Ep 85. Maggie had some disagreements with Ethan about the way he handled an outreach conversation with a high schooler, and we're gonna talk about it! This episode is all about relationships in the context of abortion: do they matter? Do they not? We also talk about the way in which pro-lifers ought to use the question of whether you would be more sad about hitting a toddler or a squirrel, and lastly, we touch on the well-known pro-abortion argument about saving 100 embryos or 1 five year old. Come debrief with us!
Christopher Kaczor wrote a book called The Ethics of Abortion.
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Episode 86: Relationships Don't Change Your Value
Maggie: Do relationships change how valuable someone is. Let's talk about it. Come debrief with us.
Hello, I'm Maggie, and I'm here with Seth and Ethan and we are debriefing pro-life outreach. Ethan, do you have an outreach highlight?
Ethan: I do. It's a slightly unconventional outreach highlight. So a week ago, of when we're recording this, maybe not when you're hearing this, I was at a [00:01:00] town hall in Defiance, Ohio giving a presentation on abortion in conjunction with the Right to Life Action Coalition of Ohio.
And I got a question afterwards about what if young children see the signs of aborted babies? And so my, my response was, you know, our goal is not to show these pictures to young children. If young children see them, while that's not our intention, that also shouldn't stop us from showing these pictures to our target audiences.
And then they were also concerned about the images traumatizing children, which I told her from my experience, all the children who've seen the images have never been traumatized by them, and generally handle them better than most adults who I show them to. True. Children sort of intuitively know that there's something wrong with those images and have the appropriate response to them.
Seth: My children, when they've seen them, have often said, "baby," and just point, or, "broken," like they recognize something is wrong, right? Oh, yes. Yeah. Stephanie Gray [00:02:00] Connors always says it so well, and she answers this question so well when she says, what is worse, a child seeing an abortion image or child being an abortion image?
Whoa, that's pretty clear. I mean, not to say we should ought to just go shove them in every child's face. We don't go to elementary schools like you said, Ethan, but we are in a dangerous situation where if we censor these from the public square, more kids will become the abortion image that is far worse than some kids seeing them, I think.
Maggie: Yeah, definitely. And I think what Ethan just said about how most understand, just intuitively that it's wrong. That's why I think they do. It's good when they see them. Honestly, I know a lot of pro-lifers don't agree with me on that, but I don't know. I think it's valuable when we lean into that intuitive knowledge that this is wrong.
Seth: Well, as a parent, I have a lot of opportunities for teaching moments with my kids when they see people on the streets who are homeless or they see pictures on billboards, of kids starving in Africa. And so I can just be mad that those things are there or I can use it to teach my children, right? So I recognize that it's not someone else's job to come [00:03:00] educate my children, but those billboards should still be there trying to help kids in Africa, and my job shouldn't be to like get rid of them, but to use them for the right teaching moment. So again, we don't target kids. I, I agree with you, Maggie, that when kids do see it, it is actually a very valuable teaching moment for them, even though they're not our target audience.
Maggie: Yeah. Right. Well now we're going to talk about the clip that we have for this episode and get ready, y'all.
It's gonna be spicy.
Seth: I'm intrigued. Where are we going with this one?
Maggie: Not really. The reason I said that is because, this was Ethan's clip and I actually disagreed with how we handled this.
Seth: This is the first time won an episode. We've had a disagreement maybe in the room. It would be interesting.
Bring out the boxing gloves.
Maggie: I'm ready. Just kidding. It's not like that. It's not anything that serious and I was actually nervous, like, should we use this clip?
Seth: We don't always agree. It's good for people to know that, right?
Maggie: Yes. Yes it is. I think so. So, This was at a high school and as I was just telling them, this kid is so adorable.
[00:04:00] But anyway , that's totally unrelated.
Seth: Is that what you disagree upon? Yeah.
Ethan: Yeah. I thought he was pretty average.
Maggie: Yeah, let's listen to the clip and then we'll talk about it.
Ethan: Was a mistake. Is it okay to kill them?
Student: If I didn't know them. I mean, yeah, I wouldn't, I wouldn't feel nothing 'cause I don't know them.
Mm-hmm. But like, if I knew them, I'd be upset. Yeah.
Ethan: Yeah. Why?
Student: Because I know them. I built a relationship with them.
Ethan: Uh huh. But what are they, I mean, if they were just a dog, if somebody killed your dog versus somebody killing your friends, isn't there a difference?
Student: I mean, come here. Not really. Not really. I mean, a dog and a.
Ethan: So you would think that like killing is like so, so if somebody killed one of your friends, you would be upset, right? Yeah. If you had a dog and somebody killed your dog,
Student: I'd be upset.
