Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Briefing

March 13, 2019

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

It’s Wednesday, March 13, 2019. I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

Coming to a school near you? The reality of 'comprehensive sex education'

One of the most revealing issues in any culture at any time is how sexuality, gender, and related questions are presented to the young. That’s why sex education is such a front burner issue always has been, always will be. That’s why we need to pay attention to an article that recently ran in the New York Times, the reporter Dan Levin. The headline, As Colorado Moves to Bar Abstinence-Only Sex Education, Teenagers Take the Lead. Levin’s writing to tell us that in Colorado where the legislature is currently considering what’s known as a comprehensive sex education bill, teenagers themselves recently gave testimony before a Colorado House committee. It’s an interesting article. It’s really more interesting as we look at the article rather than the event that is the news occasion behind the article.

The entire thrust of the New York Times coverage is that teenagers are speaking out and demanding comprehensive sex education, pointing to what they identify as the inadequacies or worse of the sex education they have previously received. Levin then tells us “While sex education classes are not mandatory in Colorado, proposed legislation that is widely expected to pass would bar the state’s public and charter schools from abstinence only education.” Levin then tells us the comprehensive sex education bill, which has already passed the Colorado House is now headed to the Senate. It would he says, make Colorado the ninth state in the nation to require that consent to be taught. Washington DC we are told also teaches consent. Then we have this paragraph, “Colorado with its increasingly liberal cities, but strong conservative footholds is a microcosm of the larger national debate over sex ed.” Across the country Levin tells us 37 states require abstinence to be covered or stressed while only 13 require sex education to be medically accurate.

In seven states he tells us laws prohibit educators from portraying same sex relationships positively. It may be that you remember the name of this New York Times reporter, Dan Levin, that’s because just a few weeks ago he got into no small amount of controversy when he invited people on Twitter to write back to him about their negative experiences in Christian schools. He later said he wasn’t looking just for negative stories, but the hashtag that he used was #exposeChristianschools. Again, just remember that #exposeChristianschools. Now as we look at articles in the mainstream media, we try to understand what is taking place in the article, not just in the issue or in the event behind it. I want to go back to that last paragraph I read where Levin tells us that 37 states require abstinence to be covered or stressed. Then look at these words here them again, “While only 13 requires sex education to be medically accurate.”

Just consider what’s happening here. The reader, the New York Times is now supposed to contrast those 37 states that stress abstinence to the other 13 states that require sex education to be medically accurate. Now, wouldn’t you want sex education to be medically accurate? So what’s really going on here? Well, what that means is nothing really related to biology or what was previously discussed as the birds and the bees. This is really the prevailing now dominant medical establishments position on worldview issues related to morality, gender identity and same sex relationships. Medically accurate in this case is about as accurate as reproductive health is a term which is now used of course to be a euphemism intentionally trying to shift the issue from the murder of an unborn child to a mere issue of the mother’s health, a woman’s health, reproductive health. It’s also instructive to see that Levin notes that political polarization within Colorado and the fact that it has a geographic pattern, increasingly liberal cities, but strong conservative footholds. That’s the very pattern we talk about regularly as we look not only to states like Colorado, but all across the United States and even before the pattern was evident in the United States, it was evident in much of western Europe.

We also need to look earlier in the article were Levin wrote about the comprehensive sex education bill. Well, let’s just note it’s not the bill that’s comprehensive, it’s the sex education that is mandated by the bill. And when you are looking at the term comprehensive sex education, you’re not just looking at a claim about a sex education that will be all encompassing. You were talking about a specific ideologically driven vision of sex education in the public schools, sex Education for children and adolescents. You are talking about a sex education that is entirely framed by and fueled by the moral revolutionaries and furthermore intends to take that revolution to the young, to children and to teenagers.

Comprehensive sex education comes with a very progressive liberal view of the LGBTQ eye spectrum of issues. It comes with a very liberal approach to teenagers having sex in many ways, just to be honest, it is about facilitating sexual activity rather than preventing it. Now, once again, looking later at the article, we hear about a 10 hour debate on the bill in the Colorado House. We’re told that it was attended by hundreds of people and then we are told, “Much of the outrage was spurred by social conservative groups which sent emails to their followers that contained incorrect information about the legislation.” Now I’ll just go ahead and say that is nothing but irresponsible reporting. What would be the so called incorrect information that was supposedly sent by the social conservative groups by emails? What was incorrect? In this case, we are not told. It is simply asserted that incorrect information was sent, but this is extremely suspect given the fact that the same reporter use the term medically accurate about what is laden with all kinds of moral claims and understandings.

