The Briefing 10-31-14

The Briefing 10-31-14

The Briefing


October 31, 2014

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


It’s Friday, October 31, 2014.  I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Apple CEO proclaims homosexuality a divine gift, revealing extent of cultural shift on issue

Yesterday the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, announced that he is a homosexual. He said this,

“While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”

This came in the form of an article published at Bloomberg BusinessWeek; it’s entitled “Tim Cook Speaks Up.” Tim Cook himself is the author. He began by saying that throughout his professional life he’s tried to maintain a basic level of privacy and yet he says now is the time for him to make a public statement about his sexual orientation. And he’s doing so, he says, in order to give comfort and confidence to others who need to do the very same thing. He said,

“Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.”

Now the announcement made by Tim Cook yesterday really wasn’t a surprise because even in the transition when Tim Cook became the CEO of Apple in the wake of the death of Steve Jobs, there was wide discussion in the public square about the fact that he would likely become the most visible and high profile gay CEO in corporate history worldwide. The key word here is ‘openly’ and that’s the distinction that was made yesterday in his announcement. Tim Cook made the open statement, ‘So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay,’ clearly identifying and that’s the reason why yesterday’s announcement is newsworthy and why it does become something of a milestone, if even a minor milestone, in the great cultural transition on the issue sexuality and homosexuality.

A closer look at Tim Cook’s statement also reveals something that is of even greater importance. And that is exactly how he phrased his out of the closet statement. He said,

“So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, [the next words are very crucial] and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”

That’s a very interesting way of putting it. That’s a very interesting choice of words, because with the choice of those words Tim Cook says ‘I believe this is a gift; that being gay is a gift, a gift that has come just not from nature’ but as he says – to use his own words – “being gay [is] among the greatest gift God has given me.” Now, that again is one of those statements that might just be a part of the decoration of a public declaration. The use of the language about God here could be just something like corporate window-dressing, but let’s assume that it’s not. Now let’s just assume however that Tim Cook meant exactly what he said; we should give him the benefit of the doubt and just take him at his word. If so, that reveals something of even deeper importance and that’s this: a worldview change of this magnitude, a moral shift, a moral revolution, on the issue of human sexuality eventually has come full circle. Eventually, as we’ve discussed so many times in the past, what is condemned must be celebrated, what was celebrated has be condemned, and those who will not celebrate it are themselves condemned. In order for that full cycle to come around there is a theological aspect of the cycle as well. Something like homosexuality in times past was seen as a sin – something God not only did not design, but something that God explicitly condemned. In order for the moral revolution to come full circle there has to be something very much like what Tim Cook has articulated here. The assertion that homosexuality is not only a sin but actually a divine gift. In Tim Cook’s words, one of the greatest gifts God has given him.

Now there you have the worldview differentiation, the great chasm between the Christian worldview and the worldview of the modern sexual revisionists. And you have it in the form of a very clear statement made by Tim Cook as he made his first big public declaration of the fact that he’s gay; and as he said, he’s proud to be gay. And of course if being gay is a divine gift, why wouldn’t one be proud of it? If the worldview is established upon the presumption that in this case God has given homosexuality as a gift, then there is no reason not to be proud of it. And this shows the great chasm from beginning to end in terms of the worldview of biblical Christianity and of the sexual revisionists. Because the moral authority on which we know homosexual acts and homosexual relationships to be sinful and contrary to God’s design is what is revealed in Scripture. Now Scripture itself says that’s also revealed in nature. But as is made now abundantly clear, in terms of public debate, that revelation in nature is no longer being taken seriously by those who are in the culture pushing this moral revolution. It’s Scripture, the explicit words of Scripture, that basically stand in their way and thus you have a very clear conflict set up, whether intended by Tim Cook or not, between the claim that God has given homosexuality – gayness – as a gift and whether homosexuality is a sin – contrary to God’s design and contrary even to nature.

When people talk about the possibility of finding some kind of middle ground, Tim Cook’s statement actually helps us to understand not only the inevitable full revolution in terms of theology required here, but the fact that there actually isn’t any middle ground. There’s no middle ground between saying that homosexuality, homosexual acts, same-sex relationships, are sinful and saying that they’re one of God’s greatest gifts. Tim Cook’s statement actually helps to make that very clear and for that, at least, we should be thankful. We also need to look at other statements made by Tim Cook; in particular one. He said this,

“Part of social progress is understanding that a person is not defined only by one’s sexuality, race, or gender. I’m an engineer, an uncle, a nature lover, a fitness nut, a son of the South, a sports fanatic, and many other things.”

