Today, Scott & Sean discuss:

  • Duo euthanasia of the former Dutch Prime Minister Dries van Agt and his wife, Eugenie, and its implications for the euthanasia movement.
  • Critique of the soulmate model of romance, focusing on its sustainability and impact on marriages.
  • The shooting at Joel Osteen's church in Houston, discussing various aspects including the shooter's background and the debate on gun control.
  • The aftermath of the after school Satan clubs, highlighting the community's response.
  • Reflections on the "He Gets Us" campaign Super Bowl commercials, analyzing its messaging and cultural impact.
  • Listener questions on animal rights and surrogacy.

Episode Transcript

Sean: Former Netherlands Prime Minister and his wife died together by assisted suicide. Analyzing the soulmate model of romance, the shooting at Joel Osteen's church in Houston raises a lot of important questions and an update on the after school Satan clubs as well as reflections on the "He Gets Us" campaign Super Bowl commercials. These are the stories we'll discuss today on the Think Biblically weekly cultural update and we'll address some of the questions you have sent in. I'm your host Sean McDowell.

Scott: I'm your co-host Scott Rae.

Sean: And this is Think Biblically brought to you by Talbot School of Theology Biola University. Scott, let's jump right into this really fascinating and insightful story about the Netherlands Prime Minister and his wife dying together by assisted suicide. What happened and why is this so significant?

Scott: Well, the term that's being used for this is called "duo euthanasia." And this would be the equivalent I think if someone like former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara decided to end their lives together at the same time via doctor assisted euthanasia. It would be a national, international story just like this one was. Former Dutch Prime Minister Dries van Agt and his wife of 70 years Eugenie died together on Wednesday by physician-performed euthanasia. He was Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 1977 to 82. He founded a group, a pro-Palestinian group called the Rights Forum in the Netherlands served as the European Union Ambassador to the United States and Japan. He's an international statesman, widely respected in the country. Both of them were 93 at the time of their death. Both were in somewhat frail health though she, I think, was in slightly better health than him. And what seems to be the primary motivation was their desire to avoid future suffering, especially if one partner would precede the other in a natural death. Now, there are a number of interesting parts to this. First, the media presents this as this heartwarming story of this devoted husband and wife literally dying together holding hands as the euthanasia was being administered. So, I think, that there's just a lot more to this than what's there on the surface. For one, we shouldn't underestimate the impetus that this will give to the euthanasia movement around the world. It's already been accepted widely in the Netherlands, has been for some time, and this one is fully consensual. But this will provide in other countries in Europe that have been slower to adopt the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide and in other parts of the world outside of Europe and perhaps in some states in the United States and Canada, Australia. This will, I think, certainly provide the kind of public relations for the euthanasia movement that they have been desperately seeking.

Here's the part of the backstory, Sean, that I think is really important for our listeners to capture is that given the percentage of population that's over 65 in much of the west, you know, they they called the baby boomers are now being referred to as the geezer boomers. And the shrinking younger population and the health care expenses in the last year of life— the average person will spend roughly half of all the money they will spend on health care they'll spend half of it in the last year of their life when it will arguably do them the least amount of good. The pressure will continue to come for adopting euthanasia as the solution to the health care system simply not having the resources to take care of all the people who are going to need all the medical attention that they will in their declining years. And I think the pressure is already beginning to legalize things like non-voluntary euthanasia under certain conditions. And we know that in some countries in Europe, like in the Netherlands, data has shown that there's a significant percentage0—somewhere between 15 to 18 percent—of all deaths by euthanasia are done without the explicit consent of the patient.

Sean: Wow.

Scott: And so some people are openly suggesting in the UK and other places that for people who are, you know, over 65 or 70 and in declining health for them to get additional health care is wasting the health care resources when they could be more profitably used on younger generations. So, we're hearing some of these terms like “a duty to die” enter into the vocabulary and “a life that's not worth living.” Those were both characteristics of the Nazi euthanasia program. Now, to be fair, the Nazi euthanasia program never started with beneficent purposes. It didn't start at the slippery slope and go down. It started at the bottom and went down further.

Sean: That's fair.

