My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
MORAL ISSUES FACING THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN TODAY
By V. Rev. Fr. George Alberts [Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America]
Suicide is found in the Holy Bible. Saul committed suicide to avoid dishonor and suffering at the hands of the Philistines. As a result, he was acclaimed as a hero by the Israelites (1 Samuel 31:1-6). Samson committed suicide as a means of retribution to God's enemies. He was considered a hero for sacrificing himself while destroying God's enemies (Judges 16:23-31). Judas committed suicide because of a stricken conscious after betraying Christ. He was condemned before and after his suicide (St. Matthew 27:5-7). In Exodus 20:14 suicide is equated with murder. It is the taking of a life (one's own). This taking of one's own life assumes that God cannot help us. In a sense, it denies Him. Only God has a right to allow our life to end. We do not belong only to ourselves, but we belong to God as well. Saint Augustine lists several reasons why suicide is wrong. First, Christians are never without hope and always have the opportunity to repent. Suicide takes away that possibility of repentance. Second, suicide is really homicide, which is forbidden by God. Third, there is no sin worthy of death. Christians are not their own judges. God alone is the judge of all mankind. Suicide is considered as greater than any other sin since there is no way to repent for it. A Christian should make any other choice because he can repent for a mistake or sin if he is still alive.
Please note: "If a person has committed suicide as a result of a belief that such an action is rationally or ethically defensible, the Orthodox Church denies that person a Church funeral, because such beliefs and actions separate a person from the community of faith. The Church shows compassion, however, on those who have taken their own life as a result of mental illness or severe emotional stress, when a condition of impaired rationality can be verified by a physician."
Abortion is not new. It has been known and performed for thousands of years. The earliest recipe for an abortion drug is over 4,500 years old. The Church had to deal with abortion throughout its history. By reading the Canon Laws of the Church, we see that it was performed in a number of ways. The Church from the very beginning has always treated it as murder. From the time of conception, a growing child is developing. We are often lead to believe that the growing baby (fetus) is nothing more than a mass of cells or tissue, but in reality it is a developing person. Even though it is carried and nourished by the mother, it is not a body part but a separate individual. To take the life of an infant no matter how young or old, whether in the womb or outside of the womb is wrong. When the life of the mother is truly in danger (and those circumstances are very rare today) then a decision must be made with much prayer, thought and consultation with physicians of both the body (doctor) and soul (Father Confessor). Another difficult case is in the instance of rape. First of all, very few rapes end in pregnancy for a number of reasons. To abort a child of rape is basically killing the child for the sin of his father. We need a strong Church community and support system for victims of rape. Rather than rumor or ridicule, we need love, compassion and assistance.
What we also have to consider is the means used for abortion. They generally cause a very cruel death to the growing child. Besides this, any type of abortion can be dangerous physically and emotionally. It is not the simple safe operation that we often hear about. Even the so-called "morning after pill" has many side effects that can be very harmful.
Death is our enemy. We fight hard to stay alive. When we are ill, we join our sufferings to those of Christ who suffered for us. But we also know that He rose again from the dead so that we could have eternal life. By destroying the power of death, He made death a passage for us from one life to the next; from earth to heaven; from mortality to immortality. That passage should be made in God's time, not our time.
When a person dies for reasons that are uncertain, a qualified medical examiner may, with the permission of the next of kin, perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death. In some states, this is required by law. In all cases, however, the Orthodox Church expects that the body of the deceased be treated with respect and dignity.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God