Well on that statement we need to say Tim Cook is actually absolutely right. We should not, as Christians, reduce ourselves or anyone else to a sexual orientation. We should not say that that is all you need to know about the person. He used other qualifiers as well. He said that one should not be defined only by one’s sexuality, race, or gender. On that score, we need to emphatically agree with him. We’re not saying that those issues are not important. We’re actually saying they are important because of God’s plan and design. But we are saying that’s not all you need to know about anyone. That’s now not all you need to know about Tim Cook, that’s not all you need to know about any single human being made in the image of God. And Tim Cook’s statement, both of them put together here, help us to remember that you can’t get away from a basic theological worldview, even if you think you’re purely secular because even in a secular context Tim Cook says homosexuality is one of God’s greatest gifts to me. And even in this secular context, the reason why we actually know that no individual should be reduced merely to race or ethnicity or sexual orientation or gender is because we know every single human being – characterized by any or all of those things – is made in the image of God and that’s why it matters.

2) Taiwan gay pride march displays importance of theological beliefs to culture’s morality

And speaking of the intersection between theology and sexuality, that inevitable intersection, how about this story by Andrew Jacobs from October 29 in the New York Times; headline is “Taiwan Shines as Beacon for Gays in Asia.” And you ask me, what does theology have to do with that? Well as it turns out – everything. As Jacobs reports, Taiwan is now becoming kind of the lead place for the moral revolution on homosexuality within Asia.

“For the 13th year in a row [he reports], the gay pride march took over the streets of the capital [it is as he says, ]…a boisterous, freewheeling demonstration of how far Taiwan has come in the two decades since multiparty democracy replaced martial law and authoritarian rule.”

The moral revolution has now proceeded apace and he says, there are gay pride marches in New York, other places, now also in Taiwan. And that’s what sets it apart from other Asian cultures and that’s why Andrew Jacobs is writing about it in the New York Times.

But there’s another theological aspect of this as I promised. Andrew Jacobs traces the fact that many of the cultures in Asia are shaped by Islam, including Indonesia, the most populous Islamic nation on earth. There’s not much chance you’re going to find a gay pride march in Indonesia. Other Asian nations, he says, are also rather reluctant to go this way in terms of endorsing public displays of homosexuality. But Taiwan, he says, is running the lead. And then, he gets to the theological dimension.

“Religious life here, for the most part, is dominated by Buddhism and Taoism, faiths with little doctrinal resistance to homosexuality.”

Well there’s the theology, right here in the pages of the New York Times, right in an article about why Taiwan is running point on the issue of the homosexual advance and gay-rights in the continent of Asia. And it’s right to the point of why theology is always so close to the surface, so readily at hand. Even in a secular age when people are determined to be a secular as they can possibly be, you can’t discuss a gay pride march in Taiwan without dealing with theology. Oh and by the way, Jacobs is exactly right. Taoism and Buddhism have little doctrinal resistance to homosexuality. It’s not fair to say they have no doctrinal resistance to homosexuality; Buddhism basically frowns on homosexuality but it doesn’t have the notion of sin and in terms of the basic rupturing the fabric of the universe and a violation of God’s law, it’s a very different religious worldview and Jacobs is exactly right that the reason Taiwan is situated differently from other nations, and in particular some other Asian nations, is because it’s worldview is dominated by Buddhism and Taoism and he is profoundly right – those are faiths “with little doctrinal resistance to homosexuality.”

Which also points in contrast to something else: why is it that homosexuality, homosexual acts, homosexual relationships, same-sex marriage, why do they remain controversial or opposed in so many cultures where Christianity had framed the worldview? Well there you have it, because by any question – Christianly has had a very strong doctrinal resistance to homosexuality. So in the West where you find the normalization of homosexual acts and relationships, you find the secularization of the culture, you find Christianity in retreat. That’s a very important notion. This notion found in the New York Times of doctrinal resistance to homosexuality, where it’s found and where it’s not, where it used to be and where it has disappeared.

3) Colorado governor warns rapid legalization of marijuana as too costly

As we have often noted, the moral revolution on the issue of sexuality is being mirrored in many ways by the moral revolution on the issue of marijuana – certainly not the same consequence in terms of these issues in the larger culture, but marijuana simply is not going to go away. The New York Times also reported just on October 28,

“Two years after voters in Colorado and Washington State broke the ice [that’s the word of the New York Times] as the first states to legalize sales of recreational marijuana to adults, residents of Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C., will vote next week on ballot measures patterned on those of the two pioneers. People on both sides of the issue say these initiatives could determine whether there will be a national tide of legalization.”

Well my only caveat, my only concern with that paragraph, is that I think that barn door has opened and I think the horse ran away long time ago. I think in terms of this national tide to legalization, there’s a tide that is coming. The real question is can anything stop it? And that’s where some recent developments really ought to have our attention.

