|Type of paper:
|Police Christianity Police brutality Ethical dilemma Social issue
"Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire, and to know what he ought to do." (Thomas Aquinas 1225-74).
Day after day, we read stories of officers making bad choices and abruptly approaching various situations. This brings up the concern, "how law enforcement is supposed to transvalue and direct the use of power" (Schweiker 71)? Throughout this essay, we will address the agency of Christian ethics along with non-Christin ethics, law enforcement above morality, and also how ethical conflicts within society, moreover, how law enforcement conflicts with what is morally right and wrong, the morality of law enforcement when it struggles within a community. Ethical rejection is the eccentric character of biblical faith, and "the context in which man practices his morality is a law-abiding universe under the governance of a sovereign God " (Beach and Niebuhr 206).
The religion of any sort has more or less the same concept of ethics. Which is to implement the Golden Rule, "In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets" (Matthew NRSV 7:12). This is all religions boiled down to their simplest form. Even if one does not have a religious background, in one form or another, we all adhere to God's guidance. Day-to-day religion manifests continuously: in money, the Constitution, government, and law enforcement. Throughout policing, society witnesses the conflict between corporeality and moral ethics regarding one's religious behaviors as well as the duties of law enforcement officers.
Nonetheless, what happens if an individual on the force does have faith? Would it complicate or even harm him/her from doing one's job requirement by bearing arms, and having to take a life if need be?
CHRISTIAN ETHICS AND SOCIAL POLICY
As an officer of the law their job requires them to possess specific requirements such as: protecting life and property through the enforcement of laws and regulations, proactively patrols assigned areas, arrest and processes criminals, testifies in court, and having the ability to exercise judgment in determining when to use force and to what degree. "In public life, there is a long unbroken history which provides opportunity for the accumulation of disorders, for the development of encrusted prejudices, vested interests that have the sanction of the fathers, vicious circles of fear, hatred, and vindictiveness which the wisest contemporaries do not know how to overcome" (Bennett 17).
"Christians who are sensitive to the demands of the Christian ethic of love and who have a sense of responsibility for social policy are caught by a great perplexity. This perplexity is increased by the fact that their sense of public responsibility is itself a requirement of Christian love" (Bennett 15).
CONFLICT WITHIN SOCIETY
Conflict is the act of opposing, resisting, or coercing people's will. Also, conflict is a social process that people or groups tend to challenge their antagonists through threats or violence. Conflict is inevitable in society since it affects our psychological and biological selves. Some of the causes that lead to conflicts in society are inequality, ideological differences, and political differences. Also, the moral norms present in societies are causing the conflicting parties to claims the same norms, thus justifying their demands. Therefore, individuals can follow the societal norms to the latter to minimize conflicts in communities.
RIGHT AND WRONG
The concept of right and wrong is defined by various theories that help individuals to understand their meaning in terms of morality. Utilitarians tend to judge the rightness of an action based on the badness or goodness of the consequences. Intuitionists judge the rightness of action through disapproval or approval of its conscience or moral sense. Therefore, the combination of intuitionist and utilitarianism theory tends to bring an appropriate meaning of right and wrong. For example, an individual does right whenever they follow their conscience or whenever they do what there will probably have a necessary consequence.
Peace officers conduct their duties, "day in and day out they engage in behaviors and patterns of thought, feeling, and action that has a profoundly moral dimension" (Fedler 3). "The use of lethal or deadly force has been the defining feature of American policing throughout its history. The potential to inflict death is the core of police powers and one of the most contentious issues in modern policing" (Robertiello 201). Also, the actions of police in society determine their relationship with the societal people. For example, in the quote, "the increase in arrests almost inevitably led to a growth in the number of complaints of police misconduct," portrays police behavior in a society (Escobar 134-135).
LAW AND VIRTUE
"' The proper effect of law,' says St. Thomas Aquinas, 'is to lead its' subject to virtue.' He defines virtue as 'that which makes its subject good,' and describes it as a habit of good acts that grows or diminishes within us as we act or fail to act in the way that it calls for" (Neuhaus 30). Also, democracy in a society allows individuals to express themselves, thus enjoying their rights. For example, "the traditional view of democracy from Aristotle through the nineteenth century was that the passions and interests of the ruling majority would imperil the survival of virtue and liberty, with which virtue was often linked. The history of the ancient Greek city-states and Rome was cited as evidence" (Neuhaus 44).
