The Briefing 12-05-14

The Briefing 12-05-14

The Briefing


December5, 2014

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


It’s Friday, December 5, 2014.  I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

1) New Minnesota state athletic policy portrays velocity of transgender revolution

Yesterday we discussed the decision pending by the Minnesota State High School League Board concerning the issue of transgender athletes in high school athletics. And now, as of yesterday, the state of Minnesota has a new policy for high school athletics and it is exactly what we talked about yesterday. It is a policy that effectively means the end of boys and girls sports in that state.

As Paul Klauda reports of Minneapolis Star Tribune,

“The Minnesota State High School League board approved a new policy for transgender students [yesterday] morning that will begin with the 2015-16 school year. Criteria for determining eligibility of transgender students for high school sports teams would be applied in an appeal process that would be overseen by the high school league. Appeals would be heard by an independent hearing officer.”

As the news article makes very clear, this policy that was adopted yesterday by the league is one that basically involved input from only one side of the equation – even though there was massive public outcry about the draft policy, no one who was opposed to the policy was deeply involved in the drafting process. Instead, as we documented yesterday, the drafting process was inherently dependent upon ideological advocates for absolute transgender inclusion and furthermore, for the transgender agenda.

The vote yesterday in Minnesota wasn’t close, 18 of the 20 members of the league’s board voted yes – only one is identified as saying no, that’s Emmett Keenan, who is athletics director at the St. Cloud Cathedral. Governor appointed board member Paul McDonald participating in his first board meeting abstained. So 18 voted yes, one voted no, one abstained.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune also indicates that two days ago, on Wednesday, the boarded considered a different policy that would’ve allowed for a local option school district by school district but that was turned down because of the fear that it would eventually lead to chaos in terms of state athletics. One of the interesting aspects of this article is something new and that is that evidently the school districts, or at least representatives of those districts, didn’t want the question to arrive at their decision-making. They wanted to defer to someone else even that someone else was the school league and in this case the league voted.

One change that was made between Wednesday and the vote yesterday is that an exemption for religious schools was written into the policy. That’s very important, at least in terms of understanding the rights of Christian schools to remain Christian, but at the same time the previous exemption language proposed had included all nonpublic schools, now only religious schools are to be exempted from the policy. But remember this policy, and it is a policy now beginning in the 2015-16 school year, says that a student has to be recognized for inclusion on sports teams and locker rooms, in terms of bathrooms or on school trips, has to be recognized for the gender identity with which the student identifies.

As Stella Morabito noted in The Federalist earlier this week, that effectively means the end of boys and girls sports in the state of Minnesota. And the important thing for all of us is that this is not limited to Minnesota. If anything, what we’re noticing right now in states like Minnesota is that those who are pushing these agendas are pushing them to such warp speed that they’re trying to get states in the heartland of America such as Minnesota to adopt these policies so as to make it a coast-to-coast reality as quickly as possible. And, as Morabito noted, before America’s parents can become involved and organized in trying to block this kind of development. Furthermore this kind of action taken by an official state body is simply an indication of what is also happening in terms of the courts where those pushing for the transgender revolution are also going into litigation where necessary in order to push that agenda.

Now when we look at this from a Christian perspective, once again, we’re looking at a rebellion against creation that is deeper even then same-sex relationships and something like same-sex marriage as it’s called. We’re looking at a rejection of the very notion that what it means to be human is to be male or female and to have that assigned by the creator your for His glory and for our good. This is a much deeper and more subversive pushback in terms of the biblical worldview than even, and this is something that’s hard to say and yet it is true, even the advent of same-sex marriage.

The day before the league made its decision, and that is on Wednesday, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis ran a pro and con column of articles in which the argument was debated in the public square. Writing for the policy were Alison Yocom and Martha Burton, identified as writing on behalf of the group Transforming Families Minnesota, they wrote that transgender students deserve inclusion and that this policy is not only right but fair because it recognizes that without this kind of policy transgender athletes won’t be able to participate in high school athletics in the gender with which they identify. But they also make an astounding statement. They talk about a policy that was adopted by the NCAA in terms of a different context. In that policy, Dr. Nick Gorton, identified in this article, had stated,

“Transgender student-athletes fall within the spectrum of physical traits found in athletes of their transitioned gender, allowing them to compete fairly and equitably.”

