Sample Theology Essay Paper on Religion, Ethics and Society

Definition of Terms
-Surrogate mother – A woman who bears a child for another person, often for pay,
either through artificial insemination or by carrying until birth another woman's
surgically implanted ovum.
– Sadomasochist nature- Sadomasochism is the giving or receiving of
pleasure—sometimes sexually through acts of stimulation.
– Philosophy- the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being,
knowledge, of conduct.
– Fertilization- Human fertilization is the union of a human egg and sperm, usually
occurring in the ampulla of the uterine tube. The result of this union is the production
of a zygote.

(a) Identify any five key Christian principles which should guide on decision
making on one selected issue of reproductive technology.(10 mks)
Decision making refers to the act of making a choice or simply taking a stand. A
decision is a conclusion or resolution made after making considerable
A Christian must always consult the Bible as it is the guide to appropriate
decisions. Biblical references help Christians to arrive at the right decisions in
Intra- uterine insemination
This is the practice of implanting the male reproductive cell (sperm) into
the body of a female to ensure fertilization. This has been carried out successfully
with different species of animals and even human beings; in the case of surrogate
mothers. For animals, it is known as artificial insemination.
Critics of this practice are opposed to it because it undermines God’s
purpose for sex which is procreation. Some are also opposed to it because it turns
a woman into a mere object for conception. It is also hard to determine whether
the sperm cells used in the fertilization are from the right person. There is a risk of
getting sperm cells from a person different from the one expected.
These issues have raised a lot of debate on the practice of artificial
insemination. Many Christians have strong feelings that reproductive work should
be left entirely to God. They therefore view intra- uterine insemination as
intrusion into God’s work.
(b) Discuss the reasons for which homosexuality cannot become a socially
acceptable practice. (10 mks)
Homosexuality describes the sexual attraction to a person of the same sex.
Whilst for some it is the ultimate taboo and homosexuals should not be welcomed
into Christian fellowship, still less into the ministry, for others it is the natural
way that some individuals have been created by God. Arguments are often
biblically based but are also strongly influenced by personal opinion, experience,
prejudice and the way in which society has viewed homosexuality over the
In Africa, where the Philosophy, ‘I AM BECAUSE WE ARE” reigns,
individuals must remain within what is socially acceptable or become outcasts for
rejecting the shared culture. Practices such as beastiality, incest and
homosexuality are objectionable in such a setting.
Besides being a perversion, homosexuality is opposed by most societies
on the grounds of its promiscuity, lack of serious commitment among couples,
spread of diseases including AIDS, and because of its sadomasochist nature (the
joy of degrading and being degraded). The practice of people of the same gender

having sex together is a taboo, let alone such people ‘marrying’ as happens with
Western gay and lesbian couples.
Homosexuality has always been an extremely controversial issue within
the Christian church. The Bible teaches that all homosexual acts are prohibited:
– “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done
what is detestable. They must be put to death, their blood will be on their own
hands” (Leviticus 20: 13)
– “Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes
nor homosexual offenders…….will inherit the kingdom of God” (1Corinthians
Christianity and homosexuality
Whatever the origins of homosexual orientation, religious believers are deeply
divided over how to deal with it in the world and in the religious community. The
Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement maintains that ‘human sexuality in all it’s
richness is a gift from God gladly to be accepted, enjoyed and honoured…’ whilst
the Roman Catholic church states in the Declaration on Sexual Ethics that “ In
sacred scripture homosexual acts are condemned as a serious depravity and
presented as a sad consequence of rejecting God’. On the other hand, the
Methodist Church declared: ‘For homosexual men and women, permanent
relationships characterized by love can be appropriate and Christian way of
expressing their sexuality.’ A diversity of views therefore exists, and the 1998
Lambeth Conference of the Church of England Bishops established that four
perspectives on homosexuality were held, ranging from conservative to liberal:
– Homosexuality is a disorder from which the Christian can seek deliverance.
– Homosexual relationships should be celibate.
– Whilst exclusive homosexual relationships fall short of God’s best for man, they
are to be preferred over promiscuous ones.
– The church should fully accept homosexual partnerships and welcome
homosexuals into the priesthood.
Even if homosexuality is an important issue for religious believers, is it an
issue of moral concern? John Harris (1984) claimed that sexual activities of any
kind should not be seen in a moral context but rather as an issue of manners and
etiquette. He maintains that whilst homosexuality does not cause harm to society
as a whole, the individual’s sexual relationships should be private and free from
moral judgments.
The principle of Natural law is strongly opposed to homosexuality on the
grounds that the purpose and goal of a sexual relationship should be procreation.
For many religious believers, the issue is not so much one of sexual
orientation but of sexual activity; the former may not be a matter of choice, but
the latter is. Mark Bonnington and Bob Fyall (1996) propose that the solution lies

