Gift versus loan

Let’s start with Webster’s dictionary (here…:))

1: a notable capacity, talent, or endowment
2: something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation

Examples of GIFT
The money was a gift, not a loan.
She considers her voice a God-given gift.

Antonyms: advance, loan

When one speaks about life as being a gift from God, the word “gift” is taken in the second meaning above. The word “gift” should not be confused with “loan”, they are antonyms. Gift means to relinquish ownership.

However, when speaking of our life and our body, the apologists assert that God does not grant us “ownership” over our lives, we are merely caretakers or stewards, who must take care of our bodies, but we cannot make final decisions concerning it. Specifically, the apologists deny one’s right to end one’s own life.

My point is the incorrect usage of the word “gift” in this respect. It is a linguistical error to maintain that our life is a “gift”. It is not. Of course it does not sound so “noble” to say that life is just a “loan”, it sounds so much nicer to say that our life is a “gift”.

There is nothing we can give in return for life as we have nothing before we exist. Therefore life is a gift, we cannot pay for.
Indeed we are free to use this gift as we wish; the only advice being to use it wisely as it is also destined for greater things.

An interesting point.
I cannot speak for other apologists but I think that you may be missing certain things that are interconnected…
God gifts us life just as He gifted us “free choice”. If we misuse “free choice” we misuse the gift of life…And we do so at our own peril.

Lets take a family - the parents give life to their children. They do their best to raise them. Two children grow up well and bring great joy to their parents. One child does not. He has problems, quits school, moves out, drinks, parties, steals, lies etc. The parents try many things to help, council, a place to stay, love, but they never take away his free will…eventually hitting rock bottom the child jumps off a bridge and kolls himself - thus seperating himself forever from his parents and all of their love.

Now - All that the parents did, they did for love. They did not expect “repayment”, they only sought the happiness of their child. Everything they gave to their child was a gift, from life onwards…He even had sufficient freedom to kill himself…Of course this does not mean that the parents did not have certain desires and even reasonable expectations for their children…
But - even though the parents did not expect repayment - the child DID none the less owe something to the parents. Not a debt of “repayment” like a bank loan, but a debt of gratitude, and love and appreciation for all that the parents did and gave and sacrificed in their love to the child.

Thus can we say that God gifts our life to us and yet we still owe to God, fidelity and proper care of that life.


I have a different analogy (not surprisingly). The problem is the assumption that the recipient of gift does not gain ownership over the gift.

So, let’s use another analogy. The parents give a car to the child, who is - say 20 years old. The child did not ask for the car, but he is “stuck” with it, cannot refuse it. He is responsible for the maintenance, insurance, gas, repairs, etc… but he is forbidden to get rid of the car. The parents also attach a whole lot of other conditions. They do not allow the “free” use of the car, which may be dangerous, but make the use of the car more fun. The parents do not prevent him from selling the car, or giving it away, or simply destroying it. But, if he does, some very serious repercussions will happen. The “loving” parents beat him to pulp, employ thumbscrews, burn him… carefully so he cannot die. But the torture does not stop, it goes on forever.

Maybe the car was a junk from the onset. It did not work properly in the first place, it is a pain to use it. It cannot be repaired. Well, the parents could repair it, and child asks for it, but the parents refuse. He is stuck with this unwanted “gift”, responsible for the “gift”, but cannot do whatever he wants to do with it.

Is that a “gift”? Before anyone jumps in, the point is not the condition of the car. It is that with the responsibility does not come the ownership.

Well - I think that the two analogies displayed simply demonstrate the very basic and differing understanding of God that we have.
Where I see a Loving Parent, you see an arbitrary judgemental and unfair master.


Very true observation. As usually we shall have to agree to disagree. I am a bit sad that this is the best we can achieve. It might be interesting to pursue this subject, and try to find out how come that we see the same fact, and still have different conclusions.