Ethan: Would you be more upset about someone killing your dog though, than somebody killing your friend, your brother? Somebody like that?
Student: I mean, if it was like a brother or friend, I mean, I wouldn't be more upset about my dog. Right. But if I had my dog for years, [00:05:00] it's the thing about building relationships with someone. Mm-hmm. It's like the bond you have. That's what makes it sad, I guess. Uhhuh.
Seth: I'm fascinated. Where's the disagreement? You guys gotta debrief this for me right now.
I don't get it.
Maggie: Yeah, well maybe it was confusing 'cause right at the beginning I think he said something that made it sound like the relationship is what makes it wrong. Mm-hmm But I don't think that's actually what he meant. 'Cause later on he was saying like you, Ethan brought up the example of a dog.
Mm-hmm. And you were like, Is that any different? And he said, not really, but I think he was talking about like would it, would he be more sad? And he was saying not really. Would he be more sad about his dog dying versus someone else? I think you were asking would it be more wrong if a dog died .
Seth: I'm getting a little confused, I'm afraid.
Maggie: [00:06:00] So I think that Ethan was responding to what he thought the kid was saying,
Ethan: I think when, when I had this conversation - I don't remember it very well - okay. But I think at the end of the conversation, he was against abortion. Okay. Completely.
Seth: I'm sorry.
He ended against it or he began against it?
Ethan: He ended being against abortion completely. And when we were talking,
Seth: So whatever Ethan did changed his mind, Maggie. So conversation over.
Ethan: Yes, I win. When we had this conversation at this point, it was my impression that he was saying that basically how long you knew someone is , what gave them value or that.
I think it came down to he didn't really care about the babies being murdered through abortion because he didn't know them. Mm-hmm. It was kind of a, it doesn't affect me. So I think what I was trying to do that in this clip was basically align his feelings with right and wrong. So, mm-hmm. You should be upset by this [00:07:00] because it is wrong, and so trying to, I, I think that's what I was - trying to align his feelings with , what is right and wrong.
Seth: Do a reality check for him, like, yeah. Yeah. I think that's good. And I, I, when I was listening, so I only heard this clip, I didn't hear the whole conversation like you were in it and Maggie listened to it to find the clip for today. It did seem like he was arguing the bond is what matters. Right? So he would grieve his dog cause he knows his dog and loves his dog.
His friend or brother, it's personal to him. So, I guess to me it seemed like it was saying it's all about the relationship. Cause he said I, if I knew them I'd be upset cause I had, 'cause I know them, I have a relationship with them. Uhhuh. So Maggie, I'm maybe not quite grasping what you were saying you think he really was arguing? Cause it seems like to me it was arguing that relationships are what form the rightness or wrongness of killing someone. That's not what you were gathering from that.
Maggie: No, I think he was saying he would grieve more. Mm-hmm. If his dog died versus someone he didn't know. But I don't think he was saying it would be [00:08:00] not wrong for that person he didn't know, like mm-hmm. And I think I would agree with him that relationships are important , and impact how much we grieve. Sure. Yeah. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that., I do get sad when I hear about people I don't know dying. There's was a shooting , a month or so ago.
Mm-hmm. And I was very sad about that even though I didn't know any of those people personally. Although it hit a little bit more close to home. It was at a church, but, , Anyway, like I can be sad knowing that there are other people in the world dying and , just at the reality of death in general, that makes me sad.
Mm-hmm. And evil in the world. , but I'm not gonna be as sad about that , as if one of my family members died. And I think that that's good and right. I think this kid was saying that relationships impact how much we grieve.
Seth: Mm-hmm. So can we like pause there and, define what Ethan was talking about, that he was identifying feelings versus reality.
Our feelings can help point us to reality or they can point away from reality or they also reveal psychological facts [00:09:00] about us. Right? Yeah. So it is true what you were saying. I mean, my wife , if you were, she were to pass away versus any other woman in the world, I'm gonna grieve so much more for my wife than any other woman, right?
Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Because of our connection, the covenant of marriage and all of that, right? So that's right and fitting. It doesn't mean that it is more wrong for someone to kill her than another innocent woman, right? Yeah, exactly. So I recognize that difference there, and I, I think that is important for us to recognize that our feelings in that way can be helpful or sometimes not helpful, right? It's not more wrong to hurt my sister, brother, whatever, than your sister brother. It just affects me differently. So I recognize that difference. That is, I think, helpful. Just understanding that feelings are good, helpful guides, but not always. They don't always direct us toward what is true.