If anything, I hope to document today that it is those who are pushing the comprehensive sex education agenda in Colorado who are being not only inaccurate, not only incorrect but dishonest. I’m going to point to a specific issue of dishonesty. Again, conservatives are blamed later in the article where the authority is Debra Hauser, president of Advocates For Youth identified as a nonprofit sexual health organization in Washington DC, who’s comprehensive sex education curriculum is used widely in California. She said that the backlash in Colorado, “Fits a pattern of coordinated misinformation campaigns that are used to stoke fear and are promoted on social media.” Now, anyone who’s followed this issue for years as I have knows that Debra Hauser represents the Left-wing of sex education efforts in the United States. She was with another group previous to this that was pushing for comprehensive sex education years ago, but in this article, her organization now is simply identified as, “A nonprofit sexual health organization.” Notice that that’s supposed to make sense.

What in the world would a nonprofit sexual health organization be, there is no acknowledgement that this was one of the major engines of the sexual revolution, and again, she is allowed to charge conservatives with a pattern of coordinated misinformation, but there’s no specificity about what is supposed to be misinformation in this story. Also recently, The Denver Post ran an article by Anna Staver in which she tells us that consent that is sexual consent is going to be at the core of Colorado’s proposed comprehensive sex education. And of course when you look at consent used in a headline like this, it means redefining sex and sexual morality so that the only important moral issue is consent. As we have tried to argue in document over and over again on The Briefing, consent is simply not an adequate moral foundation. It’s not even going to work in the secular left where endless debates over what does and does not represent consent.

Simply point to the fact that when you try to create out of thin air a new artificial sexual ethic, it will inevitably fail. But The Denver Post article also tells us something interesting. A person cited in the article is Alison Macklin. She’s identified as a vice president at “Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, which helped write the bill.” Yes, you heard that right? A vice president at Planned Parenthood, we are told, helped to write the bill. Planned Parenthood was actively involved. An article that ran in the Colorado Springs newspaper, The Gazette, had the headline, Bill would ban abstinence-only sex education in Colorado schools. Marianne Goodland is the reporter on this story. She writes, “Democrats have proposed a controversial state bill that would get rid of abstinence-only sex education, which is taught in some charter and rural schools despite a 2013 law calling for “comprehensive” sex education.”

Now, what’s so important about that? That’s the lead sentence and you will notice here that there’s the acknowledgement of a partisan dimension here. She writes, in fact, she writes with the very first word, Democrats have proposed a controversial state bill. She then goes on to argue that this abstinence only sex education is taught, “In some charter and rural schools” “Some charter and rural schools.” Again, that points to what we saw Dan Levin describe in that New York Times article where he talks about the liberal cities in Colorado and the more conservative footholds, including most importantly rural Colorado, which as some Coloradans say means any part of the state of Colorado that isn’t called Denver or boulder. A national dimension of the story appears in the Colorado Springs Gazette article where we are told that some of the charter schools in Colorado have received hundreds of thousands of dollars and title five money from the federal government in order to teach abstinence based sex education, which is called in this article sexual risk avoidance or SRA.

The bill that passed the Colorado House and is now before the Colorado Senate would disallow any kind of abstinence based sex education. As the gazette article tells us if a school board isn’t going to accept comprehensive sex education, it can’t teach any sex education at all. So what’s the real controversy here? Well, The Gazette article gets to it in this, A loophole in the law allowed charter schools to teach their own versions of human sexuality that didn’t meet the state standards and that appeared to be religiously based. That includes charter schools we are told affiliated with Hillsdale College of Michigan, which offers a libertarian hyphen Christian curriculum and has ties to education secretary Betsy DeVos.” Now notice again how a media report throws all of this together as if it’s supposed to look like a perfect storm of opposition to comprehensive sex education, which in one sense it is. Education secretary Betsy DeVos, appointed by President Donald Trump. Hillsdale college of Michigan which offers a “Libertarian Christian curriculum” that would include abstinence based sex education and then we are told that the guidelines and curricula appear, “To be religiously based.”

Now just think about that for a moment. We’re supposed to understand by reading that paragraph that these three issues are going to discredit abstinence based sex education. The three issues are that the standards, “Appear to be religiously based.” Secondly, that some of the charter schools that are involved are affiliated with a private conservative college in Michigan and we aren’t told that the entire system has ties to education secretary, Betsy DeVos. But let’s just think about this for a moment. How would a sex education program, especially one that would affirm abstinence, how would it or any other sex education program inoculate itself against appearing to be religiously based? Here we’re supposed to understand that what we have as a contrast is religiously based and that really means Christian oriented sex education that would point to abstinence and a totally value free, absolutely secular sex education that would be packaged as comprehensive sex education in this bill, but here’s where Christians have to remind ourselves over and over again. There is no kind of education that deals with sexuality that isn’t in some sense, moral isn’t in some sense theological inevitably.

