Organ donation is a form of life support in which a person donates their bodily organs to someone in need. Such a gift can increase the recipient’s chances of survival and improve the health of others. Other similar donations include blood and bone marrow. To answer the question “Does the Orthodox church allow organ donation?” it is necessary to examine both patristic and contemporary theological thinking regarding this topic.
Table of Contents
Orthodox church allows organ donation
The Orthodox Church has no unified position on organ donation, but some members of the faith believe that organ donation is a selfless act of love. The Orthodox Church does not have a specific policy on organ donation, but has developed guidelines for organ donors. These guidelines are based on the teachings of early Fathers, Scripture, and contemporary theology. Let’s look at what Orthodox theologians have to say.
Organ donation is permitted when consent is given, but the deceased’s relatives must give permission first. While organ donation is allowed after death, relatives must express their permission and observe the law. While the Church supports organ donation and encourages organ donation, it rejects artificial organs. The Church considers heart and lung transplants as “abnormal” and does not allow them. However, if a person cannot consent to donate their organs, the Church understands that their loved ones would be grateful to them.
Organ donation is considered to be a sacred act in the Jewish religion. Jews are permitted to donate their organs for transplantation, despite their religious beliefs. As of this writing, orthodox Jews have no official policy regarding organ donation, but all other Jewish denominations allow the practice. Some Hasidic Jews, however, are reluctant to donate. This practice is acceptable in all other segments of the Jewish faith. The Orthodox Church supports organ donation, although Hasidic Jews may reject the practice.
Orthodox church considers abortion a form of murder
The Orthodox Church opposes abortion as a contraceptive method and considers it a form of murder. However, this is not to say that the Church condones the act, as it is acceptable in certain circumstances, such as when the unborn child poses a threat to the mother’s life. In such cases, abortion is a last resort. Nonetheless, the Orthodox Church considers abortion a form of murder, even when it occurs during a crisis pregnancy.
Abortion is the removal of an embryo from the womb, either surgically or chemically. The Orthodox Church has long been opposed to abortion, condemning it in writings by Church Fathers as far back as the apostolic period. St. Tertullian, for instance, wrote that the prevention of birth is “precipitation of murder,” since the fruit is already present in the seed. Likewise, St. Basil the Great wrote about abortion, addressing it as a form of premeditated murder.
The Church has a different position on contraception. Early Orthodox writers often identified abortion and contraception, but this is no longer the case. Contraception is permissible if it is part of a marriage and is necessary for marital love and health. Orthodox Christians must publicly protest injustice in the name of their faith, and this includes abortion. A good place to begin to understand Orthodox theology is with the article: “Abortion: What is it, anyway?”
Orthodox church considers organ donation from a deceased person an act of love
The Orthodox Church does not require or prohibit the donation of an organ from a deceased person, but they do encourage it as an act of love. In the case of a duplicate organ, the donor must consult with his or her spiritual father and spiritual family before making the decision. The donation of a deceased person’s organs is only acceptable when the deceased person’s will permits it and his or her surviving relatives agree to it. Organ donation from a deceased person is always respectful of the body and the soul of the donor.
Donating an organ from a deceased person is an act of love, and should never be coerced. The ultimate expression of love is giving one’s life to help another. The Bible says that there is no greater love than to sacrifice one’s life for a friend. Christian organ donation should be motivated by self-sacrificial love, emulating the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Organ donation should never be coerced, and it should never be a transaction.
Organ donation from a deceased person is also a moral and ethical issue. While the Church has been supportive of organ donation, it is not universally accepted. The Church’s position is based on the Scriptures, which is its primary source, and continues to develop Orthodox teaching on the subject. In the Orthodox faith, life is precious. God created each person unique and special, and we should treat each one with respect and dignity.