Just a little story. I remember that I had some wonderful conversation with my mother. We loved her very much and she loved us very much. She said that bringing children into the world is a very selfish act. Parents, of course rationalize their act. But what they really want is the joy they derive from their children. They can be pretty sure that the life of the children will not be a “cakewalk”, that there will be ups and downs, that the children will suffer. Think of those parents who know that their child will suffer from Down-syndrome, and they will die prematurely, sometimes even in great pain. Even those parents say that it was worth it, because they derived so much joy from their children. Selfishness all the way. Sometimes it is very hard to look into one’s “soul” and admit this fact.

In your story above, you actually have the germ of the seed to build upon. Though I would say that the act of bringing children into the world is far less “selfish” than it is “Love”…and that even a pure Love can appear to have selfish aspects,
But - if selfishness gets the upper hand it becomes controlling, manipulative, abusive etc…Like the “parent/god” you portray in your earlier example - That is not love
Yet if Love predominates, it dwarfs any selfishness. The joy derived by the parent is derived solely from the happiness of another. In this sense what your mother termed “selfish” is merely the reflected glow of her selflessness.
How many of us know the sacrifices our parents made for us until well after the fact. We usually only find out after we are adults. Sometimes we never know the true sacrifices, the extent of sacrifice, they made for our benefit.
And for those of us who come from such loving homes - even though we may have fought our parents “tooth and nail” at times when we were growing up - we find ourselves more deeply in love and more deeply indebted to them - not because they demand it, for they demand no return on their investment. Rather it is because it wells up inside of us in pure gratitude for the gift of life they gave to us and all the gifts that followed…
You don’t Love your mother because she demands it. Yet you owe to her your very life. You don’t hate or reject her because she chastized you as you were growing up. In fact I would say that, if you are like most people, you Love her all the more because she chastized you in ways that you thought horrible at the time but now realize were really but small discomforts.

The great saints and doctors of the Church such as John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila Bernard of Clervoux and Catherine of Sienna teach of the stages in coming to sanctification. Mostly they speak of three stages though Teresa breaks it down into “the seven mansions”…
The stages are Purgative, Illuminative and the Unitive…Without getting into any great detail, one of the threads running through these stages is the gradual growth running from the purely selfish fear of punishment to the purely Loving and Unselfish desire to be with God and to please Him.
Children and parents often go through this same process…When we are small and immature, parents use various methods, including punishments, to teach us. While we know our parents “love us” we rightly fear them for (as we say in the act of contrition) their “just punishments”. As we grow older their methods of guidance change while we gradually come to understand why they did what they did and eventually we come to Love them completely and just as much because the punished as because they hugged…


I hesitate to answer. The reason is that the post you replied to was already out of topic (and that is my fault). I should not have brought it up. She admitted that her motives (which she did not recognize at the time) for bringing us into the world were selfish, and she only recognized her true motives much later. But this has nothing to do with the topic of this thread. So, let’s please drop it.

Well it’s your thread…:shrug:

But I think that such comparisons are a very good way to express the idea of gifts and loans and indebtedness and such feelings in relation to God…

But as you wish…


From what I can tell, and I’m no expert, God directly gave three people the gift of life. Adam and Eve and Jesus. All other life was allowed to happen by God but he did not poof them into existence.

God made the world in which we live and laid out some laws for how we are to live our lives in His world. It is my opinion that these laws he laid out are for our own benefit and if followed will lead us to live a great long happy life but I suppose you disagree and that is a topic for another thread.

If you have a problem with the fact that you are now alive in a world with laws which you seem to disagree with please take it up with your parents as they are the ones that brought you into this world in a direct way.

Personally, I’m exceedingly thankful for both my parents who made the choice to bring me into this world and to God who laid out the guide lines for living in this world as the more I follow His rules the happier I am so far!

Do you really think so? In that case let’s continue. I think that the indebtedness goes only one way. From the parent to the child. The child did not want to get created. His existence was “forced” upon him by the parents. The child had no say-so in the process. The child owes the parent nothing. The parent owes the child a good upbringing, owes him care, owes him education. Up until the child grows up and becomes an adult.

And this is where the analogy breaks down.