in loving, but non- genital, same- sex relationships: “An important contribution
can be made through rehabilitation of friendships between persons of the same
sex. Warm companionship without any sexual element is not something that
should be regarded as odd by the Christian community. Rather, it is to be
welcomed as a valuable way of developing affectionate bonds within the church
and providing the human support and comfort that most of us find we need. ”
Homosexual tendencies are not only congenital, that is, part of man’s
original make- up which he cannot help. Rather, they are often acquired by one’s
being introduced to them by others.
Once someone is introduced into these practices, his sexual instincts
become perverted and twisted, running in unnatural direction. This renders the
person incapable of experiencing the joys of a happy married life and raising
children. This can spread as a scourge through our communities as it did in
Sodom and Gomorrah. Their homosexuality was doubtless acquired through the
practices being introduced from one to another until there was an almost universal
addiction. Had things been allowed to continue that way, the population would
have declined and even died out for lack of normal families being raised.
(b) “Capital Punishment” is a necessary part of dealing with law breakers.
Discuss. (10 mks)
Capital punishment is being killed (executed) as a form of punishment.
This is mostly exercised for the people who are found guilty of very serious
crimes and may be executed. It is thus execution of criminals.
Punishment is the intentional infliction of pain by legal authority on those
who have breached its standards of behaviour. It can be inflicted by parents,
employers and private organizations, but ethical concerns are most often
concerned with the infliction of punishment by the legal representatives of society
for criminal activity. Punishment or sanctions for infringements of the laws
established by a legitimate authority, is an essential part of a system that takes
seriously the notions of justice, rights, authority and law. However, the purpose of
punishment must be clearly defined, and if it is to play a useful part in
maintaining a just society, we must be sure that it is not going to lead to further,
and perhaps greater, wrongs than those for which the punishment is being meted
Prisoners who have been condemned to death are usually kept in prison
until their execution. Even when the physical conditions on death row are
sufficient to keep prisoners healthy, the stress of waiting for death, sometimes for
years, causes great emotional strain. Boredom, anxiety, fear of death and the
pointlessness of life while waiting to die often lead to psychological problems.
Where conditions are bad as well, despair and ill health are common. Many
prisoners attempt suicide, or express a desire to kill themselves.
Countries that still have death penalty may defend it in several ways:

– It deters potential criminals.
– It prevents a criminal from re- offending.
– It helps the family of the victim achieve closure.
Opponents of the death penalty argue that it does not work as a deterrent
and that revenge is not morally acceptable, even if called closure (Many
psychologists believe people need a formal end to a bad period in their lives
before they can properly grieve and move on to a more positive state. They call
this ending closure.) They do not deny that it stops the criminal re- offending.
There are many factors that affect the crime rate anywhere. Some people
would argue that the existence of a death penalty brutalizes people, so they are
more likely to commit violent crimes. They say that continued exposure to
violence and cruelty reduces people’s sensitivity, makes them more tolerant of
violence and more likely to commit it themselves. Others would say that the death
penalty is retained in states and countries where the population is more violent
anyway- perhaps because of poverty or other types of social injustice- and that the
murder rate would be even higher without it.
Social impact of Capital Punishment
People who argue in favour of capital punishment say that society and the
victims of crime can heal better if the criminal has been executed, and that a death
penalty shows that people totally reject the behaviour of the criminal. They
believe it is fair that someone who has taken a life should lose their own life in
exchange. Some also say that execution is more humane than a life spent in prison
with no hope of release. Others still argue that God has given those in authority
power to pass death sentences to serious wrong doers (Genesis 9: 6, Romans 13:
4). One can also argue that to respect the life of a person who has killed another
person is hypocritical. This is because the murderer did not respect the sanctity of
life in the first place and so there is no justifiable cause to respect his or her life.
Some argue that capital punishment is an effective deterrent to potential
murderers, robbers or rapists. When such people see that offenders have been
killed, they will desist from committing similar offences. Capital punishment
provides legal restitution to those who have been offended.
People who argue against the death penalty say that society is made more
brutal by executions, whether in public or in private. They say that killing cannot
be used as a means of getting across the message that killing is not acceptable.
Many are also worried that the justice system is unfairly biased against some
groups in society, and that innocent people can be executed.
Occasionally, execution may further someone’s cause or aims. An
executed prisoner may draw so much attention to him or herself that they attract
admirers or even imitators. People who commit crimes because of a belief they
hold may be seen as martyrs. It is easier for a criminal to achieve the status of a
martyr if they are killed than if they are imprisoned.