But to that we simply have to say, saying it so certainly doesn’t make it so – I don’t think anyone with the slightest amount of common sense or knowledge of adolescence can say that the physical traits of someone born a boy and the physical traits of someone born a girl are the same when it comes to issues like muscle mass or even weight or strength or any number of other issues. That’s why common sense has for generations, indeed far more than that, for centuries and millennia, indicated that there ought to be an appropriate distinction between boys’ and girls’ sports. And that’s why, despite the adoption of this policy, will continue to be the expectation of most parents, and I think that’s an understatement, coast-to-coast in America right now. The statement nonetheless is put forward with a straight face that there is a spectrum of physical traits that are found in transgender student athletes that are again I quote, “found in athletes of their transition to gender, allowing them to compete fairly and equitably.”

In the con article published alongside the pro article, attorney John Hagan Junior responded making just that point. He writes,

“Imagine the following scenario. An adolescent… [boy]… declares: ‘I always have had a feminine self-image. I never told anyone, because of society’s expectations, but I’m revealing it now. My long hair is evidence of my sincerity and my feminine self-expression.’”

Hagan then writes,

“The High School League’s pending policy would compel the school to let this boy play power forward on the girls’ basketball team, regardless of safety considerations…. If the school resisted, it would promptly be faced with a lawsuit under the ‘will be eligible’ clause [of the new policy].”

“The language isn’t inadvertent. The pending policy is a redraft. The public challenged an original rendition early this fall, when some 10,000 e-mails were sent to the league. The redraft supposedly was to be prepared by a ‘task force’ representing multiple viewpoints on the issue. But opponents of the original draft … have been shut out of the process. The redraft, with its insidious language, was prepared by transgender activists and the bureaucracy of the league.”

Once again we face the velocity of the sexual and moral revolution that we are now facing. We’re looking at a velocity that is simply unprecedented in terms of human experience. And when we come to the transgender revolution, we’re talking about looking at a moral, a cultural, a societal, ethical, revolution that will simply wash away virtually every single norm previously known to men and women, to humanity, in times past.

And as Time magazine reports just days ago, reporter Katy Steinmetz writes,

“In one short paragraph of a 34-page memo released on Dec. 1, the Department of Education,”

Now, let me just insert, that’s the United States Department of Education,

“…articulated a clear stance on gender identity, saying transgender students in public schools should be enrolled in single-sex classes that align with how they live their lives day-to-day.”

Here again you see the revolution, this time being put forward by the Department of Education. And to Time magazine’s credit, they noted that this was a simple one short paragraph in a 34 page memo that was released by the Department of education and evidently most people in this country missed it. According to the memo,

“Under Title IX, a school must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity in all aspects of the planning, implementation, enrollment, operation, and evaluation of single-sex classes.”

Now the background of that is of course the fact that there is a resurgence of interest in single-sex classrooms – predominantly in terms of boys only classrooms because it is being increasingly recognized, and this is just common sense, that there is a characteristic learning style of boys that often breaks down in the presence of girls.

The Time magazine article makes very clear that the issue we’re talking about, the revolution we’re observing isn’t limited to Minnesota, not hardly. This is a United States Department of Education policy intended to take immediate effect for all public schools in all 50 states. And again, this largely escaped public notice.

2) Social science fails to recognize value  of gender distinctions in classroom

According to Time magazine that memorandum from the Department of Education was handed down on December 1 – that is on Monday – which makes it more than slightly ironic that on that very same day, on the first of its national pages, the New York Times ran an article, again the same day, December 1, with a headline “Old Tactic Gets New Use: Public Schools Separate Girls and Boys.”

Reporter Mokoto Rich goes to my hometown of Pompano Beach, Florida, that’s where I went to high school, and looks at the fact that in some public school classrooms in that Florida town, educators are deciding to go back to single-sex classes because they tend to work better for both boys and girls. And the context, as the reporter makes very clear, isn’t that of some kind of experimentation undertaken at the leisure of educators, it is rather an innovation that is being done in the name of expediency and in emergency because so many boys in this Florida school district are falling behind; failing to progress in school, falling behind, and eventually failing to graduate and go on to college.

