Ethical Dilemmas

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Hamalas

whippersnapper
Hello everyone, I'm taking a class on Ethics at PRTS this semester and am looking for a good paper topic that will hopefully be useful for me in ministry one day.

So I'm curious to hear from others: what's the most pressing ethical question you've had to work through (or have wondered about) personally? (Contraception, end of life care, something else?) Or for Christian leaders: what's the most common ethical question you get asked about in ministry?
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Post-humanism will be the pressing question in the future. I doubt it is now. Practically speaking, I think the contraception debate is a bit more nuanced than either side generally admits.

End of life care is another good one. Are all acts of pulling the plug the same?
 

Nate

Puritan Board Junior
Some situations that I have faced:
Use of cells derived from aborted children for biomedical research.
Use of life-saving medications developed through biomedical research on cells derived from aborted children.
Production of human embryos for biomedical research.
Production of human-animal hybrid embryos for biomedical research.
Use of IVF techniques that combine the mitochondrial DNA of a donor with the mother's nuclear DNA in order to have children, thus producing children with direct genetic content from three parents.

I also agree with Jacob that end of life care is a good one.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
What about mental illness and moral responsibility (for abusive behaviours, false allegations, obsessive behaviours, wildly shifting states of belief and behaviour etc. -- things that really damage families and churches but are sometimes the result of something like schizophrenia or a brain tumor.)
 

Wretched Man

Puritan Board Freshman
Taking children away from derelict parents. (Aside from this corrupt society’s contradiction of permitting women to kill babies in their womb, but punishing parents who have delivered and raised children... can we take away a child from a parent whom God sovereignly appointed?)
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I'd say divorce, even as well trodden ground. Perhaps you could crack into Instone-Brewer's stuff and refute him :p
 

wcf_linux

Puritan Board Freshman
Post-humanism will be the pressing question in the future. I doubt it is now. Practically speaking, I think the contraception debate is a bit more nuanced than either side generally admits.

End of life care is another good one. Are all acts of pulling the plug the same?

End-of-life care is a big one. Since the OP kinda asked for examples, here is one: my dad had an advanced chronic condition, and was hospitalized for an acute condition complicated by but not caused by that underlying condition. He had been weaned off a respirator and thought to have as fair a prognosis as his underlying condition would allow. Then, at a point where he was on mechanically assisted breathing but not a ventilator, a doctor determined that the week's events left him in a state where his pulmonary muscles were irrecoverably too weak to sustain breathing without mechanical assistance. He would have been in a much worsened condition even with that assistance, pretty much guaranteed to be in a medical facility for however long that could be sustained. Taking him off the bipap and onto oxygen would trigger an irrecoverable decline towards death. Once I had arrived at the hospital to join the rest of the family (and he had woken up), he was taken off the bipap and put on oxygen. Plus enough morphine to prevent spasms, but not enough to directly hasten death. He died a few hours later. The doctor and nurses did not pressure us into any choice, but after he died assured us that they thought we did the right thing. I don't regret those choices, but change a few of the factors and the ethical situation would be very different.

Another ethical dilemma:
Cremation vs burial. Cremation vs burial when the family doesn't have the additional funds and/or preparation to do a burial. In the case of cremation: ethical distinctions between urn burial/entombment in a columbarium (where the ashes stay together), vs keeping the urn on the mantle, vs placing ashes in a shared urn, vs scattering of ashes? What compromises are more or less acceptable to prevent or settle a family dispute over what to do with remains?

Or, you know, the big globally ambient ethical dilemma that's being discussed in other threads.
 

Hamalas

whippersnapper
Thank you all. I'm thinking end of life issues would be a good topic since it's obviously something many of us have to face at some point and I don't think I have a good enough handle on it to helpfully and biblically guide parishioners through it at this point. It would be good for me to think through it carefully outside of the pressure of a specific tragedy/situation.

But this is helpful, if others have additional thoughts (or different ideas) I would love to hear them.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Here is a foundational question at the heart of most ethical dilemmas: what is a human person?

Don't rush past that question. There is a temptation to define personhood in functionalist terms. Once you do that, there is no logical reason to oppose abortion and infanticide.
 
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