Is Non-Creation the Same as Saving a Life?

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Dec 05, 2006

OK, so you don’t have any idea what this headline means. It comes from a bumper sticker I saw this morning on my way to Mass: “My cat saves lives. It’s spayed!” Presumably this means that if there are too many cats in the world, more of them will be killed and discarded. Therefore, as night follows day, failing to reproduce saves lives.

There is another sense in which failing to reproduce saves lives, of course. This is the parsimonious sense of not spreading lives around needlessly. If lives are somehow stored up inside us, isn’t it a shame to squander them? Let’s save them for a rainy day. But, of course, lives are not stored up inside of us. We have the marvelous power to procreate new persons out of God’s grace and our own renewable resources. When a new person is created, it has the gift of life. Before that, this life does not exist.

Lives are not interchangeable. Each life is unique to an unrepeatable person (or, for that matter, an unrepeatable cat). I have heard it argued that contraception is a more grievous sin than murder because it prevents a new and immortal person from coming into existence, whereas murder kills only the body. This may be stretching the point, but even if the point shouldn’t be stretched, it is a point.

And the point is this: We don’t save lives by neutering our cats, or ourselves. We prevent them. I don't know about cats but, for people, that's a terrible waste.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: RoseMore - Jul. 11, 2019 1:47 PM ET USA

    Very well said. Thank you!

  • Posted by: gbrisebois1656 - Jul. 11, 2019 1:22 PM ET USA

    Definitely! How about Catholic schools apologize for teaching kids to fornicate? My "catholic" girls school taught the entire class that "if you're not going to follow Church teaching, then here's how to put a condom on a man".

  • Posted by: DCpa - Jul. 11, 2019 1:18 PM ET USA

    What a powerhouse presentation, Jeff! Thank you! I think this piece should be memorized, proclaimed and posted. Way to go!

  • Posted by: Cory - Jul. 11, 2019 11:17 AM ET USA

    What the Jesuits should be apologizing for is the fact that they are a sorry excuse for priests and out and out ex-Christian. They should apologize for their hypocrisy - pretending to be Christians and yet trampling on Christ at every turn they get.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jul. 11, 2019 8:18 AM ET USA

    You could not have said it better. "I am sorry for whatever I did that offended you." "I am sorry that you did not understand why I acted as I did." "I am sorry that you are so stupid or stone-age that you think the Catholic moral code means anything in modern society." "I am sorry that you reject 'pre-critical' ecclesiology because the Church has moved beyond God, beyond Christ, and now elevates departments of religious studies above departments that study the theology of God's revelation."