The Most Ethical Person I Know

By Joseph Nguyen

 

Disclaimer:  This paper is not meant for preaching to anyone about Jesus Christ.  Everyone is welcome to his/her own beliefs.  The purpose of this paper is to show how the theories of ethics relate to the most ethical person I know.

 

 

In today’s world, I can’t find among men or woman anyone that would qualify as being the most ethical person.  I don’t even expect the President of the United States to live up to this title.  Thus, I’m not going to discuss about George W. Bush in this paper. One thing I know thus far, George W. Bush is definitely much more ethical than his predecessor William J. Clinton.  He definitely has brought integrity and respect back to the White House. 

Instead, I will focus on the only person that I can bank on, Jesus Christ.  He’s not some made-up character. He’s a well-documented historical figure[1] in the writings of his followers, as well as that of Jewish historian Flavius Josephus of the first century AD and that of Roman historian Tacitus of the second century AD. 

In regards to the Teleological theory of ethics, where the consequences of an action are judged, Jesus’ actions were for the good of others.  Jesus was miraculously born to fulfill many purposes.  One purpose was to die for the sins of mankind.[2]  He could have called on angels to his rescue, but, for the joy set before him of what is accomplished after he defeated death, he endured the cross, not paying attention to the temporary shame he suffered.[3]  He chose to fulfill his mission of becoming a ransom[4] for mankind, rather than calling it off.  Another purpose was to make God known to man.[5]  His disciples and others who sought after him benefited by having him around to teach and heal, so they would know what God was like in the flesh.[6]  However, at the appointed time, he fulfilled his duty to die for man’s sin.[7]  This sacrificial action maximized the benefit for everyone who has faith in him, whether they are from the past, present or future generations.[8]  It fulfilled the ethical standard of Utilitarianism, where utility of everyone as a group is maximized.

In terms of the Deontological theory, where the motivation and principle behind an action is judged, Jesus’ actions were motivated by love.  He taught his disciples that there is no love greater than that a man lay down his life for his friends.[9] And he did just that, so that all those who believe in him will not perish but have everlasting life.[10] His actions were motivated also by love for his Heavenly Father.[11] He demonstrated this love by being obedient to the Heavenly Father unto death.[12] Jesus’ obedient and self-sacrifice exhibited characteristics of the Kantian theory, where he displayed universalizability in wanting everyone to deny himself and carry one’s “cross” daily.[13]



[1] “On Jesus,” by Douglas Groothuis, review by Mark McFall, from the Wadsworth Philosophers Series, 2003. Ref. http://www.frontline-apologetics.com/on_jesus.htm

[2] Isaiah 53

[3] Matthew 26:53, Hebrews 12:2

[4] Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45

[5] John 1:18

[6] John 14:7

[7] Matthew 20:18-20

[8] John 3:16, Matthew 1:21

[9] John 13:15

[10] John 3:16

[11] John 14:31

[12] Matthew 26:42, Phil 2:8

[13] Luke 9:23, Matthew 11:29-30