The Briefing 10-08-14

The Briefing 10-08-14

The Briefing


October 8, 2014

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


It’s Wednesday, October 8, 2014.  I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

1) Protests over fate of Ebola-infected nurse’s dog reveals drastic worldview confusion

Concerns over the spread of the Ebola virus into Western nations dramatically increased this week with news that a nursing assistant in Spain had contracted the disease in Spain. This is an altogether different situation that is faced in the state of Texas, at least at present, where a man who had come from West Africa later developed symptoms of the disease. That patient in Texas is now clinging to life, kept alive by a respirator and kidney dialysis, and his situation has been downgraded to extremely critical condition. But the nursing assistant in Spain is an altogether new development; she caught the disease after taking care of a priest who had been carried to Spain after contracting the virus in West Africa. And furthermore, this comes even as all the assurances had been given that in modern Western nations, including Spain, the kinds of public health precautions that might be expected would’ve prevented the spread of the disease. But clearly it did not, and this is leading to a sense of almost panic among health workers not only in Spain, but elsewhere.

CBS News reported that the nursing assistant

“…Highlighted the dangers that health care workers face caring for Ebola patients – officials said she had changed a diaper for the priest and collected material from his room after he died [of the disease]. Dead Ebola victims are highly infectious and in West Africa their bodies are collected by workers in hazmat outfits.”

But if that’s true in West Africa now, why wasn’t it true in Spain? And how is it that Spain, with a much respected public health network, found itself in the position of having a transmission of the Ebola virus take place not only in healthcare facility, but to a healthcare worker? Public health authorities in Spain are now scrambling to respond to the situation. The woman’s husband has been placed in quarantine inside a hospital and as CBS News reports,

“By Tuesday, authorities had gotten in touch with 22 people – including relatives and personnel at the hospital [located in a suburb of Madrid] where she went early Monday with a fever. They were also[reported to be] monitoring about 30 other members of the health care team that treated Manuel Garcia Viejo, the priest who returned from Sierra Leone and died of the disease.”

CBS also quoted Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University, who said

“The nursing assistant’s illness illustrates that health care workers are at risk even in more sophisticated medical centers of Europe and the United States, ‘At greatest risk in all Ebola outbreaks are health care workers,’”

In the United States the Obama Administration is also scrambling to respond, even as the administration deals with several simultaneous crises. Federal aviation officials and officials with the United States Coast Guard indicated that there will be increased screenings for vessels and airlines coming in the United States. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said however that a travel ban from the affected nations is not currently under consideration, instead President Obama and the federal government would be – according to the spokesman –

“working on protocols to do additional passenger screening both at the source and here in the United States.”

As CBS noted, he did not outline any details.

But the worldview significance of this particular news story also points to a very unexpected development that has to do not what this nursing assistant, nor with her husband, but with their dog – a 12 year old dog who Spanish officials said would be euthanized in order to limit the possibility of any transmission to other human beings through the dog. And that has led, as the Wall Street Journal says, to an outcry among Spaniards and to the fact that the nursing assistant’s husband has launched a public effort to try to prevent the euthanization of the dog. As the Wall Street Journal reports,

“The outpouring of solidarity for [the dog named] Excalibur is part of Spaniards’ growing concern for the plight of animals, …[that according to] Silvia Barquero, a spokeswoman for Partido Pacma, a political party focused on animal rights. Catalonia, a wealthy region of northeastern Spain, banned bullfighting three years ago.”

And the Wall Street Journal says that the animal rights movement is now concentrating on Excalibur as its current cause.

“My country is advancing hugely in our concern for animals, and this makes me so proud,”

Once again those comments came from Silvia Barquero of the Partido Pacma political party focused on animal rights. She said that as she was standing with a throng of fellow protesters outside the house of the nursing assistant and her husband.

“This never would have happened 10 years ago.”

That’s probably absolutely true, not only would it not have happened 10 years ago, it wouldn’t have happened in any previous epic of human history. What we’re looking at here is a huge worldview confusion where people are confusing the life of an animal for the life of human beings. We’re not talking about some kind of hypothetical threat here, we’re looking at the very real and shocking reality that a nursing assistant working in a highly sophisticated medical center nonetheless contracted the deadly Ebola virus from a patient or from a corpse. We’re also looking at the fact that the public health guidelines have broken down. But perhaps most alarmingly, we’re looking at the fact that many Spaniards, including this major political party, are focusing on the right of the animal rather than on the public health crisis.

