For the harvesting of vital organs from bodies that appear to be alive to be considered acceptable, it becomes important to be able to define a person as dead while their body is still “alive.” Taking of vital organs, necessarily, results in the death of the body. To harvest vital organs before a person is dead is not acceptable within biblical Christianity, since the Bible contains commands against killing. See blog posting Vital Organ Donation – The Most Important Question. Biblically, people are body and soul and at death there is a separation of body and soul. For biblical Christianity to accept vital organ harvesting from living bodies, death needs to be declared while the body is still alive. If death is defined by the moment the soul leaves the body, and we can show that the soul can leave the body while the life blood is still flowing, then those who follow the tenants of biblical Christianity can accept vital organ donation.
Where do we find comfort in life and in death? Is not a search for this comfort at least part of what is involved in activities like organ donation, invito fertilization, writing a living will and in considering euthanasia?
We often treat dying like an enemy to be avoided and battled against. If we are told that one of our vital organs is failing and our death will result unless we get a transplant, then it makes sense that we seek comfort in the possibility of a transplant. If a loved one has been involved in a serious accident and is on life support machines dying, some of us look for comfort in the idea that our loved one’s organs may be able to be used to give life to someone else. When it comes to living, most of us at some point in our lives desire to have children. It can be very distressing when no children come. How many of us look for comfort in invitro fertilization? Many of us have watched loved ones, or heard stories of people, who live in much suffering and pain in the latter days of life. Do we seek to find comfort in protecting ourselves from having to endure such pain, through the use of living wills and euthanasia? To what extent are we to seek comfort in things such as these?
A friend commented on my posting titled, Personhood – Which Comes First Death of the Body or Departure of Soul?. In this posting I said that, so far, our society agrees that a person must be dead for vital organs to be taken. My friend pointed out that if a person is unresponsive and sure to die very soon, that there are people who do not have a problem with taking vital organs, even among Christians. Some will agree that this may result in the person dying sooner but will think that this in not really a problem because the person is going to die anyway. The questions presents. If a person is unresponsive are they really there? Most people’s experience, or lack thereof, may permit them to accept that an unresponsive person is not really there.
Why would we concern ourselves with which comes first, the death of the body or the departure of the soul?
This question becomes important when we desire vital organs for transplantation. Vital organs must come from bodies that are alive. See blog posting Vital Organ Donation – The Most Important Question. So far, our society generally agrees that a person must be dead for vital organs to be removed. For vital organ donation to be right there needs to be a way for a person to be dead, while their body is still alive. For this to be the case many would agree that the soul needs to depart before the body dies. Thus the question, which comes first, death of the body of departure of the soul?