By Andrea Marcela Madambashi|Christian Post Correspondent. Should you take everthing to to grave with you? A recent report about the lack of organ donations among Hispanics, particularly within the Christian community, has sparked debate on whether it is consistent with Christian values.
* What Does the Bible Say About Organ Donation?
According to Dr. Gilberto Velez of Iglesia Cristiana Misericordia Church in Texas, “there is no biblical evidence that prohibits” organ donation.
Reuters reported earlier this week that Hispanics are less likely to donate organs than Americans as a whole.
“We find that the Hispanic community tells us, ‘My religion says not to donate,’ and ‘I can’t have an open casket because the body will be damaged,'” Esmeralda Perez of the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance told Reuters. “They feel that their loved one will be disfigured, or the person will not be able to get into heaven because their body will not be whole.”
Norma Garcia, a Christian, was among the few Hispanics who decided to donate her daughter’s heart and liver after she was declared brain dead by doctors in 2001, according to Reuters. The majority of her family was appalled and indignant about Garcia’s decision.
Commenting on the issue, Velez, who also serves as chairman of the Board for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, explained one possible reason some Christians are against organ donation.
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Their opposition, he explained, is based on the interpretation of a part of Scripture where it speaks of bodies being “temples of the Holy Spirit and that we have to take care of our body.”
“But this is an interpretation matter; it is not that the Scripture says it is prohibited,” Velez noted.
A prominent Catholic theologian, the Rev. John Leies, said the church is working to convince believers that organ donation does not render the body unfit for the afterlife.
“The church is well aware that there are so many people waiting for organs, and there are not enough to be supplied and people die without receiving their organs,” he said. And he found that “it is difficult to fight against these cultural ideas, and maybe the church hasn’t made a good enough effort.”
For the evangelical church, Velez explained that it is difficult to speak on behalf of all evangelicals, because there are different denominations with different viewpoints. However, he said that in general, “the majority of the evangelical people do not oppose organ donation.”
“We are not against it. We do not promote it but we do not condemn the practice. We let the person decide,” he said.
Velez believes there is “support and full recognition of the importance of organ donation for the health of people.”
To clarify this issue for Christians, he highly recommended that Hispanics seek guidance and information from their leaders, news, magazines and other publications or other Christian organizations.
According to Velez, organizations such as the NHCLC are dedicated to spreading awareness about this kind of matter and other ethical issues that are important to the Hispanic evangelical community.