Monday, March 4, 2019
This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
It's Monday, March 4, 2019. I'm Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
The implications of transgender ideology actualized: Parental rights is the next victim of the sexual revolution in Canada
In the haze and fog of ubiquitous media, and especially in the age of social media, it is often very difficult to distinguish between the significant and the merely salacious. But a new story coming to us out of Canada fits the significant category. It's one of those stories, those salacious, that really is of utmost moral importance as we come to understand the challenge of our times.
Jeremiah Keenan reporting for the Federalist tells us, last Wednesday, the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Canada ordered that a 14 year old girl receive testosterone injections without parental consent. The court also declared that if either of her parents referred to her using female pronouns or addressed her by her birth name, they would be considered guilty of family violence.
Now, Keenan reported on this story earlier telling us that the girl's high school counselor in British Columbia had encouraged her to identify as a boy as early as the seventh grade. When Maxine was only 13, we are told, Dr. Brenden Hursh and his colleagues at the British Columbia Children's Hospital decided that Maxine, "Should begin taking testosterone injections in order to develop a more masculine appearance." Keenan tells us that the girl's mother was, "Ultimately willing to support hormone injections." But we are also told her father was, and again these are the words of Keenan, "Concerned about the permanent ramifications of cross-sex hormones. He continued, suspecting that his daughter's mental health issues might be more of the cause than the effect of her gender dysphoria. He ultimately decided that it would be better for her to wait until she was older before she embarked on any irreversible course of treatment."
Now that's where the story just gets all the more concerning and complicated. The doctor informed the father that hormone treatments taking the form of testosterone injections would begin simply on the basis of the child's consent alone. And the doctor claimed that he had the professional right to do this under the prevailing law in British Columbia known as the Infants Act. The report then tells us that the father soft an injunction from the court in British Columbia, but last Wednesday, a judge deemed the minor girl, "Exclusively entitled to consent to medical treatment for gender dysphoria." There is even more a deep concern in this ruling, but we need to note that the father has indicated his grave disappointment saying, "The government has taken over my parental rights. They're using," he mentions his daughter's name, "like she's a guinea pig in an experiment.
Is British Columbia Children's Hospital," he asked, "going to be there in five years when she rejects her male identity? No, they're not. They don't care. They want numbers." Keenan explains that in the past, the majority of children diagnosed by sex change clinics with gender dysphoria or gender identity disorder have ended up embracing their Natal sex, that means their birth sex as adults. This is now well documented. Again, let's go back to that. The majority of children diagnosed as having gender dysphoria or gender identity disorder, end up later in life embracing their sex assigned at birth.
The father also made reference to reports from England, most importantly published in The Times of London, indicating that some transgender clinics are now bowing to activist pressure in order to fast track children into transition treatments, including hormone treatments. The father told the Federalists, "These activists are taking over and it's not in the interest of our kids. It's in the interest of self promotion and the things that they want to do and accomplish." Well, at least a part of what they want to accomplish is to normalize the entire transgender ideology. But even as this article in the Federalist and previous reports make abundantly clear there is no way to normalize this. There is no way to look at this news without deep and abiding moral concern, even a sense of crisis when it comes to parental rights.
The story is coming to us from British Columbia, in Canada, our northern neighbor. But as we have seen repeatedly, legal developments on one side of the nation's border will not often stay on that one side. Even as we have seen Canada increasingly tracking in moral terms, developments in Western Europe, we have seen several states in the United States begin to mirror developments in Canada and national developments are likely to follow. We're looking here at one of the most deeply subversive developments when it comes to parental rights that would be imaginable. We're also looking at something that wouldn't have even been imaginable just a few years ago, but now it's real. We're talking about a real case in a real court with a real judge, with a judgment that will be truly binding. We're looking at real parents having their parental rights effectively nullified.
