Friday, Dec. 1, 2017
This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
It’s Friday, December 1, 2017. I’m Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
We’ll see why religious liberty is now sacrificed on the altar of the sexual revolution, we’ll see demands that the courts denied the most basic facts of biology, and we’ll come to see why America is becoming one giant casino.
Religious liberty in Australia is sacrificed on the altar of the sexual revolution
Legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in Australia passed that nation’s Senate on Wednesday. The legislation now heads to the country's House of Representatives, where, if it passes, same-sex marriage will become legal throughout the entire nation of Australia. This comes after several months of building controversy, and it comes after a very unusual mail-in vote, won lopsidedly by forces for same-sex marriage. But it also comes after both warnings were made and now have been verified that religious liberty in Australia is about to be sacrificed in the name of sexual liberty, in the name of the legalization of same-sex marriage. Earlier this week the headline in The Australian was this,
“Liberal Fury as Freedom Laws Denied.”
Now this raises the point that the current political coalition and control there in Australia headed by the Liberal party is actually headed by a party that though called “liberal” is liberal in the historic sense; it is now conservative in terms of the political spectrum, and it is a party, nonetheless, headed by a prime minister who has made himself very clearly for same-sex marriage, and not only that, has basically denied protections to religious liberty in a headlong rush to legalize same-sex marriage in the country. The BBC reports that the Australian Senate passed the bill legalizing same-sex marriage on Wednesday by a vote of 43 to 12 after rejecting proposed amendments that would've specifically protected religious liberty. We also need to note in this BBC article a statement made by the government Senate leader, who is also the nation's Attorney General, George Brandis. He said that this legislation that passed the Senate legalizing same-sex marriage would
“‘demolish the last significant bastion of legal discrimination’ over sexuality in Australia.”
He went on to say,
“By passing this bill, we are saying to those vulnerable young people there is nothing wrong with you. You are not unusual. You are not abnormal. You are just you.”
That he said in terms of the debate that took place in Australian Senate on Tuesday, the day before the historic vote. But here we should observe first of all that the Attorney General has tipped his hand towards the fact that this legislation is not now and has never been primarily about legalizing same-sex marriage; it is about normalizing an entire range of sexual behaviors and lifestyles that are now symbolized, and legislative for that matter, in terms of same-sex marriage. But it’s the preceding statement made by the Attorney General that deserves our closest attention. He said that legalizing same-sex marriage would, here again are his words,
“demolish the last significant bastion of legal discrimination,”
as the paper says,
“over sexuality and Australia.”
That is fundamentally dishonest and it is certainly untrue. If indeed the legislation is adopted in Australia, it would legalize same-sex marriage. It would expand the definition of marriage in Australia to include heterosexual couples and now homosexual couples. It would not, at least for now, go beyond that, but that is not the last barrier in terms of the revolution in sexuality. We already see here in the United States and elsewhere where we have an open celebration of polygamy and what's now called polyamory. If you're going to redefine marriage in terms of gender, it is almost certainly a less significant redefinition of marriage to change it in terms of number. The intellectual and moral dishonesty in the Attorney General’s statement is going to be made clear when some successor to his office stands again in the very same place after the adoption of some other legislation or in the wake of some court decision and says then that they have demolished the last significant bastion of legal discrimination over sexuality, and you can count on the fact that then that will be no more true than now.
What also becomes glaringly clear, in terms of the Australian situation, is that politicians have gone to great extents to eliminate even the possibility of legislative amendments that would have recognized and respected and protected religious liberty. In an essay entitled,
“While You Were Sleeping,”
about this massive change in Australia essayist Stephen Mcalpine says that he can understand secular politicians who are quite ready to sell out religious liberty to sacrifice it on the altar of sexual liberty, but then he goes on to say that he can also understand, although he says in an altogether different way,
“those liberal, progressive Christians who have no interest in protecting their traditional brothers and sisters who hold different convictions than they do.”
He then summarizes that this way,
“I completely understand that underneath that Christian exterior, there’s pretty much a secular heart beating in time with whatever the culture decides. Actually beating just behind the culture, because at no stage does progressive Christianity ever lead the culture, merely follow it.”
He goes on speaking of these religious liberals to say,
“None will bat an eyelid or raise a voice for the sake of their brothers and sisters. I completely understand that orthodox Christianity and its progressive iteration are basically different religions. They hold diametrically opposite viewpoints on human origins and endings, sexual ethics, biblical authority, the centrality of the cross, the means of grace and how one is justified before a holy God, if God even is holy, or even is God. Who even knows?”
He then goes on to say that for the religious left,
“Traditional Christians will soon be cultural transgressors. And that sounds fine.”
In his column at The Australian, Paul Kelly goes on to say that there should be no surprise either in terms of the dominant culture or even in terms of the current prime minister, saying that the debate has been dishonest because the entire assumption, he says, on which the debate is been conducted for many years is that,
“same-sex marriage is more important than religious freedom.”
He went on to say that the yes for same-sex marriage case
“opposes stronger religious freedoms and is ready to sacrifice religious freedoms for same-sex marriage. That is the essence of its position.”