Mokoto Rich also points out in this article, and to the credit of the New York Times, it’s a really good article, the issue of teaching students in single-sex classes – that is girls only and boys only – is very popular with parents, it’s very popular with teachers, it’s not popular, as Rich writes, with social scientists. A very interesting paragraph, Rich writes,

“The theory is generally held in low regard,”

That is the theory that children do better in single-sex classroom. Again,

“The theory is generally held in low regard by social scientists.”

It’s a very interesting paragraph because that one sentence tells you who’s really driving the force in terms of education in so many not only educational discussions but educational classrooms is neither parents more teachers but social scientists. And what are the concerns brought forward by social scientists? Well here’s a paragraph from Riches article,

“Critics say that there is little evidence of substantial differences in brain development between boys and girls and that dividing children by gender can reinforce entrenched stereotypes.”

Now you’ll notice that has nothing to do with education, that has to do with social science – or what is called social science. The claim here is that you reduce the issue to the brain development of boys and girls. That’s simply something that parents don’t have the option to do, nor for that matter probably very much interest. They’re interested in what boys are actually doing in the classroom and whether their learning. And now you have a citation by scientists that there is no basis for any advantage of separating boys and girls in the educational context because their brains actually operate basically alike. But I’m pretty sure it’s the second half of that sentence that is really driving the equation. I go back and read that,

“…that dividing children by gender can reinforce entrenched stereotypes.”

That goes back to the gender revolution and the ideologues who are telling us that any notion of a distinction between boys and girls is simply a socially constructed patriarchal and intolerant remnant from an ancient prejudicial past.

Rebecca Bigler, a psychologist at the University of Texas, said that segregating by sex or any social category increases prejudice based on stereotype. She said,

“You say there’s a problem with sexism and instead of addressing the sexism, you just remove one sex.”

Well you’ll notice the article actually has a problem with boys not learning. The presenting issue here wasn’t sexism but the social ideologues will turn every issue into the issue of their primary, if not solitary, if not exclusive, ideological concern.

The article also makes clear that a lot of the educators actually involved in teaching these children and a lot of the parents see a big difference in terms of having boys and girls in separate classrooms. For instance, one of the teachers writing about having a classroom of boys says, if you let them play at learning in terms of competition, especially with something like math, the boys revel in it and tend to learn. They do not do so well if the educational context isn’t made into something that’s competitive. The competition brings out the very best in them. That doesn’t work the same way in a classroom full of girls.

One of the principal cited in the articles is Angela Brown, the principal at the Dillard School, that’s also in Pompano Beach, said,

“…boys in single-sex classes had better attendance than those in coeducational classes as well as better scores on state reading and math tests. But the biggest improvement was a decline in disciplinary infractions and bullying.”

So in another words, behavior also improved, especially in this case, among boys when the boys were studying just with each other.

“Boys are trying to impress girls, and girls are trying to impress boys… [we’ve] have removed that variable out of the way.”

What we’re looking here at the distinction between the way that educators and parents look at the question and those who are identified in this article as social scientists; in many cases, driven more by a sociological ideology than by anything that is rightfully called science. But the last word on this issue has to be given to the children. One of the boys cited in the article is Jaheim Jones, he’s age 8, he says he prefers “a girl free zone at school because girls are ‘bossy.’” Meanwhile nine-year-old Shenilla Johnson, a girl who is a third grader at Charles Drew elementary said she likes an all-girls class. She says it’s better, because boys “annoy you,” without them, she says, “we get to learn new things.” So for the worldview wisdom in this article here’s your choice between the social scientists and between an eight-year-old and nine-year-old who seem to know the difference between being a girl and a boy.

3)  Report on rise of ‘gender-benders’ displays blind agenda of transgender movement

A final example of how we have to talk about this issue and why we can’t escape it comes from National Public Radio, in the last day of November they ran an article entitled “For These Millennials, Gender Norms Have Gone Out Of Style.” Lidia Jean Kott writing that when it comes to the millennial generation they decided to let all the distinctions between male and female go. She says the millennials say they find traditional notions of gender too confining, even ill-fitting. They are challenging, she says, the idea that men must dress a certain way and women another. And their rewriting the rules and refashioning clothes so they can dress and accessorize in whatever way feels right to them.