Scott: But, I think, that's the big concern for me about the euthanasia movement. And the other thing that comes out of this is that in the in the argument for legalizing assisted suicide the argument from mercy and compassion is virtually not used anymore. And the reason for that is because medicine has gotten so good at alleviating pain and some forms of suffering at the end of life. Though, to be fair, I think we do need much better attention to the mental health and the suffering of people at the end of life. Surprise, surprise that when people get a diagnosis of a terminal illness they get pretty significantly depressed. And yet things like depression and anxiety are generally not treated in the elderly in the same way that they are for somebody who is younger. So, anyway those, I think, are just some reflections on that. Your thoughts on that?

Sean: Well I think a couple things. Number one, sometimes movements can go forward when somebody recognizable does this that puts a name on it. So, you're right to compare that to say Bush, you know, and Barbara would give so many people permission and almost view them as some kind of martyr so to speak. I think that's significant here. I think this shift is from a kind of moving in euthanasia from well it's a necessary evil, some people to avoid pain, to this is good and beautiful and a part of their love story is a different framing that is here. I think that's worth noticing. We've seen similar shifts when it comes to abortion from rare and, not often, Clinton said to like shout your abortion, this is a good thing. We are witnessing a similar shift here. The root of the question for me I mean I understand people who are 93 who don't want to experience pain. They've lived a full life together. They love each other. Like I hear this and I want to have some compassion for it. My questions are, you know. at the root of assisted suicide. It still is suicide and do we want doctors helping any patients to end their own lives when doctors are supposed to be preserving and saving life. That shift I think is problematic and I think we've also seen as a whole when people say well it's a slippery slope fallacy. We've gone from consensual to non-consensual. We've gone from adults to children. And so, this is just another moving forward of this movement that I think is very pivotal. And that's essentially how I see it.

Scott: There's another slide down the slope too from the condition for being a candidate having a diagnosable terminal illness with, you know, six months or less to live to now it's being patients with dementia. You know Alzheimer's, or, in many cases in the Netherlands and in Belgium it's just people who are tired of living and have just had enough. And I think I have great sympathy for this couple because of their desire to avoid what they perceive as the suffering that's coming. You know that's hard to argue with. But I think framing it you know the original categories under which euthanasia was legalized in Belgium and the Netherlands have been, in my view, fairly significantly expanded to where it's very available, virtually on request. Now, that's not true in every country.

Sean: Sure sure.

Scott: But the categories have been broadened significantly. And the other thing that comes with it too is that in parts of the world, not everywhere, but in parts of the world physicians are losing the rights of conscience that would allow them to opt out of participating in this. And hospitals are losing that in the you know the Catholic hospitals. You know I spent a lot of years consulting for Catholic hospitals. And they've essentially said you know if we are forced to participate in abortion or assisted suicide we will close our doors instead of participating in that. And I mean, to see Catholic health closing doors in the United States would be catastrophic.

Sean: Yes, it would.

Scott: For health care in the US not to mention in other parts of the world.

Sean: One more thought before we move on is that they noted that in 2020 there were 13 couples who died with duo euthanasia. In 2022, it was 29 couples and 58 people. So, they justified it by saying, well it's only a small percentage. Well you gotta start somewhere and it's increasing so you and I will track this. And see how much it grows in the Netherlands and potentially beyond.

Now, this next story was great because this is kind of the week of Valentine's Day. Love this article by Bradley Wilcox who's just a leading sociologist, first rate work on where he analyzes and critiques the soulmate model of romance. Tell us about that.

Scott: Well, I refer to this as a Valentine's Day buzzkill. But I think he's absolutely right about this and he has the data to support his views on this. He defines the soulmate view or the soulmate as that special person that gives you an intense emotional and erotic connection who makes you feel happy and fulfilled. And as another therapist put this, the soulmate is someone for whom you don't have to make major compromises and is easy to love who simply makes you happy and the person with whom you are destined to be together. That's sort of the idea behind it. And Wilcox claims that this is a myth and here's what the data indicates is that roughly 73 percent of Americans believe in the concept of a soulmate and 80 percent of Americans under 30 hold this view.

Sean: Amazing.

