The children suffer the consequences of parental autonomy that rely on spiritual healing rather than appropriate medical treatment. Many children die when they receive no medical treatment because medical institutes and doctors cannot take decisions without parents autonomy. Conflicts appear as parents need to choose between child welfare and their practice of religion. In real life relying merely on spiritual healing is not sufficient and it results in deaths of children. In the present scenario, Mike and Joanne encounter ethical dilemma as they need to choose between their child’s health or faith. Their decision of avoiding James’s dialysis results in his deteriorated condition. However, their faith is tested when they have to choose between a miracle or donating the kidney of their healthy son. They can either rely on miracle and hope for James’s recovery or donate the kidney of Samuel (Rae, 2009).
- Christian narrative
The Bible involve collection of 66 book written throughout history and available in different formats such as historical narratives, letters and prophecy. The biblical narrative depends on the story of creation, fall, redemption and restoration of human beings. These concepts provide a framework to humans for distinguishing between right and wrong. Christians vision gives considerable importance to spirituality as it relies on principles of Christianity. The narrative promotes belief in God as it impacts human life positively. God is the most powerful entity in religion and nothing can happen against his will. Bible emphasizes on following Christian faith involving religious values and principles. The ethical issues require the application of religious principles in real life such as in case of illness. Under influence of Christian vision, Mike and Joanne reject the medical treatment of their child. The decision of Mike in unjust and unethical because it results in further health damage. Bible helps in everyday moral decisions, not complicates the situation. Christian principles emphasize on making good choices and good choices do not lead to pain or sufferings. The application of the biblical views depicts determining right actions in each situation and defining applicable rules of religion. The choice must lead to best outcomes indicating minimization of harms (Wolterstorff, 1994).
Christian narrative confers the belief that “God is the creator of everything that exists” (Gen1-2). The biblical quotation states that nothing can exist without God’s will include the universe, living things and humans. The survival of human beings is only in the hands of God. Yale’s theologian Nicolas Walterstroff explains Shalom as, “the human being dwelling at all his peace is his or her relationships: with God, with self, with fellows, with nature” (p.251). The narration depicts that God holds the power of creating humans.
Bible explains the fundamental act of disobeying God in Genesis 3. Fall indicates the disobedience of Adam and Eve reflecting that the reason for their fall was rejection of God’s rules. Bible associates fall or disobeying God with the sin. Under the idea of shalom death, decease and suffering are part of human existence and one cannot deny them.
Redemption according to the bibliographical context indicates the continuous struggles and corruption of humans. The concept of redemption depicts the recovery from the mistake or sin. The old and new testaments mentions the word redemption as Luke states, “blessed be the Lord, God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people” (Luke 1:68). The concept of redemption explains the recovery from sin and return to the right path. It indicates maintaining relationship with God and acting according his will.
The concept of restoration explains the way of salvation and focuses on enhancing faith of God. The idea confers the belief that God holds the power of healing and bringing health to the people. The biblical texts emphasize on the promotion of the idea that God brings back people from captivity. Bible states, “nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security” (Jeremiah 33:6). The text reveals that God holds the power of healing humans.
2. Physicians role
Through physician has a duty to save the life of a child and take appropriate actions that lead to his health stability and welfare but parental autonomy has a significant role in decision-making. The doctor has a responsibility to inform the parents about the exact condition of the child and suggest adequate measures to prevent further loss. The physician also needs to inform them about the consequences in case of rejecting treatment. In the present scenario, the physical must convince the parents about the weaker health of James and provide reasoning for dialysis. The physician must not simply accept the decision of Mike because he can perceive the adversities associated with his unwise decision. However, in real life, the physician face limitations as he is not able to act against parents autonomy. Though he could identify the risks associated with the irrational decision of Mike he can’t take the child for dialysis without parents permission. Event with physician’s disagreement, Mike is capable of choosing for the life of his son. It is parents right to consider other treatments and possibilities. The physician in such conditions can only use medical evidence to present dialysis as an effective treatment. The doctor cannot simply ignore the decision of parents and continue the treatment that according to him is the best fit. Even if he recognizes the irrationality in Mike’s decision he cannot force them for undergoing dialysis (Beauchamp & DeGrazia, 2004). Patient’s autonomy reveals that a competent authority can take the decision regarding the treatment. Physical cannot take any decision that is against parent’s autonomy.
- Christian ethical approach
Christians use a specific methodological tool for bioethical reflection. Christian narrative suggests a connection between ethics and medicine. The decision of Mike to reject dialysis supports biblical principle of restoration. Bible supports the deneotologial principles of ethics as it relies on the idea of differences between right and wrong. The approach emphasize more on the duty and obligations of the Christians. The principles are known through ten commandments explaining the structure of world and laws of nature. Ethics in bible focuses on virtue ethics that explains that the Christian has a moral obligation to follow the commandments and to transform into God’s image. In situation of ethical dilemmas he need to apply laws of nature explained in bible.
In the present case refusal of Mike is the result of his Christian beliefs. Christian spirituality entails one’s experiences of life and also engages in the field of science and medicine. Spirituality and Christianity resulted in the formulation of principles of bioethics challenging the beliefs related to meaning and value. According to the principle of totality, organ transplantation is not unethical because it leads to wholeness. Organ donation is an act of love as Jesus instructed to love people and neighbors. The concept of loving neighbor exhibits care towards people and humanity. Organ transplantation is not considered sin because it leads to the survival of humanity (Rae, 2009).
- Worldwide view and Christian narrative
The solution of the ethical dilemma depends on the ideas of Christian narrative and the way it explains health and healthcare. Ethics in Christianity serves the purpose of god’s creation of humans. Some Christians believe that sickness is to test their patience and faith in God. While others believe that God created doctors and help so they must get rid of sickness. Mike displays former belief and initially he thinks that keeping his son away from medical treatment will prove his faith. Also, he thought seeking medical help will result in his failure as a Christian. However, he could reason that God advised people to help each other and he is against pain. So treating James will provide him relief from the pain and suffering. He could also use views of Jesus who promoted the idea of compassion and care towards human (Wolterstorff, 1994).
Choosing between medical treatment and religion often puts Christians in a conflicting situation. The role of spirituality in deciding for the acceptance or rejection of the treatment depends on how people perceive the religious beliefs. Mike was initially unable to think about the relationship between spirituality and healthcare that resulted in the deteriorated health of James. The deeper meaning of Christianity emphasize on helping people and protecting them from harm. the right decision of Mike would be to seek medical help. The concept depicts Christianity promotes health and allow taking actions that help in avoiding sufferings or pain.
Wolterstorff, N. (1994). For justice in Shalom. In W. G. Boulton, T. D. Kennedy, & A. Verhey, Christ to the world: Introductory readings in Christian ethics (Vol. 40). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
Beauchamp, T., & DeGrazia, D. (2004). Principles and principalism” in Philosophy and medicine. In Handbook of bioethics: Taking stock of the field from a philosophical perspective (Vol. 78). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Rae, S. (2009). Moral Choices: An Introduction to Ethics. Zondervan.