As we ponder this story from British Columbia, we need to step back for a moment and recognize not only how revolutions in morality happen, but how implications of worldviews inevitably show themselves over time. It's not that human beings are entirely consistent, it is that consistently the implications of a worldview will actualize. They will apparently and eventually show up. Now, let's think about what we're looking at here.
The transgender ideology really began with reference to adults with the claim that gender is merely a social construct and with the ongoing argument that there is a distinction between gender identity and sex assigned at birth. But even as adults were at the forefront of these developments and primarily the concern in the beginning. It can't stay that way, if you argue that gender is merely a social or psychosexual construction, and then that will be true for everyone. Not just for adults, it will be true for children and for teenagers as well. If you argue for absolute personal autonomy, then eventually that will have to be true for everyone, or at least some massively important legal argument will have to be put in place in order to argue that anyone should be accepted from this argument for autonomy.
But the moral revolutionaries long before it got to the transgender revolution, were already arguing that teenagers and children should be treated as sexually autonomous beings. Now, you'll notice they don't argue for that same autonomy on other issues, but the sexual revolutionaries zero in on sex and they build on the argument of personal autonomy. And inevitably, that means virtually for everyone. Furthermore, you're looking at the fact that when you are considering children, you're looking at an argument that would not only inevitably arise, but the sexual revolutionaries would have to answer absolutely consistently with their overarching claims. Parental rights, like every other form of existing rights would have to give way.
Even as we have seen this inevitable collision between religious liberty and the new sexual liberty, it is also true that parental rights will have to give way to the new sexual revolutionaries and their constitutional or legal logic. When you're looking at this story, we're not just talking about an issue, we're talking about a 14 year old girl. But of course, by the ruling of this court, it is actually considered violence to the child to refer to the child as a girl, even though you have to consider the fact that a society going headlong into this confusion, can't actually believe what it is requiring even this girl's parents to say. And yes, the language in this ruling is absolutely draconian. I'm reading from page 15 of the actual document of the ruling that was handed down last week by the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
In the judge's ruling he says, "Attempting to persuade," and here, initials AB, are used for the child. "Attempting to persuade AB to abandon treatment for gender dysphoria, addressing AB by his birth name, referring to AB as a girl, or with female pronouns, whether to him directly or to third parties shall be considered to be family violence under Section 38 of the Family Law Act."
Consider the language here. These parents are told that if they even refer to their daughter as a girl using feminine pronouns even to third parties, they shall be found guilty of the crime of Family Violence under Section 38 of Canada's Family Law Act.
Now here in the United States, even in a case recently in Ohio, we've had courts give similar rulings, rulings that teenagers seeking sex reassignment surgery or puberty blockers, or some kind of hormonal treatment cannot be prevented from doing so by a lack of parental consent. In one case in Ohio, a judge actually reassigned parental rights to grandparents who were willing for the child to undergo these treatments and remove the parental authority of the child's parents. This is happening over and over again. This ruling last week in Canada is more extreme, but we have to understand, it's pointing towards the future.
Similarly, Jill Croteau, reporting for Global News in Canada gives us a story with a headline Gay Straight Alliance law Challenged At Alberta Court of Appeal. We are told in the Global News report, "A Court of Appeal heard both sides on the impacts of Gay Straight alliances in school, while one side argues they limit a parent's right to know. The other says it protects children whose parents may not accept their sexual identity." The summons substance of this issue comes down to the fact that children in schools in Alberta are being referred to Gay Straight alliances, and sometimes even to openly gay or LGBTQ counselors without even the knowledge of their parents. They're being encouraged to adopt and to accept a gay identity without their parents having any knowledge that the conversations or even taking place.
You see the two sides, the two sides of a worldview divide here, when we are told in this Global News report that one side argues that these alliances limit a parent's right to know but the other side, remember this, says that these alliances protect children, "Whose parents may not accept their sexual identity." Again, you see the autonomy of the child absolutely asserted as the fundamental reality here. Sexual identity merely as a function of that autonomy. And now identity politics being driven all the way down to school age children. This is a moral meltdown, there's no question about that. But it is also a denial of parental rights even for a parent to know, in this case, the kind of sexual identity that is being suggested to the parents' own children.
