to violent actions.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • Our love of our enemies is balanced with a love for ourselves, meaning that we do not always have to turn the other cheek when harmed or threatened by unjust people. • We should never aim to kill another person; ultimately, defensive actions are aimed at protecting our own life and not taking another. • In extreme cases, legitimate defense, or the teaching that limited violence is morally acceptable when defending yourself or your nation from attack, is acceptable when life is lost in defense of your own life.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • Moral law requires all citizens and nations to do everything to avoid war. • The reality however is that war happens and countries have a moral responsibility to defend their citizens. • War must be a last resort for conflict between nations. • A Just War involves many evils, no matter the circumstances; a just war must meet strict criteria in protecting citizens from an unjust aggressor.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • The 6 criteria for a just war are as follows: • Just Cause, or war must be used to prevent or correct a grave evil
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • Comparative Justice, or the good you achieve through war must outweigh the loss of life and disruption to society
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • Legitimate Authority, or only proper officials can wage war
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • Probability of Success, or war must not be fought for a futile cause or only be successful with use of extraordinary means, like atomic weapons
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • Proportionality, or overall expected destruction must be outweighed by the good achieved
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • Last Resort, or after peaceful dialogue and failed, war is used as a last resort
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • If any of those conditions are not met, war cannot be considered just and Catholics should avoid participating in such wars. • The Church recognizes the state’s right to call people to serve, yet ask the government to be conscientious of people’s beliefs. • Wars have long-term effects, even after war is over, and the loss of civilian life poses the question: can there be a just war in today’s world? • Even in peacetime, countries stockpile weapons of mass destruction, causing more tension than protection at the end of the day.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • Our personal health is a moral issue linked to the Fifth Commandment. • Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, according to St. Paul, wonderfully created by God, calling us to maintain our body and health to show thanks to God. • The primary reason we should want to be healthy is to take care of our body and mind, gifts God has given all of us, not just because we want to look good. • If we worry about how we look as our primary motive, it can become an obsession and turn into disorders like anorexia and bulimia.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • Alcohol, tobacco, and drugs are serious temptations, especially to teenagers today, which can do great harm to a developing body. • Your body and mind are greatly affect by the use of such substances, which can lead to addictions and poor decision making. • Teens who use drugs and alcohol tend to be: • Victims of violence • Sexually active • Have lower grades • Victims in car accidents • The best moral choice is to avoid such substances completely (alcohol until age 21).
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • There are many factors today that surround us that detract from us leading healthy lifestyles that include exercise, a healthy diet, and avoidance of dangerous substances. These factors are: • Advertisements for fast food • Media that glamorizes underage drinking and substance abuse as the only way to have a good time • Technology has detracted from physical activity, i.e. we can now talk face to face with people over our phones as opposed to going out and hanging • Immediate gratification is a central aspect of our culture, so when we try to lead healthy lives and do not see immediate results, we revert back to bad habits
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • Living a healthy lifestyle is a spiritual discipline. • Ask God, family members, and friends for help since it is when we commit to others that we try harder to achieve a goal. • Leading a healthy style can be a difficult thing to do on a daily basis, just like when we sin and fail and try again not to do the same sin again. However, if we make a deep commitment to ourselves and others, we can make a difference in our health, which is why many of those shows work in which people lose weight, i.e. The Biggest Loser.
Part 1: The Fifth Commandment: Respecting Life • It has been found that there is a correlation between religion and one’s health. • People who regularly attend religious services tend to live 2 to 3 years longer than those who do not attend, as well as having shorter hospital stays and having a 40% lower death rate from cancer and heart disease. • Now, we should not all go run to church to gain these benefits since other factors could contribute to these findings: a correlation does not show cause and effect; it only shows that when one variable increases (church attendance), so does another variable (years of life). • We should go to church because we want to spend time with God, not to gain an extra few years of life.