Yeah. Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Maggie: And exactly. I think that's what he was saying. Even though he would grieve more, he's not saying it would be. Like he still thinks it's wrong to intentionally kill innocent humans, I think. so one thing that I was thinking about as I was gathering notes for this clip, which honestly was a little while ago,
Seth: Your notes are just, Ethan's wrong, Ethan's wrong, [00:10:00] Ethan's wrong.
Maggie: I think you used the analogy, Ethan, that we often use of, if we hit a squirrel in the road, we might be sad about that, but wouldn't we be so much more sad about if we hit a toddler? Mm-hmm.
Seth: Well, I think that, again, jumping back to what Ethan was trying - his project here, was to attach reality to his feelings or make sense of his feelings, right?
Mm-hmm. It may be true that you, some people might feel more sad, honestly hitting a squirrel than a toddler either. Are those people out there that maybe have this messed up worldview? Right. But generally speaking, most probably would feel more sad about killing a toddler than a squirrel. Yeah. So, but that doesn't.
That's not the end of the conversation. Right? Right. Then you have to ask, why would you feel that way? Right. Because normally we say, I think that , regardless of how you feel, it is more wrong to have a hit and run with toddler than a hit and run with a squirrel , even if the toddler has severe mental disabilities, rendering him or her no more intelligent than the, than the squirrel. Right. It's irrelevant. It's still more wrong to hit the toddler than the squirrel. [00:11:00] Or it comes from Christopher Kaczor, his book, Ethics of Abortion. He says it's, clearly more wrong to eat a Harold Burger than a hamburger, even if Harold's no more intelligent than the average cow.
Mm-hmm. It's irrelevant 'cause humans are somehow different. . So we are saying that regardless of how you feel, even if you don't feel rightly, it is still more wrong to eat the human than eat the cattle. That's just a fact of reality. Right. So I think that's what Ethan's pointing to, right. Is that your point in this.
Ethan: Yeah, basically trying to, you know, he was saying he doesn't really care because he doesn't have a relationship with those people. But trying to point out that even instinctually he can see a difference, even if he doesn't feel anything, be between the wrongness of running over a squirrel or running over, you know, a child with Down syndrome, even though there might not be much intellectual difference in.
Cognitive ability, but there, like you're saying, there is something different about human beings than all other, , creatures.
Maggie: Mm-hmm. Yeah. [00:12:00] Okay. So here's one thing I was, I think trying to get at.
Seth: Okay. Fascinating. Let's go.
Maggie: I think pro-lifers. Sometimes use that question of which would you be more sad about?
Mm-hmm. Hitting a squirrel or a person, , to try to prove to the other person that they themselves see humans as more valuable when maybe they don't actually. Okay. And, and then I think that that analogy kind of falls flat. So I think that that's a good analogy to use, a good question to use, but it can be used incorrectly, which is, I think that's where my disagreement comes in.
I think maybe you used it incorrectly. Gotcha. And, and, I don't know. We can disagree about that still. Maybe you don't think you did.
Seth: What was the question? Did you ask, would you feel more sad about it or is it more wrong? Cause there's a clarification there. I didn't hear in the clip.
Maggie: Mm. Maybe it wasn't in the clip.
Do you remember?
Seth: You listened, I guess, most recently, right? Yeah. Yeah. Um, so I think that just my perspective would be, it's a fine question to ask so long as we, it's like when my leading question with people often is, how do you feel when you look at this picture? Mm-hmm. Right? That's a good leading question.
It's not the ultimate question. [00:13:00] The ultimate question is why do you feel that way?
Maggie: Right. Our feelings don't change the truth.
Seth: Right. Your instincts is, Ethan's saying you're getting using instincts, but moral instincts like the rest of us are fallen. Right? So they are, yeah. Not perfect guides. So it's good to ask leading question as long as you then get to the.
Principle bedrock moral idea behind it.
Ethan: Right. Don't leave it there.
Seth: So what did you do in the conversation? I didn't hear it, so
Ethan: I am trying to remember. Oh, no, what I did.
Seth: Okay. Well, so Maggie, so your charge against Ethan is, he didn't ask the question.
Maggie: I think the goal of the question, maybe in that conversation was to get the, the boy, his name was Jose, to prove.
Seth: To demonstrate that he agrees with Ethan already, that humans are, somehow humans matter in some sense.
Maggie: Yeah. That he really does care more about humans than any animal.
Seth: And your concern is a, a, a warning flag for all our pro-life listeners who may use that question. Yeah. And stop there. Or
Maggie: if your goal is to prove that someone cares more about humans, you might not achieve that goal.
Sure. Mm-hmm. , [00:14:00] but I don't think that that should be the goal of that question, even though that's a good question to ask.
