Choices: God is free and humans created in God's image are free. God freely chose to create the universe from nothing. Therefore, God is essentially free, and so human beings made in God's image are likewise gifted with the capacity to make free choices. A Catholic perspective promotes human flourishing in all its dimensions, and the making of moral choices in ways that contribute to, rather than threaten or undermine this flourishing of the whole human person. The concept of identity expresses the human desire to form a coherent sense of self through making free choices about who we want to be and what we want to do in the context of relationships. How we respond to the objective dimensions of our identity arises from our relationships with God and the world; with others, institutions, and history. How we form our own sense of self in the world, and how we shape the way other people see us depend on these factors. Human beings choose between living life to the full or rejecting God's love and God's promise. God gives human beings this choice precisely because God loves them, because God respects their inviolable dignity, and their absolute worth as moral agents, as people who can make moral decisions. In other words, though Christian faith affirms the worth and dignity of all human beings, and the boundless love of God, it is up to individual human beings, situated as they are in particular historical circumstances, to make choices and to act in ways that realise their dignity and the dignity of others; ways that show the presence of God in the world. Because people are free, rational and relational, human beings can choose to tear down and destroy the beauty and goodness that God has given to them, or they can choose to hear God's call when God asks them to care for the world and deeply love all that is in it. A fundamental choice that all human beings face is the choice to pursue self-aggrandizement at the expense of others, and ultimately at the expense of their relationship with God, or to stand up for love and live life wholeheartedly. (John 10:10)Emotions helps us to identify situations about which we may have to make moral choices about what to do, and in which what we choose to do (or not to do) can be called morally right or morally wrong. Put another way, all emotions help us work out how best to bring about true human flourishing; that is, to participate in the happiness or beatitude that God promises all human beings. (Matthew 5:1-5) By creating us as free beings, God has given us the power to choose the kind of beings we want to be, the causes we want to stand for, the values we want to hold dear. The choices we make in answering these questions will have implications forever, because our spiritual selves will live forever. Fundamentally, we are asked whether we want to stand up for love and live forever in eternal happiness with God (what is traditionally referred to as Heaven), or whether we want to reject love, to reject goodness, to reject community, to reject all that is good and true and beautiful.Sin is not simply about choosing to do something bad or evil. It is always about faulty judgments and subsequent choices about what is good and right. This can happen in two ways. Sometimes it is about choosing to achieve something that we think is good, though in reality, when all is considered, it is actually bad. Sometimes it is about choosing to achieve something that is good, but doing so at the expense of what could be better and therefore should take precedence. Conscience, loosely translated, means 'with knowledge'. In other words, when we make moral choices, we make them based on what we know about the goals we want to achieve, the ways or means to achieve them, the circumstances in which we need to achieve them, and the consequences of both the means we choose and the outcomes we achieve. When we have weighed all these things, we make a judgment based on our knowledge of what is the morally right thing to do. We are then obliged to follow our conscience and do the morally right thing, taking responsibility for our decision.

Steps to moral decision making: Definition: Be very clear about the moral question you are asking. The more you deal with moral issues, the more you will realise how often the issues at stake come down to careful use of words, and clearly understanding what different terms mean when used by various parties. Knowledge: Find out as much as possible about what is actually involved in the issue you are deliberating. There is no point talking about the ethics of a particular new medical technology if you do not understand the science of what is involved in that technology. In social ethics, we need to find out about the effects on people of certain kinds of social structures, for example economies, health care systems and education. Making use of the natural and social sciences is an important part of thinking through moral issues.Identify the good and bad things: Be honest about the good things that are at stake in a given situation, as well as the possible bad things that might happen as part of, or as a result of, your action or lack of it. Identify the 'truly good' things that we hope to ultimately achieve. The challenge comes in understanding how to realise these things in the context of particular concrete moral issues. Good things include not only things that are good for us like food, oxygen, and love, but also the kind of person we want to be. These latter good things are called virtues. “A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good” (CCC 1803). Important virtues include justice, temperance, courage, prudence (or wisdom), chastity as well as faith, hope and love. In identifying the goods at stake (i.e. good things and virtues), we might also ask about how this will make us and others more loving, just and wise. To identify the good things at stake, one can also turn to tradition. From a Catholic perspective, this includes both the Bible and the teachings of the Church. We have already seen how the Catholic tradition of faith and reason reveals what is good for us and for our communities. Many communities, cultures and religions share common ideas about what is good for a community. Scripture Galatians 5: 22-23Identify moral norms: Take seriously what other people have done before you. Others have encountered similar moral dilemmas before you. Generations of people have tried to develop codes of behaviour, also called moral norms, that help to see what is the right thing to do, and prevent unjustifiable bad things from happening. These codes of behaviour provide us with insights into what people have thought to be really important and how to achieve it. Our contemporary legal system, with its codes of law, is one example of this, but so too are teachings such as the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes in the Bible. Consulting the tradition, the collected wisdom of thousands of generations before us, can be helpful in helping us see what other people have done in our situation and why they have done it. Not everything our ancestors have done has been morally right. Almost every tradition has a degree of change in its moral positioning, for example, the change in moral attitudes towards slavery.Use reasoning and the judgment of conscience:At the end of the day, you have to make a decision. You have to freely judge what is the right thing to do, and then, you have to do it.“In the Catholic tradition, some rules apply in every situation. One may never do evil so that good may result from it. The Golden Rule: “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” Charity always proceeds by way of respect for one's neighbour and his or her conscience: Thus, sinning against your brother [or sister] and wounding their conscience... you sin against Christ. Therefore, it is right not to... do anything that makes your brother [or sister] stumble.” (CCC #1789)