Hinduism is among the greatest religions in the world and unlike other faiths, it had no founder but grew gradually over time while absorbing and adapting diverse religious and cultural movements. In this regard, it has no central creed or religious authority thus, there are no central scriptures compared to the Bible but uses the Vedas; a corpus of Sanskrit text, compiled over hundreds of years ago. On the other hand, Christianity is an Abrahamic religion grounded on the life and experiences of Jesus Christ. It derives its teachings from the Bible which comprise various scriptures that are divided into two central parts; the New Testament and the Old Testament. This paper discusses the ethical perspectives and values of Hinduism and Christianity in regards to health care. It concluded that Christianity views diseases and suffering as God’s doing while Hinduism observes it as a consequence of evil deeds. Additionally, the research reveals that both religions do not support euthanasia and is beyond human dignity. The research will be beneficial to the society and healthcare providers as well since they will gain a clear insight on the different worldviews of Christianity and Hinduism.
Hinduism, Christianity, religion, values, culture, faith, health care, beliefs, community, sacred, practitioners, ethical decision making, creed, the Vedas, the Bible.
Religion is a structured community of faith and worship that tends to influence the cultural systems of behaviors, beliefs, and practices. To be more precise, it is an integration of elements such as moral prescriptions, sanctions, amends, and sacred teachings that strive to explain the relations between the divinity and human beings. In this line, the concept of religion is a common factor in people’s lives sordid to the datum that it has a significant influence on their judgments. Consequently, religion has become a primary area of concern among the medical practitioners who are required to understand various religious beliefs to meet the patients’ healthcare needs adequately. The following essay will use George’s case study to complete a comparative ethical analysis of the differing worldviews of Christianity and Hinduism regarding ethical decision-making.
Religions’ Interpretations of the Nature of George’s Malady
From the perspective of Christian religion, George’s condition is an opportunity to bring him closer to God. It is attributed to the fact that suffering from a disease creates an opening of the soul that allows experiencing God’s presence at a deeper level. According to the Bible (Job 42:5 King James Version), Job agrees that his ears have heard him; however, when following the endurance of appalling suffering, his eyes could now see the Lord. Similarly, George’s malady and suffering can be a way of God testing George’s trust and faith in Him. This notion is articulated in the book of Isaiah 48:10 in which God states that He tests people through a furnace of affiliation for His sake in order for His name to be glorified. Thus, the suffering can also be viewed as a form of punishment from God (Foster, 2006). This is sordid to the fact that God uses diseases and misery to discipline for their wrong doings to make them repent. Finally, George’s disease may be considered the means of God to promote growth and maturity of faith among His followers (James 1:2-4). This is the testimony of the man who was born blind and healed by the hand of Jesus. Therefore, the man suffered so that God’s work could be witnessed through him (John 9:3).
From a Hinduism point of view, George’s malady and suffering can be noted as the unfolding of Karma which is a consequence of previous actions in either the current or the past life (Brihadaranyaka 4.4.5-6). More precisely, it could be a result of the moral laws of the universe in response to negative behavior in a past life (Taylor, 2012). Consequently, George’s sickness can also be an outcome of his attachment to the natural materials such as money, food, and cars that deter him from the absolute path to achieving moksha. Besides, according to Chiriyankandath (2009). Therefore, suffering is a natural part of the Samsara, which involves the physical world and people’s reality. It is believed to occur as a reminder that natural materials do not matter since they age, die, and are forgotten. Moreover, George’s condition can be regarded as the doings of the Supreme Being, since all things are manifestations of Brahman who appears in many forms. Thus, not all suffering are solely negative; some of them are the means for an individual to move forward the spiritual path.
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The Religions’ Views on the Value of George as a Person and His Life with ALS
George estimates his life as a terminal case whereby there is no hope of recovering from the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) disease. It is because there is no remedy for ALS which would eventually lead to neuron deterioration and muscle atrophy. According to Hinduism teachings in Taittiriya Shakha of the Yajurveda (TS 184.108.40.206), all life is sacred; hence, it should be loved and revered through the practice of ahimsa regardless of its current state and situation. Besides, according to Chiriyankandath (2009), life should be treated with dignity based on Smriti literature, where human life is compared to Brahmin. Therefore, despite George’s terminal illness, his life still holds great value. Consequently, the value of his life as a person and with ALS is of great worth since it is not judged by the physical appearance but by the individual’s soul. Similarly, George values his life with ALS as worthless reflecting on the datum that he views his life as imprisonment in his body. However, according to Taylor (2012) as well as to the Yogi teachings of Hinduism, one should integrate the mind and soul in order to reach a higher level of existence; thus, George’s life with ALS would still be of great value.