As I pointed out, when you’re looking at the legalization of marijuana, you’re talking about another one of those cultural U-turns – moral U-turns. You’re looking at something that was clearly condemned that is now being celebrated; and the celebrated in this case were marijuana laws that are now being condemned. And you’re also looking at the fact that cultural momentum is coming up fast on the issue of this legalization. You’ll also note exactly how it’s phrased:  ‘recreational marijuana for adults.’ But hold that thought for just a moment because here are the two things need to keep in mind.  Just a few days ago, I reported that the Washington Post editorial board came out against the measure in DC, that proposal in the District of Columbia, to legalize marijuana. The editors of the Washington Post, one most liberal newspapers in the United States, came out and said ‘it’s just too dangerous, there are too many things to be concerned about.’ And one of the things they mentioned explicitly was the fact that the states that have legalized marijuana have found it virtually impossible to keep it out of the hands of teenagers.

But now something else has developed and this maybe even more interesting. The Financial Times of London now reports that the governor of Colorado, one of those two states that two years ago legalized marijuana, is now warning other states not to follow the example of his own state. Barney Jopson writing for the Financial Times from Denver writes,

“The governor of Colorado, which pioneered the legalisation of cannabis in the US, has warned policy makers elsewhere that it would be ‘reckless’ to follow in his state’s footsteps in a grab for new tax revenues.”

Really interesting; that’s why so many of these states say they want to legalize marijuana, it’s because they want to regulate its sale and they want to gain tax revenue. And many people have been pointing to the 40+ million dollars added to the tax coffers of Colorado as evidence of why there states should do the very same. And that’s why what Gov. Hickenlooper has to say in the Financial Times looms as hugely important, because embedded in this article is the fact that indeed the state of Colorado has collected about $40 million in tax revenue from the sale of cannabis; from the sale of marijuana. And where those tax revenues gone? Well, as the Financial Times reports, they have gone to the regulation of marijuana, the enforcement of marijuana laws, education and treatment having to do with marijuana. In other words, all this tax revenue has gone right out the window – it’s gone up in smoke because it’s been spent by the state trying to limit the damage done by the very legalization of marijuana that promised all this tax revenue income.

This stands as a true parable of our age. Here you have states saying, ‘look at all the income, we’re missing that income’. They’re not telling their own residents all that income is going up in smoke paying for the damage done by the legislation itself or at least by the mechanics of trying to make the legislation work; regulating the sale of marijuana, trying to keep it out of the hands of teenagers – ineffectively as we’ve noted – and doing all the things that had to be done in the aftermath of legalizing so-called ‘recreational marijuana’ because inevitably it causes all kinds of problems someone’s going to have to pay for and the state is going to pay for  it with very money it tries to get by gaining revenue by the sale of the same product.

In an interview with the Financial Times Gov. Hickenlooper voiced his concern about the rest of Colorado’s experiment posed to the health of the public, especially to teenagers. He advised governors and other states to, “go slowly with legalization.” He said,

“The counsel I offer is that you don’t lose anything by waiting a couple of years. And to try and do this in pursuit of tax revenues, now that is reckless,”

Well now who might be offended by the Gov. of Colorado saying that the decision by voters to legalize marijuana was reckless? Well it turns out some of the people of Colorado got angry at their governor – who by the way is running for reelection in a very tight race – for saying that they had acted recklessly. At that point Gov. Hickenlooper decided he better backtrack; he said,

“I think that was the wrong word. I think [legalization] posed great risk. ‘Reckless’ I think was disrespectful for the voters,”

Well that’s what he has to say because he’s running for reelection, but it’s not what we have to say – reckless was the right word all along.

4) Cultural influences creating and influencing celebration of Halloween crucial to consider 

Finally today is that day known as Halloween and one of most interesting things about American society is how big a holiday Halloween has become. As a matter fact Americans will spend money on Halloween ranking it second only to Christmas; Halloween now surpasses Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and every other holiday except Christmas itself. Shoppers are now expected to spend over $1 billion on costumes – actually over $2 billion, almost $3 billion, and adults are going to spend more on their costumes then parents will spend on costumes for their children. And then there’s this number $350 million, let me repeat it, $350 million – that’s how much the National Retail Federation thinks will be spent this year on holiday Halloween costumes or animals – mostly dogs.

The average shopper in America is expected to spend $77.52 on Halloween – that’s the average keep in mind – that the 63% increase since 2005. And the spending issue is traced by consumer sales points to the looming importance of Halloween in the larger cultural meaning of America. For instance, one of the persons looking at it from a business side, that’s Kathy Grannis of the National Retail Federation, said,

“There was a time when mom and dad simply put their child in a costume and helped them trick-or-treat and now, parents are wearing their own costumes and throwing parties; They’re dressing as their favorite ‘Breaking Bad’ or ‘Game of Thrones’ characters.”

