310 • Part III. Christian Morality: The Faith Lived
WE ARE MORAL BEINGS: FUNDAMENTAL
ELEMENTS OF CHRISTIAN MORALITY
Made in the Image of God
The most basic principle of the Christian moral life is the awareness
that every person bears the dignity of being made in the image of God.
He has given us an immortal soul and through the gifts of intelligence
and reason enables us to understand the order of things established in
his creation. God has also given us a free will to seek and love what is
true, good, and beautiful. Sadly, because of the Fall, we also suffer the
impact of Original Sin, which darkens our minds, weakens our wills, and
inclines us to sin. Baptism delivers us from Original Sin but not from its
effects—especially the inclination to sin, concupiscence. Within us, then,
is both the powerful surge toward the good because we are made in the
image of God, and the darker impulses toward evil because of the effects
of Original Sin.
But we should always remember that Christ’s dying and rising offers
us new life in the Spirit, whose saving grace delivers us from sin and
heals sin’s damage within us. Thus we speak of the value, dignity, and
goal of human life, even with its imperfections and struggles. Human
life, as a profound unity of physical and spiritual dimensions, is sacred.
It is distinct from all other forms of life, since it alone is imprinted with
the very image of its Creator.
The Responsible Practice of Freedom
The second element of life in Christ is the responsible practice of free-
dom. Without freedom, we cannot speak meaningfully about moral-
ity or moral responsibility. Human freedom is more than a capacity to
choose between this and that. It is the God-given power to become who
he created us to be and so to share eternal union with him. This happens
when we consistently choose ways that are in harmony with God’s plan.
Christian morality and God’s law are not arbitrary, but are specifically
given to us for our happiness. God gave us intelligence and the capacity
to act freely. Ultimately, human freedom lies in our free decision to say