Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017

Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017

The Briefing

November 29, 2017

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

It’s Wednesday, November 29, 2017. I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

​We’ll see a rogue state that poses a new threat, we’ll see a courageous defector who didn’t come alone, we’ll understand that transgender views track worldview, and we’ll see evidence of the death of romance in the age of sexual liberty in both communist China and in the United States.

Part I

Rogue state that poses a new threat as North Korea tests new ICBM

Big news in the headlines again from Korea, specifically North Korea, this time the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile that traveled hundreds of miles and for over 37 minutes and went as high as 2,800 miles above the earth. What’s the point? The point is that as the Washington Post, the New York Times, and other major media reported late yesterday, that would technically put Washington DC within the range of this missile. Anna Fifield reporting for the Washington Post tells us North Korea launched what appears to be another intercontinental ballistic missile, this reported by the Pentagon yesterday. Experts calculating that Washington DC is now technically within Kim Jong-un’s reach. The launch, according to the Post,

“the first in more than two months, is a sign that the North Korean leader is pressing ahead with his nation’s stated goal of being able to strike the United States’ mainland and is not caving in to the Trump administration’s [warnings].”

The paper goes on also to note that,

“The missile logged a longer flight time than any of its predecessors.”

The New York Times reports that the missile took off from around Pyŏngsŏng, a town northeast of Pyongyang the capital of North Korea, at 3:17 a.m. It flew east for just under an hour before landing off the north of Honshu, Japan’s largest island, nearly 600 miles from the launch site. The launch appears to be yet another technological achievement for the North Korean regime and its attempt, as the Washington Post stated, to be able to threaten the mainland United States credibly with a nuclear weapon. The Post stated that the missile that was launched traveled about 620 miles, reached that height of about 2,800 miles before landing off the coast of Japan. What’s interesting in this report is that the Post says that the suggestion is that the missile

“had been fired almost straight up — on [what’s called] a ‘lofted trajectory’ similar to North Korea’s two previous intercontinental ballistic missile tests.”

The bottom line, according to military analysts, is that if North Korea can successfully launch this kind of missile, even straight up, it means that even now North Korea could at least technically be capable not only of sending the missile straight up but sending the missile straight to Washington DC. All of this underlines once again the limitations of the civilized world trying to deal with the dictatorship of North Korea, and it points to the fact that once you have this kind of state that basically declares itself to be outside of the conventions of normal morality and outside the reach of international law and diplomacy, there are very few alternatives left to the United States and its allies. And, of course, we are talking here about reliving the danger of a nuclear detonation. Something that the world thought it had escaped with the end of the Cold War at the end of the 1980s and the early 1990s. For so many decades, indeed for at least two generations, people in much of the world, most especially in Europe and in the former Soviet Union and in the United States, lived in the constant fear and the pervasive awareness that at any time a nuclear attack might be underway. As the historical record has been clarified in the aftermath of the Cold War, we now know that those fears were certainly not unfounded. We know that in several crucial junctures there was the very real danger that one side or the other would have launched a nuclear attack if only because it believed that the other power was launching a nuclear attack as well.

Nuclear weapons, however, are not the only danger here. The danger is of a nation that places itself outside the judgment, not only of some other nations but now all other nations. That’s what marks a departure in the case of North Korea at the present moment. Most nations choose their allies and have some international frame of reference in terms of their actions, their foreign policy, even their military strategy. North Korea had been understood not only to have been the creation of the communist superpowers then, most particularly the Soviet Union, it was also understood to be, even until the most recent times, a necessary ally of communist China, and largely under the diplomatic and military protection of China as well. But what’s become clear, alarmingly clear, is that even China seems to have a very limited influence on North Korea.

So we’re looking at a nation, which in this case can be compared to an individual, particularly because of the autocratic tyranny of the dictator of North Korea, we are seeing here a leader and his nation placing themselves outside any kind of international influence. One of the interesting things that we also have to note here is that one of the primary levers of that international influence throughout most of human history has been economic. So, just to make the matter plain, North Korea, which has suffered several state responsible starvations, famines that are the responsibility of the Kim regime, it has been saved at least in part by international provision, and, again, much of it coming in economic support and in sponsored trade from communist China. But even as the Trump administration has been putting pressure on the international community, China itself appears to be alarmed by North Korea, and China now appears, for the first time in recent decades, to be taking actual moves of economic sanction against North Korea. Here’s the really sad thing, apparently at this point, to no effect.

There is a very deep darkness of the very heart of the North Korean regime. It is made clear in the murderous actions of the Kim regime, now in its third generation of dictatorship, not only against its neighbors and others in the international community, but against its own people. This underlines once again that worldviews have consequences and this means that the deadliest of worldviews will have the deadliest of consequences.