She goes on to say however that its $350 million expected to be spent for “getups for our furry sidekicks this year.” We have become a society that is spending $350 million a year on Halloween costumes for our pets.

And speaking of those costumes for adults, Juliet Lapidos, writing at, points out that many an increasing number of these costumes have become sexually explicit. And she’s very clear writing at that the reason for that is that these costumes became sexually explicit in the Greenwich Village culture in the 1970s in New York City, primarily amongst the homosexual population. It was gay culture that produced the sexualization of Halloween, she writes, and specifically with the kind of acting out and costuming that led to these very highly sexualized and eroticized costumes. One historian of Halloween, Lesley Bannatyne, said that Halloween is what she called a “rogue” holiday, not connected to an historical person or to a historical event so celebrants are free to express whatever’s in the air at the particular moment. And right now, according to Juliet Lapidos reporting in terms of the culture, what’s happening right now is the eroticization, the sexualization of Halloween especially among adults. And it’s actually important to know where that emerged from; in that Greenwich Village culture of the 1970s in New York City – which is also was the development of an openly gay culture in America’s largest metropolitan area.

At my website at I reposted an article I had written entitled “Christianity and the Dark Side—What about Halloween?” I wrote the article as a concerned Christian simply because so many Christians are unaware of the background of Halloween in terms of its historic rootage and there are unaware of what many the symbols and cultural aspects of Halloween mean even now. Lots of Christian parents are asking the question, ‘Should I allow my children to trick-or-treat? Is it okay to have a Halloween party?’ Those are big issues and it reminds us that the Christian worldview actually addresses all these issues and that we as Christians are morally and biblically obligated to make our response to these questions on the basis of biblical truth and sound Christian thinking.

One of the things we need to keep in mind is that there is a limitation to how a holiday can be separated from its roots. And when it comes to Halloween, the rootage is actually very easy to document. In my article, “Christianity and the Dark Side” you’ll find where I go to historical sources and historical authorities to point out the rootage of Halloween in terms of pagan ritual and pagan worship. And the reason why that’s so important now is because so much of it actually does continue, even if a greatly modified an almost cartoonish form. But there’s another aspect of this that’s really, really interesting and this is addressed in an article published recently about why Americans shouldn’t fear Halloween. In this article is actually a reason to fear it. Jack Santino writing for the Washington Post last week writes,

“Yes, devils remain a symbol of Halloween — and you may see a few of them scurrying from door to door. But Halloween is a time when people project their fears in a safe and playful way.

Listen carefully to the last sentence,

“When else will you see images of death on suburban lawns?”

You see in writing this article Mr. Santino seems to think that finding death symbolized in our front yards is something that is just a safe expression of our human imagination. But from a Christian worldview perspective it’s something else, it’s a certain embrace of death or a laughing at death – it’s a superficial mockery or even in many cases an almost nihilistic embrace of death. None of those are compatible with biblical Christianity. Now this may have absolutely nothing to do with the question about your little ones going around as cowboys and Indians or princesses on Halloween going trick-or-treating, then again it might have a great deal to do with it, this is where Christian parents need use biblical discernment. And that’s why I’ve reposted my article on Halloween, perhaps to help you to think through these issues. But it does seem important that at least some of the people trying to defend Halloween also serve to remind us of why many of us have concerns.

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

This past week on the campus of Southern Seminary, we had the 2014 Expositors Summit. Joining me as preachers were H.B. Charles Jr., pastor of the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL and Dr. John MacArthur, host of Grace to You and pastor teacher at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. I was thrilled to have those guest and friends with me, we preached the Summit together and you can find those messages in video and audio online at Thanks again for listening; I’ll meet you again on Monday for The Briefing.

Podcast Transcript

1) Apple CEO proclaims his homosexuality a divine gift, revealing extent of cultural shift on issue

Tim Cook Speaks Up, Bloomberg Businessweek (Tim Cook)

2) Taiwan gay pride march displays importance of theological beliefs to culture’s morality

Taiwan Shines as Beacon for Gays in Asia, New York Times (Andrew Jacobs)

3) Colorado governor warns rapid legalization of marijuana as too costly

For Marijuana, a Second Wave of Votes to Legalize, New York Times (Kirk Johnson)

Go slow on pot, says Colorado governor, Financial Times (Barney Jopson)

4) Cultural influences creating and influencing celebration of Halloween crucial to consider 

Shoppers to spend $350 on Halloween costumes this year – for their pets, Washington Post (Sarah Halzack)

When Did Halloween Get So Tawdry?, Slate (Juliet Lapidos)

Christianity and the Dark Side—What about Halloween?, (Albert Mohler)

Five myths about Halloween, Washington Post (Jack Santino)

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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