Academic Programs 
      

Theological Ethics and the Personal Life    (ET-545)
Winter/Spring 2008

This course will examine issues of personal morality and faith from a Christian perspective. We begin with a brief introduction to theological ethics, and then move to practical issues in personal morality, which will be discussed in relation to family and society (since ethical dilemmas are never solely “personal”). The course will address issues such as marriage and commitment, homosexuality, friendship, hospitality, work and money, end of life issues, abortion, and the expanding field of genetics as it relates to conceiving and having children. Attention will be given to how one’s theological commitments transform secular moral problems and their solutions.

 

Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Tuesdays 4:30-6:5 beginning January 29

Heidi Gehman
Adjunct Professor of Theology and Ethics

Contact Information:
phone:

email:

 

Course Syllabus



Course Texts and Required Reading:
L. R. Holben. What Christians Think About Homosexuality. North Richland Hills, TX: Bibal Press, 1999.

Robin Lovin. Christian Ethics: An Essential Guide. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2000.

Gilbert Meilaender. Bioethics: A Primer for Christians. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996.

Tim Parks. Goodness. New York: Grove Press, 1991.

Christine D. Pohl. Making Room: Recovering Hosptitality as a Christian Tradition. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999.

Stephen G. Post. More Lasting Unions: Christianity, the Family, and Society. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000.

Paul J. Wadell. Becoming Friends: Worship, Justice, and the Practice of Christian Friendship. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2002.

Articles on Reserve in Library: Lisa Sowle Cahill, “The Bible and Ethics;” James M. Gustafson, “Moral Discernment in the Christian Life;” Robert Bellah, et. al., “Work;” Peter Singer, “The Singer Solution to World Poverty;” William Grimes, “Dough a la Mode’” Pope John Paul II, Laborem Exercens (selections, also found at http://www.vatican.va/edocs/ENG0217/_INDEX.HTM) and Veritatis Splendor (middle section, also found at http://www.vatican.va/edocs/ENG0222/_INDEX.HTM); Martin Luther, “The Estate of Marriage;” Mark Oppenheimer ,“Who Lives? Who dies? The Utility of Peter Singer;” H. Richard Niebuhr, “The Meaning of Responsibility” and “Toward the Recovery of Feeling;” Margaret Farley, “Feminist Theology and Bioethics;” Janice Raymond, “Reproductive Gifts and Gift Giving: The Altruistic Woman;” Beverly Wildung Harrison, “Theology and Morality of Procreative Choice”

Note: Please look ahead and be sure to copy articles for the coming weeks’ readings!!!

Aims of the Course:
1. To understand how the discourse of faith can apply to issues of personal morality
2. To learn the key approaches to Christian ethics
3. To apply those approaches to specific moral dilemmas
4. To learn how to dissect the central ethical issues of a given situation

Course Requirements:

1. Four 3-4 page double-spaced reflection papers on moral issue 15 points each or one 3-4 page reflection paper and a 10-12 page research paper 15 points/45 points

2. Periodic reading questionnaires 20 points
Reading questions will be distributed the week before they are due, and should help guide your reading and reflection for that week, as well as provide a basis for class discussion. This should not be onerous; 20-30 minutes of reflection and writing should be enough.

3. Attendance and Class participation 20 points
Attendance is expected at each class. Please arrive on time for the 4:30 start of class. Students are expected to have read the assigned reading, and to be prepared to discuss the reading in class, either in small groups or with the entire class. If you are unable to attend class, please send me an email, so that I can forward any assignments or handouts to you.

Further instruction on requirements will be given in class as the due dates approach. The final paper, if undertaken, should conform to the Seminary’s “General Guidelines for a Research Paper.”

A Note About Plagiarism
In all assignments it is assumed that what is submitted is the student’s own original work. Plagiarism is strictly forbidden. As described in the Hartford Seminary General Guidelines for a Research Paper, plagiarism occurs when students “submit another person’s work, lift paragraphs, sentences, or even a choice phrase from another writer, or make use of another person’s ideas (even if the student puts these ideas in his/her own words) without acknowledging the source.” A related kind of dishonesty is to resubmit a paper which was done for a different course, even if it is the student’s own work. These practices are not permitted at Hartford Seminary. They will be reported to the Dean’s Office and may result in disciplinary action.” If a paper is found to contain plagiarism, the minimum penalty will be failing that assignment, with no opportunity to rewrite. If you are unsure of the line between plagiarism and legitimate uses of sources (e.g., quotation, paraphrase), see one of the Seminary’s Writing Consultants.

Hartford Seminary Writing Consultants
Hartford Seminary offers all students the services of a Writing Consultant. The Writing Consultant is to help students improve their command of written English, and to help organize essays and research papers.