Part II

Courageous North Korean defector doesn’t leave the country alone

This draws our attention to a compelling article that appeared recently at the New York Times, the author Brian H. Hook, the director of policy planning and senior policy adviser at the US State Department. The headline of the article,

“The Parasites Feeding on North Korea.”

In the article Hook takes us back a couple of weeks when President Trump was in Asia where there the president spoke of the contrast between what he called the two Koreas: dictatorship and tyranny, famine and starvation in the North, meanwhile freedom, liberty, prosperity, and democracy in the South. There you’re looking at the consequences of two very different worldviews represented in two nations sharing one peninsula. In the most compelling part of the article, however, Hook takes back just a few days ago to when the world witnessed the courageous defection of a North Korean soldier to the south. Speaking of the contrast between the two Koreas, Hook went on to write,

“This contrast is at the root of America’s most urgent national security challenge. It is also now on vivid display in a South Korean hospital, where doctors are working to save a wounded and malnourished North Korean soldier who defected last week from Kim Jong-un’s slave state.”

He goes on to tell us that,

“The defector, whose full name is still not publicly known, risked his life by speeding across the Demilitarized Zone in a jeep, then dashing across the heavily guarded border at Panmunjon. He knew,”

says Hook,

“that North Korean troops have shoot-to-kill orders against anyone trying to flee. By the time he made it across,”

we are told,

“some six bullets had pierced his arms and torso.”

So there you have the picture of a North Korean soldier fleeing not only one nation for another but one worldview for another. But thinking about those consequences, we need also to understand what this article makes clear: This North Korean soldier did not come alone, but that doesn’t mean what you think it means. Let me go back to Hooks’ article where he writes,

“South Korean guards rescued him 55 yards south of the border, and doctors soon discovered just how grave his condition was: Along with the bullet wounds, he also had hepatitis B, pneumonia and “an enormous number” of parasitic worms in his intestines, some up to 11 inches long.”

One of the surgeons and South Korea say,

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my 20 years as a physician.”

We are told that some of these parasitical worms can burrow into flesh wounds with potentially devastating effects. And so this desperate and malnourished North Korean soldier who defected from the north, and did so at the cost of six bullet wounds, also didn’t come alone; he came with further evidence of the difference of worldviews and the consequence a worldview can make. He came over with what doctors have described as an enormous number of parasites, some of them worms up to 11 inches long. Those worms, in their own sad and tragic way, also bear testimony to the consequences of worldviews. In the case of North Korea, the worldview evidence is not only in bullets it turns out quite graphically, the worldview difference is also made clear in worms.

Part III

Secularism’s lack of resilience on display in new Pew study

Next, as we’re dealing with worldview and consequence, the Pew Research Center was out earlier this week with yet another of its important surveys of the American people. In this case the headline is this,

“Views of transgender issues divide along religious lines.”

Gregory A. Smith and others on the Pew team tell us that in the headline,

“Six-in-ten Christians say gender [is] determined at birth; six-in-ten religious ‘nones’ disagree.”

So we’re talking about the ‘nones’ as those who identify as having no religious affiliation and the symmetry in this particular study comes down to six out of 10, six out of 10 on both sides, six out of 10 who identify as Christians say that gender and biological sex are the same; the sex at birth is one’s gender. On the other hand, an almost identical percentage six out of 10, of those who say they have no religious affiliation, says that gender doesn’t have to be tied to biological sex at all. Now a Pew summary comes down to the obvious, and I quote,

“The American public is sharply divided along religious lines over whether it is possible for someone to be a gender different from their sex at birth.”

And as the study goes on, it basically just fleshes out in some statistical detail the main point here. So what are the main points for us? Well those main points come down at least to two. In the first place there’s no surprise here. As a matter fact, in terms of understanding how worldview operates we would expect that on a question as fundamental as identity, as fundamental as what is now described as gender and sex, we should expect that those who operate out of a biblical worldview and those who operate out of a secular worldview will not only start with different presuppositions, they will end up in very different places. There’s full evidence of that in this particular research. So in keeping with this first observation, we simply have to observe that if you start from a secular worldview and a secular understanding of humanity, then there is really no reason why you wouldn’t buy into the transgender revolution, or at least, we should note, claim that you are buying into the transgender revolution. By the way, there’s one other statistic in this first observation that comes to my mind. On the third page of the Pew research we read that, One-third of Christians say they personally know someone who is transgender, but four in 10 religious ‘nones’ say this,

“including half of those who describe themselves as atheists or agnostics.”

Now that statistic may or may not be true, it’s true at least in terms of the fact that people say they know a transgender person, but if you look at the statistics, even the statistics claimed by the transgender revolutionaries, that’s generally between 0.6 or 1.6 of the population, that it becomes extremely unlikely that any very high percentage of the American population knows any transgender person at least to any close or personal extent. So what that reveals, perhaps, is the fact that an increasing number of Americans, especially secular Americans, at least think they are supposed to say that they know someone who is transgender.

