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Biomedical Ethics in Christian Narrative

Pressing Issues under Christian Narrative and Christian Vision

Ethics are important in society because they govern the behavior and conduct of people. Every profession is regulated by ethical principles that help standardize the conduct of its representatives. Additionally, ethics help various professionals to uphold the given moral principles. In the health care system, ethics are critical, both to the patients and to the healthcare providers because they enable people to critically examine the moral dimensions related to the healthcare issues with the aim of elaborating on the decisions that do not contradict the set standards. The dynamism in the current treatment methods such as organ donation and the issues such as euthanasia contribute to the controversy in ethical decision-making in the healthcare settings. The Christian worldview of such ethical issues related to life (bioethics) and treatment cannot be ignored. The case study of the sick boy James and his parents is an ample example of such a controversy. This paper analyzes the case study of James and his family and explains the effects of their decisions on the health of the boy.

Various issues from the case study concerning the Christian narrative and Christian vision may be considered as pressing. First of all, Mike and Joanne are born-again Christians who believe in the healing power, and they were forced to take the child to the hospital. When James was brought to the hospital, he had already developed complications from a strep throat infection, which means that Mike and Joanne did not seek treatment initially when the infection just appeared. Since they are both Christians, and they were rejecting dialysis, they had to seek divine intervention for James, which they believed could heal him. Contrary to their belief, James did not recover; instead, the boy developed kidney failure.

Secondly, in the hospital, the physician suggested dialysis. Mike discussed with Joanne the necessity to undergo the procedure, and they both decided that their child would not receive treatment. This issue was critical because they demonstrated complete faith in God. According to the Christian narrative, Jesus healed a woman who had faith (Mark 5:34 NIV). Therefore, Mike and Joanne thought James could be healed because of his and their faith. Additionally, Mike and Joanne were moved by the sermon they had heard as well as by the testimony of one of their friends who regained mobility after prayer.

From their faith in God and their experiences as Christians, the parents were forced to decline treatment for valid reasons according to their beliefs; however, they did not realize that kidney failure was a fatal condition that needed immediate treatment. Moreover, they did not know that if renal impairment was not addressed, it could lead to various complications, which in turn, could result in the necessity for a kidney transplant (Elephtheria, 2014).

Finally, instead of accepting a kidney transplant from Samuel to James, Mike views the situation as a matter of life and death. Specifically, he looks at the situation as such that needs more faith, but not treatment. The Christian narrative demands vivid manifestation of faith in times of trials just as Paul and Silas had such strong faith in prison that the doors in it opened without the intrusion (Acts 16: 25 NIV). The described dilemma is a pressing issue in the case study.

Mike’s Decisions on James

The physician should let Mike make his own decisions about James’ treatment; nevertheless, the doctor needed to make sure that Mike understood the consequences of his decisions. For instance, when Mike was rejecting dialysis, he was unaware that it could provoke the deterioration of James’ state and further lead to the need for kidney transplantation. Therefore, Mike was making the decisions based both on his faith and the ignorance of the health outcomes for his son.

Verlinde et al. (2012) argue that if physicians pay attention to patients and advise them appropriately, patients are likely to make sound decisions. Therefore, the physician needed to encourage Mike to express his concerns and then offer appropriate advice. Although Christian beliefs might convince Mike to reject further therapeutic interventions, the physician had to counsel Mike without judging his decisions so that Mike would act wisely.

Christian Narrative, Discussion of the Issues of Treatment Refusal, Organ donation, and Patient Autonomy

Mike and Joanne did not violate any rule by rejecting treatment. According to the Christian narrative, a human’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6: 9-20 NIV). Therefore, they had to protect their son in order to enable him to observe the Christian principles in the future. Thus, the refusal of treatment is an indication that the parents had a strong faith in God. Additionally, the fact that the discussion between Mike and Joanne led to an agreement is a sign that the Christian faith contributed immensely to effective communication in the family.

From the case study, the physician acted as a professional by allowing the parents to make their own decisions and follow them (patient autonomy). However, the doctor needed to emphasize the consequences of refusing the first dialysis despite their treatment refusal due to the faith in God. The physician also had to exercise caution since patient autonomy in the cases of potential chronic illnesses is an area that needs to be approached with more consideration (Entwistle et al., 2010). The final decision by the parents to offer their kidneys and even the fact that the church members offered to donate their kidneys was a sign of love. According to the Christian narrative, denying oneself and loving one another is a true indication of following Christ (Mathew 16: 24, John 13: 34-35).

How Christian Ought to Think about Sickness and Health

According to the lecture and topic readings, Christians need to know that other solutions to life exist, for example, the treatment of diseases. Thus, they should have faith but at the same time embrace the treatment of diseases in hospitals. The Christians also need to realize that sickness and health exist together, they are inevitable; moreover, if some conditions are not treated without delay, they can adversely affect the health of an individual despite their faith. Additionally, the Christians have to realize that God they believe in created human beings and gave them the knowledge of how to develop solutions to life problems (Daniel 12: 14 NIV). Therefore, they need to take into consideration the advice of health professionals on the treatment of illnesses.

What Mike Should Do as a Christian about Trusting God and Treating James?

As a Christian, Mike needs to maintain his hope in God. However, he should eagerly regard the decisions of the physician as he prays for his son. Mike does not need to lose faith because the health of his son is deteriorating; instead, he needs to follow the advice of the physician, and then allow the physician to do his work while praying that the treatment process goes as per the God’s plan.

Concerning the organ donation, Mike should allow Samuel to give his kidney for James because Samuel is the only compatible donor. As the physician concluded, James needs a kidney transplant in one year. However, Mike reasoned that it was the time for manifesting more faith in God as the Christian beliefs demand. This reasoning could lead to the death of his son if he did not accept the organ donation.

Conclusion

To summarize, healthcare settings have many patients who make controversial decisions regarding their health. The case study of James and his parents is one of the examples of numerous dilemmas that healthcare providers may encounter. From the case study, one can learn that neglecting therapeutic treatments for the sake of religion can be harmful to the health of an individual. Therefore, patients who seek medical care in hospitals need to put the decisions of the healthcare providers into serious consideration. Additionally, the healthcare providers need to respect the decisions that patients make so that from the consequences, the patients can make proper choices in subsequent treatments. Such patients can also play their role in helping other people realize the importance of embracing the decisions of healthcare providers.