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Political ethics

890 bytes added, 19:53, March 20, 2007
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The [[Church Fathers]] quite often show honor and respect to state leaders. [[Tertullian]] declares, "In the Emperor we reverence the judgment of God, who has set him over the nations." Osios of Cordoba viewed the emperor in a similar fashion, making him God-appointed: "For in your hands God has put the kingdom..." While today's governmental structures are very different in nature, the same respect and honor is still due to those in office and these statements of the Fathers still apply. The Church continues to pray for her state leaders in the [[litany|litanies]] of worship services and individuals are called to make these [[intercession]]s a part of personal [[prayer life]].
==Political Ethics as an "Applied Ethic"==
Bernard Crick in 1982 offered a socially-centered view, that politics was the only applied ethics, that it was how cases were really resolved, and that "political virtues" were in fact necessary in all matters where human morality and interests were destined to clash.
Applied ethics is a discipline of philosophy that attempts to apply 'theoretical' ethics, such as utilitarianism, social contract theory, and deontology, to real world dilemmas. The "political virtues" were an important feature of Crick's classic book, In Defense of Politics; he saw them as an alternative to "ideology" or any "absolute-sounding ethic". They included but were not limited to: prudence, conciliation, compromise, variety, adaptability, and liveliness.{{ref|5}}
==Ethical Challenges to Orthodox Christians in Politics==
Many Orthodox scholars have been known to make the claim that, “For Orthodox Christians there is no such thing as Christian Ethics.” According to Orthodox Tradition, human behavior grows out of one’s relationship with God. A human being acts on his or her personal experience, faith, knowledge, and every other aspect of the person. The human person also has a complete responsibility for his or her actions and will be held accountable.
Fr. Thomas Hopko, Dean Emeritus of St. Vladimir’s Seminary and renowned Orthodox theologian has this to say on the matter, “Ethical behavior, in this perspective, is never simply the application of formal principles or rules. Orthodox Christians accept certain rules of behavior as normative and binding not because they consider them as universally applicable to human beings regardless of their beliefs and conditions, but because they believe them to be commanded by the living God who acts in their lives and to whom they are indebted and responsible. And since Christians are factually in different stages of belief, understanding, commitment and spiritual growth, their behavior will differ in different times and conditions (see Luke 12:47-48, John 13:17, Rom 2, Jas 4:17).”:{{ref|56}}
“Orthodox Christians are obliged to reflect together on what love for God in Christ and the Holy Spirit requires of believers. We are called to consider in common what God commands each one of us to do. We are especially obliged to do this in respect to specific issues, such as those involving nations and lands, properties and possessions, goods and services, sickness and health, life and death, sexuality and family life, and the use of money, resources and power, which in recent years have become extremely complicated due to social, political, economic, scientific, technological, and legal changes and developments.”{{ref|67}}
So what does an Orthodox Christian do in a political position? The Orthodox Christian faces the same ethical challenges as every other political actor. The challenge of lust is the greatest challenge anyone will face--lust for power, money, even sex. They are all the hottest scandals that hit the front page of the news paper. The question for the Orthodox Christian is not an ethical one, but a question of the very person that he or she claims to be. When asked in an interview, “How will you conduct yourself now that you will be working in the office of this prominent politician?” an Orthodox Christian correctly responded, “Sir, it is not this office which defines who I am, but my faith and duty as an Orthodox Christian which represents my character.”
==Case Study: Sam and the Governor’s Clemency Panel{{ref|7}}==
Fifty years ago Sam was one of three students who went to their high school, Madison High, and started shooting with automatic weapons. Fourteen students and a teacher were killed. Many other students were injured, including one girl who was paralyzed for life. Sam's two accomplices committed suicide at the school. Sam was caught and tried as an adult, as he'd turned eighteen the week before. Although the prosecutor wanted the death penalty, Sam got life in prison without parole from the jury.
Sam says he doesn't want a pardon, but that after fifty years, he is no threat to society, and is a changed person. He says he is no longer the eighteen-year-old kid that committed the crime. He argues that he is a harmless sixty-eight year old man who deeply regrets what happened, but who has changed so much and experienced so much that he simply is "not the person who committed the crime."
The survivors and the victim's families have objected to any change in Sam's sentence. They think that "Life means life," and a life sentence should be exactly that. The paralyzed woman died ten years after the attack, and her family argues that Sam should have a "life sentence" just like she did. They say Sam may look different and say he's sorry, but the jury's sentence should remain if people are to have faith in the judicial system. {{ref|8}}
You are sitting on a panel appointed by the governor to review Sam's request to be released. As an Orthodox Christian, explain your choice. Recall the different aspects of political ethics in this situation. What are the responsibilities of the governor, the candidate, the review panel, and you?
* {{note|3}} Stanley S. Harakas. ''Living the Faith''. p. 260.
* {{note|4}} Stanley S. Harakas. ''Living the Faith''. p. 264.
* {{note|5}} This is a contribution from Wikipedia. For more information, see Ethics in Wikipedia.* {{note|6}} Thomas Hopko. Orthodox Christianity and Ethics. 18 March 2007.* {{note|67}} Ibid.* {{note|78}} University of San Diego. 18 March 2007.

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