We shall never grow up in relation to God. We shall never attain the attributes of God. We shall always remain God’s “children”. So God owes us everything, and we owe God nothing.

If you wish we can go back to our different analogies and examine them in detail. But only if you want to do that. We can always agree to disagree and retain our friendship. :slight_smile:

This is a bit of an assumption. I have heard an old argument from the Jesuits, I think, that existence is better than non-existence.
The rest of the post is a very familiar selfy adolescent complaint; “…you owe me, I did not ask to be born.”

Irrefutable facts! It is ironic that those who decry the value of life from the comfort of their armchairs are making the most of it… :slight_smile:

In all of the above, the highest elemet is left out. The core the source and the common thread in the two great commandments upon which all else is built. Love…
It does not matter whether I “owe” my parents ins some legalistic way or not. It is very true that I do not “Owe” them as in some debt that I must repay.
I “owe” my parents because I, me personally, owe them…for all that they have done for me. I owe them out of the Love they gave to me and which I wish to give back.

they changed me and fed me and clothed me and housed me, and if circumstances were such that I needed to do any of these things for them I would…I fact I DID help change my father when he lay bedfast with Alzheimers. I DID feed him because he could not hold the spoon anymore…And soon I may be doing the same thing fro another person - my dear wife…
Because I “owe them”? No - because I Love them…and that love brings with it ties that are not counted in some sort of debt that has a finite value, and yet can be expressed as something “owed”, not in some capitalistic commercial sense but in the even greater and fuller sense of Love…

I will just close by saying I will never argue something to the point of angering you if I can avoid it.


Very well. The Jesuits “claim” this. I am open to a proof, or some arguments to support this. Without an argument, this is just another empty claim.

And they are correct.

All your answers are taken as you intended. There is nothing in what you say that I would find problematic, as far as my feelings go. I think you are honest, and you honestly represent your thoughts.

Where we disagree concerning your analogy is very simple.

The picture you paint needs to be amended to the Victorian era for some upper class family. The parents hired nurses to care for the children, they hardly even went into their rooms. It happened that Victorian father praised a nanny on the street for the cleanliness of the children she walked with, and the father never realized that those are his children. I do not say that it is impossible that God really “loves” us, but I say that he gives no sign of his “love” which would be visible to us.

The real parents in your original analogy prove their love every day. They show the children that they love them, by atcually caring for them, kissing them, hugging them, feeding them, clothing them, comforting them, bringing them to the doctors, when they are sick. Every day the children can see that the parents truly love them. And yes, they reciprocate that love (hopefully) when the roles are reversed, when the children are strong and the parents are sick. Just as you said, not because there is a legal obligation to do so.

Now look at the Victorian parents. They went through the motions to give life to that child, and immediately “oursourced” the caring, feeding, kissing, hugging, etc… part to nurses, nannies, teachers, etc… I cannot “prove” that they felt nothing toward their children, maybe they “loved” their children in their own special way, but they certainly did not give any sign of that love that the children could see.

Now, may I ask you to rip my analogy apart? Show me where it is incorrect and where it needs to be amended?

I obviously could not have an opinion if I did not exist, but if I could have only an opinion of my non-existence, I would find it rather dull when compared to all the possibilities of an existence. If we cannot agree on it being “better,” we can hopefully agree that at least it is not as boring.

That is the argument. It is better to have Spock here than to have no Spock.

They did not ask not to be born.

Are you asking me to address the analogy above or your original one…?
Just want to make sure we are on the same page.


Very kind of you. But this is just a specific example. If the Jesuits say that existence is always, under any and all circumstances better then nonexistence, then this claim needs to be substantiated in general. Bringing up one instance is not sufficient. If however the Jesuits say that sometimes existence is better than noneixstence, then I will agree. But that is not much of a “claim”.

I am pretty harmless. But assume that I am an evil, malevolent computer programmer, who intends to trash the whole site, and infect all the computers used by the Catholic posters here. In that case I doubt if you would say that it is better to an Evil_Spock, than not to have one. :slight_smile:

***Duh! ***