Some news reports in the background to this particular controversy, by the way, go on to say that parents have discovered that it's not just a counseling process about sexual identity, it is often far more graphic sexual instruction that has been given to their children not only without their permission, but even without their knowledge. Now, here we need to step back and in worldview analysis, understand that this is not only the working out, the consistent working out of the logic of the sexual revolution. It's not only the denial of parental rights and thus the redefinition of the family, it is also the understanding coming from the sexual revolutionaries that if they concede even for a moment that there might need to be a pause, even when it comes to children, then it fatally undermines the fact that the only moral mandate they know is the sexual revolution and absolute personal autonomy. And absolute, well, it means absolute or it doesn't mean absolute at all, in which case their argument begins to fall apart.
But there are arguments winning in court. It is winning in the court of public opinion. Parents are increasingly seen as obstacles to the exercise of their children's or their adolescent's personal autonomy. They are increasingly seen as obstacles to the moral revolution, which of course, parents are supposed to be, and they are increasingly seen as enemies of the state. And furthermore, as those who may do violence to the family by, for instance, referring to their daughter as a girl, even to a third party. Or their son as a boy, even to a third party after this kind of judicial opinion has been handed down.
It is finally also significant to note that this is a court decision because it is in the legal courts, the courts of law, where so much of the advancement of this kind of ideology is taking place. Why? Because if you have a court operating on the basis of precedent, and then expanding the application of that precedent, then when the arguments about autonomy and sexual liberty and constitutional or legal rights are made of adults, it is then extremely difficult once you have those arguments established in case law and in judicial decisions, to limit the application. Furthermore, even to limit the extension of that logic.
This is how a moral change takes place within a society, not only aided and abetted by the courts, but often driven by the courts. That's why so many the headlines we have to deal with come back to one judge or another; one justice or one court after another. It is not accidental that many of the most controversial milestones in the moral revolutions taking place around us are named by court decisions such as Roe v. Wade. It's also not an accident. It is part of a concerted legal strategy as part of an overall ambition to transform the culture. And as court decision after court decision indicates, the revolutionaries are winning.
Should men competitively wrestle women? Christian convictions lead high school wrestler to forfeit his shot at the state championship
But now we shift from British Columbia to the United States and to the state of Colorado where Sean Keeler reporting for the Denver Post tells us in a headline, "A Colorado Springs wrestler made history when he knocked himself out of the state tournament rather than wrestle a girl." The Washington Post cover the story with a similar headline, "Rather than wrestle a girl in the state championship, this high schooler forfeited." Samantha Pell, in this case, was the reporter. She begins the story this way, "To Brendan Johnston, it was a simple choice. The 18 year old senior wrestler from The Classical Academy in Colorado had never competed against a girl and faced with the option to do so and potentially moved one round closer to his goal of winning a state wrestling title. He instead decided to forfeit." Pell continues, "For one of the two would be female opponents, Johnston refused to face and the Colorado State wrestling championships last weekend. It was a frustrating outcome. The girl wrestler said that she understood and respected his decision but questioned why any wrestler of any gender would decide to forfeit in a state tournament after making it so far."
And then Pell tells us, and I quote, "Johnston cited personal and religious beliefs for not wanting to wrestle a girl." Now, Pell tells us that Johnston's refusal to wrestle a female competitor disappointed and frustrated many at a time, she says, when girls participation in the sport continues to rise across the country. She also summarize, "While incidents like these are rare, it's a scenario that has been confronted more frequently with the growth of women's wrestling overall."
Now, as you're looking at this case involving an 18 year old young man in Colorado, Brendan Johnston, you're also looking at the fact that he sought to explain why he did forfeit the two matches even though it would cost him the opportunity to win a state championship, something he had obviously been working for, for some time. In the young man's statement published in the Washington Post, he said, "There is something I really do find problematic about the idea of wrestling with a girl, and part of that does come from my faith and my belief." The Washington Post said that Johnston identifies as a Christian. He attends The International Anglican Church in Colorado Springs. The young man went on to say, "And a part of that does come from how I was raised to treat women as well as maybe from different experiences and things."
