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Biomedical Ethics in the Christian Narrative

Medical Indications (Beneficence and Nonmaleficence)

James has a critical form of acute glomerulonephritis, which resulted from complications associated with a strep throat infection (streptococcus infection). This condition requires immediate treatment, as the patient has high blood pressure and needs temporary dialysis to relieve fluid build-up. James’s parents rejected the dialysis; as a result, his condition worsened, so he needs regular dialysis and a kidney transplant surgery to be conducted within a year. By the principle of beneficence, it is essential to provide James with appropriate treatment to improve his condition and quality of life. At the same time, the principle of nonmaleficence requires avoiding harming the patient, meaning that the treatment should be safe for him.

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Patient Preferences (Autonomy)

In the present case, the patient is a child and does not have decision-making autonomy concerning healthcare and treatments. However, his parents have the right to make decisions independently. In line with the principle of autonomy, the doctor gave James’s parents all the necessary information about his condition, the possible treatment, and a potentially negative outcome in case it is delayed. The doctor provided James’s parents with their right of autonomy to decide on putting the child’s well-being into God’s hands.

Quality of Life (Beneficence, Nonmaleficence, Autonomy)

The faith healing service that James’s parents chose as a way of treating his disease did not work, so they returned to the hospital. James’s condition is stable as long as he gets regular dialysis, but he needs a kidney transplant to get well. However, the only donor with an appropriate tissue match is his identical twin, Samuel. The surgery is necessary for James to improve his condition, but it carries certain risks for Samuel. Hence, the principles of beneficence and nonmaleficence conflict in the case.

Contextual Features (Justice and Fairness)

James’s father is torn between two options, given the family’s religious views. He has to decide whether he should let his son Samuel lose a kidney or rely on God to perform a miracle on James’s critical condition. The principles of justice and fairness are relevant to this decision because the transplant can benefit James while damaging his brother’s health and quality of life.

In Christianity, serving people is the key principle the man of God must follow. That is why many religious people enroll in medical universities. When a clinician is acting on the ground of their beliefs, the framework of their medical approach is based on the religious moral code. The purpose of this paper is to analyze each of the four biomedical principles following the Christian worldview.

The principles of beneficence and nonmaleficence are the core of medical practice. God mentors his followers to put the well-being of others first and love one’s neighbor. In the given case, James’s physician has to avoid doing any harm and make sure the boy is well (Jonsen et al., 2015). The principle of autonomy is based on God’s decision to grant each person free will. James’s doctor did everything in his power to inform his parents about the condition but let them decide for themselves. Moreover, making just decisions is an important principle of the Bible (Cherry, 2019). The given case deals with the struggle of both brothers being healthy, which is an enormous moral challenge for parents.

Thus, in James’s case, the Christian worldview is affecting each of the four biomedical principles. All these principles complement each other and considering them is essential for the boy’s well-being and a happy healthy future. The boy’s doctors and his parents should come to a consensus that will comply with the demands of Christian morals and beliefs. In this way, medical and religious approaches will finally meet.

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It is a quite challenging situation when the religious principles of patients collide with the general medical approaches. It is a serious struggle for clinicians to agree with patients who refuse to undergo some treatments because of their religious beliefs. That is why it is essential to find a balance between each of the four biomedical principles to make a weighted wise decision either regarding one’s health or the health of beloved ones.

When encountering religious beliefs and restrictions, it is best to first think about the well-being of the patient and their condition if the treatment will not start soon. If the patient is in a critical stage and requires urgent treatment, this must be the priority (Iltis, 2020). In James’s case, he can be saved if his twin brother becomes his donor. The complicated decision for their parents is to risk their other son or to most certainly let James die. It appears that the justice principle is not being violated here. Parents should accept difficulties and uncertainty and trust doctors, as trust is a crucial part of God’s teaching.

To sum up, when facing a difficult situation, doctors analyze the patient’s condition, come to the best possible solution, inform patients or their legal representatives of the final verdict, and give them the autonomy to decide what to do. However, if it is apparent that James is in bad condition and doctors can help, parents should trust them, which will mean trusting God himself.


Cherry, M. J. (2019). Bioethics without God: The transformation of medicine within a fully secular culture. Christian Bioethics, 25(1), 1–16. Web.

Iltis, A. (2020). Christian bioethics: From foundations to the future. Christian Bioethics, 26(1), 1–11. Web.

Jonsen, A. R., Siegler M., & Winslade, W. J. (2015). Clinical ethics: A practical approach to ethical decisions in clinical medicine (7th ed). McGraw-Hill Education.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, January 7). Biomedical Ethics in the Christian Narrative.

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