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In die Skriflig

versão On-line ISSN 2305-0853
versão impressa ISSN 1018-6441

In Skriflig (Online) vol.45 no.1 Pretoria Jun. 2011




Gospel and constitutional imperatives: The right to life


Evangeliese en grondwetlike imperatiewe: Die reg op lewe



S.P. Giles

Department of Theology, Potchefstroom Campus. North-West University. Potchefstroom. E-mail:




In the Republic of South Africa, Christians are called to live out gospel imperatives within the legal framework of the Constitution. Ethical issues about the right to life are considered from the perspectives of selected gospel and constitutional imperatives. Gospel imperatives impose themselves as a consequence of Christian discipleship. These are many and diverse, both explicit and implicit. Christian vocation, discipleship, witness and perseverance, are foundational and integral to the praxis of Christian daily living. These facets of Christian life are illustrated by the selected gospel imperatives, "Follow me" (Matt. 4:19 and synoptic parallels), "Love God, and your neighbour as yourself" (Matt. 22:34-40 and synoptic parallels), and "Take up your cross" (Matt. 10:38 and synoptic parallels). The central theoretical argument of this article is driven from a reformed ethical perspective. Gospel imperatives have priority over constitutional imperatives since gospel imperatives are of divine origin and constitutional imperatives of human origin. Acknowledgement of these priorities informs the Christian ethical perspective on the right to life and on abortion.


In die Republiek van Suid-Afrika word Christene uitgedaag om evangeliese imperatiewe binne die regskundige raamwerk van die Grondwet uit te leef. Etiese uitvloeisels met betrekking tot die reg op lewe word vanuit die oogpunte van gekose evan-geliese en grondwetlike imperatiewe beskou. Evangeliese imperatiewe word gestel as gevolg van Christelike dissipelskap. Daar is vele en verskeie, uitdruklike en onuitgesproke imperatiewe. Die Christelike roeping, dissipelskap, getuienis en volharding, is fundameteel en integraal tot die beoefening van die daaglikse bestaan van die Christen. Hierdie onderdele van die Christelike lewe word toegelig deur die gekose evangeliese imperatiewe: "Volg my" (Matt. 14:19 en sinoptiese vergely-kings), "bemin God en u naaste soos uself" (Matt. 22:34-40 en sinoptiese vergelykings), en "Neem u kruis op" (Matt. 10:38 en sinoptiese vergelykings). Die sentrale teoretiese betoog van hierdie artikel is, gesien vanuit 'n gereformeerde etiese oogpunt, dat evangeliese imperatiewe voorrang bo grondwetlike imperatiewe geniet, aangesien evangeliese imperatiewe 'n goddelike grondslag het, terwyl grondwetlike imperatiewe 'n menslike oorsprong het. Erkenning van hierdie voorang belig die Christelik-etiese perspektief op die reg tot lewe en aborsie.



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List of cases

Christian Lawyers Association of SA and Others v Minister of Health and Others 1998(4) SA 1113(T)

S v Makwanyane & Another 1995 (3) SA 391 (CC)

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