The Orthodox Pages

email: pater@christopherklitou.com 

 ASK AN ORTHODOX PRIEST

Homepage

 

   Back                     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Question 72.

I think as mortal beings the understanding of the soul could be beyond us; for example does an embryo take on a soul from inception or does the baby need to be delivered to the outside world? Will parents get to bond with souls of stillborn children? Would I know who my ancient ancestors are in the afterlife?    

 

Answer to Question 72.

 

Genesis tells us that God created the body of man from the dust of the ground and then breathed into him and thus the soul was created. This means that the soul did not previously live in an eternal and unborn world of ideas, but was created by God at that moment. Both the body and the soul were created at the same moment, the soul was not, like some like to believe, living before the body and then at some moment entered into it. Neither is the body a prison for the soul. Man is what we call a psychosomatic being, which means that his soul does not constitute the whole man, but neither does his body. The union of both the body and the soul is what we call man. 

With this understanding we believe that the soul and body are created at the same time of conception. How the soul is created is not made clear by scripture. In the view of some, each soul is created separately by God. By others, it is believed that the soul is created from the souls of the parents, just as the body is created from the bodies of the father and mother. In this way, the parents participate with God in the creation of life.  Without the union of the body and soul, the body is lifeless, but we know that a baby moves and kicks in the womb before it is born. We also have the testimony from the Gospel of St. Luke when Mary the Mother of God, after having miraculously conceived in her womb, went to her cousin Elisabeth, who was six months pregnant, and her baby leaped in her womb having recognised that the baby Mary was carrying was the Son of God. (Luke 2:41)

You ask if parents get to bond with the souls of their stillborn children. The fact that at conception a soul was also created with the body and that the soul is immortal, then by logic the souls of embryos or babies that didnít make it to birth must also be alive and in heaven with other souls. We do not know much about the afterlife other than what God has revealed to us. For the most part, the afterlife is still a mystery. I would like to believe that we will recognise our children even if we didnít have a chance to live with them in this life. As for bonding, I think in Christ we will be bonded to everyone that was part of us including our ancestors, for as Christ said ďAnd the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.Ē (John 17:22)