Euthanasia: the Church accepts it only from God!

Angelos Alekopoulos


People are free and autonomous and can decide on matters pertinent to their lives and even as regards their death. According to the Church, people are an image of God, autonomous, certainly, but only in terms of their relationship with others. Our freedom has to do with our relations within society. The Church accepts euthanasia only when it comes from God, not from people themselves*

‘Our life is God’s greatest gift and the beginning and end are in His hands alone: “In the hand of God is the spirit of every person” (Job 12, 10). It is the locus in which our self-determination finds expression, where we encounter the grace of God through our free will and where our salvation is worked out. Any attempt to define the limits of life merely by human will, thought or ability strips it of its sanctity’[1].

From this point of view, and as regards the matter of transplants, the opposition of the Church begins when our freedom is ignored or our sanctity disdained. Nothing justifies forcing people to donate tissues or body organs before or after death. Nothing confirms ‘assumed consent’ for the donation of tissues or organs from our bodies, much less the presumption of agreement when there is no express statement to the contrary. The Church has to respect the wishes of the faithful, to bless those who want to become organ donors, but also to understand the hesitancy and reservations of those of another mind. Decisions of this sort are entirely personal matters. The basic criterion for the actions of the Church is, first and foremost, the salvation of the soul. Anything which damages the soul and affronts spiritual values should be rejected. The Church respects the freedom and unforced gift by the donor, but for the Church the gift of an organ without the conscious consent of the donor is one which carries no spiritual weight.

The positions of the Church as regards the taking of decisions about euthanasia and the interruption of life support are clear and are based on the value attributed to each person, on the strength of the Christian during an illness, on overcoming death and on the process of the departure of the soul. So it is the duty of Christians to face sickness with fortitude and in the expectation of eternity and the anticipation of the Resurrection, so that death is serene and peaceful. For Christians, illness, pain and death fall within the universal dimensions of history: sin, forgiveness and salvation. Human beings are at the centre of Paradise: Adam and Eve.

Each person derives his or her value, not from their personal interests or rights, but from the fact that they are made ‘in the image and likeness of God’. Intervention in our lives are permissible, provided they do not ignore this fact.

*This applies also to voluntary suicide through ‘martyrdom’. The Circumcellions and others who actively sought martyrdom were condemned by the Church. WJL.
[1] Special Committee on Bioethics of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece.







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OCN has partnered with Pemptousia. A Contemporary post-modern man does not understand what man is.  Through its presence in the internet world, Pemptousia, with its spirit of respect for beauty that characterizes it, wishes to contribute to the presentation of a better meaning of life for man, to the search for the ontological dimension of man, and to the awareness of the unfathomable mystery of man who is always in Christ in the process of becoming, of man who is in the image of divine beauty. And the beauty of man springs from the beauty of the Triune God. In the end, “beauty will save the world”.


Pemptousia Partnership

Pemptousia and OCN have entered a strategic partnership to bring Orthodoxy Worldwide. Greek philosophers from Ionia considered held that there were four elements or essences (ousies) in nature: earth, water, fire and air. Aristotle added ether to this foursome, which would make it the fifth (pempto) essence, pemptousia, or quintessence. The incarnation of God the Word found fertile ground in man’s proclivity to beauty, to goodness, to truth and to the eternal. Orthodoxy has not functioned as some religion or sect. It was not the movement of the human spirit towards God but the revelation of the true God, Jesus Christ, to man. A basic precept of Orthodoxy is that of the person ­– the personhood of God and of man. Orthodoxy is not a religious philosophy or way of thinking but revelation and life standing on the foundations of divine experience; it is the transcendence of the created and the intimacy of the Uncreated. Orthodox theology is drawn to genuine beauty; it is the theology of the One “fairer than the sons of men”. So in "Pemptousia", we just want to declare this "fifth essence", the divine beaut in our life. Please note, not all Pemptousia articles have bylines. If the author is known, he or she is listed in the article above.