Christian View of Human Persons


The decisions human beings make are dictated by their personal worldviews and moral compasses, which in turn are shaped by life experiences, personal relationships, spirituality and cultural values and beliefs. In fetal anomaly case, Marco and Jessica will have to decide whether to keep the pregnancy or do abortion after Dr. Wilson reported the situation. According to the test results, the fetus Jessica is carrying will not develop arms and there is 25% chance of having Down’s Syndrome. The purpose of this paper is to determine and explains the theories of moral status exhibited by Dr. Wilson, Marco, Jessica and aunt Maria in the case study. The paper also makes a determination which theory is more appropriate in situations as this.

Christian View of Human Persons

The Christian worldview holds that all human being has an intrinsic value and therefore moral status. The doctrine of Imago indicate all humans are created by God. Each one of us have value, dignity and worth, irrespective of religion, age, gender and disability (Grand Canyon University 2020). Because every individual human being has value, this has implications on how we perceive and treat life and by extension care. Since we are created in Imago Dei, some medical procedures and treatments that denigrate human value, such as abortion and euthanasia are considered immoral (Grand Canyon University 2020). Patients who are religious or Christians may reject some treatments because they violate their religious values and beliefs. Humanity begins at conception. Life is worth from the moment of conception.  Even the fetus has value and purpose intended by God.

Human person is a spiritual and physical being capable of relating with God. Being in God’s image creates an infinite value and worth of every person (Shelly, & Miller, 2006). This reality bestows dignity and honor to every human. Human person life merits to be preserved, body and soul, conscience and heart, mind and will (Shelly, & Miller, 2006). Man exist in relation with God, and in relationship with one another. This affirmation has a great implication on how we treat others.

Moral status is about the worth and value of a human being (Beauchamp & Childress, 2013). It describes which kinds of entities or beings that possess rights to be treated in certain manner. Certain characteristics are used to confer moral status upon humans. Moral status is the same for all human persons.

The theories of moral status include theory based on moral agency, theory based on relationship, theory based on sentience and theory based on cognitive properties. The theory compatible with the Christian view is that which equates the value of human with image of God not some external characteristics. Disability and disease may hamper full expression of God’s image within certain people (Shelly, & Miller, 2006). But still the image of God shows that these people have remnants of the character of God within them.  In this case, the theory based on relationship is the most compatible with the Christian view.

Moral Status Theories

The theory based on relationship is applicable to both by Jessica Marco, and Wilson. This theory postulates that relationships between humans explain moral status of a human being. Bernstein (2015) offers that a person should respect the rights of others and not to meddle in the relationship they share. It is evident that Jessica is torn between financial independent and the value of human being, which needs to be preserved and protected. The fetus has moral status because it has a relationship with Jessica who values it. This relationship establishes Jessica as a protector and preserver of life. Jessica still holds the belief that human life is worth and desires to take responsibility as a mother (Grand Canyon University 2015). Although she yet to make decision, she will be convinced that all human life has value to keep the pregnancy.

Marco equally has a relationship to the fetus as a parent. Although the situation of the fetus worries Marco with regard to the financial burden of raising a child with deformity and Down’s Syndrome, he is ready to support Jessica to keep the pregnancy and give birth.
This theory is also applicable to Dr. Wilson’s patient-doctor relationship with both Jessica and Marco. Wilson has the obligation to respect patient autonomy and rights no matter what. In fact, Dr. Wilson did demonstrate this ethical principle of respecting patient autonomy by letting the patient decide. In his conversion with Marco, Wilson stresses that Jessica should be immediately informed of scan results and available options. Respecting autonomy is compatible with Christian view of the value and dignity of human life.

The theory based on human properties arises where Aunt Maria advises Jessica to follow through the pregnancy by allowing what God intended to happen. Maria demonstrates that God is the creator and the one that decides morality not humans (Shelly, & Miller, 2006).  She prays with Jessica for comfort and ability to accept the will of God. According to Shelly and Miller, (2006), Christian world entails providing comfort and aid to the need. She also encourages Jessica to take responsibility as a mother. The theory based on human property assign moral status states that it is only human properties that bestow moral status on a human. This means that only human beings have moral status. Some properties that could confer human with moral status include possessing human genetic code and being birthed from human parents. This view is compatible with the Christian views that all human life is worth and has value (Grand Canyon University, 2020). Because life and personhood begin at conception, the fetus is also a person. Even the disabled are created in the likeness of God and have the character of God within them. Maria’s position is supported by the presumption that the fetus’ moral status is not within the prerogative of human decision making. Let the will of God be so.

Dr. Wilson has explained to Jessica and Marco the possible options but believes abortion is medically and scientifically a good option. He argues that the child may not have quality life if Jessica is to keep pregnancy and give birth based on his scientific knowledge about disability. Thus Dr. Wilson is using the theory based on cognitive properties. This theory states that a moral status is conferred to human being who is able to show rationality, memory and rationality. Because the fetus does not have these properties, it lacks the moral status and abortion option is thus acceptable.. Because Jessica’s baby is more likely to born with Down Syndrome that would lead to cognitive disability, it has no value and therefore, moral status.

How does the theory influence each of their recommendation?  

The theory based on relationship will influence Jessica to keep the pregnancy. She has the relationship with the fetus that she values. The value she puts on the fetus encourages her to protect and preserve life. She also has the support of her aunt and husband if she decides to follow the pregnancy. In addition to that, she has a responsibility of a mother. This means her role is to bring live not to take life, which is forbidden. She views life as sacred.  Medical advances have improved our understanding of medical sciences and led to improvement of diagnosis, prevention and treatment of many diseases. But some of these advanced process and techniques are controversial and raise moral and ethical concerns.

Maria’s recommendation to keep the pregnancy is informed by religious conviction that that’s what God intended. All human life has value and humans have no prerogative to think otherwise.   Devaluing human life because of disability amounts to undermining the justice of God. She understands that intrinsic value and dignity originate not from external. It is something one possesses by the very nature of being human.

Dr. Wilson’s recommendation that abortion is a good option is informed by the notion that people without cognitive properties have no value or are not equal with normal people. He seems to define moral status in terms of memory, thinking, reasoning and judging. His adherence to this view leads him to recommend abortion to save the child from misery and poor quality of life.

Which theory do you agree with?

I agree with the theory based on human properties. This vie holds that a person needs only to be human being to be conferred full moral status. The issue of whether ones is blind, diseased or disabled is neither here or there. As long as one is conceived of human parents have human genetic code, they deserve full moral status. There are many successful people who were born with disability. Disability does not devalue a human being. Back to the case study, I with Aunt Maria that Jessica should how what God intended to happen. No need to interfere with the life of another on the basis of characteristics that are not intrinsic. Besides a human person is not only a physical material but also spiritual. I disagree with theories based on cognitive properties and moral agency for the very reason of equating the value of human person with some external properties.


Beauchamp, T.L. & Childress, J. (2013). Principles of biomedical ethics. New York: Oxford University Press.

Bernstein, M. H. (2015). The moral equality of Humans and animals. Springer.

Shelly, J. A., & Miller, A. B. (2006). Called to Care: A Christian Worldview for Nursing (Second ed.). Retrieved on March 4, 2021 from

Grand Canyon University. (2015). Case study: Fetal abnormality. Retrieved from Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University (Ed). (2020). Practicing dignity: An introduction to Christian values and decision making in health care. Retrieved on March 13, 2021 from

Moreland, J. (2018). What is scientism? Retrieved on March6, 2021 from

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