She then goes to social science research and says,

“More than two-thirds of people ages 14 to 34 agree that gender does not have to define a person in the way that it used to, according to a 2013 study conducted by the Intelligence Group, a consumer insights company. And 6 in 10 say that men and women do not need to conform to traditional gender roles or behaviors anymore.”

She comes up with a couple of millennials who fit this description of the gender benders and writes as if they are illustrating the trend of the generation as a whole; in fact, that the entire point of the article – from the headline to its introduction.

The article cites Caitlin Ryan, a clinical social worker at San Francisco State University, she study sexual orientation and gender identity in youth, she says the millennials are defined gender expectations,

“This generation views gender as a mark of self-expression — they view it as a way of displaying their full sense of self,”

Kott then writes,

“But for some millennials, expressing their gender in a way that feels right is less about finding one article of clothing, or a set style, and more about fluidity.”

She’s suggesting here that these Millennials are bending all the gender rules and adopting a fluidity when it comes to gender roles and gender self-expression. Given the headline, the introduction, and the first dozen or so paragraphs of these news articles, you would think that this must be the wave of the future until you reach the end of the article.

At the end of the article the entire case gets given away and it’s given away by Suzanna Walters who is director the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Program at Northeastern University. In response to the claim that the Millennials are just wholesale bending the gender rules, she comes back and says, most Millennials don’t push gender boundaries at all. As a matter fact, she cited in the article,

“It’s a real minority. And it gets played up in the media more than everyday life. The vast majority of people still obey gender roles,”

And then she says what is so obviously true, and what makes the article itself an indication of the confusion of the culture where you’d think the reporter would be clarifying. The clarification comes at the very end of the article by this professor at Northeastern University who basically refutes everything who came before. And what’s the evidence that she brings? She’s not citing a consumers study; she’s not citing social science research. She says, and I quote,

“Just walk down the street.”

More than anything else, I cite this article because it points out that there are those who are trying to create the impression in the culture that everyone is bending the rules and that this is just the way the entire culture is operating; this is the direction entire culture is going. But the best reputation of this is perhaps sometimes not an argument, just an observation. But as this professor says, it’s just not so – all you have to do is walk down the street; young men are dressing like young men, young women are dressing like young women, and they don’t seem to be operating in a fashion that can we well described as either revolutionary, or for that matter to use the word in this article, fluid.

4) DNA pioneers minimized human identity to pure biology

Finally yesterday’s edition of the New York Times as the first article in its New York section ran an article entitled “Scientist Seeks Redemption By Selling Nobel Prize.” Perhaps you didn’t know the Nobel Prize could be sold – well the prize itself can’t be sold, but the memorabilia of the prize, including the metal, can be. This is the first time, according to the Times, that a living laureate has sold the award and it’s being sold by scientist James D. Watson; who was awarded the Nobel Prize for science in 1962 with scientist Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins.

The three received the Nobel Prize in 1962 for the discovery almost a decade earlier of the double helix structure of DNA; that revealed how genetic traits are transmitted through heredity. As the time says,

“This has become the foundation of the now booming field of genomics, which has revolutionized the treatment of disease.”

Well let’s just say at this point one thing needs to be said and that is it has not yet revolutionized treatment of disease, but it may one day.

But remember the headline was that the scientist is seeking redemption by selling the Nobel Prize. It’s a very convoluted article but the bottom line of it is that James Watson has been in very hot water in recent years for statements he made that were inherently racist. And those racist statements basically put him in a bad position. He himself said that he had disappeared in terms of public life, now he says he wants to sell his Nobel Prize – hopefully for several million dollars – and give some of that away; only some of it in order to atone for his misdeeds and reenter polite public conversation.

Watson is now 86 years old; according to the Times he has expressed regret for his statement made back in 2007. He said quote,

“I can’t undo that. I do wish that I had been more careful in speaking about things I’m not expert in.”

