A Christian Worldview Of The Ethical Dilemma Of The Use Of Performance Enhancing Drugs

Introduction

There are many contentious issues worldwide and people’s opinions often diverge on these matters. Some individuals might even form distinct viewpoints depending on the specific circumstances associated with each issue. The certainty or uncertainty of an issue often hinges on a person’s perception of truth. This could be an absolute truth, where all situations align with a unilateral concept of verity. Conversely, it could also represent a relative truth, where the facts of one situation may not apply to another. From the perspective of the Christian worldview, truth is considered absolute and aligns with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God. This paper will delve into the ethical conundrum of using performance-enhancing drugs, from the standpoint of the Christian worldview.

Ethical Dilemma

The ethical dilemma at hand regards a young athlete named Paul. Paul is a hard-working, successful athlete who has recently started to fall behind since his teammates have been using a new performance-enhancing drug that is not banned and they claim is untraceable. The coach is aware of the drug being used and has chosen to let it slide because it is technically not a banned substance and the team has been winning. Paul’s coach has just told him he may be losing his starting position, and Paul’s friend has offered him a sample of the drug to catch up with the rest of the team. Paul is now faced with the decision to take the drug and keep his starting spot, or to refuse the drug and risk losing his starting spot.

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Core Beliefs

In this scenario, the use of performance-enhancing drugs can be described as cheating. Although the Ten Commandments do not specifically say, “thou shall not cheat”, the ninth commandment, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor”, deals with dishonesty. The Christian worldview might consider the use of performance-enhancing drugs as dishonest. The user of the drugs is gaining an advantage that is unknown to the opposing team and the rest of the league. The use of this drug quite simply is not fair; it gives Paul’s team an unfair advantage over the opposing teams, and gives his teammates an unfair advantage over him, leading to his current situation. Isaiah 56:1 starts with the Lord saying, “Be just and fair to all, do what is right and good…”. The Christian worldview interprets that God commands us to treat fellow human beings fairly, providing no circumstances or options, leading to the conclusion that fairness must be maintained in all aspects of life. Examining the situation through the lens of the Christian worldview, Paul’s potential loss of his starting position does not justify his taking the drug. Consumption of the drug is unfair and dishonest, regardless of the circumstances, and the Bible emphasizes the importance of fairness and honesty. If Paul knows the Bible and upholds its values that are clearly opposed to the concept of taking the drug, he should refuse to take the drug, no matter if all his teammates are using it and he might lose his starting position.

Resolution

According to the Christian worldview, Paul should not take the performance-enhancing drug. Taking the drug would be unfair and dishonest, regardless of the circumstances. In fact, Paul’s teammates are being unfair to him by taking the drug, because if they were not taking the drug, Paul’s starting position would probably not be in jeopardy, and he would not be in his current situation to begin with. Paul should realize that taking the drug would be doing the same thing, being unfair to his opponents, whether they know about the drug or not. The best option for Paul would be to reject the drug and instead work harder by practicing more to keep his starting position on the team. The drug can only help Paul get stronger quicker and easier, which may give him an advantage in the short term. It is unclear what sport Paul is playing, but in almost every sport, technique and skill will surpass strength. Strength can only get an athlete so far, it is the athlete with many hours and hard work put into his sport that has skills and techniques mastered, which make him a great athlete. The Bible has a lot to say about the benefits of hard work; for example, Proverbs 12:24 says, “Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor.” In Paul’s case, taking the drug would be lazy, a short-term advantage, but if he works harder and practices more, in the long run, it can pay off more than the drug ever could. If Paul held the Christian worldview in this situation, that would greatly influence what would be termed his “doping attitude.” According to studies, an athlete’s attitude towards using performance-enhancing drugs is one of the most important factors in determining intention or behavior related to performance-enhancing drugs (Brand, Heck, Ziegler, 2014). Paul would have a very negative attitude towards using the drug if he were to look at the situation with a Christian worldview, and should choose not to take the drug.

Evaluation

If Paul were to follow the resolution according to the Christian worldview and not take the drug, but instead practice more and work harder to maintain his starting position, many different scenarios could play out. The main two scenarios might be: the hard work from Paul could pay off and result in him keeping his starting position. This could even persuade some of his teammates to stop using the drug and put in more work, like Paul. Alternatively, Paul could put in a lot of hard work and practice and still lose his starting position. However, this could be short term, perhaps the drug becomes recognized and banned in the league next season. If that happens, Paul’s teammates might suffer consequences for using the drug, and Paul may find himself with a starting position again because he did things the right way.

Comparison

In Paul’s situation, there are only two options: take the performance-enhancing drug or don’t. In arguing for the drug, one might point out the fact that the drug is already being taken by everyone else on Paul’s team. Typically, athletes make decisions to use performance-enhancing drugs based on the perceived level of risk associated with using the drug. Likewise, if the use of performance-enhancing drugs is common practice in a sport, it can create the belief among athletes that it is morally acceptable, because everyone is doing it (Boardley, Grix, Dewar, 2014). In Paul’s situation, everyone on his team is already using the drug, and the drug is not yet recognized in drug tests so there is virtually no risk of getting caught. If Paul were to take this stance on whether or not to use the drug, it is very likely he would choose to use the drug. In this case, Paul would be holding truth to be relative because rather than just viewing the use of performance-enhancing drugs to be wrong, he would be using his circumstance to decide whether using the drug would be right or wrong (Jibben, 2014).

