Healing and Autonomy - Ethical Issues.

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According to biblical texts, Christians believe in faith healing, yet there are moral quandaries associated with this practice. Christian beliefs are put to the test by the moral dilemmas involving illness and healing (Burkhardt & Nathaniel, 2013). One of the issues that some Christians disagree with but others favor is organ transplant. We'll talk about the moral concerns related to Christian principles. We'll examine the conflict between medical autonomy and religious freedom. The application of Christian principles and ethical concerns, as well as the biblical viewpoint on organ transplantation, will be covered.

A devout Christian thinks that prayer may make people healthy. Most people when they are faced with serious illnesses, they consider healing from the Supreme Being. They consider this to be their final option in their quest to receive healing (Jonsen, Siegler & Winslade, 2015). This belief is based on hope for miraculous healing through healing prayers offered by the faithful. Christians believe that a sickness is a form of suffering that test faith. Most of the characters in the bible such as Jeremiah, sickness was seen as a weapon that tempted them to doubt God. “Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? Will you be to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails?” (Jeremiah 15:18). Mike and his wife’s decision to take their son to faith healing prayers may be because of that, they viewed the sickness as the temptation to their faith in God.

According to Christianity, God restores the good health to the sick. In Jeremiah 30:17-24 “For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the Lord because they have called you an outcast: ‘It is Zion, for whom no one cares!’ “Thus says the Lord: Behold, I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob and have compassion on his dwellings; the city shall be rebuilt on its mound, and the palace shall stand where it used to be. Out of them shall come songs of thanksgiving, and the voices of those who celebrate. I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will make them honored, and they shall not be small. Their children shall be as they were of old, and their congregation shall be established before me, and I will punish all who oppress them. Their prince shall be one of themselves; their ruler shall come out from their midst; I will make him draw near, and he shall approach me, for who would dare of himself to approach me? Declares the Lord” Christians expect that God restores their health once again through prayers that are meant to call on God for healing. In Psalm 30:2 which says, “LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.” This verse gives the Christians hope that when they call on God, he will hear and answer them.

Christians who face unanswered prayers, therefore, view themselves to have less faith because in Matthew 21:22 which says, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” In this study, Mike is asking himself a lot of questions regarding the state of his son with much blame being on the lack of faith and testing of his faith. The view on the faith testing makes him reconsider his healing prayers, but this time round, he is torn between organ donation from his other son and his faith.

The view on organ donation to some Christian is seen as an act of love, and the Bible supports it in 1 John 4:11"Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” The mandate given by Jesus Christ to love and care for those who are sick is seen as a fulfillment through the organ transplant. On the other hand, some view this as mutilation of the body and do not accept it. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 the verse states of the body as a model used to glorify God.

Medical treatment versus faith healing

Many believers, just like James and Joanne, across the globe practice faith healing. The practice is common among Christian Pentecostal churches, Christian Scientist, Followers of Christ among many other small sects (Jonsen, Siegler & Winslade, 2015). These believers do not subscribe to scientific medical treatment methods but rather opt for their belief in prayer, exorcism and oil anointment by their spiritual leaders. The extremes of these sects believe not in sickness. Children welfare and the law dispensation through judicial system take denial of children treatment as a criminal offense chargeable in a court of law. Parents or guardians who are found guilty of negligence can be held responsible for commission or an attempt to homicide. Religious freedom and societal view on children welfare conflicts when it comes to faith healing. The law protected such believers from persecution initially, but there are a considerable change and skewness towards societal perspectives on child protection in the recent (Burkhardt & Nathaniel, 2013).

The principle of autonomy in medical ethics justifies allowing individuals who are of age, i.e. above 18 years, and of sound mind to forego lifesaving care given to them by medical practitioners in response to their choice of religious teachings (Percival, 2014). However, restrictions are given to cases involving children. Children welfare is a societal concern, and therefore the wishes of a parent, which are deemed harmful or threatening to the life of a child will be overlooked. Previous cases have landed parents in court with courts serving an order for life-saving actions on victimized children. Medical ethics has the back of the law and societal reasoning when it supports that the freedom of belief do not apply when it comes to protecting the lives of endangered children. A physician is, therefore, in the position to prevent any parent or guardian from making irrational decisions which are deemed harmful or that which threatens the life of a minor.

Christian principles on autonomy and medical treatment

Medical technology is advancing rapidly. Medical practitioners are faced with challenges when it comes to Christian beliefs that conflict what is considered rational in bioethics (O’Mathúna, 2014). For instance, organ transplant is morally acceptable in the society, but Christianity is opposed to that. It is important for the medical practitioners to examine, discover and educate others concerning the moral and ethical implications of organ transplant and autonomy and with relation to the scriptures.

The Christians may fail to donate and transplant human body organs due to the claim that the whole body is required during resurrection. Scriptures reveal that Jesus' body after resurrection had scars as a result of crucifixion (Luke 24:39). This is close with the Christian principle of totality which advocates for the wholeness of a persons’ body, devoid of mutilation. The further argument shows that Christianity does not advocate for prolonging life by technological engineering; this result to breaking the principle of natural order of nature. However, in the scriptures, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44), thus prolonging his life.

Christian views on health and sickness

The health of Jesus in his life was not told but was reported to be weak like human beings except that he never sinned. Therefore, Christians should view sickness as the human related natural phenomenon and should accept treatment (Jonsen, Siegler & Winslade, 2015). Christians were preached to by Jesus on the kingdom to come. Therefore, Christians are to view this kingdom to be present in their daily lives because according to the eschatological studies by the theologies the kingdom is already among Christians. Paul in his teachings emphasized that the suffering and sickness is a beneficial effect of Gods plan. According to him, grace will be sufficient and, therefore, Christians should ask for the grace of healing while undergoing treatment.

Saving of life is an act of love according to the bible scriptures described above. Mike should focus on the expression of love for his son through an emphasis on the best remedy suggested by the doctors with faith that Gods grace will be sufficient. Many Christian teachings have suggested that sickness is a natural experience and should find the medical professions who will ensure restoration of the good health (Percival, 2014). However, they should not cease in prayers because God manifest in different ways and may use the doctors to bring about healing to the sick.


In conclusion, Christians have principles and values which are guided by the teachings of the bible. Different views on treatment and organ transplant exist among the Christians. To attain an ethical decision, Christians should view the scriptures in a broader perspective to help those who are sick restore their health.


Burkhardt, M. A., & Nathaniel, A. (2013). Ethics and issues in contemporary nursing. Cengage Learning.

Jonsen, A. R., Siegler, M., & Winslade, W. J. (2015). Clinical Ethics: A Practical Approach to Ethical Decisions in Clinical Medicine, 8E. McGraw Hill Professional.

O’Mathúna, D. P. (2014). Christian bioethics and the Bible. Christian Bioethics, cbu017.

Percival, T. (2014). Medical ethics. Cambridge University Press.

June 12, 2023




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