That comment for which he got into so much trouble was a statement that there is a real hereditary racial disparity when it comes to IQ. The article by Anemona Hartocollis  in the New York Times raises a host of moral issues. The most important one is this: can you actually gain redemption by selling your Nobel Prize and thus by giving away some of the proceeds in order to make your words go away? It’s a dubious proposition and the New York Times seems to present it in this news article as just that. But that’s not the main reason I brought it up. In terms of worldview significance, this man, nor his partner in his research, Francis Crick, because when it comes to James Watson and Francis Crick we’re actually talking about two people, who in the 20th century perhaps represented more than anyone else the redefinition of the human being in entirely materialistic form. Something that now forms so much of the modern secular worldview.

By the time Watson and Cricket concluded their research they basically made the point in public and in scientific journals that the human being is nothing more than a collection of molecules in genetic information; that the human being is basically just stuff. And they understood this quite straightforwardly as a rejection of the biblical and Christian worldview when it came to the understanding of humanity. It also reminded me of something which enables me to acknowledge a debt, as The Briefing comes to an end today, and that debt is to Francis Schaeffer.

His book, The God Who Is There was the 383rd book I bought for my personal library and I know that because at that point I was writing the number in the series it was bought in the front of the book. I bought it when I was a 17-year-old and it was Francis Schaeffer, one of most influential apologists and evangelical thinkers of the 20 century, who introduced me to James Watson and Francis Crick and to what it meant for this new secular understanding of humanity to replace the biblical understanding of what it means to be human. In this book The God Who Is There, Francis Schaeffer wrote, and I quote,

“The historic Christian position is that man’s dilemma has a moral cause. God, being non-determined, created man as a non-determined person. “

What Schaeffer is rejecting here is the modern secular determinism that is either by the social Darwinians or coming by biological determinism or by behavioral such as BS Skinner. Schaeffer then writes,

“This is a difficult idea to anyone thinking in 20th century terms because most 20th century thinking sees man as determined. He is held determined either by chemical factors”

That was held by the Marquis de Sade and, as he said, by Dr. Francis Crick, and by extension also Dr. James Watson.

“…or by psychological factors as Freud and others have suggested”

In either case, or as a result of the fusion of these two, man is considered to be programmed. If this is the case Schaeffer wrote,

“…then man is not the tremendous thing the Bible says he is, made in the image of God as a personality who can make a free first choice. Because God created a true universe outside of himself (not as an extension of his essence), there’s a true history which exists. Man as created in God’s image is therefore a significant man and a significant history, who could choose to obey the commandment of God and love him or revolt against Him.”

So Francis Schaeffer was rejecting this kind of determinism and reductionism by saying the human being is a man in full or a woman in full, a human being, a man or a woman, made in God’s image and answerable to him – not just a jumble of molecules and genetic information: a man, not a machine.

Francis Schaeffer published this book back in 1968 and now the headlines of the New York Times yesterday tell us the same story is ongoing, the same conflict endures. The conflict between the modern secular worldview and the biblical worldview is permanent and will be so until Jesus comes. But as The Briefing comes to a close, this allows me to thank Francis Schaeffer, who now has been with the Lord for two decades, for helping me to learn, even as a teenager, how to think as a Christian.

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 on Monday for The Briefing.




Podcast Transcript

1) New Minnesota state athletic policy portrays velocity of transgender revolution

State high school league approves transgender policy, Minneapolis Star Tribune (Paul Klauda)

Minnesota High School League overwhelmingly approves new transgender athlete policy, Minneapolis Star Tribune (David La Vaque)

Pro: Transgender kids deserve inclusion, Minneapolis Star Tribune (Alison Yocom and Martha Burton)

Con: Transgender policy defies common sense, Minneapolis Star Tribune (John D. Hagen)

Transgender Eligibility Appeal Procedures for a Male to Female (MTF) Student, Minnesota High School League

Feds Say Transgender Students’ Gender Identity Must Be Respected, Time (Katy Steinmetz)

Questions and Answers on Title IX, US Department of Education

2) Social science fails to recognize value  of gender distinctions in classroom

Old Tactic Gets New Use: Public Schools Separate Girls and Boys, New York Times (Mokoto Rich)

3)  Report on rise of ‘gender-benders’ displays blind agenda of transgender movement

For These Millennials, Gender Norms Have Gone Out Of Style, NPR (Lidia Jean Kott)

4) DNA pioneers minimized human identity to pure biology

By Selling Prize, a DNA Pioneer Seeks Redemption, New York Times (Anemona Hartocollis)

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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