What makes that statement most particularly important is that Paul Kelly seems to understand that sidelining, minimizing, and subverting religious liberty isn't something that's an accidental byproduct of the sexual revolution, it’s to a significant degree the very point.
In another column, Kelly points to the fact that in Australia there is no adequate religious liberty legislation. He went on to say that this was even documented in a study undertaken by the Australian Senate earlier this year, indeed in February. He says,
“Unlike many Western nations, Australia has no statutory expression of a stand-alone right to religious freedom. There are far greater legal protections.”
Remember this was written back earlier in the year before the vote. He says,
“There are far greater legal protections in relation to sexual orientation than in relation to religious belief [in Australia].”
With a major case on religious liberty about to be argued next week before the US Supreme Court, we need to note the warning from Paul Kelly coming from the other side of the world that when you have religious liberty reduced to a series of exemptions, it really isn't liberty at all; and, furthermore, even the exemptions will continue to be a bone of contention, and they will continue to be opposed and sometimes absolutely nullified.
In a statement now sadly verified in both Australia and in the United States, we read,
“Claims of the Yes camp that this plebiscite is just about gay marriage are intellectual fraud. They are designed to deliberately mislead. The real issue,”
“is about competing rights. In essence, it is about how our nation will manage and reconcile competing rights. It is about whether same-sex marriage will be legalized with or without the loss of other rights.”
Well, that column was written before what we now know, and that is that the Australian Senate has now legalize same-sex marriage, or at least adopted the legislation legalizing same-sex marriage, absolutely stripped of any protections of religious liberty. We’ll continue to watch the story, but let's just end by reminding ourselves of the fact that the Attorney General said that the legislation would
“demolish the last significant bastion of legal discrimination.”
It will be very, very sad, but not very surprising, if the actual impact of the legislation is to demolish the last bastion, significant bastion, of religious liberty.
Mississippi courts asked to deny the most basic facts of biology
Next, before leaving the issue same-sex marriage altogether we go from Australia to Mississippi. This week the Associated Press ran a story, the headline is this,
“Mississippi Woman Seeks Parental Rights in Same-Sex Divorce.”
Well, this is a story we have seen in other forms before in other states. Here you have a lesbian couple, a woman now legally, according to the Supreme Court, married to another woman, and one of them was artificially inseminated, they have been raising a child together, now the same-sex couple is divorcing and there is a custody battle over whether or not the child can have three parents. According to Mississippi law, a child has two parents, previously known throughout civilization as a mother and a father, in this case the father is a donor, an anonymous donor, and the state says that it cannot recognize two women as having conceived a child.
Mississippi Chancery Court Judge John Grant of Rankin County wrote this statement, which is evidently a controversial statement, which now finds itself contested in terms of this legal action and reported by Jeff Amy of the Associated Press. Here's the statement that he wrote of such great controversy,
“The court finds two women cannot conceive a child together. The court does not find its opinion to be a discriminatory statement but a biological fact.”
Now let’s just affirm the fact that this judge is, if anything, astoundingly, irrefutably correct. The amazing thing is not that a judge would make this commonsensical, indeed absolutely reality-based statement, but that it would become controversial and even controverted in a court of law. As the Associated Press article continues, one of the women, now divorcing says that she believes that the ruling by the Chancery Court Judge discriminates against her, and,
“defies the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage. She wants,”
“legal parental status and hopes that will eventually lead to 50-50 custody.”
Now I’m not going to mention the names or any other particulars in this case, it's the principles that are most important, and let’s just state that one of the most important principles of any worldview, but particularly of the Christian worldview, is a term that is very important: Reality. And to that: truth. Add to that, well, let’s just state it obviously: biology. But embedded within this article is a larger confusion then may at first appear. It is indeed a tragedy that now we’re having to debate whether or not, legally speaking, two women are understood to be capable of conceiving a child. Now notice, by the way, the absolute mayhem that enters into a civilization that drops the biological father entirely out of the picture, or on the other hand, argues that a child can actually have three parents, and in this case there’s even the argument that all three have to be recognized, in some sense, as biological. But we’re also looking at a deeper confusion, you'll notice that the woman who is bringing this legal action says that the decision by this judge in Mississippi, the decision that two women cannot biologically conceive a child, flies in the face of the authority of the United States Supreme Court in the 2015 Obergefell decision. Now the truly scary thing about this article is that this woman might win. Her argument might be legally persuasive. Why? Because the Supreme Court of the United States arrogated to itself the right to define marriage, indeed to redefine marriage, for the entire nation in that 2015 decision, and it just might not be impossible that some federal court in this country will now decide that it will arrogate unto itself the ability to transcend biology. However this story ends, it cannot end well.
Why America is in danger of becoming one giant casino
Finally, we are now watching this country becoming, in effect, one giant casino. State-by-state, betting form by betting form, and now we see it headed to the United States Supreme Court. There have been a flurry of news stories on the fact that early next week the Supreme Court of the United States is going to take up a challenge from the state of New Jersey against federal legislation that reserves sports betting to the state of Nevada. The headline in the Washington Post is a question,
“Will Supreme Court Open a ‘Dam Burst’ of Legalized Sports Betting?”