But the second big observation in terms of a Christian worldview analysis of this particular research is the fact that it turns out that a moral worldview based in anything other than biblical Christianity doesn’t have much resilience. Resilience in terms of worldview refers to the ability of a worldview to continue over time and to face significant challenges intellectual, political, and moral challenges. So even as we come to understand that if you were to go back, say a generation, most even secularist people would say that they believe that biological sex and gender were essentially the same thing, the change in their worldview is just a demonstration of the fact there’s very little moral resilience in terms of the secular worldview. It is almost by definition going to change and alter, not only generation by generation, but as we’re watching now, almost day by day.

One of the most important aspects of understanding this absence of resilience has to do with the fact that, at least until recently, virtually everyone, not just Christians, believed that human sexuality, marriage, and sexual activity had to be tied, essentially, to human reproduction. Now Christians would explain that just in terms of general revelation and common grace, but it turns out that a secular worldview, a secular worldview that at one point had even just assumed reproduction by common grace as a major moral mandate, has abandoned it. That affirms just again that the modern secular worldview doesn’t seem to have much resilience. The great challenge for Christians is whether or not Christian faithfulness will be demonstrated in the resilience of the Christian worldview.

Part IV

Death of romance in the age of sexual liberty, both in China and the United States

Finally, we observe the fact that in the wake of the sexual revolution, and, for that matter, add to the sexual revolution the digital revolution of social media, we are left not only with a changed morality, we are left with love and romance in ruins; largely missing from the lives of many people, especially young people. So the Sunday business section of the New York Times recently ran an article stating that in China guys are having to enroll in what’s known as dating 101. These are young men, many of them the young men of China’s one child only policy who have no idea how to relate to women. They didn’t have sisters, they weren’t in school with many girls, they simply don’t know how to even begin a romantic relationship. An answer to this, of all things, the Chinese communist government is trying to step in as matchmaker.

Sui-Lee Wee reports for the Times,

“China worries about its lonely hearts. Newspapers warn that a surplus of unhappy, single men in China could lead to an increase in human trafficking, sex crimes and social instability. So,”

we are told,

“the government is playing matchmaker.”

Now by the time you get to the end of the article it is very clear, to no surprise, that the Chinese Communist Party is not a very competent romantic matchmaker. Nonetheless, in its own clumsy fashion the Chinese Communist Party has established what is known as the “Fall in Love Emotional Education.”

Meanwhile, closer to home, National Public Radio reports that it is young Americans, in particular teenage Americans, who seem to have no knowledge even of where to start in terms of romance and love. The headline of the article,

“Lessons In Love For Generation Snapchat.”

Tovia Smith reports,

“Along with explicit sexual education classes, some schools are beginning to offer more G-rated lessons on love. Experts,”

she says,

“say the so-called ‘iGen’ is woefully unprepared to have healthy, caring romantic relationships and young people need more guidance. So,”

she says, and I quote,

“schools are adding classes that are less about the ‘plumbing’ of relationships, and more about the passion.”

This article affords plenty of evidence of the fact that the sexual revolution has brought about a change in sexual activity, but it has also brought about a basic moral emptiness, a vacuum in the hearts of the American people, and, specifically, of the youngest of the American people. We’re talking about teenagers who have been indoctrinated into every idea about so-called safe sex and every other dimension of the sexual revolution, they have been told that they have the right to sex, even a mandate to sex, and, yet, it appears that they are more distant than any previous American generation to any conception of love or romance.

One teenage girl interviewed for the article said,

“I get really uncomfortable, when it comes to like really romantic things.”

She said,

“Like I hate eye contact. It took me,”

she said,

“almost two years to actually fully make eye contact with Jake for a full sentence.”

Speaking of her boyfriend, whom she did not look in the eye for two full years. Later in the article, Tovia Smith writes,

“It’s exactly what Harvard Graduate school of Education Senior Lecturer Rick Weissbourd has found. His recent research,”

she writes,

“shows young people are struggling with how to conceive of romantic relationships, let alone how to actually navigate them.”

He said, and I quote,

“’It’s a deep underlying anxiety … so they’re looking for wisdom.’ And,”

Weissbourd argues,

“it’s not enough to just give them ‘disaster prevention’ kinds of sex ed classes, that only,”

as the article says,

“deal with pregnancy, STD’s and sexual violence.”

Sadly in a sentence that should move us even as it might shock many, we are told that the vast majority of teenagers indicate that they, in the words of the article, crave those conversations.

So communist China is trying to address its lack of romance among young men with the Fall in Love Emotional Education school; meanwhile, in the United States it’s the public schools trying to take on the new responsibility of teaching American teenagers about the basics of love and romance. In both cases, in both nations, in both kinds of schools what this really reveals is a hole in the soul, and it’s a hole in the soul that’s not going to be rectified by the Fall in Love Emotional Education school or by the public school very close to you.

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.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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