Prolonging life: an Orthodox Christian perspective

Christ Bioeth. 1997 Dec;3(3):204-21. doi: 10.1093/cb/3.3.204.


While Orthodox Christianity does not find explicit statements about the morality of prolonging life in the usual doctrinal sources, the Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church, there are elements in Tradition which bear upon the issue. These include Orthodox spirituality's emphasis on the "wholeness" of the human person, its liturgical and synergistic view of human life, and its understanding of our moral ambiguity as fallen human beings in a fallen world. This last point, in particular, means that we do not usually have a clear choice between right and wrong, and that we cannot always trust ourselves to know which choice is the right, or even the better one. Therefore, we must always approach decisions about death and dying with humility and in a spirit of repentance, aware of the imperfection of all we do and trusting in the mercy of God.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Death*
  • Christianity*
  • Decision Making
  • Eastern Orthodoxy*
  • Euthanasia, Passive*
  • Family
  • Human Body
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Life Support Care*
  • Pain
  • Pastoral Care
  • Personhood
  • Physicians
  • Probability
  • Religion*
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Terminal Care
  • Terminally Ill*
  • Theology*
  • Treatment Refusal
  • Uncertainty
  • Withholding Treatment