Nevertheless, from the perspective of the Christian religion, the value of human life is intrinsic since people are in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Therefore, George’s value of life would be of great worth as a person and with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis desease when considering the fact that God is the giver of all alive. Hence, the dignity of George’s life does not diminish with his inability to move, speak, breath, or eat since it does not make him a lesser version of the image of God. Moreover, wholeness concerning God’s teaching in the book of Leviticus (21:16-23) does not exclude the disabled, the elderly, or the sick despite the fact that they depend on others to meet their needs. Additionally, God declares in Ezekiel 18:4 that all souls belong to Him; thus, all human lives are valuable to God who has the supreme right over them. In this regard, George’s life is precious as a person as well as with ALS since his soul belongs to God.
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Values and Considerations of Both Religions in Deliberating on Euthanasia
When deliberating on whether George should opt for euthanasia, Hinduism would concentrate on a variety of values and considerations grounded in the dogmas of ahimsa, karma, and moksha. Karma is the consequence of good and evil deeds in a person’s life whereby disruption of the cycle of life yields bad karma. In this relation, euthanasia disrupts the cycle of life resulting in a major setback in the process of reincarnation (Yoga Sutras 2.12-2.25). Hence, all the individuals involved in the execution of euthanasia will take on the remaining karma of the dying man and will face a similar karmic issue in their current or the next life. In addition, according to the teachings of ahimsa in Kapisthala Katha Samhita of the Yajurveda (KapS 31.11), Hindus are obligated to do no harm to any other being. In this regard, euthanasia hurts a person’s body by ending his or her life; thus, it would be prima facie unacceptable to support this action regardless of the predicament at hand. Moreover, moksha, which is liberation of one’s soul from the cycle of rebirth, would be denied due to bad karma in the face of euthanasia. As a result, affected individuals do not fulfill their religious duty.
Correspondingly, while pondering on whether George should opt for euthanasia from a Christian perspective, various biblical values and considerations would be initiated. For instance, the Bible articulates that all human lives have dignity and worth as they are the image of God. It means that their lives are sacred and should be protected from harm. In this basis, euthanasia advocates for the quality of human life rather than of its sanctity. Furthermore, the Ten Commandments instruct that human beings are not allowed to kill (Exodus 20:13), which leads to the conclusion that euthanasia contradicts teachings from the Bible. Similarly, humans cannot decide who should or should not die since God has individual sovereignty over life and death. According to the book of Job (1:21), Job states that God is the provider and He takes away. Likewise, in the book of Psalms (139:16), God claims that He has already ordained the number of days that people will live on the Earth. Thus, executing euthanasia upon an individual interferes with God’s plan regarding the person’s life.
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Morally Justified Options for George
Concerning the options presented in Hinduism religion, George should not opt for euthanasia to avoid suffering and become dependent on others for his daily activities. The reason is that according to Hinduism teachings, a person should not cling on worldly matters that lead them astray from the absolute path of achieving moksha (Taylor, 2012). Consequently, based on the fact that embracing the pain would mend George’s Karma, disregarding euthanasia would be morally justifiable. Similarly, George should reject this action and cope with the suffering as it is a natural consequence of the moral laws of the universe due to past behavior. Additionally, euthanasia would be immoral under the Ahimsa teaching of doing no harm and Hinduism beliefs in natural death. Thus, George would be morally justified to endure the pain and suffering in order for him to achieve a natural death.
Similarly, from the perspective of the Christian religion, the morally proper action for George would be to endure suffering from the disease until the last minute. This position is based on the Bible’s teachings according to which all life is sacred and holds a sanctity value to God (Penney, 2008). Consequently, it would be a sin to undermine God’s demands. In addition, the teachings from the Ten Commandments of God instruct commands that it is wrong to kill a fellow human being; hence, one may conclude that euthanasia would be morally unacceptable. Therefore, it would be morally acceptable for George to endure his malady and suffering rather than to opt for euthanasia. Moreover, according to Penney (2008), Christians are taught not to lose hope based on the fact that a disease is terminal since they believe in miracles. Hence, it would be immoral for George to lose hope and opt for Euthanasia instead of trusting and putting his faith in God.
Despite contradicting views from both religions, the best morally justifiable action for George would be opting for euthanasia. The reason is that patients suffering from terminal illnesses should not be allowed to go through a long and painful death as it would be a form of torture. Therefore, in George’s case, the ALS illness would significantly lower his quality of life whereby he would lose his speech and mobility, thus making him agonize enormously. In this regard, George would become a burden to his teenage son and friends who would always take care of him. Therefore, euthanasia is the best rational decision in such as a predicament. According to the Utilitarianism ethical theory, an action is morally acceptable if it delivers happiness to the greatest number of people (McCrickerd, 2000).
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In conclusion, the essay has conducted a comparative ethical analysis of issues encountered in the practice of health care from the Hinduism and Christian perspectives. The fundamental values and beliefs of Christianity and Hinduism have clearly been articulated in order to comprehend the different worldviews of diverse faiths concerning health care. As a result, Christianity has affirmed that the primary cause of suffering is the Supreme Being while Hinduism remains contingent that suffering is a result of bad deeds in current and previous lives. Nevertheless, both religions regard life as of great value and are totally against euthanasia as a medical practice.