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Suffering and Bioethics$
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Ronald M. Green and Nathan J. Palpant

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199926176

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199926176.001.0001

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The Orthodox Christian View of Suffering

The Orthodox Christian View of Suffering

(p.249) 12 The Orthodox Christian View of Suffering
Suffering and Bioethics

H. Tristram Engelhardt Jr.

Oxford University Press

For Orthodox Christianity, suffering has no intrinsic value and is in fact disvalued. Suffering can gain positive value only insofar as it aids in leading to salvation through breaking a person’s pride and serving as an occasion for repentance. As a result, because medicine is a gift of God and because pain and suffering can serve as temptations to sin (e.g., to use physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia), the use of medicine is affirmed as long as a particular intervention is not a stumbling block to a person’s spiritual life by being either a spiritual distraction or involving absolutely prohibited practices such as euthanasia and abortion. The Orthodox Christian account is homiletic rather than scholastic in tone. Because suffering does not discharge any temporal punishment due to sin, it does not play a role in an economy of salvation (e.g., delivering souls from punishment in purgatory), as has been the case for Roman Catholicism.

Keywords:   suffering, salvation, repentance, Orthodox Christian, euthanasia, abortion, homiletics

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