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Code of Ethics-1


INTRODUCTION TO THE CODE OF ETHICS


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 Counseling Practitioner 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 Counseling Practitioner 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 counseling 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.


The INTERNATIONAL ADMINISTRATION OF CLINICAL COUNSELORS desires that members who provide mental health, pastoral or other personal services do so with the highest possible level of Christian integrity and counselor ethics, whether professional, layperson and/or student. The I.A.C.C. does have the authority to set and monitor qualifications of registration and membership in good standing with I.A.C.C. registrants.



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.



   DOING GOOD DEEDS

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.



   THE EXTENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS

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.



   ACCOUNTABILITY

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.


I.A.C.C. registered counseling practitioners are accountable to the people they serve, to their profession, and to their religious body and society in general. This accountability is maintained by the standards established by the A.C.C. Failure for the counseling practitioner to fulfill the obligation of the Code of Ethics will result in disciplinary procedures and appropriate consequences under the statutory authority of the regulating body.




   CONSCIENCE

In Scripture, a person's conscience can be weak, seared or defiled, and where it prods and pricks depends on how it is informed and shaped. It may indeed be informed by the biblical record of God's law or by nature's witness to the moral law (Rom.2:14-16), but it may also be sadly misinformed. Conscience in and of itself is a variable, unsure and often defective guide. If we take the term literally, it simply means a capacity to put things together and make judgments.


It is foreign to Scripture to suppose that the conscience is the product of certain circumstances such as a strict upbringing as a child, or of some psychological deficiency. Although the conscience as such is not the product of such factors, and Scripture insists that it is wrong to make a person act against his or her conscience (1 Cor.8:7), it also recognizes the possibility of a "weak conscience" (1 Cor 8:10). A weak conscience is not properly informed and regards as being morally right what God's laws condemns, or morally wrong what God's law allows or commands. Further while an informed conscience plays a critical role in the conviction of sin, the New Testament also refers to a clear conscience, "void of offense" (Acts 24: 10).




   ALLEGIENCE

Allegiance describes a citizen's duty to a ruler of government. In a wider sense it denotes a general loyalty to various organizations, including the Christian church, and even Christ himself. A specific form known as "express allegiance" is an obligation based upon an oath or an understanding given in direct, explicit terms.


The biblical teaching about fidelity to a ruler or government occurs in Romans 13:1-7. Just as the family is God's ideal basis of society, so a state headed by a strong leader (who need not be a Christian) can be used by God to promote divine ordinances. For the believer, the ultimate lord is Jesus Christ, who must be obeyed (Acts 5:29) although the legitimate claims of Caesar (Matt. 22:21) have to be recognized also.




   ALTRUISM

Unselfish interest of the welfare of others. In principle, Christian love is directed in a three-fold manner: to God, to neighbor, to self, (Matt. 22:37-39). Man is not seen in purely behavioral terms, though there is no denigration in the Bible of the creation nor of the human body and emotions. Fundamentally, God is love and God created man for love. This is reflected in God's care of man and his redemptive love for man. It is also to be reflected in human elationships. God loves us and through that love enables us to love others (I John 4:16-21).


In practice, altruism should be the principle of action for the Christian. To act altruistically is to be systematically other-regarding. In it's best sense, this is not the product of neurotic self flagellation, but is based on reflection, deep devotion to God, and love to others. Self-sacrifice, sharing what one has with others, in regarding others as oneself are not psychological abhorations. They are person-conserving and person-affirming attitudes that the Christian learns from God's prior love (Phil. 2:3-5).




   ANTINOMIAN

One who denies the validity of moral laws. Antinomianism is the denial of obligation to the moral law. In practical terms, it is the easy excusing of lawless or immoral behavior. Antinomianism is implicit in some modern behavioral views of human nature and conduct which deny objective moral standards by means of rationalizations such as that good as any object of any interest. Christians believe that morality is grounded in the righteousness of God not in Situational Ethics in which every person does what appears to be right in his own eyes. Christian morality is more than an expression of feeling. Thus Christians teach each other to avoid evil and to do good as an expression of the life of grace.



   AUTONOMY

Having the right or power of self-government. This term, the Greek word for "independence", is used in several disciplines. In biology it describes an independent organism such as the atomic nervous system of the human body, which through it's two antagonistic parts maintains a stable physical environment. In political theory, autonomy is used of a group or nation enjoying independence or the right of self-government. For the Christian, autonomy must always subordinated to the revealed will of God in Christ and not to a supposed "law of conscience", which can be misinformed, prejudiced, and culturally conditioned. The guidance of the Holy Spirit and God's word must take precedence over reason as the arbiter of truth and life (John 16:13), because in Augustine's words, "I believe so as to understand".




   BILLS OF RIGHTS

A Bill of Rights is a constitutional document that legally establishes and defines the fundamental freedoms of the country to which it applies. One of the earliest bills was that set out in the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution: one of the most recent is the Canadian Charter of Rights of Freedom. Both of these bills have been entrenched in their constitution so that they have a superior status to all other legislation: no subsequent law can contradict or alter the provisions of the bill unless a special amendment process is invoked requiring a vote of near unanimity.