Scott: So, here's the issue that he raises and I think he's absolutely right about this. I think both of us can speak to this having been married for some time ourselves. The problem with this model is that it's unsustainable and that couples are often left disappointed by the realities of life and marriage in the real world. I mean, marriage is hard maintaining that level of sort of thrill and excitement and passion—it just doesn't last. In fact, I've encouraged my kids and our undergraduate students to be careful when you have that feeling of you know this is my soulmate, you know, that intense passion for someone because we tell them this the sooner that wears off the better for you to actually evaluate the relationship and where it goes. And neuroscientists have suggested that when that intensely romantic sort of you know an initial passion for someone all sorts of hormones in the brain are released and social psychologists tell us that that that functions somewhat like a drug and so the sooner that the effect of that wears off the more objective you can be about where the relationship is headed. Intense passion waxes and wanes over time and here's what Wilcox found in the data that he had that he put together. He had done surveys of people who had adopted more of a soulmate model as opposed to what he calls a family first model for marriage and family. And he said, essentially, couples who got married under the soulmate model are twice as likely to report that they were likely to divorce or were considering divorcing. So, there's, I mean, as one commentator put it, marriages have become more passionate and more fulfilling but they've also become more brittle at the same time. And I think Wilcox identifies—I think he's right about this that it places the bar just too high to be able to sustain that kind of passion over, you know, over a long term of a marriage.

Second issue I think he raises, and he doesn't quote the scripture but it's quite consistent with what Jesus taught about this, that happiness and self-fulfillment are much more likely to occur when the focus is not on the self but on things outside the self. You know Jesus put it like whoever wants to save his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospels will save it. And Solomon, I think, pointed this out vividly in Ecclesiastes chapter 2 where he goes through all these: I, me, my desires, my goals. my aspirations. And he concludes that ultimately at the end of the day it was vanity. So, I think there's really a lot to talk about and I don't doubt that some people have found their soulmate—and let me let me just say, by way of full disclosure, both Sean and I are very happily married to people that we've been connected to for a long time, who share, you know, share goals and values and spirituality. I just have a ton of things in common, but I don't think either of us would say—maybe I shouldn't speak for you on this—but the level of passion and excitement, you know, that sort of the things that release those hormones definitely comes and goes over time.

Sean: Sure.

Scott: You know, when we had young children in our home we were in survival mode most of the time and I think we didn't sleep normally for probably five years when our kids were young. And none of our kids slept through the night for over a year you know and we walked around like zombies for a long time and, let's just say, there just wasn't a lot of passion going on during that time. But we were united in the fact that we've committed ourselves to raising kids together. We'd committed to looking outside ourselves and finding our fulfillment outside of our own desires and goals and aspirations.

Sean: Scott that was a great summary. I think you really captured the heart of his research and I think I would point out that I think of the soulmate model is the movie The Notebook where there's just two individuals taken over by this passion these emotions and if they were not together they would miss, kind of the, exciting marrow of life so to speak and then they die with the same level of passion. Well, that movie left out all the middle where they actually had a family and they built a life together and they grew and so it worked because they left that middle out. I think a lot of this is just the cultural idea of just following your heart, doing what makes you happy. So, I imagine some people would say, yeah, if you don't love this person and they're not your soulmate divorce them. Divorce is good and then go find your soulmate. Well, the problem is, as it points out in this article, if your philosophy is to look for somebody that fills you with those emotions all the time you're going to keep getting married, disappointed, married, disappointed because it doesn't work that way. But if you say marriage is a commitment to sacrifice myself to another, build a life with somebody, there's a deeper meaning and contentment and happiness that comes and romance continues to be one important element of that but not the core of it and the only sustaining power. That's where I think this falls short. So, neither of us want to downplay the beauty of romance, the beauty of those emotions are wonderful that make a relationship come alive but the root of it is a commitment to love another person, build a life together, and that's what he says brings the deep meaning. And, of course, that's a deeply Christian idea there. So, anything else in this story?

Scott: Well, yeah, we don't want to mistake dessert for the main course

Sean: [laughs] There you go, okay.

Scott: You know, and I have a friend who some time ago told me that he'd be married for probably 20 years and he said I just experienced my worst nightmare. He said I met my soulmate and it's not my wife.

Sean: Wow.

Scott: And it really, I mean—now I commend him because he's stayed married and he stayed with his wife. But it rocked his world to recognize that he could have that deep romantic feeling for somebody else who he was not married to.

