hi, I am wondering why killing is not considered intrinsically evil, i.e. such as in cases of self-defense. if you are protecting yourself with a gun, yoyou generally know full well that you may easily kill the person. on the other hand, lying considered intrinsically evil. i.e. even lying to save someone’s life is still using an immoral means and the ends do not justify the means. I am really having trouble understanding why killing, even for a good reason would not fall in to this category as well. could you please help clarify?
First of all,’Intrinsic’ is defined: of or relating to the essential nature of a thing.
The lie is intrinsically evil because God has identified himself as the Truth: “I am the way, the truth and the life.”(Jn. 4:16) The lie is the opposite of truth and therefore opposed to God.
But the taking of human life cannot be intrinsically evil. As the Author of life, God has the right to take a life that He has given. So the taking of life cannot be intrinsically evil, if God does it.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in 2263 “The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. “The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor. . . . The one is intended, the other is not.”
For more on this principle of double effect, see: pages.drexel.edu/~cp28/docdble.htm
Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.