Although the bill of rights is a modern concept, some of it's underlying ideals can be traced to the scriptures. In the Old Testament, legal codes tend to impose commandments rather than delineate rights: still, there are examples in the Bible of attempts to outline a system of fair criminal procedure (e.g. Num 35). The New Testament also avoids the "selfish orientation of individual rights". But in it's teachings of responsibility towards one's fellow man and in Christ's example of fairness and compassion toward even the least desirable of society's minority groups, a duty is clearly imposed upon us to respect the dignity of each human being. We are taught, that in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female (Gal. 3:28). Modern legislators have attempted to adapt these ideals to their societies through bills of rights.


A bill of rights can only be as effective as the sentiments of leaders and citizens dictate; of those sentiments are already fair and just, there scarcely seems a need to impose a quotification of the status quo. The existence of even a poorly drafted or hopelessly idealistic bill can command a certain moral authority. An earnestly adopted bill of rights represents a commitment to human liberties. It fulfills the practical function of bringing various existing statutes into conformity with modern thought. A bill of rights may serve to guide and educate members of society toward greater inherence in respect for human dignity. These ideals are unquestionable the heritage of the Christian tradition.




   BLESSEDNESS

This idea or concept refers to the state of a person who tries to please God by the way he thinks, feels, or behaves. In his sermon on the mount, Jesus gave a series of descriptions of blessedness. These brief descriptions are known as the Beatitudes. He implied through these teachings that blessedness or happiness comes to a person as a bi-product of a life of righteousness that is committed to the Will of God. Another great truth that emerges from the Beatitudes is that blessedness is not a state to be reached only after death. It can be fully experienced in this life. "Blessed are the poor in spirit", Jesus declared, "for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:3). Those who live in humble submission to God, fully conscious of their weaknesses and human limitations, will participate in God's royal rule in the world today - not at some distant all the days of their lives. Those who seek the state of blessedness described by Jesus as if it is something to be earned and possessed will never find it. It comes only to those who humble themselves in total devotion to God and his will for their lives. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness", Jesus said "for they shall be satisfied" (Matt. 3:6)




   BROTHERHOOD

Because their is a link between the children of one father, it is right that the children have a special affection among themselves. The bible teaches that God is father. Since there is but one God, he is accordingly the father of all (Eph. 4:6). All mankind is united in a brotherhood that rests on the fact that one God created them in his own image. Color, creed, culture, or nationality, whether rich or poor, slave or free is irrelevant. The brotherhood of man, real though it is, has been grievously impaired by sin. It is imperative then, that Christians, who have been brought into rea brotherhood in Christ, should so live as to bring that brotherhood to others.




   CHARACTER

Character is used to describe the various facets of human personality as they are perceived socially. Character has been defined as the sum of the attributes that make individuals distinctive and can point in the future. The poor in spirit are those with whom God walks in rich fellowship throughout compromise a genetically based amalgam of such personality factors as high moral and ethical standards, loyalty, altruism, fidelity, and the like on the positive side, and egocentric behavior, lust, criminal intent, greed, and similar negative factors on the other. An individual's character may be recognized not merely by the preponderance of negative over positive features, or vice versa, but also by the motivation which governs individual activity, with its recurring possibility of "hidden agenda".


The ancient covenant established by God with Israel on Mount Sinai was intended to form the character of individual and community living by insistence upon a holy life (Lev. 11:44) and obedience to the known will of God (Ex. 23:21). The New Testament has much to say about the difference between Christian and pagan character (Rom 13:12-14 and Gal. 5:16-24), with a special emphasis upon the motivating factors in personality, as brought out in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5,6). In the Pauline writings, emphasis is laid upon the transforming effects that Christ's saving grace has in human life, and the believer is urged to live in a manner that exemplifies conspicuous spiritual gifts (Gal 5:22,23, Eph. 5:15-21, Col. 3:12-17). such qualities constitute the basis of a true Christian character.



   CHURCH AND STATE

Jesus Christ addressed himself to the problem of church-state relations, teaching that the believer has in fact a duty to both bodies (Matt. 22:21). It is ironic that his own life became a pawn in the relations between temple and Roman governor. In the period of the primitive church, the Christians endured sporadic persecutions from imperial Rome, and it was only in the 4th century under Constantine that such opposition ended when Christianity became the official religion of the empire. It will appear that, for many centuries, relations between church and state have been matters of great concern for those involved. While sometimes appearing as allies and at other times opponents, neither has been indifferent to the existence and importance of the other. The reason for this involves ethical considerations in the sense that neither can act on behalf of society as though the other did not exist. While the Christian church recognizes that the legitimate powers of the state are legislated by God (Rom. 13:1-7), it is also sensitive to the corrupting potential of power and accordingly must be vigilant less the state should exceed it's proper functions. In addition, the church can act as the conscience of the state, urging it to use it's secular powers for the greatest benefit of it's citizens and perhaps even for persons beyond it's own immediate borders. Conversely, when the church is corrupt and decadent, it is in the distinct interest of the state to reform it and redirect it to it's true functions.


Even in situations where the ideology of the state may be so different from that of the church that it makes any form of cooperation very difficult, it still remains true that neither can behave as thought it were in total isolation from the other. If the separation of church and state is to be entertained under any other circumstances, it should be based on the clear understanding that both parties are independent in their activities without being mutually exclusive and that both have a vitally important function to fulfill, sometimes jointly and sometimes alone, in working towards the improvement of human society.



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