The news report is by Robert Barnes of the Post. He tells us that the current case to be heard next week before the US Supreme Court is,
“a titanic clash between states that want a piece of the action — [that's] New Jersey [supported] by [at least] 18 other states — and [on the other side] the NCAA, the National Football League, Major League Baseball and other professional sports leagues. They,”
according to the Post,
“contend the federal ban is necessary to protect the integrity of their games.”
Barnes then says what's at stake is
“an underground sports betting economy estimated in the United States to be worth at least $150 billion a year and as much as $400 billion.”
That’s billions of dollars. Now at least one of the states joining with New Jersey isn’t really interested, apparently, in getting into the gambling business, that would be the state of Utah. And Utah has joined the case because of the significant issues of federalism that are at stake. There is a huge constitutional question as to whether it's legal for the United States government to tell states what they cannot do in terms of any prohibition that appears to have no clear constitutional basis, but as for the other states, it’s real clear what their ambition is: they want a piece of the action. That action has been limited to the state of Nevada, but it is also revealing a very great moral issue in this country related to the fact that here you face an alphabet soup of sports organizations including NCAA, the NFL—well also major league baseball, and other professional sporting leagues—who are trying to argue that the federal ban should be kept in place in order to protect the integrity of their sports when at the very same time, as the Washington Post, the New York Times, and other major media have made clear, they are themselves undermining the integrity of their games and other sports by involving themselves in other forms of gambling.
One of the most obvious signs of professional sports increasing investment in organized gambling is the fact that the NFL approved the move of the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas, where there can be no question that a major part of the energy and the interest will be gambling. Barnes reports it this way, New Jersey in the other states are accusing the professional sports leagues of hypocrisy.
“Even as the National Basketball Association fights New Jersey’s efforts, league commissioner Adam Silver has called for legalizing sports betting. Baseball has invested in one of the leading components of sports betting, fantasy leagues. A pro hockey team, the Vegas Golden Knights, has its home in the epicenter of sports betting, and,”
“the NFL's Raiders will begin playing there [as soon as] a new stadium is completed.”
But even as the main action next week will be at the United States Supreme Court, the stakes there may be lower than some might think. Why? Because it's clear that the impetus towards legalizing sports betting, which by the way would include not only professional sports leagues but the NCAA, that is now gaining political support to the extent that even if New Jersey and the other states lose before the US Supreme Court, that itself is not considered likely, they’re likely to win in the United States Congress.
Wednesday's addition of USA Today on the front of the sports page had the headline,
“Bet on Legalized Sports Betting.”
Overturning the federal ban, says USA Today, is no longer a long shot. The USA Today article cites Sam Skolnik, author of the book High Stakes: The Rising Cost of America's Gambling Addiction, who said, and I quote,
“This is a concerted campaign, unlike anything since I’ve been studying this issue. … The deck,”
“is stacked in favor of the gambling industry in many ways in this country. What that’s done is really altered the debate, the legalization debate, and made it sort of David vs. Goliath.’”
Speaking of the legalization of this kind of sports betting, Skolnik said,
“If this is going to happen, regulations need to be put into place that recognize that this is going to have harmful effects on many folks.… My concern,”
“is that not enough attention will be paid to the likely damages that would occur.”
But here we simply have to interject that at no point has anyone taken moral responsibility for the effects of expanding and legalizing gambling in any form. The states don't take responsibility for the damage they inflict on their own citizens through the lottery, and, furthermore, there are merely cosmetic and token responses to gambling addiction and all of the turmoil and the damage it brings to individuals and to families on the part of the states that have legalized gambling in one form or another, and, increasingly, in more forms all the time.
But then just to make the stakes clearer in the pro-football column in the New York Times, this week Joe Drape wrote an article with the headline,
“Among Bettors, College Football Is Shoving the NFL Aside.”
The point of Drape's article is this: There is far greater interest among gamblers in collegiate football at the NCAA level than in pro-football. Why? Because there are more teams and there is a great deal more volatility. The New York Times article tells us interestingly that the NFL is not all that interesting in terms of projecting odds. It turns out that the oddsmakers are pretty accurate in the NFL, far less so in terms of collegiate football. Why? Because younger players make far more mistakes.
So with the Supreme Court ploy is to hear these arguments next week, and with gambling expanding all around us, virtually everywhere, we should at least be honest in recognizing that no one is going to take responsibility for all of this damage. No one is going to take moral responsibility for the effects of gambling. No one is going to take responsibility of the fact that even though this is being touted primarily as related to professional sports, it's going to have a corrupting influence, not only in the NFL, but also in the NCAA. It should concern us all that this entire nation is becoming one giant collective casino. It should also alarm us that apparently one of the primary locations, in terms of a casino, might soon be the stadium next door.
Thanks for listening to The Briefing. For more information, go to my website at AlbertMohler.com. You can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.com/albertmohler. For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to sbts.edu. For information on Boyce College, just go to BoyceCollege.com.
I’ll meet you again on Monday for The Briefing.