Question Time - What guidance does the scripture give regarding organ donation?

Richard Collings, Caerphilly, Wales [SEE PROFILE BELOW]


What guidance does the scripture give regarding organ donation?


This is an extremely complex question and one regarding which I have no medical knowledge that would qualify me to give any response. It is a complex issue because some might be willing to donate replaceable things, such as blood or bone marrow, but would feel less inclined to agree to the transplanting of solid organs. Furthermore, is there a point beyond which it would not be right for medical expertise to intervene, if so what is that point? It is also a very sensitive issue, for it is almost certain that there will be readers of this magazine who are either the recipients of an organ, or are the donors of an organ. Each will have acted as they felt right before the Lord, and I trust that my answer will offend no one and encourage everyone.

The capability to carry out organ donation is a relatively recent breakthrough in medicine and so we would not expect to find an example of it in the scriptures. Therefore, to answer this question we have to focus on principles, although even that generates its difficulties.

Based on the apostle Paul’s teaching in the closing verses of 1 Corinthians chapter 6 some may take the view that as we do not have absolute rights over our bodies we do not have the authority to participate in organ donation or reception. Whilst that is a strong point we cannot ignore what the apostle wrote in his letter to the churches of Galatia, ‘For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me’, Gal. 4. 15 NKJV. Even if Paul is speaking figuratively I do not think he would have used an illustration that he considered to be contrary to biblical teaching.

There might be a minority of Christians who consider that it is not right to try to extend the duration of life, citing that ‘there is a time to be born and a time to die’. However, on that basis we would have to refuse all medical help, other than palliative care. That opinion would also be in conflict with the practice of the Saviour for, during His earthly ministry, we read that He ‘went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil’, Acts 10. 38. Each time the Lord healed He was extending the life of the individual concerned. However, there were many times Jesus healed not to extend life but to improve the quality of life. The man with the withered hand in the synagogue, the blind men on the road to Jericho, and the infirmed man at Bethesda did not necessarily have their lifespan increased, but the quality of their lives was improved beyond measure.

Those who believe that organ donation is justifiable might point to the scriptural exhortation that we should love one another, and one of the noblest ways in which this love can be demonstrated is through the willingness to donate an organ. We are also exhorted to love our enemies, and on three occasions in the Epistles we are told, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’, Rom. 13. 9; Gal. 5. 14; Jas. 2. 8. Therefore, many may be happy to donate organs to ensure the preservation or extension of life of someone they do not know and who may not be a believer.

Whilst I do not think that in principle organ donation is morally or scripturally wrong, ‘Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind’, and ‘Let us not therefore judge one another’, Rom. 14. 5 and 13. Of one thing we can be sure, whether we are donors or recipients of an organ, this will have no impact on our glorified bodies when the Lord returns for ‘We shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed’, 1 Cor. 15. 51-52. Then, each of us will have bodies ‘fashioned like unto his glorious body’, Phil. 3. 21. ‘What a day of rejoicing that will be!’

AUTHOR PROFILE: RICHARD COLLINGS is a trustee of Precious Seed and writes the ‘Question Time’ page of the magazine.

There are 30 articles in
ISSUE (2013, Volume 68 Issue 3)

A fresh meditation on Lazarus

Bits & Bobs - ‘World’s oldest Torah’ found at world’s oldest university

The Canon of Scripture How was it arrived at?

The Coffee Morning

Cross Canada Cruisers

Daniel's Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks - Part 1


Ebenezer Gospel Hall, Killamarsh

Editorial - ‘Touched with the feeling of our infirmities’, Heb 4. 15.

Elijah part 3 - ‘What doest thou here, Elijah?’, 1 Kgs 19. 1-21.

The Glory of God and our Salvation

Hezekiah - The Devoted King

Indispensable Ordinance

Islam: The Religion of Peace?

Judges – Book of Heroes Tim Mather

Knowing and Doing John McQuoid

Learning from the Past, Facing the Future Neil Summerton

The Lord Himself

Philippians: The Joy and Suffering of the Furtherance of the Gospel - Part 15

Question Time - What guidance does the scripture give regarding organ donation?

Rays of the Messiah’s Glory David Baron

Realising a Vision through Faith (the Colleen Redit story)


The Son of Man

The Sovereignty of God over the Nations

The Investiture of Christ and conditions in His 1000 Year Kingdom

Tour to Israel, May 2013

Twelve Hidden Heroes Rebecca Parkinson

Views from the News

Why can't I marry an unbeliever?

This article is not part of a series

There are 49 articles by this author

Question Time

Question Time

Question Time

Question Time

An Introduction to a Study of Future Events

Question Time

Question TIme - Why do I find it hard to spend time in prayer?

Question - Will there be different levels of reward for believers?

Question - Is it wrong for a woman to cut her hair?

Question Time - Does the Bible specify a dress code for the meetings?

Question TIme - Should there be a minimum age set for those requesting baptism?

Question TIme - What is scriptural marriage?

Question TIme - Should elders discuss matters relating to oversight with their wives?

Recognising Elders

Question TIme - Can I use my natural skills in the service of the Lord?

Question TIme - Does the teaching of 1 Corinthians chapter 11 verses 2-16 apply only to assembly gat

Question TIme - Is it wrong for a Christian to be cremated?

Question Time - What guidance does the scripture give regarding organ donation?

Question Time - Are there scriptural grounds to justify leaving one assembly to join another in the

The Final rebellion and the great white throne judgement

An overview of the Lord’s Supper

Question Time

Question Time

The Symbols of Headship

Question Time

Question Time - Why are people leaving assemblies and meeting elsewhere?

Question Time - What is the most effective way of teaching God’s people?

Question Time

Question Time - Should some assemblies consider meeting in a house instead of a hall?

Question Time - Will the church go through the great tribulation?

Question Time - Does the New Testament stipulate what meetings an assembly should convene?

Question Time - Is ill health an evidence of God’s chastening?

Question Time - Why do we worship on a Sunday and not on the seventh day?

Question TIme

Question Time - Is it appropriate for assemblies to donate to non-Christian charities?

Question Time - What advice can be offered to a couple who cannot have children?

Question Time

Question Time

The Baptism in the Holy Spirit

Question Time

Question Time - Is it wrong for a Christian to go out with someone who is not saved?

What does the Bible tell us about the future? - Part 2 ‘I will come again’

Question Time

What does the Bible tell us about the future? - Part 4 - ‘I will come again’

Question Time - Is it essential that an assembly should convene a weekly gospel meeting?

Question Time - Does the first part of 1 John chapter 3 verse 8 teach us that a Christian will never sin?

Question Time - Can a Christian commit the unpardonable sin?

Question Time - Is any aspect of the Mosaic law binding on Christians? 

An Assembly of the Lord’s people will be a people among whom ... Prayer Arises to God - Part 7