Humans leave a mark for good or ill on others. As Christ followers, we are called to be examples of peace, charity, justice and mercy. Our words and deeds are to resemble the master teacher, Christ, to others. In Christ, there is not a list of rules to be checked off but a heart and mind to be transformed to love God and people. One way to bring about justice and change to the oppressed is through ethics. Ethics call forward what we believe to be true about God. It becomes motion and action towards on behalf of others. “Christian ethics is so much more than simply following a list of rules that you can check off from day to day. It is careful hard thinking about what it means to be a Christ follower in daily decisions, with ultimate respect for God and others” (Nullens and Michener 20).
In the next few paragraphs, I will share two current, real life situations where ethics call for a change and action in my family. Furthermore, it provoked me and other family members to act in the best interest of other family members without their consent.
This week, I along with another family member made a tough ethical decision to have a sibling undergo psychological evaluation. Today is my brother’s 23rd birthday. Family members gave him the gift of rehab. He is overwhelmed with paranoia, smoking mojo, (a street concoction made of unknown ingredients), sleeping in abandoned homes, and talking sporadically about harming others. As if these signs were not enough, he is experiencing major weight loss. In our culture, there are many that will advise not to help a relative in such a condition. Or that he is an adult and should take responsibility for his choices. However, everything says within me to act now, try, reach out, and hope that this message of love speaks loud to my brother. Ethically speaking, I had to make this move because the same imago dei in me resides him.
The next paragraph speaks to another sibling. Only this time, we attempt to curve the behavior before it possibly leads to the previous situation.
My youngest brother has lived with my wife and me for five of our six years of marriage. He is a bright a young man. However, he lived in an environment where he made his own rules and cared about nothing. No respect for authority or teachers. God was just a name. He was failing most of his classes in middle school. Threats from street gangs were often. On a weekly basis, I would receive phone calls from another state listing the latest wrong turns in his life. So in my first year of marriage, I asked my wife to consider allowing my baby brother to permanently move in with us. Graciously, she said yes and the intervention initiated. This year he graduated high school with honors and will complete his first semester of college. He is team leader in kids’ church and moving closer to becoming a Christ follower. On top of that, he is working part-time at Chick-fi-la. This journey has been both good and challenging. However, we would not change it as it has brought new meaning and purpose to his life.
Ethical decisions can be agonizing when dealing with world, cultural, and family issues. But your involvement and action can make the difference between life and death for someone. A tough decision to help save a life sometimes starts no further than looking into our own families. As the old saying goes, charity starts at home and spreads abroad. Let’s leave a good mark on the world and not forget our families in the process.