Written in 1984 by Arthur F. Holmes, “Ethics: Approaching Moral Decisions” discusses the topic of ethics and the major points contained within the field of ethics. Holmes starts his book by defining what ethics is and some of the major thought processes within ethics, such as cultural relativism, emotivism, ethical egoism, and utilitarianism. After defining what ethics is, Holmes moves on to the topic of how to form a Christian ethic. Next, Holmes describes moral knowledge and the basis of obligation, two important elements within ethics. Lastly, Holmes takes the Christian ethic he laid out and applies it to many of the issues of the modern world, such as human rights, criminal punishment, legislation, sex, and marriage. Personally, I think this is a great book that every Christian should read. We all face ethical problems in our lives, and this book lays a very good foundation and framework for how to approach these problems.
One example of where one of these problems could occur is at work. I plan on becoming a service sales engineer, a job with a lot of responsibility and accountability. The engineering code of ethics, as written by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, states that “Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public in the performance of their professional duties” (1976, Code of Ethics). This is a great example of utilitarian ethics, where the concern is maximizing the benefit for the maximum amount of people. If I as an engineer am tasked with a project that will cause more harm than good, then it is my responsibility to bring it to an ethics committee and allow it to be discussed. As an engineer I am bound to follow the engineering code, and as a Christian I am bound to the Law of God. Having a strong foundation in ethics will allow me to discern what is ethical and what is not. Much like Holmes says, Christians should be making “decisions that contribute to God’s purposes in this world” (2007, p.21). Consequently, as a Christian engineer, I should be applying that to every project that I am a part of.
Another aspect of my life that I can apply ethics is in my future family. Having good ethics is important to having a good family environment. If I am unethical in my household, I will not create a beneficial environment for anyone within that household. Moral weakness, such as giving into prostitution and pornography, does not create an environment where love can prosper, and a house where love can not prosper is not what God wants. Conversely, if good ethics are practiced and moral principles such as love and justice can prosper, everyone in the household will also prosper. Much of this prosperity revolves around ethics and following God’s law. All in all, this book has been very beneficial to me. It has increased my understanding of ethics, why ethics are important, and how Christianity and ethics are intertwined with one another.
- Code of Ethics. (1976). Retrieved from https://community.asme.org/colorado_section/w/wiki/8080.code-of-ethics.aspx
- Holmes, A. F. (2007). Ethics: Approaching moral decisions. England: Inter-Varsity Press