Sean: Well ideas have consequences and Jesus got it right when it says seek ye, first the kingdom of god loving others then these things shall be added unto you. And I think the soulmate model in some ways gets that backwards.

Let's shift to another story that's been talked about a lot and there's so many angles to this shooting at Lakewood, Joel Osteen's church, in Houston. Let me lay out a few things that happened and give some commentary. So, a biological woman went in, in her 30s, she had a .22 and she also had an AR-15. And in the afternoon, I think before the spanish service, she started shooting up, so to speak, and her seven-year-old son was shot and hurt. We don't know if that came from her or some of the off-duty police officers on site. A 57 year old man was hit but he's in stable condition. She was shot and killed by some off-duty police officers who were there, obviously armed. Now, there's a bunch of angles to this we could spend a whole show on but a couple comments that I want to weigh in on. One of them is interesting is that this woman also went by male names in the past, which I think is very interesting, she had gone by the name Jeffrey. And so there seemed to be some stories that came out very quickly from people who tend to be on the right saying this is a trans shooter. Now, what's come back is she's seemingly—and again this story could change if they find something hidden on social media if they find an email—but it seems like that was an alias and she continued to identify as female and was not transgender so it seems like some people got ahead of themselves and started claiming this is a transgender. So it seems that some people got ahead of themselves and started claiming this is a transgender shooting, this is a larger pattern, when that might not be the case.

Now I understand the reason to do that because so many—whoever can frame a story first can really shape it in people's minds and there have been some false narratives like, for example, you might recall the story back in 1998 the murder of Matthew Shephard. Now one of my friends who identifies as gay, when I asked him, I said, tell me about the kind of persecution that gay people experience. Immediately he went to this Matthew Shephard story and it shaped a long time that because of their sexuality gay people are uniquely targeted and harmed because of this. Well it turns out that that actually is a fable that doesn't match up with the facts. John Stone Stree wrote in a Breakpoint, he said the real story Matthew Shepherd is anything but clear and cut and dried. In 2014, after more than a decade of research in the incident a gay journalist named Stephen Hamennis released a book that revealed that Shepherd had a long history of drug use. He had been selling crystal meth at the time of his murder, he engaged in prostitution, sexual relationships, it seems that he went to this house searching for drug money, in other words, his sexuality seemed to have nothing to do with it. So, I understand why people want to say, hey let's look at the person's sexuality like the shooter in Nashville was a transgender male, a biological female. So, I understand the instinct to say as we look at this, let's not leave out sexuality, see if this is a piece of it, as well as other things. But you've also got to be careful before rushing ahead of yourself and painting something that may not be true and it seems, again, this story if more information comes out seems there could be more to it. So, just because one side has framed a story falsely doesn't mean jump out and do so. Let's try to get the facts first and then approach it accordingly. Before we move on to kind of the gun control component of this and the anti-semitism piece, do you have any thoughts on that that idea?

Scott: Well, I think it's important that we don't rush to judgment before we have all the facts and there may be some things that we may have difficulty finding out. So, I think, regardless of the person's sexuality this is a tragedy.

Sean: Absolutely.

Scott: You know and were it not for some off-duty policemen who were armed this could have been much, much, much worse. So, I commend the off-duty police officers who stopped it and I don't, again, know how her son was injured. My guess is he probably got caught in some sort of crossfire—

Sean: Yeah.

Scott” —put him in the wrong wrong place at the wrong time. And so, you know, this is not the only shooting that's in the news this week. I’m reminded of the shootings at the end of the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl parade. In the same types of things, places that we thought were going to be safe were churches, things like celebratory parades, and things like that turned out not so much. And as I've reflected on this, just sort of one thought on this, you know—like most followers of Jesus I’m looking forward to the Lord's return but I don't think about it all that much. Now, maybe I would think about it more if i lived in the first century Roman Empire—

Sean: Yeah.

Scott: If my family members were being killed for their faith or if I lived during a time in history when, as Thomas Hobbes put it, life was “nasty, brutish and short.” Maybe I would but things like these shootings awaken my longing for His return. Because when the Lord returns things are going to be set right, wrongs are going to be righted, we have a proper ordering of society, you know, characterized by justice that's put into place and so things like this just awaken my longing. And makes it more intense, my longing to see the Lord return.

Sean: Amen.

Scott: —and to put things right.

