Ethics of Sermon on the Mount in Nursing

The ability to articulate various biblical teachings to nursing as a practice forms an essential factor towards better healthcare services provision in nursing. This passage brings out the core teachings by Jesus Christ to the community on their relation with others, God and himself. As Gordon (2008) explains, the Sermon on the Mount could be referred as a summary of Jesus’ work on the earth for its critical consideration of a person as a whole. Notably, Dave (2007) agues that this text sought to clarify God’s teachings which had greatly been distorted.

The sermon therefore centered on moral application of local laws in the society.

Chapter five brings out the beatitudes which guide them on what to do, how to do it and most importantly what to avoid. By emphasizing on ‘being blessed’ he cut out the expected behavior of the people (KJ, Mathew, 5:1-5). For instance, when he said that peace makers will be the true sons of God, he emphasized he meant that his listeners had to avoid conflict and seek reconciliation for warring parties.

In chapter six, Jesus’ teachings appeared much tougher but with equal promises to chapter five and seven. When giving, he called for humility as a virtue and warned that those who gave as a sign of showoff would not be rewarded.

He therefore pointed that giving should be strongly valued and practiced in secrecy with God who solely rewards (KJV, Mathew, 6:1-5). Chapter seven further warns the people not to be making judgments against others unfairly.

Therefore, it indicates that people should expect in similar proportions of what they give to others. By emphasizing on accountability, Jesus made it clear that all people’s actions would be subjected to judgment and punishment (KJV, Mathew, 7:2-5). As he neared to close his discussion, Jesus made the multitude understand the complexity of God’s kingdom as a difficult place to get to.

Indeed, he pointed out that the gate was very narrow and surprisingly to the multitude, he further noted that not all who called him God would get to heaven, but the one who do according to his will (Gordon, 2008).

Dilemmas in the passage

Notably, ethical dilemmas in this passage are evident from their application which appears very hard. As Jesus taught in Chapter five, consideration of mourning and persecution as key to comfort and getting to the kingdom of God puts one into major crossroads with the last beatitude which demands full gladness.

In real life, one strongly dislikes mourning while persecution is received with great resistance. Chapter six consideration of great secrecy in giving by keeping even those very close to us (giving with the right hand and not letting the left hand know) could be interpreted as a major hypocrisy. In a home setting, this might not be possible to employ since resources given are taken from businesses and family expenditure. Therefore, according to this chapter which indicates that God only rewards what is done in great secrecy, most people may lack rewards from God.

While the beginning of chapter seven appear to strong condemn judging others, further requirement of correct judgment differs with it (KJV, Mathew, 7:1-14). People in real life are faced with key judgments which determine how they relate with them. (c) Outcomes from the passage This passage’s outcomes as presented by Jesus appeared on the two extremes; rewards or punishment. The beatitudes present people with direct rewards either here in the world or in heaven. For instance, the poor in spirit are promised the kingdom of God while peace makers will be the sons of God (Gordon, 2008).

In chapter six, those who give with humility and secrecy are promised rewards while those who do it for showoff fail to gather any rewards. Judging others wrongly, as it came out in chapter seven, would equally culminate to similar bad judgments from other people. Towards the end of the sermon, Jesus emphatically pointed that people must follow his teachings by indicating that compliance would make them wise and stable like a house built on a rock. However, those who fail to follow them would be foolish and easily blown by away by the wind (Gordon, 2008).

Application of ethics theories

Values evident from the passage

According to Slan, Kath and Melia (2006), the Sermon on the Mount is built on major values which Jesus emphasized to the multitude. Interestingly many of those who turned up to listen to Jesus could not effectively grasp the whole concept. In chapter five, the beatitudes bring out key values such as humbleness and mercy. Unlike it is conceived by many, humbleness is not weaknesses, but a sign of genteelness and compassion toward others. Peacemaking is also evident as Jesus promised peacemakers to be the son’s of God.

This passage further brings out the need for lawfulness as Jesus emphasized on abiding to the law as opposed to what the Pharisees had taught them (KJV Mathew, 5:21-48). Forgiveness and faithfulness is further brought out as an important value for the society and most importantly nursing and the family. As he taught them the lords’ prayer, he emphasized on forgiveness while correct judgment on others is evident in chapter seven (Gordon, 2008). Notably, whole passage is based on the main value of exceeding love for men and God.

Ethical principles

Dave (2007) argues that Sermon on the Mount is entirely directed at the self who are considered to be the ultimate decision makers. The principle of autonomy is evident as Jesus sought to change their thoughts from communal thinking to personal consideration. Decision making and actions within which one gets blessings, depicts different virtues and judgments are all dependent on personal autonomy. In chapter seven, autonomy is evident as Jesus called people to be aware of false prophets who pretend to be good and that their actions would be ultimately judged depending on the fruits they bore (KJV, Mathew, 7:16-17).

The principle of beneficence was emphatic throughout the passage as Jesus majored on considerations of a person towards others. Chapter five strongly outlines how one ought to relate with others in order to get blessed. For instance, peace making, peacefulness and meekness must be exemplified. Furthermore judgment should be correct to make establish the working environment and avoid wrong judgment (KJV, Mathew, 6 and 7). Nonmalefience and justice as Jesus continued teaching the multitude is evident from emphasis on correct judgments towards others. By employing the correct judgment, it is possible to give justice to the oppressed.

