This article evaluates the adequacy of Orthodox ethics by examining Orthodoxy's response to questions of social justice as they have been raised by the churches of the third world.
The Eastern tradition is skeptical of such phrases as “structures of injustice” because it is improper to speak of sin with regard to structures. This does not mean that Orthodoxy is insensitive to questions of social justice, but rather that such questions can only be properly addressed by a personalist ethic grounded in trinitarian theology. It is trinitarian theology that provides the foundation for an understanding of love, community, and human relationship which demands relationships of mutuality and reciprocity and rejects all forms of human domination. This ethic is arrived at by an examination of the mode of being of the triune God in which all Christians participate, a mode of being that is both personal and communal. Orthodox ethics, while still in need of development with regard to the problems of concrete moral decision-making, offers a rich theological foundation often lacking in the more philosophical-ethical tradition of the West.