RULE AND LAW
Legality tends to be the primary commitment in Christianity and the American Government. Rules are defined in advance to make individuals adhere to the set standards and understand the consequences of breaking them. Also, Laws must be similar in different parts of the neighborhood since there are legal wrongs that are limited to class. For example, the temptations which are related to the poor and rich in a society, the law must have equal treatment to the violator regardless of their social classes. Christianity views the law as an appropriate thing that acts as a source of inspiration and delights people's souls on how to live properly.
LAW ABOVE MORALITY
"However, what began as the necessary excuse of tolerance of different approaches to an understanding and worship of God, accompanied as they were by an adherence to a common moral standard, became not only a denial of God's existence but a denial also of the validity of any set of moral principles" (Neuhaus 48).
JUSTIFICATION OF MORAL JUDGEMENT
"Justice is the fundamental moral equipment of human life in the community. Historically in Western culture, it has been a central concern both law and of religion" (Gardner 1).
MORALITY IN LAW
Political philosophers contended that virtue (understood as obedience to a moral standard and a preference for the public over the private good) and the liberty to assume control of one's life to direct it toward ethical goals were more likely to flourish in an aristocratic or even a monarchial state" (Neuhaus 44).
LAW AND MORAL SEPARATION
"Social facts determine what laws exist and what they require and allow. These are a matter of objective fact. But moral judgment has no basis in facts; they express the attitudes that we have. So, it is impossible for the law to be a function of morality" (Lyons 63-64).
LEGAL AND MORAL OBLIGATION
The legal obligations are based on the contortions and manipulation of a person's mind. This act causes people to depend on various types of fear regardless of the severity of a given consequence. For example, the quote, "status obligations are integral to public and private morals that are internalized by members of a community and enforced by others in the community," thus showing how moral obligations are perceived in a society (Glenn 88). Also, "another important part has to do with the institutionalization of status obligations, particularly by the state through law and social policy" (Glenn 91). Therefore, the status obligations in society allow the individual to focus on their activities without causing harm to themselves or others.
MORAL DETACHMENT FROM THE LAW
Legal ethics are considered to be the professional honesty of judges and lawyers, but it does not deal with the wrongness or rightness of a specific law. The moral law's primary goal is to promote personal improvement and salvation. Therefore, moral detachment is facilitated by a crisis that tends to separate people's culture and civilization.
Therefore, Christian ethics guide individuals on the actions they undertake in society. Specific norms govern the behavior of people. Christian ethic helps in solving conflicts that might arise in a society. Also, in a community, rules are defined in advance to make individuals adhere to the set standards and understand the consequences of breaking them. Christianity views the law as an appropriate thing that acts as a source of inspiration and delights people's souls on how to live properly. Therefore, in professions that do not follow morals such as judges and lawyers, it leads to the moral detachment that is facilitated by the crisis.
Schweiker, William. Power, Value, and Conviction: Theological Ethics in the Postmodern Age. Pilgrim, 1998.
Beach, Waldo, and H. Richard Niebuhr. Christian Ethics: Sources of The Living Tradition. The Ronald Press Company New York, 1955.
The Holy Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments: New Revised Standard Version. Zondervan, 1989, The Holy Bible: containing the Old and New Testaments: New revised standard version. Fedler, Kyle D. Exploring Christian Ethics: Biblical Foundations for Morality. Westminster John Knox Press, 2006.
Bennett, John Coleman. Christian Ethics and Social Policy The Lectures at The University of Virginia. Uitgever Niet Vastgesteld, 1967.
Neuhaus, Richard John., et al. Virtue - Public and Private. Eerdmans, 1986.
Robertiello, Gina. The Use and Abuse of Police Power in America: Historical Milestones and Current Controversies. ABC-CLIO Interactive, 2017. (Link+).
Escobar, Edward J. Race, Police, and the Making of a Political Identity: Mexican Americans and the Los Angeles Police Department, 1900-1945. University of California Press, 1999.
Gardner, Edward Clinton. Justice and Christian Ethics. Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Glenn, Evelyn Nakano. Forced to Care: Coercion and Caregiving in America. Harvard University Press, 2010.
Lyons, David. Ethics and the Rule of Law. Univ. Press, 2010.
Scheingold, Stuart A. The Politics of Law and Order: Street Crime and Public Policy. Longman, 2010.
Wilson, James Q. Varieties of Police Behavior: the Management of Law and Order in Eight Communities. Harvard University Press, 1978.
Walker, Samuel, and Charles M. Katz. The Police in America: an Introduction. McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.
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