Latest News Editor's Choice

Opinion / Blogs

Family and Religious Studies Advanced Level Analysis

17 Nov 2018 at 17:22hrs | Views
Explore the lessons that can be drawn from Jesus ethics and demonstrate how they can be applied in a Zimbabwean society faced with problem of HIV and AIDS?

Ethics is part of religion which is naturally designed to assist humans with moral designation on how they ought to live. Ethics refers to the systematic reflection on morality, a system of moral values, which deals with wrong or right and good or bad. There are various lessons which can be drawn from Jesus ethics that can be applied in societies faced with the problem of HIV/AIDS. These ethics can be categorized as ethics of continuity, discontinuity and apparent discontinuity. They also contribute positively to the societies faced with the problem of HIV/AIDS such as Zimbabwe and these ethical teachings helps in reducing the spread and effects of the pandemic. It is also noted that the ethics of Jesus are found in his parables, sayings, miracles and teaching of the Kingdom of God, hence largely his ethics on adultery, divorce and love can be applied in Zimbabwean society scourged with HIV/AIDS. The ethical teachings of Jesus are largely demonstrated on the Sermon on the Mountain/Plain. However, some of the ethical teachings of Jesus have nothing to do with the problem of HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe.

It is of great importance to first provide a working definition of ethics. However, in the process of providing a definition of ethics, it should be noted that ethics, just like religion is difficult to define. Dobrin (2002:7), notes that ethics like religion it is difficult to define with precision and for many of the reasons, it is an abstraction whose content shifts with time and differs from place to place. Gripaldo (2002:11), defined ethics as the study of what ought to be, a theoretical study of morality. It is derived from the Greek word Ethos, which simply means habits and customs. It can also be understood as the study of human conduct or morality. By so saying, it simply means that we are studying Jesus' reaction and conduct towards his contemporaries. Jesus' ethics were found in either of his teachings for instance parables, sayings, miracles, and Sermons.  

The ethics of discontinuity refer to instances when Jesus comes with a new paradigm shift altogether from what was taught before in the Jewish tradition. In Mathew 5:38, Jesus says, "You have heard that it was said, an eye for an eye and tooth for tooth but I say to you do not resist one who is devil but if anyone strikes you on right cheek, turn to him the other also." In light of the above, Jesus brings in a new teaching from what was taught before in Jewish tradition. According to Jesus' ethics, revenge is not acceptable no matter what the situation is like and he advocates for total forgiveness. This new teaching of Jesus can be applied in societies faced with the problem of HIV/AIDS and the two lessons that can be drawn from this ethic, thus if a partner cheats in a relationship, there is need for total forgiveness and not necessarily cheating also from the other partner which can lead to the spread of HIV/AIDS and also when one is infected with HIV/AIDS unknowingly, one must not be in a position of intentionally spreading HIV/AIDS to innocent victims as a form of revenge, in line with the old Jewish tradition of 'an eye for an eye or tooth for a tooth.' Therefore, the lessons that can be drawn from this ethic is that those who cheat in marriages and those who are unintentionally infected with HIV/AIDS should forgive the ones who have infected them and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
In the parable of prodigal son [Luke 15:11-32], according to Moule [1998:22], Jesus taught about forgiveness. This parable teaches people that no one can forgive unless one sensitive enough to suffer from the wrong that is forgiven. It is not just a matter of saying the words but an act that comes from the heart. Taking into consideration people with HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe the society must be accepted and be treated the same way with those not affected regardless of their status. Hence, in so doing reducing the effects of the problems caused by this deadly pandemic in the Zimbabwean society thereby Jesus' ethical teachings are of great importance to the Zimbabwean society which is scourged with HIV/AIDS.