We are told that Johnston has never wrestled a girl since he picked up the sport in the seventh grade. He also believes that the physical aggression required in wrestling isn't something he's comfortable showing towards a girl on or off the mat. In a quite remarkably mature statement made to the Denver Post, Brendan Johnston said, "Wrestling is something we do, it's not who we are." And he said, "There are more important things to me than my wrestling, and I'm willing to have those priorities." The Denver Post went on to say that Brendan Johnston is forever a part of Colorado State tournament lore.
The young man also said to the assorted media that he would stand by his decision made on personal principle and conviction. But then Christine Brennan, columnist for USA Today, responded with an article entitled High School Boys Had Better Learn To Compete With Girls. She described, "History is made over the weekend in Denver when not one but two girls stood proudly on the podium at the Colorado State High School wrestling tournament for the first time ever. They were there, " She wrote, in part, "because a boy forfeited to them rather than compete against them. Senior Brendan Johnston of the classical Academy," she reported, "declined to wrestle one of the girls in the tournament's first round, then did the same in the third round, and that meant that he was out and the girls eventually stood on the platform."
Again, the entire point of Brennan's column in USA Today is that boys are going to have to merely get over this, that the revolution is taking place and it has to be celebrated, and the boys are going to have to wrestle girls. Deal with it. She then went on to suggest that one of the reasons why she thinks some boys don't want to wrestle some girls is because they are afraid of losing. Brennan then offers what she thinks is the killer argument. "The hands on nature of the sport of wrestling and the inherent proximity of the competitors to one another make this conversation all the more interesting if athletes like Johnston," she means Brendan Johnston, "are worried about competing against a girl in such a manner. What would they think about competing against a boy who is gay, which they might already have done, or a transgender athlete?"
Well, there you see the logic of the moral revolution. It's all the same; transgender, gay, girl, it really doesn't matter. Gender is simply a social construct and liberation is the only issue, personal autonomy is the maxim, so deal with it. Now you'll also note the language that was carefully used in this column. I'll go back to this as modestly as we can, "The inherent proximity of the competitors to one another." I had one young male wrestler mentioned to me that one of his concerns about wrestling girls was that effectively he would be doing on the mat what would get any male arrested for doing outside of that context. It is simply improper, it is immodest. And furthermore, it is a graphic example of what happens when a society decides that it simply must destroy all distinctions between male and female.
Christians considering this kind of story have to recognize it is indeed very controversial, sometimes from surprising sources. Back in 2011, I did a radio program about this issue and wrote an article entitled Boys Wrestling Girls, A Clash of Worlds and Worldviews. That was back in February of 2011. I can just assure you that even in 2011, I received some of the most ardent and angry responses from especially the parents of girls and girls who were wrestling telling me that I had no business whatsoever suggesting that the distinction between male and female boys and girls in this situation was in any way morally significant. I expect the same thing is likely to happen again.
Christians looking at this kind of concern have to realize that the Scripture tells us that creation includes a certain order, including a distinction, a fundamental distinction between male and female, men and women, boys and girls. Furthermore, the respect for that distinction is part of the theological argument of the orders of creation. The very order revealed in creation also comes with moral knowledge and a moral insight. It comes with an understanding of the rightness of the wrongness of certain acts, of certain relationships. We come to understand that that rightness and that wrongness offers us a way of extending a biblical logic to understand that some things are simply imprudent. Some things are morally risky, some things are categorically wrong.
The very idea of whether girls should be involved in wrestling is a very different moral question, than the question of whether boys should be required to wrestle girls. That's a very different thing. It involves given the very way that wrestling, competitive wrestling takes place. It involves not only what this columnist at USA Today euphemistically called proximity, it requires physical contact that is likely to be, let's just state this as simply and modestly as possible, a complicating situation.
