Ethics is about the good (that is, what values and virtues we should cultivate) and about the right (that is, what our moral duties may be). It examines alternative views of what is good and right; it explores ways of gaining the moral knowledge we need; it asks why we ought to do right; and it brings all this to bear on the practical moral problems that arouse such thinking in the first place.

   Someone might respond that it is enough to love God with heart and soul and to love my neighbor as myself: then I can safely do as I want; I am free. But are love and liberty enough? Christian liberty is not the license to do as I want, but is rather being liberated to live within what God's law requires. And love alone does not tell me what I ought to want and to do in every kind of situation; it still needs instruction in righteousness of the sort the Bible gives. If I need and want more explicit moral guidance than liberty and love alone provide, then I will use every resource which God provides.

   The purpose of a detailed Code of Ethics, outlining the professional attributes and conduct expected of the Christian Worker is to provide a practical guide for professional behavior and the maintenance of a reasonable standard of practice.

   The Code of Ethics is presented with full knowledge that specific conduct will be further guided by professional judgments and situational circumstances. However, in all instances the Christian Worker is expected to practice competently and to refrain from conduct unbecoming to a professional.

   The Guidelines for Ethical Behavior are intended to inspire each member to engage in professional behavior of the highest order. The basic principles underlying these Guidelines for Ethical Behavior are the respect for the dignity and integrity of persons, responsible caring in relationships and responsibility to society. Ethical principles and guidelines become meaningful only when they are interpreted in the light of these principles and within the context of the circumstances in which they are applied.

   What does the Bible contribute to philosophical ethics?

   It gives a theological basis for our moral obligation, in terms of our obligation to do the will of God, the Creator and Lawgiver.

   It gives an account of the relation of morality to God's purposes through sin and our restoration to righteous living by the grace of God.

   We learn the principles of justice and love which describe God's character and should also characterize us.

   It reveals the moral law of God, declaring duties in many areas of human life. This is summarized in the Ten Commandments and spelled out by precept and example throughout Scripture.

   From love for God and gratitude for his mercies come the motivation and dynamic for moral living.

   The Bible depicts the ideals and promise of the Kingdom of God that Christ came to establish, first in our hearts and lives and eventually throughout the entire world.

What we can hope to gain is an ethical structure that draws the many aspects of Biblical morality into a coherent world and guides our thinking about moral issues in other than Biblical times and cultures. We can learn to distinguish universal and unchanging principles that transcend cultural and historical differences from case applications in culturally variable situations. We can look for ways of addressing philosophical concerns in ethics and of entering into dialogue with other approaches. And this in turn can contribute to apologetics an awareness of why and how a Christian ethic does and does not differ from its non-Christian counterparts, and wherein it can take us further.


Is doing good deeds all that counts in a Christian ethic? Is love or benevolence the only moral attribute of God? Is it enough for any ethic? What is our highest end? From a Biblical standpoint it is not human happiness or well-being, not the richest possible package of experiences, for persons are more than bundles of experiences and their value is therefore more. Yet even our value as persons is not ultimate but is derived from God, who created us in his own image. Our highest end as Jesus said, is to love the Lord our God with all our being, and for his sake to love others as ourselves. It is to seek first His Kingdom.

Our highest end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, not to enjoy ourselves as much as we can. A Christian ethic must put this first, and human happiness comes later because both the worth and the possibility of human well-being derive from God. Love for oneself and others is not enough; love for God takes priority, and other love must flow from it.


Human rights boil down to essentially to the right to be treated as a person. But what does this include? What rights are human rights, and how can we identify them? The clue is to know what is essential to being a human person. John Locke listed three natural rights, and we can start with these: life, liberty and property. Each of these he saw as essential to personal existence. The right to life obviously is prerequisite to all else. The right to liberty respects the self-determination of one endowed with the capacity for deliberation and free choice. The right to property is concerned that the fruit of one's labor should meet basic needs and sustain a human quality of life. God has endowed us with these in making us the human persons we are. But in each case the right in question is limited by the rights of others, for we have the duty to respect others' lives, others' liberty, others' property. They equally are human persons, and theirs are equal human rights.


For the Christian, the whole concept of accountability is traced to the relationship to God of his creations - that He is Creator and Judge. Thus God places each person in a responsible series of relationships - with himself as Lord and with fellow human beings, as well as with creation itself.

The human beings therefore are accountable to God for everything he thinks and does (as well as fails to think and do) and is also responsible, under God, to give a good account of himself in the relationships on earth whose duty is required (for example, of child to parents, of citizen to country, of employee to employer, and so on).

This truth about accountability is taught clearly by Jesus (Matt. 12:36) and by Paul (Rom. 3:19 -13:1 - 14:2). In fact, Jesus told two parables which stressed accountability to God through accountability to human authorities as part of his teaching concerning the kingdom, or sovereign reign of God, (Matt. 18:23 - 35, 25:14-30). While accountability between human beings is limited in scope, the accountability of human beings to God is comprehensive.

IACM registrants are accountable to the people they serve, to their profession, and to their religious body and society in general.

"Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed"
Proverbs 15:22