Seth: I mean, I think that's true. , the other question I use, which is in the same conversation is two families, not enough food. One kills the family dog to feed the family. One kills the child to feed the dog. Which is more of a moral family? Right. Once in a while, I guess someone says, you know what, it's, it's fine to kill a kid to feed the dog. Almost not, it's not pretty rare, but I have heard that. So like crazy. Yeah. These questions are, you have to be prudent and these questions will not always work cause you're trying to tap into their moral compass, which, because we are fallen because of our experiences, , we make our twisted compasses even worse and we see our consciences - they're not always gonna work.
Yeah. So it's an art, it's not a science when it comes to dialogue. Mm-hmm.
Maggie: Yeah. Another. Example I think of that's very relevant in this conversation is when people ask us the question of would you save a hundred embryos, or one five year old kid. Yeah. Uh, and our answer to that is, is I think, , relevant to this conversation because [00:15:00] even if we would save the five year old, that has nothing to do with what is right or wrong.
Like mm-hmm. And maybe it wouldn't even be wrong to save the five year old because we know that that kid is more likely to survive. But either way, those are, they're all human beings, the embryos and the five year old.
Ethan: Right. What you decide to do in that moment, you're not making what you do does not change the value of mm-hmm.
Anyone in that room, whether it's the embryos or the five year old child.
Seth: Yeah, that's right. I mean, if my wife were here in the office and the office caught fire, Maggie, you're a cool, great colleague. I'm saving my wife over you like that. That's just my, because of who she is, right? That it has no, doesn't mean that you're a second class citizen at all, right?
It just, it reveals my attachment to her and my desire to protect and save her first, right? Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
Maggie: Yeah. So I think a good question to think about is why do we, and why should we grieve when people die? Is it because of our relationship to them, or is it because, they're a valuable human being or is it a mix of both?
Seth: Oh, what a great question. Thank you. Right. That's really [00:16:00] good because I, I think people who, who would view the world through, through a naturalistic, materialistic lens, everything is just physical. There's no spiritual nature, no body, no God nor whatever, all that. No soul. Mm-hmm. Why do they grieve? Right? I mean, like, We're just meat puppets walking around.
I think when they grieve, they recognize there's something lost there. There's a relationship there, there's a soul there. Something has been lost. So I think that there's many reasons we grieve and the first, I think our grief points to the fact there's more than just our physical bodies at play.
And that's a good thing. Mm-hmm. It responds to naturalism. So that's, that's not answering your question. I love the question for that reason.
Ethan: I don't know. I think it's a mix of both. What were your two?
Maggie: Should we, or do we grieve because. , valuable human beings died. Mm-hmm. Or because of our relationship to those humans?
Ethan: I think it's both. Yeah. In my opinion. Um, I think I agree. Yeah. Because we, I mean, we grieve more for those, we're closer to, because we have relationships with them, but I also think that we should be grieved when we [00:17:00] hear about atrocities that happen in other places that don't affect us where lives are taken.
Because as Christians, we have the view, the correct view that all humans are created in the image of God and because of that have value. And so it is horrible whenever innocent life is taken. Mm-hmm. ,
Seth: I would only add that I think it can also be the lack of a relationship. Like, imagine someone's father passes away, they're not close to him, he was abusive, whatever.
Yeah. , they might grieve what they never had. Yes. Rather than grieving what they did have. Yeah. So, yeah, I think it's absolutely a complex mix of these things.
Maggie: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. They might grieve that , they won't get the chance then to rebuild that relationship.
Ethan: I've, I've enjoyed this conversation because I think it points to something that needs to be done more often, which is
Seth: You proving Maggie wrong and you right?
Ethan: Yes. Proving Maggie wrong is very important. Send emails of other things Maggie's done wrong. B ut having conversations and debriefing, the conversations we have with people and discussing [00:18:00] tactics and what questions we should be asking and what our focus should be in our conversations because without criticism, without debriefing, we are never going to grow to be more effective in what we do. Mm-hmm. And I think mm-hmm. That's why these conversations are so important and it is so important to encourage good criticism and good disagreement.
Maggie: That's encouraging.
Seth: This is a safe space for disagreement.
Maggie: I need that safety. Yeah, I agree. I, I think it's definitely healthy for us to disagree, even if it means in front of the public. Mm-hmm. Sometimes, not always, .
Seth: Speaking of that public. Get us some five star reviews, Maggie.
Maggie: Yes! That's right. We have come to the end of this episode and we would love if you would go leave us a five star review and that would help us spread this podcast to more listeners. Come debrief with us again next week. [00:19:00]