We are stewards, not owners

Often, those who believe that abortion should be legal will say “A woman has a right to do what she wants with her own body. A common slogan is: “My body, my choice.“ Many --- men and women --- believe that they “own” their bodies.


The Church teaches that we do not “own,” but are stewards, of our bodies. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in paragraph 2280, says “We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.” St. Paul, in Romans 14:7 says, “We do not own ourselves; we are not our own masters.” (Navarre Bible) In the encyclical Humane Vitae, Pope Paul VI writes “…man does not have unlimited dominion over his body…”


We do not own ourselves because we are created beings. As Thomas à Kempis writes in the Imitation of Christ: “To me You have shown the sweetness of Your charity, especially in having made me when I did not exist…” (3 chap. 10)


Since we do not “own” our bodies, there are certain things we may not do to or with them. For example, we may not: commit suicide, take harmful “recreational” drugs (such as cocaine, heroin, fentanyl), have an abortion, sterilize ourselves, get drunk, over-eat (gluttony), undergo “sex-change” surgery, fornicate, engage in homosexual acts, take extreme physical risks, prostitute oneself, clone oneself, sell oneself into slavery, etc.


Professor Peter Kreeft lists some of the ways in which these acts affect more than the individual committing them. He writes “…there are no ‘victimless’ crimes. Suicide, for instance, harms your friends, family and society. Prostitution harms the institution of the family, thus all members of all families. Drugs harm the social body by harming the individual member of the body.”


The belief that there are certain acts that it is immoral to do to one’s body is not exclusively Catholic, or Christian. The pagan Greek physician Hippocrates (460 – 370 B.C.) for example, swore “Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course. Similarly, I will not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion.”


As this is written, bakers are being sued for refusing to bake cakes for same sex “marriages” and transgender “celebrations.” If the state determines that a person has a “right” to euthanasia, one can foresee the absurd situation of a doctor being sued for refusing to prescribe or administer drugs intended to kill his patient.


In the book Covenant of Love, Fr. Richard M. Hogan and (now Bishop) John LeVoir discuss the logical consequences of thinking of our bodies as kind of machine that we own:


If the body is a machine, it can be owned and used… The body as a thing, i.e., as property, could be bought and sold. The owner could sell the body for any purpose whatsoever, e.g., pornography or prostitution. There would be no difficulty in renting a womb or any other part of the body… Surrogate motherhood would thus be justifiable.


If all bodies are machines, then any individual can own any body. Parents would own children. Slavery, the owning of another’s body, a machine, makes perfect sense. The owner could use that body for any purpose whatsoever…. Anyone, e.g., pimps, would have a perfect right to buy, rent, or sell any bodily machines including those of women and children… New biological machines, i.e., babies, could be made in any feasible way, including reproduction in test tubes… and if these new machines were manufactured unnecessarily or by mistake, they could be destroyed…” (p. 22)


In other words, in the name of “individual freedom,” slavery and the abuse of the defenseless or desperate would be sanctioned by the state. This is what the logic of the belief that we “own” our bodies implies.


The late Dr. Charles Rice, in his book 50 Questions on the Natural Law, says “…the only enduring basis for the dignity of the human person is the fact that he is an immortal creature made in the image and likeness of God.” (p. 316) The only rights we, or the state, have over our bodies are those which are in accord with the will of our Maker. We are “stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us.”


Your station will continue to teach this truth. Please continue to support your station by telling others about it, offering to place program guides in your Church, by offering to volunteer, prayer, and a financial contribution if possible.


Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam,