Thursday, Oct 11, 2018

Thursday, Oct 11, 2018

The Briefing

October 11, 2018

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

It’s Thursday, October 11, 2018. I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

As Hurricane Michael makes landfall, why human beings ought to be humbled by this kind of storm

The images from the satellites are almost unimaginable. We are looking at so much red. We are looking at such an incredible intensity and we’re looking at the fact that a storm that has just for a few days even been a part of our imagination and nomenclature hit Florida, we are told now yesterday, just two miles an hour short of being a Category 5 hurricane. What is so interesting and ominous about that fact is the reality that the storm had escalated in a matter of less than 24 hours from a Category 2 to a Category 5, or at least just to miles per hour short of Category 5. The difference between Category 2 and Category 5 is one that is measured in miles per hour and barometric pressure, but the reality is that you’re looking at potential catastrophe versus overwhelming catastrophe.

In reality, we are told that sustained winds of 145 miles per hour or greater are probably more powerful than any basic structure can endure. Now as you’re looking at Michael making its way through the Florida panhandle and into Alabama and Georgia territory. Keep in mind that even this morning, the winds are still at hurricane strength. As of last night, the winds were still above 100 miles per hour even as the storm was considerably inland. In looking at a storm of this magnitude, of course, our first concern is for the human beings who are involved. There’s massive wealth that is at stake. There is much that is at stake in construction and buildings. There’s a great deal of investment that is of course very much at risk. But all of that pales over against the risk to human beings.

Human beings made in God’s image who are incredibly vulnerable in the face of this kind of a storm. Who are vulnerable to wind and vulnerable to rain. And vulnerable, of course, to the combination of a massive tidal surge that we are told may have reached as high as 16 feet in some areas and also to winds, sustained winds, that stagger our imagination. But then again as we think of this kind of reality, we have to keep in mind the relative small nature of human beings. Even physically, we are small. Our footprint on planet earth is very small. Our stature over against the natural scale is actually quite small. We talk about children versus adults, but the reality is, at all points along the human scale, we ended up being very small over against other realities of the natural world. We end up being extremely small over against the power of a hurricane, much less a hurricane of this kind of intensity.

As I said yesterday on the briefing this means that human beings are humbled or ought to be humbled by this kind of storm. We immediately start to pray for those who are in the path of danger and right now we know that the storm has already torn through much of the panhandle and it is entering into other territories. We also know that for instance, even as the entire panhandle of Florida and counties going all the way down to Hillsborough County at the midpoint of the Florida Gulf coast, they were under a state of emergency.

We also knew that as of this morning, 92 of 159 counties in Georgia were also under a declared state of emergency. And the storm is not going to end in Florida, Alabama or Georgia. It’s going to continue up the Atlantic coastline. It’s going to bring devastating winds and devastating rains, and a storm of this intensity which is fueled by unusually warm weather. It is also being channeled into greater intensity even as the winds begin to break down over land. There’s simply too much wind to break down very quickly. One of the things we have noted as a reality in the face of weather developments is that those whose job it is to track the weather have to attract us to understanding that the story is important. So one of the dangers is that people become relatively unmoved, rather nonchalant in hearing these kinds of warnings that may have already been the case throughout much of the effected territory. When we know that a major storm is coming and politicians tell us that the store may be indeed deadly, we’re so used to hearing that, the human nature means, we begin to hear it with less and less credibility.

And here we’re looking at the fact that the forecast actually underestimated the force of the storm. The warnings, if anything turned down to be less significant than the significance of the storm itself. Again, we’re humbled by the fact that we know so much about the weather and yet simultaneously we still know so little. Here are some facts we do know well summarized by Susan Miller at USA Today. We know that an hour after a landfall, the storm is winds had weakened only slightly to 150 miles per hour. This kind of storm is not unprecedented throughout the United States, but it is unprecedented as hitting the Florida Panhandle. Ever since modern hurricane statistics have been recorded going back 150 years, the Panhandle, though having experienced devastating storms, has never experienced a storm this close to Category 5.

Susan Miller’s report is also very interesting in telling us one of the reasons why the storm had increased in intensity so very quickly. It turns out that waters in the Gulf are generally cooler this time of year. We are talking about October, but there was a coalescence of forces and of opportunities within the development of this weather system. By the time it became a tropical depression and then a tropical storm, it came onto our imagination in the form of documented satellite images. Then it began to grow. Then came the speculation, “Where’s it going to go? How powerful might it be?” Again, the really humbling reality is that the storm was more powerful even than the warnings and the estimates. It’s also interesting to note that when this kind of storm comes, this kind of history altering storm, we also often have new terms that enter into our cultural vocabulary.

For example, one of those new terms that enters into our vocabulary with Hurricane Michael is hot towers. Marshall Shepherd, director of the University of Georgia’s atmospheric sciences program, he’s also a former president of the American Meteorological Society, he explains that these hot towers are massively tall thunderstorms that form in the eye wall of the hurricane. Some hurricanes have them, indeed most hurricanes have them, and shepherd has been warning for years that these are leading indicators of a rapid intensification of a storm into a super storm. It has turned out that Michael was fueled by several, if not many of these hot towers, these massively tall thunderstorms, and here’s where it’s also interesting to note why they are so dangerous, why they lead to such intensification. It’s because these massively tall thunderstorms are picking up an incredible amount of heat from the water surface and are channeling it so high into the atmosphere that it creates an enormous energy added to even the circular motion of the hurricane.

Speaking of the unusual combination in October, of warm water in the Gulf, favorable wind conditions and humidity, Shepherd said, and I quote, “Those are the perfect ingredients for a storm like this to really blossom.” As of last night, even more was apparent. Going back to the USA Today report, we are told that Michael’s barometric pressure at landfall was 919 millibars, which makes it the third strongest hurricane to hit the United States on record. Pause there for a moment. We’re talking about a storm that we haven’t even been talking about except for the last several days. A storm that just a few days ago was spoken of as a more likely nuisance than threat, that became clearly a threat and then eventually, as we now know, a super threat. It is also humbling from a human perspective to recognize that given the history of human beings recording hurricanes on the continental United States, that this is the third most powerful storm ever to hit.

So we’re talking about a span of almost 150 years and we’re talking about a storm, and think of all the storms since that ranks number three in intensity. The only two storms known and documented to have been more powerful than Michael are the Labor Day hurricane of 1935. It’s interesting that, that hurricane took place before we had the habit of naming them with personal names. The other more powerful hurricane was hurricane Camille in 1969. A hurricane we lament to note that had a massive death toll. Going back to Marshall Shepherd, the meteorologist, it’s really interesting to hear him explain, and I quote, “Once Michael was in the south, it was in a very difficult wind shear environment.” As you know, hurricanes”, he said, “Don’t like wind shear when the winds change direction or speed as you go up in altitude.” One of the things he said that’s really interesting about Hurricane Michael is that it was very resilient.

It was actually still intensifying even in an environment with a lot of wind shear, which was odd. So, “I knew”, he said, “Once it got into an environment with less wind shear and over warm Gulf waters, the thing was going to just explode. And that’s what we’re seeing.” So as we’re thinking about how a storm like this humbles us, we think about it’s sheer scale, we think about our inability to predict it. We are proud, very proud, and indeed we are thankful for the satellite images and the ability of meteorologists to track this kind of storm, but fundamentally we still can do very little about them. And furthermore, it’s chastening to us to recognize that so often our predictions turn out to be too much or too little. Too rarely do we get a prediction just right. And so we will continue to pray for those whose lives and livelihoods are at risk or perhaps already affected by hurricane Michael. We’ll continue to pray for God to preserve life and we will continue to pray with hope for that army of volunteers and others who will be rushing into these areas to bring help. And that includes no small army of Christians ready to go into the areas affected by Hurricane Michael with both help and hope in the name of Jesus Christ.

Part II

Abortion once again revealed to be central sacrament as feminist left turns on Democratic governor of California

But next, we shift from Florida to California where controversy surrounds a governor’s veto. The governor is Governor Jerry Brown, finishing two recent terms as governor of California. This is after he had served two previous terms as governor of the same state. This is after his father, Governor Edmund G., or Pat Brown, had also served as governor during the 1960s to be succeeded in office by the newly elected governor then, Governor Ronald Reagan. But Governor Jerry Brown is one of the most interesting figures still living in American politics, and not only is he still living at advanced age, he is just now completing what according to California standards are two very successful terms in office.

Now, keep in mind, we’re talking about a state in which no Republican has been elected to state-wide office for a very long time. We’re talking about a state where a governor as liberal as Jerry Brown at one point decades ago, he was referred to as Governor Moonbeam, but he is actually nowhere near as liberal as the states elected legislature. We’re talking about a state that is not only on the west coast, but as is often noted on the left coast. So why in the world as Governor Brown in trouble? He is in trouble with the abortion rights movement. And why? It’s because he vetoed a bill passed by the California General Assembly that would have required all public universities and colleges in the state to offer to all students with general access medication abortions. That is abortion by abortifacient pill.

It is interesting in itself that one of the responses to Governor Brown’s veto, a response of outrage from the left is published in the magazine known as Teen Vogue. Teen Vogue, by the way, has been in so many ways a leading indicator of the left wing of feminism addressed to young women, even to young adolescents and teenagers. The article is an op ad by Adiba Khan. We are told that she “Helped start the effort to get abortion care on California’s campuses.” The headline in the article at Teen Vogue is California governor’s veto of abortion care on campus is another example of men not listening to women. Now, before we even look at the article or even look at the governor’s decision, let’s understand what this response indicates. It indicates an argument that is first of all, growing in popularity more generally on the cultural left, but it specifically is becoming an argument that is growing with intensity among young feminists or even older feminists trying to make arguments to young feminists. Is the argument that a man, even a liberal man can’t be entrusted with legislation or policy that will affect women, specifically we should note that would affect abortion.

And of course we’re looking at the cultural left that tries to redefine abortion as a woman’s reproductive health. The biggest lesson from this article is not political. It’s not just the democratic left, specifically the feminists left turning on a liberal democratic governor. It is the centrality of the issue of abortion. That becomes so very clear in this article by Adiba Khan at Teen Vogue. She writes, “What I discovered once I started school at the University of California, Berkeley, is that this is the unfortunate reality for too many college students in California. For many people, including university students, California’s abortion laws do not translate to access. Students at California public universities who are low income from marginalized communities or first generation college students face the greatest obstacles to getting the healthcare they need.” Now we need to take that apart for just a moment. We’re talking about the state of California, which has some of the most aggressively pro abortion laws in the nation.

We’re talking about a state that basically pays with taxpayer money for abortions. We are talking about a state that encourages so-called women’s health centers and those that are offering abortion services. We are talking about a state in which it is ludicrous to suggest that anyone does not have almost immediate access to abortion. But what’s being demanded here is that, that access even be made possible, indeed mandated by taxpayer support on every single California college and university campus. And furthermore that the abortion access include specifically this medicated abortion or the abortion pill. And the argument goes on, “Abortion services are not available at the Berkeley campus health center like at every other public university in the state, and students have no choice but to go off campus to seek care.” Now, what does that mean? It’s telling us that the demand is now not only that abortion be legal, not only that abortion be paid for with taxpayer money; not only that there’ll be abortion clinics all over the state, but that a woman should not even have to leave a college or university campus in order to obtain a medicated abortion.

She goes back to speaking of students, “They have to take the time to travel to community clinics and endure long waits for an appointment. Because most appointments are offered at the same time as the majority of classes, students may be forced to choose between their academic performance and following through on their decision to end their pregnancy.” What I would ask you to note there is not just the calculation that has gone into this morally, but the insinuation that abortion is actually less morally significant than attending class. Governor Brown is about to end his very historic recent tenure of two terms as California governor, eventually adding up to a totality of four terms as governor of the nation’s most populous state.

He is being lionized and honored as a governor who goes out with the enthusiastic support of so many California voters who after all, again, haven’t elected a Republican statewide in recent memory. But we are also talking about a governor that is going out with the finger pointed at him by feminists who say, “He’s a liberal, but he’s still a man.” And when it comes to even this one veto with primary reference to just one university campus, he’s gone with the feminists from being, “One of us”, to being, “One of them.” And yet when you come to the end of this atrocity of an opinion piece, you come to the end of an argument which can only end in the culture of death. She writes, and I quote, “Every student should be able to make the decisions that are best for their unique circumstances and future access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion, is critical to making that a reality, no matter what any man in power thinks is best for women’s bodies.”

You know what’s so chilling about this article? It’s not the obsessive interest in abortion rights, it’s not even the focus on the demand that all women have access to abortion on campus, it is the fact that the only morally significant entity even recognized in the article is the woman; with abortion defined as a woman’s reproductive health. What’s missing, missing entirely, is the unborn child. Missing entirely from the equation.

Part III

Is chivalry merely condescension? One woman, in the name of women, demands the end of respect for women

But next while we’re talking about arguments coming from the feminists left, it’s interesting to turn to a piece that was recently published in the Washington Post. It’s in the ‘Made by history’ perspective column. It’s by Amy S. Kaufman. It’s entitled, ‘Chivalry isn’t dead, but it should be.’ Now once again, the historical catalyst for this article was the recent controversy in the United States Senate over the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as the newest justice of the United States Supreme Court.

But this article is not being mentioned today on the briefing because of that context, but rather because of where the argument goes. You will notice the title. ‘Chivalry isn’t dead, but it should be.’ Now, the argument of this article suggests that the press has been far too positive about Justice Kavanaugh for his role as a federal judge given priority even to women who would serve as his law clerks. The argument being made by this particular author is that Judge Kavanaugh has been praised even by the liberal press for being the coach of a girl’s soccer team. For being so respectful of women as a judge, and for having women, a majority of women who have served as his clerks during the time that he is a federal judge. So why the outrage? What’s the argument here? The argument is that chivalry is just a defense mechanism for patriarchy. That when men are praised for being chivalrous, it just demonstrates again the fact that men are praised for having power over women. That’s the argument here.

Now as Christians, let’s just unpack this for a moment. Let me get to the bottom line. We do not want to live in a world without chivalry. Not necessarily a medieval code of chivalry, about knights and princesses and damsels in distress, but we do not want to live in a world without chivalry when men and boys are not held to an expectation of respect for women. Now, if the argument is, as we see here in this kind of article, that formalized respect in that sense is condescension, if we buy that argument, then we simply abandon all moral reason. We also abandon the culture to a situation in which male respect for women is dismissed as being simply another form of oppressing women. If you think about this logic, it gets us absolutely nowhere. Now as you read, the article becomes clear that Emmy Kaufman is herself historically a medievalist.

She’s writing about the medieval code of chivalry and saying that it was rather complex and included both the oppression of women and the cultural respect for women. But abandon the medieval age for a moment because we’re not trying to go back to the middle ages, but instead think about the implications of this argument. That chivalry itself is a problem. That it’s a moral wrong, that it is condescending to women. Do we really want to live in a society in which women are not treated with respect by men? But there again, it raises a very interesting question. The feminist view of the world is that the entire dynamic that is warped to the world is a dynamic of the male oppression of women. That, that’s what explains history in historical patterns. That’s what explains the dominance of men in so many professions. That’s what explains why you get on the line, including it’s supposedly explains as we just saw, a liberal California Democratic governor castigated for vetoing a bill that would have made abortion even more readily available in the state of California.

What we’re looking at here is a redefinition of morality that eventually dissolves into nonsense. But it also reminds us that in the name of women we have many people who are here actually demanding an end of respect for women. The Christian Biblical worldview begins with an understanding that men and women are equally made in God’s image, but it also begins with an understanding that there is a difference. And so in scripture, there is understood to be a male responsibility, a responsibility of fathers and husbands to protect their wives and daughters; even brothers, to join in that protection. Men to protect women. The Bible is brutally honest about the reality of sin, including male sin against women, but it holds up a very clear understanding that there is a distinction between men and women and that males, men and boys, have a particular responsibility towards females as women and as girls.

And we do not want to be a part of a church, we do not want to grow up in a family, we do not want to operate in a culture that sees chivalry as mere condescension that has to be overcome in the name of some kind of equality. It’s that kind of equality, we should note that is a part of a secular utopia, which just to put it bluntly, will never come. But a final point on this is that what it demonstrates and underlines quite emphatically is that a society that severs humanity from any kind of biblical definition is eventually going to sever humanity; men and women, if it even can speak rationally of men and women from any kind of distinct moral responsibility or even a clear moral code.

But of course, the other responsibility for Christians is to remember that in our churches and in our homes and in our influence, we have to underline the responsibility of men and boys to respect women and to show that respect. To formalize structures that demand that respect and to show the glory of God in that respect. And in that respect to show the world at least what Christians understand about human dignity, the dignity of both men and women.

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.

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

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