Sean: Amen. I think that's so well said and an important biblical perspective to bring. Now there's a couple other things in this story I think we should comment on. One is that this individual had a history of mental illness, a string of arrests spanning nearly two decades, and a family member who had previously sought help from authorities to prevent her from accessing weapons. Her former mother-in-law alleged the family had repeatedly attempted to get help from both law enforcement and Child Protective Services to help avert a tragedy such as the one that unfolded this week. She had a documented mental health history and had been placed under emergency detention orders by Houston police officers in 2016. So, some people said, wait a minute, why is it so easy to access guns? And I think there's something fair there. I think there's two parts of the story. Number one, is why should somebody with such a background that a family calls out be able to go purchase a gun? That's a fair question, it seems like story after story there were red flags that were clearly there. We saw that in the shooting that you and Rick talked about a couple weeks ago, clear red flags that were ignored, that's a piece of this. On the other hand, what's left out of so many of these mainstream articles is what stopped this is armed police officers in the church itself. Now, this is not true in California but when I speak in Oklahoma and places like Texas sometimes there's signs on the door—I forget the wording of the churches—that say things like people are armed here. That makes me feel a lot better, number one, if somebody's a shooter they're going to see that and think well I'm less likely to go here. And number two, if something happens I, personally speaking for myself, like the idea of people who were in the military and who were trained and police officers ready and armed in case. So, I think both of those are a piece of the story that cannot be ignored when we talk about gun control.

Scott: Yeah, I think by contrast to when I see a sign that says this is a gun-free zone I tend to feel a little less safe.

Sean: I agree.

Scott: Yeah, and I think some states actually have what are called red flag laws which enable the police to come and then search for weapons, confiscate weapons in the event that clear red flags are raised about a person's mental state. I might add, too, that this woman's neighbors reported, you know ,on several occasions being afraid of her having confrontations with her. One of the neighbors was quoted as saying, you know, it's like living in hell next door to her. So, I think there were clear mental health indications that probably were not taken seriously enough by law enforcement.

Sean: I agree there's mental health things. It's interesting she also was posting on social media that I take my child to art and she was framing this narrative as if she's a good mom which tells me she was aware enough of certain elements and tried to hide them. Not a psychologist but these are fair questions we need to get to the bottom of, and then there's this anti-Semitic piece where there was the sticker of a kind of the Palestinian flag sticker on the gun. Now that alone would make me think I don't know where she got the gun, why, what that means, like you can't read that into it. Pro-Palestine doesn't necessarily mean pro-Hamas, there's so many ways to nuance this. But two of her neighbors specifically said that she made Nazi salutes for several years, she would have her guns and do “hail Hitler” kind of comments. So, I think as this unfolds there's a lot of questions we need to ask and really lean in, and I hope people will feel free to ask these questions about all the elements we brought up and follow the truth wherever it leads. We need to find out and set some of our political ideologies aside and find out how to stop this. Anything else before we keep going?

Scott: No, I hear you got a couple of, too.

Sean: All right, so here's one that's really interesting and I wanted to read about the after school Satan club. So, we talked about this not long ago, I think it was a couple weeks ago, and I got a text from a mother that's involved there, i'll keep it vague, and says this: quick update on the satan club, there are a number of women who just prayed and one of these ladies was at the school and she said only the mom who brought the club to the campus was there with her two little kids and six adult leaders from the Satan group. In other words, given all the press on this, given all the concern that people raised, literally the mom and the two kids is all that showed up. So, I think there's a couple takeaways from this. You and I suggested that this thing was going to fade and fizzle over time, I think this is a pretty good sign that it's going to. A second, if there are some people Christians who just responded really hatefully, maybe it's time to call up and give somebody an apology and say, I overreacted; I'm sorry; Christians shouldn't respond this way. And I also wonder, I don't know anything about this individual mom, but I know a lot of people that reach out to these and start these clubs have experienced religious trauma. And so I just hope some moms in that specific community and others would just reach out and love on this mom and build a relationship with her and care for her, if that's the case, again, I don't know the particular here, don't want to speak out of my lane but I know that's often the case. So, I hope people just reach out and love her in Christian love in this community.

Scott: Good word, I'd say it's time for our better angels to come out.