Part 2: The Sixth and Ninth Commandments: Respecting Sexuality • Human sexuality isn’t just about our physical bodies, but about the whole person, influencing relationships with people. • In Marriage, human sexuality provides the power to procreate and bring new life into the world. • Men and women are equal in dignity, yet are different in physical, emotional, and spiritual characteristics. • Men and women are complimentary creatures, made for one another to love and raise a family.
Part 2: The Sixth and Ninth Commandments: Respecting Sexuality • The Sixth Commandment, “You shall not commit adultery,” and the Ninth Commandment, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,” show what can happen if sexuality is used immorally. • Chastity allows us to properly form relationships with others since sex can cause more problems and pain in a relationship that is not properly developed. • It is only in proper, mature, and developed relationships, in the sanctity of Marriage, that true love and human sexuality can be fully expressed.
Part 2: The Sixth and Ninth Commandments: Respecting Sexuality • Pope John Paul II, over the course of a few years, created the Theology of the Body, or teachings on sexuality, Marriage, and the family. • “The body, and it alone, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and divine.” • Our bodies have a nuptial, or something related to marriage, and generative, or something related to producing new life, meanings, showing we are called to participate in God’s plan for salvation through our bodies and our sexuality.
Part 2: The Sixth and Ninth Commandments: Respecting Sexuality • Our sexuality is a sign of God’s own nature. • The visible reality between man and wife, of physical, emotional, and spiritual unity, expressed the invisible reality of the nature of God Himself. • The union of man and woman show us how God is Three persons in One God; once again being a visible reality to something we cannot see. • God created men and women to be relational and to show that man is not meant to be alone, but in communion with one another and with Him.
Part 2: The Sixth and Ninth Commandments: Respecting Sexuality • When Adam was alone with God’s creation of animals, God saw it was not good for Adam to be alone, so God made Eve from Adam’s rib to show man and woman were to be equal and of one body when in relation with one another. • Notice God did not take a piece of Adam’s shoulder or foot, but rather his rib, the middle part of his body, to show that woman is equal with Adam, not above him if she was made from above his rib, or below Adam if she was made from below the rib. • Sexuality is the identity of male and female; it does not mean all people are called to be married, but it shows all people are to be relational with people of the opposite sex, even if there is not sexual action.
Part 2: The Sixth and Ninth Commandments: Respecting Sexuality • Our sexuality is also a call to share in God’s love and life giving power. • The nuptial meaning of our body is the calling of men and women to one another in marriage to form “one body.” • We can share God’s love with our bodies as well outside of marriage in our words, actions, and touch, i.e. when we are caring for someone who lost a family member. • The generative meaning of our body is the orientation to bring new life into the world.
Part 2: The Sixth and Ninth Commandments: Respecting Sexuality • God said to Adam and Eve: “Be fertile and multiple.” • God is the author of all life, yet shares the ability to bring new life with His creation. • Outside of marriage, we are still called to guiding new life by ways of protecting children and teaching them about God. • Our sexuality as men and women is a gift we are to embrace fully, whether with a member of the opposite sex in marriage, or through friendships, as a marker of God’s love and His sharing in creating new life.
Part 2: The Sixth and Ninth Commandments: Respecting Sexuality • Chastity is the virtue by which people are able successfully and healthfully to integrate their sexuality into their total person; recognized as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and one of the vows of religious life. • Chaste people deeply appreciate their sexuality and resist temptations to use that gift in ways that demean or hurt themselves and others. • The Sixth and Ninth Commandments call us to chaste lifestyles for all people, whether married or not, in different ways and contexts so as to assure sexuality is properly respected.
Part 2: The Sixth and Ninth Commandments: Respecting Sexuality • Chastity is a moral virtue that comes from sexual integrity, or a person whose thoughts, words, and actions all reflect the proper purpose of sexuality. • Dressing provocatively and flirting with members of the opposite sex when in a relationship are examples of actions that go against chastity and sexual integrity. • Jesus said anyone who looks at a woman (or man) with lust has already committed adultery in his heart. • Lust is the intense and uncontrolled desire for sexual pleasure and one of the seven capital sins.