The Christian worldview rooted in Scripture dignifies the life of animals; understanding that they are not, like human beings, merely accidents of some kind of evolutionary process, rather the Bible indicates that God created them for His glory and furthermore not only God, but His human creatures are to delight in these animals. Thus, Christians should stand in solidarity with anyone who opposes the abuse or misuse of animals – but that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about, in this case, a profound worldview confusion; a confusion about the worth of a human being versus the worth of an animal. And we’re looking at the fact that the very real threat of an outbreak of the Ebola virus that has already killed thousands of people in Africa and now has infected at least one nursing assistant there in Spain, it threatens to spread. And public health authorities are simply in Spain responding to the obvious, if this dog could be a means of transmitting the disease, public health considerations in light of the very real threat to human life, must lead to the fact that the dog should be euthanized and the threat removed. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of this story is the fact that the man who is leading the effort to save the dog is the husband of the nursing assistant who has contracted the deadly disease. The fact that this dog is now making headline news around the world is indication of a horrifying worldview confusion.

2) Significance of midterm elections underlined by radical abortion view of CO Senator Udall

In terms of worldview issues, they are always clearly on display in a major electoral contests. And this year’s midterm elections, especially with the United States Senate hanging in the balance, is certainly no exception. And that’s why last night’s Senatorial debate in Colorado is a focus of particular interest. Last night in Colorado the incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Udall was asked a question:

“We know that you support a woman’s right to choose, but given the advances in scientific understanding of fetal development, where pregnant mothers know at which week babies grow fingernails and can swallow, would you support a ban on late-term abortions and if so at what week?”

Senator Udall, who has become emblematic in the national media of the Democratic Party’s new effort to reach out to women voters, largely by an unembarrassed affirmation of abortion rights, Senator Udall responded by citing the case of a woman he knew who had a medical emergency in the eighth month of pregnancy. And as he stated,

“We ought to respect the women of Colorado and their point of view,”

What the senator did not say is consistent with what he has refused to say in every other point, and it is also consistent with his voting record. He refused to say that he would oppose any abortion, at any point, for any reason. As John McCormack of the Weekly Standard explained,

“Udall gave no indication that he supports any legal limits on aborting healthy infants late in pregnancy or any other restrictions on abortion,”

This is an issue to keep very much in focus as the midterm elections now loom before us in less than a month, coming on November 4. Because what we’re watching is a radicalization of the abortion-rights argument. And we’re also watching what we commented on from news stories in the New York Times and elsewhere, that many Democratic senators or Senatorial candidates are now taking very radical positions. Recall that just several years ago when the partial-birth abortion ban act was adopted, that even a good number of Democrats voted with Republicans to pass that legislation. Legislation that outlawed one of the most heinous and horrific surgical procedures imaginable – the murder of a child at the very point of birth when part of the child is left in the birth canal so that the murder could take place and it still be considered an abortion. As the late Democratic Senator from New York, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, said in that debate, “The partial-birth abortion procedure is not something that is close to infanticide, it is infanticide.” And yet, now we have several incumbent Democratic senators and a considerable number of Democratic Senatorial candidates who are also now opposed even to any ban on partial-birth abortion or on late-term abortions; abortions clearly taking place after the point of viability when the baby could thrive and live outside the womb.

The radicalization of this pro-abortion position is one of the saddest developments in our recent political history. But it affirms the fact that this isn’t just our political history, this is also our moral experience. It is pointing to the kind of nation we will become, a nation in which it will inevitably, given the fact that Americans have an opportunity to vote, it will inevitably be a place where it is either safer to be in the womb or more dangerous to be in the womb. And when it comes to Senator Udall in the debate just last night in Colorado, it is clear that the voters of that state have been put on notice that in Senator Udall’s America, the womb is an exceedingly deadly place to be; from the beginning of pregnancy to the very end.

3) Instructing teens on ‘sexual etiquette’ for sexting poor substitute for morality

Next, researchers in Texas looking at teens have found that adolescents who are involved in the practice of ‘sexting’ – that is sending sexually explicit text messages, usually by smart phones – are usually doing so as a precursor to actually having sex; as if you needed researchers to tell you that. But the research project is gaining attention all over the world. One headline news story that appeared in a British newspaper, the Independent, indicates that sexting is becoming a new first step to sexual activity for adolescents. The research was conducted in Texas and it found that sexting, defined as sending sexually explicit pictures or asking to receive one, is becoming part of growing up for some teenagers before they become sexually active. The researchers also found that some of the teens who were involved in sexting do not quickly become involved in sexual activity – but those who do are far more likely than those who don’t, quickly to find themselves involved in sexual activities.