In addition, Jesus' ethics are applicable to the Zimbabwean society that is faced with the problem of HIV/AIDS as they teach on morality and how a human being ought to live. According to Chanaiwa (2003:1), the most notable form of transmission of HIV/AIDS is through sexual transmission which in turn requires moral checking. This can be seen in Jesus teaching on adultery, which clearly works towards ensuring a reduction to this deadly pandemic. In his ethics, Jesus condemns extra marital affairs. According to Glen and Gushee (2014:290), sex should take place in the context of faithfulness. More still, Wilstor (2011:8), further elaborates the issue of faithfulness by arguing that the law of Christ tolerates no sexual indiscretion. In other words, married people should be faithful to one another. In the Zimbabwean society faced with the problem of HIV/AIDS, it requires a total end to adultery, and cheating on each other by married couples if the negative effects of HIV and AIDS are to be minimised therefore, the lesson that can be drawn from the ethics of Jesus is that, married couples must be refrain from cheating on one another and seeking extra sexual relation other than in their marriages hence in so doing reducing the effects of HIV/AIDS in a Zimbabwean society.

In the parable of Good Samaritan Jesus is against the issue of discrimination done by priest and the Jews. This teaching is applicable in Zimbabwean society that they also need help and tolerance and the society must not discriminate them. In Zimbabwean churches members used to discriminate people with HIV/AIDS based preconceived judgement of their appearance, regard them as unfaithful individuals. However, this is unfair treatment of people with HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe therefore Jesus ethics is applicable to a Zimbabwean society.

Furthermore, in his ethics Jesus condemns all forms of adultery. Thus looking at a woman which draws sexual feeling to someone and thereby acting as a catalyst for sexual immorality hence leading to the spread of the deadly HIV/AIDS. In his ethical teachings Jesus used the law and Manson [1955; 299], notes that Jesus used the Jewish laws for the moral demands which presuppose a change of nature and dispossession in man. According to Caird [1995; 391], Jesus acknowledges that actions of man are perpetrated by thought or feelings which are evil. On the Sermon on the Mount [Mathew 5:28], Jesus says that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery in his heart. In light of HIV/AIDS Jesus is condemning the thoughts that can lead someone to sexual immoral acts and acquire the disease. Therefore, the lesson that can be drawn from this ethic is that people need not to be driven into sexual immorality by feelings that arise by looking into a woman hence can lead to the spread of HIV/AIDS. Thereby being faithful and sticking to one sexual partner can help in reducing the spread and effect of HIV/AIDS in a Zimbabwean society.

In addition, Jesus in his ethics emphasized love as a golden rule hence his ethics are applicable in the Zimbabwean society that is faced with the problem of HIV/AIDS as it requires the whole society to love those who have been infected and the orphans whose parents have died of the pandemic. Jesus taught about love in the sense that people must love one another. In a society filled with love the orphans left by parents who died of HIV/AIDS would definitely be looked after. In Zimbabwean Churches, members discriminate those who are HIV positive based on preconceived judgement of their appearance. However, love will help put an end to the stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV/AIDS hence virus has boundaries as everyone is prone to infection if they are unfaithful and involved in unprotected sexual activities. Therefore, the lesson that can be drawn from the ethics of Jesus is that of loving one another as the infected people, orphans and those living with HIV/AIDS do need the love of society and no discrimination hence in so doing, the Zimbabwean society faced with the problem of HIV/AIDS will ensure that there is no more stigma and discrimination hence reducing the effects of HIV/AIDS.

