The Briefing, Thursday, November 15, 2012

TODAY: Social engineering in Sweden means toddlers can’t say “him” and “her” / France debates same-sex marriage, eliminates “mother” and “father” / Turkey’s Islamist turn, ten years later. I discuss all these and more in today’s edition of The Briefing: A Daily Analysis of News and Events from a Christian Worldview.

1. Just “Friends” — No More Gender References for Swedish Toddlers

Social engineering is usually the legacy of a revolution. In revolutionary France, aristocratic titles were out, and the French were told to refer to each other as merely “citizen.” In the USSR and other communist states, the revolution’s new title for all was “comrade.” Now, the Swedes are teaching their children to call each other simply “friend.”

As The New York Times reports, the words “him” and “her” are out at Nicolaigarden, a tax-payer financed preschool in Stockholm.

Here is how reporter John Tagliabue opens the story:

“At an ocher-color preschool along a lane in Stockholm’s Old Town, the teachers avoid the pronouns ‘him’ and ‘her,’ instead calling their 115 toddlers simply ‘friends.’ Masculine and feminine references are taboo, often replaced by the pronoun ‘hen,’ an artificial and genderless word that most Swedes avoid but is popular in some gay and feminist circles.”


“In the little library, with its throw pillows where children sit to be read to, there are few classic fairy tales, like ‘Cinderella’ or ‘Snow White,’ with their heavy male and female stereotypes, but there are many stories that deal with single parents, adopted children or same-sex couples.”

Children barely old enough to walk are being raised without gender roles and the language that makes any distinction between boys and girls. The paper refers to the school as “perhaps one of the more compelling examples of the country’s efforts to blur gender lines.” That looks like an understatement.

This article raises a host of questions. Will these children continue to use “hen”  when they can speak for themselves and choose their own words? Once again, there is evidence that many efforts like this fail due to the resilience of gender instincts.

On the other hand, the history of the twentieth century reveals that some efforts at social engineering on this scale can truly change societies and history. For those of us who believe that gender is part of the inherent goodness of God’s creation, this is a troubling story indeed.

2. France Moves toward Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage

In France, the nation’s cabinet has approved draft legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage. The French legalized civil partnerships to same-sex couples in 1999, granting almost all the rights of marriage.

Even so, the government is facing significant opposition. Given the current political shape of France, however, the government is expected to advance the proposal.

In preparation for this move, the draft legislation removes the words “mother” and “father” and has replaced them with “parent.”

Language is one of the most important building blocks of civilization and culture. Ponder for a moment the scale of the moral revolution represented by the elimination of him and her and the exchange of parent for mother and father. These are not small distinctions, to say the least.

Two additional issues should be kept in mind. First, if France approves this legislation, it would become only the 12th nation to do so. The advocates of same-sex marriage argue incessantly that legalization is the wave of history. They may be proved right, but the fact that France would be only the 12th nation to legalize gay marriage should give us some pause.

Second, we should note that the nations that have legalized same-sex marriage also tend to be the most secularized. This is not a coincidence.

3. Turkey’s Ominous Islamist Turn

Ten years ago, the government headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan took office in Turkey. This was the first Islamist government to head Turkey in generations. For Turkey, the twentieth century began with Istanbul serving as the capital city of the Ottoman Empire. After the fall of that Muslim empire, the big story was the creation of a modern, new, secularized Turkey under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Since then, Turkey has joined NATO and sought membership in the European Union. Now, ten years after Erdogan came to power, there are signs that he will attempt to be elected president, with broad new powers.

This is a very worrisome development. For most of the twentieth century, it was thought that dialectical materialism and Marxist Communism would be the great rival worldview to Christianity. All that changed in recent years, and we are now staring into the context of the medieval world, with Islam representing that challenge once again.

I discuss all these and more in today’s edition of The Briefing: A Daily Analysis of News and Events from a Christian Worldview. Listen here.

The Briefing 11-15-12

Links to all articles cited also provided.