Back in my column, written in 2011, I cited Rick Reilly of ESPN who discussed a young man then and the parents of that young man who also had forfeited this kind of a tournament, and in Reilly's rendering, they are "So wrong." Then he wrote this; body slams and take downs and gouges in the eye and elbows in the ribs are exactly how to respect, and he gave the name of the girl competitor then to whom the young man had forfeited. "This is what she lives for. She can elevate herself, thanks."
Well, just look at that. Just consider the language. What kind of a society puts a young man, puts a teenage boy in the situation of knowing that body slams and take downs and gouges in the eye and elbows in the ribs are exactly how to respect young women and girls? Just consider the logic of that. And we're not talking about something that was published just recently, in the last few days in 2019. This was published back in 2011. In moral terms, there is a whole lot of water under the bridge since then. But here we are, in the case of Brendan Johnston, facing the same question over and over again. We're looking at a society that understands no order in creation, that considers any argument about order in creation, or about sexual modesty as being completely out of place, irrational, and furthermore, laughable, dismissible in the 21st century.
From the tennis court to the wrestling mat and everywhere in between, the athletic arena grapples with how to handle LGBTQ competitors
But then finally, just a few days ago, another headline about wrestling; in this case more generalized. The Associated Press reported on February the 25th, "Trans athletes make great games yet resentment still flares: As soon as they start winning, that's when the vitriol comes out about the fact they're really still a man." Now, this sounds very familiar when we consider the coverage on The Briefing just a few weeks ago about Martina Navratilova, the nine times Wimbledon Singles Champion, who had come out very clearly making the argument that transgender women should not be able to compete against biological women in order to win championships. And furthermore, she went on to make arguments about the fact that even when this kind of transition process takes place, or is claimed to take place, there are still differences in the composition of a body that was born female and one that was born male and that now claim to be female.
The article from the Associated Press went on the site several exhibits of the fact that there are many like Martina Navratilova, by the way, and openly gay activist who just won't get with the program, but a part of the evidence cited in the article is the fact that "Transgender male wrestler has won the second year in a row, the girls wrestling championship in the state of Texas."
Now this is complicated because Martina Navratilova was primarily arguing that those who are born male should not be competing against females. But now you have the evidence coming from Texas that an individual who was born a girl but is now according to this logic, transitioning to be a boy–there's a lot of detail there I'm not about to mention– but in this case, the media reports tell us that the girl who now identifies as a boy was required to wrestle against other girls for the girls state wrestling championship in Texas because of the prevailing guidelines and the policies in place there in Texas. And you also have the fact that girls born as girls in Texas are complaining that a girl indeed born as a girl, but now identified as a boy and even undergoing surgery and hormone treatments, is going to be competing against them with a hormone advantage that they do not have.
All of this is supposed to make sense, but it doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense, I believe, even to the people who are writing these news stories, who have to come out and say they think this is unqualified, a good thing. We're told that this kind of development is exactly what we should be celebrating. And anyone who argues that it isn't going to work or that it isn't right, they simply have to get out of the way. They're dismissed as transphobic. But I really do have to register the fact that I don't believe that even the people making many of these arguments and especially those signaling their virtue by trying to write articles about it, I don't think they really mean what they're saying. I don't think that they have even figured out how this is supposed to work. Just consider the confusion and controversy right now at the International Olympics Committee. The reality is this won't work. It can't work. It is a rebellion against the very order of creation.
It is the embracing of an insanity that leads to an ultimate annihilation of all moral sense. And by now you've figured out the common themes that tie all the stories together in our consideration of the news today on The Briefing. When you openly embrace and celebrate this kind of confusion, when you adopt and begin to argue for this kind of ideology, there's no place to stop. And by the way, that means it won't stop with T, as in LGBTQ and so on.
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'm speaking to you from Dana Point in California, and I'll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.