In relation to the above, the ethics of Jesus emphasized loving one another which is the way to go for societies like Zimbabwe that are faced with the problem of HIV/AIDS as it ends isolation of those infected and affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Villa (1994:74), notes that Jesus demonstrated love through healing people on the Sabbath, hence this shows that Jesus had high regard towards human life. In (Mathew 3:4), Jesus said that it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath day to save life. In case of HIV/AIDS, it would imply showing love to those affected similar to what Jesus did to the leapers who he cleansed from leprosy in (Luke 17:11-19). In this regard, Jesus demonstrated love and how human life is important. Therefore, if these are to be considered in the Zimbabwean society, the fight against HIV/AIDS will be made much easier hence the lesson that can be drawn here is that of taking human life as being equally important and sacred will reduce the ill treatment of those infected with HIV/AIDS and also ensure taking good care of them as well as the orphans who are left because their parents died of HIV/AIDS.
Furthermore, all the teachings of Jesus help people to live morally upright lives which in turn reduces the effects and upholds the fight against HIV/AIDS. In a Zimbabwean society that is faced with this problem. Singer (1993:31), argues that the Beatitudes are ethical teachings of Jesus. For instance, when Jesus said, in (Mathew 5:8), "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." According to Chanaiwa (2003:52), Jesus moral teaching is descriptive and illustrative on how man and women are to behave in the Kingdom of God and therefore everyone has to support its coming. In light of HIV/AIDS, it suggests no sex before marriage and for married ones, it suggests sticking to one partner and for the widowed to be right standing with their future and to be responsible. For Chanaiwa (2003:52), purity is in line with perfection and perfect life entails taking responsibility for instance the use of condoms and even abstinence which prevents the spread of the disease. Therefore, this clearly shows that the ethics of Jesus are applicable to the Zimbabwean society that is faced with the problem of HIV/AIDS as the beatitudes emphasize on being pure which encourages abstinence.

However, it should be noted that not all the ethical teachings of Jesus are of importance to Zimbabwean society faced with the problem of HIV/AIDS. Some of the teachings were just meant for the time when Jesus lived and were related to the things which were taking place during that time. There by it should be noted that the Zimbabwean government had made its own measures to reduce the problem of HIV/AIDS. These measures include the use Anti retro viral and Prevention of Mother to Child transmission (PMTCT) were pregnant mothers are given ARV while pregnant so that they will not transmit the disease to the unborn baby. Also abstinence is lawful activity to reduce HIV/AIDS.

In conclusion, the ethics of Jesus are applicable in a Zimbabwe faced with the problem of HIV/AIDS as they emphasized on moral uprightness which reduces the spread of HIV/AIDS. In his teachings, Jesus taught about adultery which he condemned hence this encourages people to refrain from extra marital affairs as well as abstinence from unprotected sexual relationships. In his golden rule, Jesus taught about love, which is what the society needs in order tolerate and encompass the HIV positive members and also helps to take good care of the orphans who are falling victims of this deadly pandemic. Therefore, the ethics of Jesus can be applied in a Zimbabwean society faced with the problem of HIV/AIDS.

Brian Maregedze is an author, historian and columnist. Co-author of; Advanced Level Family and Religious Studies, Focus on Christianity and Islam (2018) and New Trends in Family and Religious Studies (Zimbabwean Indigenous Religion & Judaism) Advanced Level (2018). For feedback, call/app +263779210440 or email;
Caird, C. B. New Testament Theology, Oxford: Claredon Press, 1995.
Chanaiwa, G. Ethics of Jesus: Its Relevance and Ability to fight HIV/AIDS, BA DISSERTATION in Religious Studies, 30 June 2003.
Manson, T. W. The Teachings of Jesus: Studies of its Form and Content. London: Cup Archive, 1955.
Stassen, G and Gushee D. P, Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context, IVP Academic, 2014.
Singer, P. A . Companion to Ethics, Oxford UK: Basil Blackwell, 1993.
Villa, C. and Gruchy J.L. In doing Ethics in Context: Southern African Perspectives, Phil Papers, 1994.
Wilsor, J. The Ethics and Morality of Jesus Christ From the Sermon on the Mount, Orangeburg: 2011.
Dobrin, A. Religion Ethics: A Source Book, New York: Hofstra University Hempstead, 2002.
Richardson, A. An Introduction to Theology of the New Testament, New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1958.
Gripaldo, R.M. Religion, Ethics and the Meaning of Life, Phillipine National Research Society, 2008.

Source - Brian Maregedze
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.