Conclusion

Paul is faced with a tough decision: he can give in and take the performance-enhancing drug that all his teammates are taking, so he can catch up, or he can reject the drug and risk losing his starting position on the team. The Christian worldview would tell Paul not to take the drug because it is dishonest and unfair. This would require Paul to hold truth to be absolute and believe that, no matter his circumstances, taking a performance-enhancing drug is wrong. However, Paul may hold truth to be relative and make a decision on whether using the drug is right or wrong after considering his personal circumstances. If Paul decides to take the drug, he probably won’t lose his starting position; but he will have made a moral compromise that could have consequences later on. If Paul rejects the drug, he might lose his starting position but will have stayed true to his morals. Should his teammates be caught for using the drug, Paul will not face the consequences that they will.

The Ethical Dilemma Of Legalizing Physician-Assisted Suicide To Suffering/Terminally Ill Patients

Imagine living in constant pain, where the day begins, and all one desires is to feel nothing for once. The agonizing ache the doctor cannot cure will never cease, and the patient yearns to be at peace. Physician-assisted suicide is the act of medical personnel giving a suffering or terminally ill patient a lethal dose of a drug for the patient to administer upon himself or herself. Physician-assisted suicide closely aligns with the term euthanasia, which refers to when medical personnel administers the drug to the patient so that the patient can end their pain and suffering (Gale Encyclopedia of Senior Health 1713-16). In the NPR debate, Andrew Solomon states, “…in a society in which people tend to be in denial about the reality of mortality altogether, getting them to talk about this is still frequently a struggle” (npr.org). This comes into play with the consideration of people’s beliefs and what they perceive as moral, like death. Is death moral? Is there a right to die? Death is one thing we all have in common, whether it be from natural causes or the force of another human, even though natural causes are the ideal way to pass. Some believe that with the right to die, comes dignity, that the patients can escape before the illness consumes them, it relieves the stress it may bring to them and their families, and it can provide valuable organs for transplants. I believe that a terminally ill patient reserves the right to die peacefully with medical assistance, a sentiment some of America agrees with.

In America, the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide was Oregon. On November 16, 1997, the Oregon Death with Dignity Act was in full effect after it had been passed in 1994 with a margin of 51.3% to 48.7%. Then, the act was challenged and won again with a margin of 60% to 40%. Since then, seven hundred and fifty-two people have taken advantage of it in Oregon. In November 2008, the state of Washington passed The Washington State Death with Dignity Act with a margin of 57.8% to 42.2%. In May 2013, Vermont’s governor signed a bill the legislature passed. Physician-assisted suicide has been moving toward legislation in other states such as Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, but none have validated this law yet (Starks, “Physician Aid-in-Dying”). Regardless, we should be the judge of our own fates and not leave it to someone else.

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In the words of Thomasma, “The first ethical question of PAS has nothing to do with the physician, but with the patient.” In order to receive physician-assisted suicide, in Washington for example, they must be eighteen years of age, competent, terminally ill and able to express their wishes for death. They also need to be aware of other options (such as continuing life-sustaining treatments), contact their next of kin, and sign a death certificate, among other things. (Starks, “Physician Aid-in-Dying”). Many rules govern physician-assisted suicide because no one would want to bear the responsibility for a wrongful, accidental death if the patient were not in their right state of mind at the time of request. Physician-assisted suicide can also be very tricky when dealing with a family who cannot afford to pay for the care of their loved one. It might seem like a selfish act or a bid to rid themselves of a burden, but logically, if one is unable to carry out basic daily tasks because they are terminally ill, physician-assisted suicide might seem ideal. However, this is not about eradicating those who are ill and suffering. It is only considered when there are multiple, well-documented requests from the patient, and in many cases, the patients opt not to follow through. Kliff notes that in Oregon, 752 patients received physician-assisted suicide, but originally 1,173 prescriptions were filled, which shows that many patients had a change of heart or the disease progressed faster than anticipated. Kliff calls this insuring oneself against the misery of an undignified death (“California Has Legalized Physician-assisted Suicide. Here’s How the Law Works.”). Dr. Jack Kevorkian was one American physician who decided to take these matters into his own medically trained hands.

Dr. Kevorkian graduated in 1952 from the University of Michigan Medical School. He conducted medical experiments on death row prisoners, earning the nickname “Dr. Death”. His mission was to end his patients’ suffering. By 1994, Dr. Kevorkian had overseen 21 deaths, either through euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide. This led to him serving five jail sentences, during which he staged hunger strikes the first three times. He was eventually released on parole for good behavior. But Dr. Kevorkian was not a monster; he simply wanted to end his patients’ suffering and prevent them from living a life of despair and hopelessness.

“We all have the right to control our own lives. If someone faced a terminal illness and could foresee the misery it would bring, why wouldn’t they want to put a stop to it? For instance, if a veterinarian were to assess a dog hit by a car and facing imminent death, the first option would be euthanasia. As Stephen Hawking, PhD, aptly states, “I think those who have a terminal illness and are in great pain should have the right to choose to end their lives, and those that help them should be free from prosecution. We don’t let animals suffer, so why humans?”

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