Part II

Aiming to go around parents: The great lie presented as a parental notification and 'opt out' in many sex education programs

A very important clarification on this bill was offered by the minority leader and the Colorado House of Representatives, Patrick Neville of Castle Rock in an article that was also published in the Denver Post. He points to the misinformation and the misrepresentation about the bill that had been presented to Colorado citizens. He writes about three different issues. “One proponents claims that the bill clearly permits parents to opt out their children from the teaching standards is cynical at worst, misleading at best.” Now, that’s quite a claim and this is the misrepresentation even I will say the dishonesty that is in and to behind this bill. Neville writes, “The bill categorizes human sexuality into four topics.” Then says that human sexuality instruction occurs when two or more of the topics are presented. As a result when a teacher he says is presenting only the second topic consisting of sexual orientation, sexuality or sexual activity, the teacher is not under the terms of the bill providing what the bill calls human sexuality instruction.

As he says, this is not only bizarre, it’s also deeply misleading. This really does not represent an opt out for parents. This is such an important issue where so much misinformation is being fed to citizens that I decided I would go look at the actual text of the legislation. On the bills page 13 beginning at line 10 we read about the standards for written notification which is required and I’ll just read from the bill. “Except as otherwise provided in subsection four of this section, a public school that offers human sexuality instruction shall provide to the parent or guardian of each student prior to commencing the instruction, one written notification of the ability to excuse a student without penalty or additional assignment upon the written request of the student’s parent or guardian.”

Now, that sounds so good so far, but then listen to what starts at line 18 and a detailed substantive outline of the topics and materials to be presented during the human sexuality instruction. But then line 21 however nothing in this section requires written notification for programming on gender, gender expression, sexual orientation or healthy relationships that occurs outside the context of human sexuality instruction. Patrick Neville is exactly right. This does not represent any authentic parental notification. It doesn’t represent any honest word to the parents of Colorado that they will even receive in advance warning of what is going to be taught to their children and teenagers under the guise of programming on gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, or healthy relationships. Now, just about anything as you can well see can be included under those categories. Just about anything can be included just about anything will be included. Just as Christian parents in the state of California who have discovered that their state’s comprehensive sex education bill allows this same giant, massive, intentional loophole.

By the way, I read the entire bill and there is some amazing language in it. We are told at page 12 line 17, “Human sexuality instruction must not explicitly or implicitly teach or endorse religious ideology or sectarian tenants or doctrine use shame based or stigmatizing language or instructional tools, employ gender norms or gender stereotypes or exclude the relational or sexual experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals.” I simply want to underline the fact that this represents, once again the meltdown of the modern liberal secular mind when it comes to something like sex education or even the sexual revolution. How are you to teach any form of sex education that is going to be described in any honest way as medically accurate if you can’t talk about traditional gender? How in the world are you going to get a baby without a male and a female?

How are you going to have any coherent conversation without male and female boy and girl, man and woman, and how are you going to talk that way without someone who’s a proponent of the sexual revolution claiming that you have not thus engaged in gender stereotypes? And what’s abundantly clear here is that any kind of traditional sexual morality is explicitly excluded by this bill and the entire LGBTQ agenda is explicitly affirmed. I did find very interesting a section of Patrick Neville’s article in which he points out that Coloradans are now being asked to trust the state’s public educators to train their children and teenagers in comprehensive sex education when the very same schools fail to deliver on other subjects. He says, 75% of our high school students and 69% of eighth graders do not meet great expectations in science.

I also want to look at the actual text of the proposed legislation on page eight, at line 13. “Consent means the affirmative, unambiguous, voluntary, continuous knowing agreement between all participants in each physical act within the course of a sexual encounter or interpersonal relationship.” Now, let’s be clear, it’s not that Christians believe less than others in the necessity of consent as a moral issue. It is the fact that Christians understand that consent is not enough. It’s not nearly enough. It is not a sufficient moral principle and left without a larger moral framework it devolves into just the kind of language here that has to use words like affirmative, unambiguous, voluntary, continuous, knowing agreement. The Christian worldview is based upon the affirmation that consent is essential but it’s not sufficient. The Christian worldview understands based upon scripture that sexual expression is to take place in and only in holy marriage, the union of a man and a woman.

All sexual expression outside of that context is sin. It’s wrong and consent is not enough to make it right. While looking at the actual text of the bill, I also want to point you to another doozy of a statement. This is found on page six, at line 15. “It is important for youth to understand the possible outcomes of the inconsistent or improper use of sexual abstinence contraception or condoms.” If you’re scratching your head over what that could possibly mean. Let me read you the next sentence. “Comprehensive human sexuality education stresses the importance of the correct and consistent use of sexual abstinence, contraception and condoms to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.” Lets just state the obvious truth. Sexual abstinence every single time delivers on the absence of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. Period. This one story has taken a great deal of our time today, but the importance of this issue demands it.

