The Bishop of Worcester has called for reforms to the laws governing organ donations, so that doctors can remove organs from the deceased unless they have specifically refused permission.
The system, known as presumed consent, could provide thousands of new organs for transplant.
Under current legislation, organs can only be used if the deceased has actively given their permission while they were alive, by registering as a donor.
The Bishop, the Rt Revd Dr Peter Selby, said the current shortage of organs was partly due to "the inner muddle we are in about death in our society".
Black Country MP Tom Watson (Lab West Bromwich East) has also pushed for a system of presumed consent, and tried unsuccessfully to propose changes to the law.
He was speaking in a House of Lords debate, where peers heard 6,204 patients are currently on transplant waiting lists, even though 12 million people are now on donor registers.
Around 90 per cent of people support organ donation, according to surveys, but only 20 per cent are registered donors.
The Bishop said: "It is not enough to say that people are rather lazy, that they have not been told, that we do not have systems simple enough for them to understand, or even that we do not have in place a system of presumed consent, of which I am also in favour."
He added: "The difficulty is getting people to take seriously the fact that that applies not just to their possessions, their house and the money in the bank, but actually to their body.
"We did not make what we stand up as and we have to let it go. And the fact that there is a great discrepancy between people's abstract conviction that organ donation is good and their willingness to do anything about it is, in my opinion, due to the serious inner muddle we are in about death in our society."
The Bishop continued: "It is obviously right that if people have personal reasons for wishing to withhold consent, they should be able to express them.
"And it is also right that family, relatives and those in close relationships should be treated with sensitivity and should have the right to express an opinion.
"But in my opinion the rightness of that kind of sensitive behaviour should not lead us to take the view that a body is a piece of personal property, because it is not."
He added: "Underneath our difficulties in resolving these political and legislative questions lie inner and spiritual questions which people have to resolve whatever their faith, and which it is our responsibility, if we are formers of opinion at all, to encourage people to discuss in an open, honest and gentle way before it is too late."