Scott: Amen to that. So, one other update, you and I did an interview just recently before the “He Gets Us” super bowl commercial campaigns about the “He Gets Us” ones. And I think it was really helpful to hear Ed Stetzer articulate the way the campaign is thinking. I think the goal was to help educate our listeners, but he was also clear that he was just an advisor to the campaign, not the person behind creating it. Now, I want to just give my two cents, and I only speak for myself. I think some of the images in the campaign were moving and I'm talking specifically about the commercial of washing the feet. So, the girl sitting down, presumably with her drugged out mom, holding her with the sound was such a moving, powerful image of love—so I loved that. I have a lot of concerns about it, one of them was you see the wording at the end of of the campaign it says: Jesus didn't teach hate. Well, no, he didn't teach hate, he taught love. But there's a cultural understanding of what love and hate are that I think could be seeping itself into the way this commercial was framed or at least people would bring those presuppositions to their campaign and read it through that lens. So, there's one image of somebody at a family planning care clinic and you see in the background behind people who were protesting and then a lady, who is presumably protesting, is washing the feet of maybe a girl who went into the family planning clinic. Well, I love the idea of washing feet. I love the idea in the campaign of people who are at odds against one another showing kindness and love and humanity to others. But is it sending the message that if you protest against or stand firmly against a family planning clinic, which presumably does abortion, which is taking the life of an innocent human being—then you're acting in hate. Because culturally love often means affirmation, it means not judging. Jesus found a way to love his enemies and he called us to do that. But he also made strong judgments and stood for truth and didn't hold back there. That confusion in people's minds, that was one of things that stood out that gives me some concern about the campaign. I have others, but that's one that I think we need to note what cultural assumptions are people bringing to this and is this really what Jesus meant by washing feet? It wasn’t about politics, it wasn't just about unity. I think there's a different message when you look in the gospel of John so, amongst others, that's one of my concerns I just wanted to highlight to our listeners and viewers.

Scott: All right, let's answer some questions.

Sean: All right, let's do it. So let's jump into some of these and I’m going to throw a couple of these to you and then let's see what you got to say. So, this first one is regarding our interview on animal rights and Peter Singer and this person says, he sees, referring to Singer, animals in cages and assumes they are suffering because such conditions would cause suffering for humans. Can't we question that comparison given what he's shared above and talks about how many barns are used in a, I don't know if i'd say human way but a humane way towards animals, and then, second, doesn't his promotion of human infanticide disqualify him from speaking on ethical issues including human rights? Your thoughts, Scott.

Scott: Well, I commend our listeners who brought these questions because they point out that they are lots of christian farmers who steward creation well, who treat animals humanely. They point out that animals produce the best when they are safe and comfortable and when they're flourishing. And farmers know what the conditions are that are necessary for animals to flourish. So, I think perhaps this person may be right that Singer sees some scenarios where animals are in cages and assumes that they're suffering. Maybe not because they would cause suffering for humans but because there are conditions that have signals to them that animals are suffering, too. But I think the premise generally is right that this can be done humanely, and when it's done so we commend that as consistent with a Christian view of stewardship. I think there are places around the world where animals are not treated that way. Singer has made some observations from other parts of the world that may not have the kinds of regulations that we have in this country and I think it's probably both of these are true at the same time. I think there are lots of instances where animals are treated humanely, not just killed humanely, but treated humanely throughout their lifetimes. But I think there's also lots of instances where they are not and I think that's the part that Singer is concerned about and even though he's not coming to this from a biblical perspective we would say the scripture speaks to that, too. Under the mosaic law animals were also given a Sabbath day and the law was concerned with treating animals humanely.

Now, his promotion of infanticide, although that's the position that we both would take issue with, I’m not sure that disqualifies him from speaking on other ethical issues. I think animal rights and and abortion and infanticide are two quite separate issues and so I don't see any necessary connection between his view on infanticide and his views on animal rights. I don’t think he's being inconsistent with his views of animal rights, particularly if there is suffering given. Though his views on human infanticide do assume a position that you don't have a person until well into maybe the first or second year of life. Not just a few weeks, but to have to be able to to exhibit the kinds of qualities necessary to qualify to be a person, usually doesn't happen right after a child is born. So, anyway that'd be my take on it. Do you see that differently?