As indicated earlier, it is a further prerequisite for one to receive the correct judgment. By pointing to the multitude as the light of the world that must be maintained for others to see, justice must therefore be part of their main virtues in all actions (Ringe and Hyun, 2004).

Ethical theories and possible contradiction

The Sermon on the Mount strongly brings out normative ethics by seeking to answer major questions which the multitude was unable to apply using the ordinary law. The beatitudes first guide the people on how to relate correctly with others if they want to get blessed (KJV, Mathew, 5:1-11).

Therefore, this sermon provides the platform for actions by people in the society. For instance, it is a prerequisite for one to get mercy if he/she has to be equally merciful to others. Deontological ethics as Dave (2007) explains consider actions to be morally correct if underlying motives are good. In this case, the Sermon on the Mount was largely deontological because it prepared individuals for correct actions in their lives. For instance it calls on the people to be the salt of the world which indicates that their actions must be well anchored in good intentions (KJV, Mathew, 5:13-16).

However, the emphasis on duty by deontological ethics strongly contradicts people’s duties which could spell bad actions. For instance, though Jesus taught that it is bad to kill a medical practitioner may consider it to be ethically correct to conduct euthanasia as part the duty; for instance in application of assisted suicide. To concur with Burridge (2007) views, the Sermon on the Mount strongly contradicts with utilitarian ethics theory. In his teachings, Jesus indicated that the end results must be a manifestation of the correct road-path taken to achieve them.

Though giving is a good action, when it is not done in secrecy, one would not be rewarded. Utilitarian ethics are further contradicted in this passage as Jesus pointed that judgments made by people would be met by similar judgments. Therefore in a case where an individual makes wrong judgment, the end becomes important and ethical; to get an equal wrong judgment (Harrington and Keenan, 2005). However, this is further contradictory in that the former beatitudes saw Jesus strongly condemn any wrong action against others.

Virtue ethics as Gordon (2008) explains strongly fit in the passage and present practice in the society. Virtue ethics call for people to be driven of strong moral orientation that emphasize on correct actions and outcomes. For instance accountability and caution was emphasized by Jesus as he told the multitude to seek meekness and assumption of the correct judgment in their daily undertakings. Further emphasis on his followers being the salt of the world brought out the virtues of discernment, fortitude and honesty among the people.

These virtues are especially crucial in nursing as a practice where patients may at times lack the correct decision making capacity and therefore entirely dependent. Application to nursing Sermon on the Mount ethical teachings have strong application to nursing as a practice because it calls for innate commitment and focus towards the well being of patients. Indeed, as Burridge (2007) argues, the American Nursing Association (ANA) Code of Ethics strongly rhymes with these teachings. Chapter five calls for meekness, mercy, and peace making which is reflected in the first, second and third ANA Codes of Ethics.

Humbleness makes a nurse to come down and identify with problems of a patient while mercy creates a room for developing models to assist them out of it. Therefore, as Jesus taught the multitude, the roadmap to good health which strongly aligns to deontological ethics is evident in nurses’ application of peace making and hope restoration. When a patient is confident of the nurse’s commitment, healing begins immediately as both the nurse and patient move together out of the problem. AMA Codes of Ethics points out that all nurses must internalize commitment to patients and participate in promoting healthcare always.

The Sermon on the Mount on the further seeks to take this commitment a step higher by presenting key blessings to those who stick to the teachings such as remaining humble (Slan et al, 2006). In this case, the end results become very essential because they determine the well being of the community. Nurses’ work is at times very hard because it goes beyond jurisdiction of their stipulated definition. The call by Jesus to exemplify greater commitment is therefore very crucial in crating a sense of great reward for their work. Jesus further argued that people should be law abiding since the laws seek to gather justice for all.

In a nursing setting, it is imperative that nurses follow the existing laws which strongly seek to create the best platform for health improvement to individuals and patients. ANA Code of Ethics for instance, requires nurses to cooperate in establishing better models of bringing healthcare to the society. As a result, Gordon (2008) explains that nurses are given a chance to make key judgments in facilitating better healthcare as opposed to making it worse. Nursing practice should therefore strongly borrow and align its practice to this passage’s teachings.


Sermon on the Mount came out in the discussion as a very crucial consideration passage to nurses because it spells their conduct and how to apply it in the society. Similar to demands of the ANA Code of Ethics, this sermon rests greatest concerns for the people largely on the model taken to achieve the correct actions. It is therefore crucial that nurses integrate key biblical teachings that enhance values and virtues application in furthering healthcare in the society.


  1. Burridge, A. (2007). Imitating Jesus: an inclusive approach to New Testament ethics. New York: Sage.
  2. Dave, B. (2007). Preaching the Sermon on the Mount: The World It Imagines. New York: Chalice Press.
  3. Gordon, L. (2008). The Sermon on the Mount. The Gospel of Matthew Chapters 5-7. London: Gordon Lyons.
  4. Harrington, D. & Keenan, F. (2005). Jesus and Virtue Ethics: Building Bridges Between New Testament Studies And Moral Theology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Rowman & Littlefield.
  5. Ringe, S. & Hyun, C. (2004). Literary encounters with the reign of God. Washington: Continuum International Publishing Group.
  6. sIan, E. , Kath. & Melia, K. (2006). Nursing ethics. New York: Elsevier Health Sciences.
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