Two Writing Consultants available: Sara Jane Munshower and Jean Blanning. PLEASE NOTE: There is a required amount of lead time that is required for the Writing Consultants to be able to review your work. The lead time is as follows:
o Reflection paper (1-3 pages) 2 days
 Submit to WC at least 5 days before paper is due.
o Book review (5-7 pages) 3-5 days
 Submit to WC at least 8 days before paper is due.
o Research paper (10-12 pages) 10 days
 Submit to WC at least 14 days before paper is due.

Contact information:

Sara Jane Munshower
Sara Jane may be contacted by email or phone.
Her phone number is: (860) 633-1408.
Her email is: revsaja@cox.net Jean Blanning

Jean prefers to be contacted by telephone.
Her phone number is: (860) 233-0376.
Her email is: jmblanning@earthlink.net

For more information, see http://www.hartsem.edu/student/writingassistance.htm

Grading Scale (within letter grades there will be +’s and –‘s)
A - 90-100%
B - 75-89%
C - 60-74%
F - below 60%

Weekly Schedule of Topics and Readings
Note: All readings should be complete, and weekly reading sheets filled out, for date listed.

Jan. 29: Introduction to course: Why be Good? Definitions. The Difference Faith Makes

Feb. 5: Theories of Moral Deliberation: Teleology, Deontology, Virtue, Utility
Read: Robin Lovin, Christian Ethics: An Essential Guide, Chapters 1-4

Feb. 12: Sources for Moral Deliberation: Methodist Quadrilateral (Reason, Tradition, Scripture, Experience), Natural Law, Moral Feeling and Intuition

Read: (All available on reserve) Lisa Sowle Cahill, Between the Sexes, Chapter 2: The Bible and Ethics; H. Richard Niebuhr, “Toward the Recovery of Feeling;” Pope John Paul II: Veritatis Splendor (Chapter II, Section I: Freedom and Law and Section II: Conscience and Truth)

Feb. 19: Who is good?

Read: Tim Parks, Goodness (novel)

Feb. 26: Money and Work

Read: Robert Bellah, et. al., “Work;” Peter Singer, “The Singer Solution to World Poverty;” William Grimes, “Dough a la Mode;” Pope John Paul II, Laborem Exercens (Section I: Introduction and Section II: Work and Man)

March 4: Marriage and Family

Read: Martin Luther, “The Estate of Marriage” (on reserve); Stephen Post, More Lasting Unions, Chapters 1-4

Assignment Due:
3-page paper on either money and work, or marriage. Describe the perspective of at least one author read for class, and compare it to you own perspective on this issue. Please identify the author’s and your own theories of moral deliberation and sources for moral deliberation.

March 11: Homosexuality I

Read: L. R. Holben, What Christians Think about Homosexuality, Intro and Chapters 1-3

March 18: NO CLASS: READING WEEK

March 25: Homosexuality II

Read: L. R. Holben, What Christians Think about Homosexuality, Chapters 4-6

Assignment due
: 3-page paper on the position you hold on homosexuality, and why. Please include theological justification and sources for your position.

April 1: Ethical decisions at the beginning and end of life: Abortion and Euthanasia

Read: Gil Meilaender, Bioethics, Chapters 3 and 6-8; Beverly Wildung Harrison, “Theology and Morality of Procreative Choice,” in Lois K. Daly, ed. Feminist Theological Ethics (on reserve); Mark Oppenheimer, “Who Lives? Who dies? The Utility of Peter Singer (on reserve);” Stephen Post, More Lasting Unions, Chapter 6

April 8: Making Babies: Infertility treatments, prenatal screening, surrogacy, adoption

Read: Gil Meilaender, Bioethics, Chapters 2, 4, and 5; Margaret A. Farley, “Feminist Theology and Bioethics,” and Janice Raymond, “Reproductive Gifts and Gift Giving: The Altruistic Woman,” both from Lois K. Daly, ed. Feminist Theological Ethics (both on reserve); Stephen Post, More Lasting Unions, Chapter 5

Assignment Due:
3-page paper on abortion, euthanasia, or one of the issues surrounding “having babies.” Please include theological justification and sources for your position.

April 15: Friendship

Read: Paul Wadell, Becoming Friends

April 22: Hospitality

Read: Christine Pohl, Making Room, Chapters 1-6

April 29: Hospitality continued, and concluding reflections

Read: Christing Pohl, Making Room, Chapters 7-9; and H. Richard Niebuhr, “The Meaning of Responsibility” (on reserve)

Assignment Due: 3-page paper on friendship or hospitality. Please include theological justification and sources for your position.

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