Many people who oppose capital punishment give the risk of executing
someone who is not guilty as one of the reasons. If someone is imprisoned for
something they did not do, they can later be released and compensated in some
way for what they have suffered. But if they have been executed, it is too late to
reverse the punishment. In many countries, there is little or no chance of an
innocent person being freed before execution as there is either no appeals
procedure or an inadequate procedure.
Moral arguments

Some people base their views and arguments and arguments in their
religion. Some religions approve of a death penalty and others do not. The Bible
can be used to argue either case and has been used by both sides of the debate.
Capital punishment is also permitted under Islamic law. Although both Old and
New Testaments cite examples of capital punishment (including the death of
Jesus), Christians believe that the blood of Jesus was spilt to make any further
bloodshed unnecessary, and in the confrontation with the Jewish leaders over the
adulterous woman, Jesus does not appear to condone the practice.
On the other hand, the Law of Moses orders the death penalty for eighteen
different offences, ranging from rape to rebellion against parents. Those who
argue that the Bible represents unchanging moral standards would, technically,
see no contradiction in continuing to impose the death penalty for these offences.
People who oppose the death penalty often argue that we all reduce
ourselves to the same level as murderers by using capital punishment. Others
maintain that if someone takes a life it is only fair that they should lose theirs in
A death penalty requires that someone or some people must be
responsible for killing another person, these are executioners. Research shows
many executioners do not think about the moral issue of what they are doing,
believing that as they are doing it for the state they bear no guilt. But some worry
that they may suffer emotional damage, perhaps later in life.
Capital punishment is rare in the West but is still legal in some states of the
United States of America. Whilst the Old Testament appears to sanction and use
capital punishment, the teachings of Jesus (albeit indirectly) do not support it.
Whatever the arguments people might give for or against capital punishment,
Christians need to remember that every human being is created in the image of
God and his or her life should be respected.


Punishment should be given with an aim of transforming the offender to
become a useful member of the society. It has to help the person being punished
to realize that what they did is wrong. They must take responsibility for their
actions. Reformation should override other purposes such as retribution or

1. Anne Rooney, Capital Punishment, Monkey Puzzle Media Ltd, 2006.
2. Christian Churches Educational Association, Kenya Catholic Secretariat &
Seventh Day Adventists, God’s People, Form 4 Student’s Book, Oxford
University Press, 2005.
3. Joseph A. Selling, Embracing Sexuality- Authority and experience in the Catholic
Church, Ashgate Publishing Ltd, 2001.
4. Richard F. Lovelace, Homosexuality and the Church- Crisis, Conflict,
Compassion, Lamp Press Ltd, 1979.
5. Roy Hession, Forgotten Factors, Sex: Lies, Myths and the Truth, Word Alive
Publishers Ltd, 1976.
6. Sarah K. Tyler and Gordon Reid, Advanced Religious Studies, Phillip Allan
Updates, 2002.
7. Zacharia Samita, Same Gender Unions- A critical Analysis, Uzima Press, 2004.