We are looking in Colorado, not just at one proposed piece of legislation. We are looking at a proposed new sexual morality for the entire nation, for the entire culture, a moral revolution, a sexual revolution in progress. But what makes this issue so urgent is that the curriculum is here addressed to the students in Colorado schools. To children, to adolescents, to young people. Do not miss the reason why. It’s because the sexual revolutionaries know that they will win if they can get to our kids by going around their parents.

Part III

Utah legalizes fornication: How a recent bill reveals that every law seeks to govern morality

But next, while we are in the American west looking at issues of legislation, let’s look at a headline that appeared from Washington DC about Utah. The Hill reports with a headline, “Utah legislature passes bill legalizing sex outside of marriage.” Morgan Gstalter is the reporter on the story. She tells us, “The Utah State legislature has decriminalized fornication, making it illegal to have sex outside of marriage.”

She continues, the Utah House passed the legislation on a 41, 32 vote repealing the 1973 misdemeanor crime of fornication or as she describes it, sex between people who are not married. The bill had already passed the state senate. It is now sent to the governor’s desk that has governor Gary Herbert and he was expected to sign the legislation. Later we are told, “The current law that criminalizes fornication is included in the state’s criminal code chapter on offenses against the family. Those found guilty are punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000.” The law however we are told is not pursued by police or prosecution and is not enforced. In Utah, representative Kevin Stratton said, “What is legally is often far below what is morally right and I recognize our laws are not strong enough to rule an immoral people.”

We’ll come back to his statement and just a moment, but let’s look at the big picture here. Many Americans are likely to be absolutely shocked to know that having sex outside of marriage is a crime in the state of Utah at least until the governor signs this legislation. What’s background on that, well, it doesn’t just go back to 1973 that 1973 Utah Law was actually part of a re-codification, a reformulation of family law within the state at the time, long before 1973 not only Utah, but most states understood that the protection of marriage and the family, the restraint of sexuality within the culture meant that the law, including the criminal code, should sanction sex outside of marriage. But of course, we’re on the other side of a massive revolution in sexual morality and most Americans are likely to be shocked that there ever was a time that the criminal law in the United States could really reflect to such a moral judgment.

And furthermore, even as The Hill and other major national media have hastened to point out that the law against fornication in Utah has not been pursued by the police and is not enforced. There is a moral lesson and there is a moral witness in the existence of this as a part of the statutory law of the State of Utah. This comes under the category of so-called morals legislation. And recently we have seen several states clean up their criminal code in order to remove any vestiges of what’s called morals legislation. Indeed, you will hear some people say over and over again you can’t legislate morality. Well, let’s just think about that statement logically for a moment. Just about everything that is legislated is legislated for some kind of moral reason. There’s a moral impetus behind almost every bill that ever becomes law. Indeed, just about anything that is accomplished by a legislature.

That’s an interesting way to put it, isn’t it? Just about anything that comes out of the legislative process can be divided into two categories and only two. Something that is driven by a moral concern or something that is merely procedural, but even that is something of an artificial distinction because the structure, the orderly structure of procedural law is itself a testimony to the necessity, the moral necessity of a moral and political order. If you look at the legislature adopting a budget, that budget is filled with issues of moral importance and the act of adopting a budget is itself a moral act. Welfare, social security, decisions of war and peace, decisions about the criminal code, definitions of murder. All of this comes down to essentially moral judgments. Even traffic laws, even speeding limits are embedded within a moral universe and often invoke a specific moral argument.

And of course the entire law itself, the entire existence of law cries out a moral order. The law only makes sense if you can say you ought not to do something and once you use the word aught, either you ought to or ought not to do something. That word aught is a moral term every time in every context, everywhere. So as the State of Utah, assuming the governor signs this bill as his office says he is likely to, is the State of Utah now going to see a tidal wave of increased fornication? Well, that’s unlikely because that is something that has already happened. American culture has long reached the tipping point on that issue and the acceptance of sex outside of marriage is now the cultural norm. The Utah legislature is simply by its own argument catching up with the new moral reality. But that new moral reality also insists that we look at the word fornication that is in this news article because it’s in the statute. And you’ll notice that the mainstream media have had to define fornication for the American people because the word is now so foreign to American cultural in moral conversation.

The most Americans evidently don’t know that fornication refers to sex outside of marriage. It is important, of course, to recognize that this provision of the Utah Law was as the article says, included in the state’s criminal code chapter on offenses against the family. Fornication biblically understood is an offense against God’s law. It’s an offense against moral order. It is an offense against right. It is an offense against the family. It is an offense against marriage. The fact that evidently most Americans can no longer be counted on even to know what it is tells us a very great deal about not only where we are, but where we’re going.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

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I’m speaking to you from Orlando, Florida, and I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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