The research is published in the current edition of Pediatrics, a major respected medical journal in the United States. One of the researchers told the Washington Post,

“Sexting preceded sexual behavior in many cases, the theory behind that is sexting may act as a gateway or prelude to sexual behaviors or increases the acceptance of going to the next level. This behavior isn’t always new, it’s just a new medium. But it’s not safe because it can be shared.”

Well once again, if you need a research project to tell you that, you’re probably not very aware in the first place. But the fact that the research was undertaken is important, and the fact that it was published in the journal Pediatrics makes it even more important. But the worldview revealed in the research by the researchers is absolutely jaw-dropping. One of the researchers in this case is Josh Temple, an associate professor and psychologist the University of Texas medical branch at Galveston, said that the research is a “call to arms to talk to your kid about sexual health or behavior. I think the really cool thing about this study in answering the question of what comes first is … this could hold the key to prevention programs.”

Of course that raises the question, the prevention of what? The researchers don’t seem to be too concerned about teenagers involved in sexual activity. They’re concerned about what they define as ‘premature sexual activity.’ And sexting they say is not so much a problem in itself – the morality of sexting doesn’t even feature in the research – but rather it serves as something of an early warning system that a teenager might soon become sexually active. And it is at that point that the new sexual revolutionaries jump in the deep end of the pool. Amanda Marcotte writing at says

“Sexting is, in the end, just another form of flirting, and flirting has always been something that can and does lead to sexual activity.”

She says that parents shouldn’t be too concerned or hung up about this because their kids are going to sext and they are going to have sex. Parents should just be involved in conversations with their adolescent, she says, in order to make sure that they do so responsibly. She then turns, as an ally in her cause to none other than Professor Temple, one of the authors of the study. As she writes,

“Sure, as Temple admits, there are dangers, particularly around the ongoing problem of young people, mostly young men, using nude photos to publicly humiliate young women. But instead of combating this by telling kids simply not to sext, Temple recommends that parents ‘need to talk about it as something they’re going to want to do and present both sides, and give adolescents more credit than they are typically given.’”

Marcotte then says,

“After all, there are plenty of teenage boys who aren’t predators and can handle the responsibility of sexting without violating a girl’s boundaries—and there could be more if adults bothered to talk to them about the etiquette of sexting without getting judgmental about the fact that kids are going to explore.”


Well here you meet one of the sexual revolutionaries at full speed. She says that parents shouldn’t be talking in morally judgmental turns to their teenagers; they should instead understand that adolescents are going to sext. And then she has the audacity to suggest that what parents really need to be involved with when it comes to talking with their kids is the suggestion that they teach them – I’m going to use her very words – “the etiquette of sexting without getting judgmental.”

This is one of the most recent hallmarks of our moral insanity. Here you have someone arguing that what American parents should simply do is understand that teenagers are going to sext; they’re going to be sending sexually explicit text messages. And instead of being judgmental and suggesting that their kids ought not to do such a thing, much less suggesting that sexting is wrong – morally wrong – rather parents should avoid any judgmental-ism, and instead help their kids to sext following a proper sexting etiquette. But of course at that point the article comes to an end. This author lacks either the courage or the candor to be very clear about what this sexting etiquette might look like. Frankly it is because the very proposal is insane. But it’s the kind of insanity that’s now becoming standardized and institutionalized in many public health sex education programs. It’s actually quite indicative of the approach to adolescent sexuality that is now standard on American college and university campuses. It explains why, in the state of California last week, Governor Jerry Brown signed that ‘yes means yes’ law into effect; effectively legalizing what perhaps Governor Brown would call the etiquette of fornication or the etiquette of premarital sex. A society that reaches the point in which it is simply trying to teach sexual etiquette to teenagers – etiquette about premarital sex, etiquette about sexual consent, etiquette about sexting; sending sexually explicit text messages – such a society has already abandoned moral sanity. All that’s left is a negotiation over what is termed etiquette. Actually Amanda Marcotte’s article is very interesting. And it’s important for us because it underlines exactly what’s going on in the culture around us – a culture ready to abandon any sane morality for the false substitute of mere etiquette.