Sean: No, I think that's great. I’m with you. I think the only thing I would point out here is that O just want to be careful, given how much we disagree with his view on infanticide, not using that to not take seriously his arguments on animal rights and judge them on their own merits. So, we just have to avoid making an ad hominem argument or genetic fallacy and considers arguments even if he were being inconsistent even if he has a position about infanticide that you and I find not only wrong but morally repugnant. We still have to take his arguments as they are. That's it, so great answer. Let's do one more and by the way you and I have some pretty smart listeners here with great questions. It's awesome, I love it. Let's do one more, and we apologize to those we cannot get to all the questions that are asked but we're doing our best. This person writes in he says, I'd like to ask for clarification about surrogacy. You mentioned on the January 26th episode that not all children must be conceived through sexual relations but I wonder which circumstances warrant this exception. As believers we ought to value life, and so here's my question, does all life really begin at conception? If so, I should not get to decide which embryos to keep and which to discard, regardless of which are deemed viable. And second, what rights does a child have? We believe that children have not only a right to life but also the right to a biological mother and father, specifically the mother who carries them, considering the mother-child attachment that takes place in the womb surrogacy disrupts that attachment of birth. So basically, does all life really begin at conception and what rights does a child have? Go.

Scott: Well, I think our listener here is absolutely correct in what she says. She really answers her own question. Yes, all human life, and not just human life, but human personhood begins at conception. And, if so, you should not get to decide which embryos to keep and which to discard. I think that's right. I think every embryo that's created in an in vitro fertilization lab deserves an opportunity to be implanted in the womb. Second, what rights does a child have? Children not only have the rights to life, that's true, but a right to a biological mother and father I think that's right, unless the bio mom and dad are somehow unfit to be parents but specifically the mother that carries them. Now, I think that the mother-child attachment is really important. There's a lot of stuff that takes place that's formative for the child in the womb in terms of not just physically but also in terms of their emotional, psychological health. Surrogacy does disrupt that attachment at birth, I agree. I don't think that's not one of the merits of surrogacy. Surrogacy also encourages or provides an incentive for the surrogate caring to carry the child to actually distance themselves emotionally from the child that they're carrying at birth. If they get attached to the child it makes it that much harder to give up the child when it comes time to fulfill the surrogate's end of the contract. Now, just the one question, I want to clarify I don't believe that all children must be conceived through sexual relations. I don't think there's anything intrinsically wrong with conceiving a child outside the womb. Now, there's certain conditions within vitro fertilization that have to be met. Like, every embryo created in the lab gets a shot at life and you don't do selective termination of fetuses once they are implanted in the womb. But infertility is the result of the general entrance of sin into the world, it's not the way God intended things, and so, a number of reproductive technologies aim to treat infertility. Although, invitro fertilization actually makes it in run around infertility, doesn't treat anything in that sense but it's in that sense it's parallel to something like kidney dialysis. Which doesn't fix anything it just doesn't end run around defective kidneys. So, I think as long as certain conditions are met I would say not all children must be conceived through normal sexual relations in marriage.

Sean: Now, Scott, this will take us far aside what we can cover here but I think we've surfaced an issue in which you and I see differently. I actually would take moral issue in principle with in vitro fertilization and I think I would take more of what's considered a Catholic position and this has nothing to do with other kind of Catholic theology but more of a theology of the body and some of the reasons I take issue with surrogacy, bringing in a third party, moving away from God's design and intent for creation. I think IVF, arguably, is in that same line and I think that's why we've seen some abuses. Obviously, you have a comeback, this is a huge conversation itself.

Scott: Well, I'll just clarify one just. I only believe that IVF is legitimate when it's the gametes of husband and wife. I don't allow for donors.

Sean: Fair enough and I think our differences, it is okay to conceive a child outside of God's intended pattern of man and woman, internally inside the woman, that's where you and I are going to differ, that's a discussion for another time. But I want our listeners to know that these are the kinds of issues we talk about over lunch and there's some issues we agree on, sometimes you differ and maybe we'll revisit this one in due time. Well Scott, fascinating stories, great questions from our listeners, folks, keep them coming. You can email us with suggested topics with your questions, that's Make sure you hit subscribe if you enjoy this, please consider sharing it with a friend and if you thought about studying theology on campus or distance we would love to have you with us at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. We'll see you next time.