4) Investment in wedding not equivalent to investment in marriage

Finally Brett Arends of the Wall Street Journal reports on a very different research project, and this one really does demand our attention. The researcher was undertaken by professors at Emory University and it has to do with the correlation between the cost of a wedding and the length of the marriage. Professors Andrew Francis and Hugo Mialon of Emory University in Atlanta published a paper last month; the title was “‘A Diamond Is Forever’ And Other Fairytales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Wedding Duration.” As the Wall Street Journal reports, the study was based on the wedding budgets and marriage track record of more than 3,000 US adults. After analyzing the data, the authors of the study found that women whose weddings cost more than $20,000 – that’s in 2014 dollars – ended up getting divorced 60% more often than those whose weddings were cheaper. And men who spent between $2,000 and $4,000 on their engagement ring got divorced 30% more than those who spent between $500 – 2,000.

The point made by the researchers is actually quite obvious; those who pay so much attention and pay so much cost for weddings often actually set up failure in marriage. We now face in this country what can only be described as a wedding industrial complex. And by some reports, the median cost of a wedding in this country is now $29,000. There turns out to be an inverse relationship between investment in the wedding and investment in the marriage. The Wall Street Journal reports that last year 1 out of 10 weddings cost between $50,000 and $100,000. Brett Arends then writes,

“In a desperate bid to control costs, brides and grooms these days are starting to trim the number of guests,”

And the number of guests at an American wedding has now dwindled to an average of 138. But then he writes,

“The paradox: The Emory research suggests that instead of spending more money but having fewer guests, we should be doing the opposite. [As the authors of the report said] ‘The evidence suggests that the types of weddings associated with the lower likelihood of divorce are those that are relatively inexpensive but high in attendance,’”

The research paper demonstrates that those who pay so much attention to the wedding ceremony itself and all the festivities involved with it, often are actually not investing in the kind of premarital preparation that would make for a longer lasting marriage. And furthermore, so many of these extravaganzas called weddings are so focused on the ceremony there is actually very little focus on the vows – on the fact that the wedding ceremony, biblical defined, is to be an opportunity for folks to gather in order to witness the husband and the wife exchange covenantal vows. Vows that are to end with the affirmation ‘till death do us part,’ When all the attention is given to the festivity of the ceremony, when families believe that they have to invest enormous amounts of money – not to mention attention and planning – in trying just to pull off a wedding, it often ends up being a precursor to a very short marriage. Just consider the lavish weddings undertaken by so many Hollywood celebrities. Their lavish weddings are often undertaken without even the pretense that there is any ‘until death do us part’ vow to be taken seriously in the wedding ceremony. Oh, and the wedding industrial complex continues to expand. The recent wedding of George Clooney to a civil rights lawyer is estimated to cost in the neighborhood of $13 million. The beat, as they say, goes on.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing. For more information go to my website at you can follow me on Twitter by going to For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary go to For information on Boyce College just go to I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.



Podcast Transcript

1) Protests over fate of Ebola-infected nurse’s dog reveals drastic worldview confusion

Why Spanish nursing assistant is such a troubling Ebola case, CBS News (AP)

Fate of Ebola-Stricken Nurse’s Aide’s Dog Sparks Outcry in Spain, Wall Street Journal (Ilan Brat and Jeannette Neumann)

2) Significance of midterm elections underlined by radical abortion view of CO Senator Udall

In Colorado Debate, Mark Udall Says He Supports Abortion During the Eighth Month of Pregnancy, Weekly Standard (John McCormack)

3) Instructing teens on ‘sexual etiquette’ for sexting poor substitute for morality

‘Sexting’ is becoming the new norm for teenagers growing up, study finds, The Independent (Heather Saul)

Yes, even your child: New study shows sexting is the new first base. But don’t panic yet, Washington Post (Amy Joyce)

Maybe Sexting Is How Teenagers Will Learn About Consent, Slate (Amanda Marcotte)

4) Investment in wedding not equivalent to investment in marriage

Mega-Weddings: Why You Should Say ‘I Don’t’, Wall Street Journal (Brett Arends)

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

I am always glad to hear from readers. Write me using the contact form. Follow regular updates on Twitter at @albertmohler.

Subscribe via email for daily Briefings and more (unsubscribe at any time).