briefing, Albert Mohler

Friday, May 10, 2019

It’s Friday, May 10, 2019. I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

The war for the minds of our children: New California sex education framework for public schools is a manifesto for the sexual revolution and LGBTQ movement

If you want to change the culture, then you have to gain the hearts and minds of the young. That’s why you have so much effort being expended in this culture to gaining the attention of children, teenagers, and young adults. That’s why if you want to bring about or you want to extend a revolution in morality, particularly sexual morality, then if you can gain control of the sex education process, if you can gain the status of the authoritative voice on how young people should consider sex and questions of sexual morality, then you will have control of the culture. This leads us to a controversy that has emerged in recent days, particularly in the state of California.

But before turning to the developments in California, let’s just remind ourselves what we’re talking about. When you put the words sex and education together, you are talking about one of the most volatile combinations imaginable, because you are talking about something that in reality can never merely be biological. It can’t be merely anatomical and physiological, it is going to be inherently moral. And make no mistake, those who are trying to gain control of sex education system by system, they understand that. Furthermore, they also understand that by the time a high school senior graduates and goes to college, he or she is entering a world that the moral revolutionaries largely control almost totally, especially in the world of elite, private, and public education. But when it comes to the public schools, this is where those who are trying to lead the revolution have faced some unexpectedly strong resistance, and that resistance has come overwhelmingly from parents.

And you also have to understand the sexual revolutionaries intend to put so much of their energy into sex education because they understand that to reach the hearts and minds of the young, they’re going to have to go over the obstacle of their parents. And thus, you see so many of the developments in sex education in public school systems all over the country. Recently, we talked about developments in Colorado, but today we’re going to be looking at news out of California.

For example, headline article in the Sacramento Bee, the main newspaper of California’s capital city, “Sex education in California now LGBT inclusive.” The article in the Sacramento Bee begins, “The California Department of Education approved controversial changes to the state’s health and sex education framework on Wednesday, but removed five resources and books that some organizations called sexually explicit, that’s put in quotation marks, including a book that explains sex to students as young as kindergarten. ”

The Bee continues, “Despite large protests, the department unanimously approved new guidelines for elementary school grades about sex trafficking, sexual orientation, and how to support transgender and non-conforming students in the classroom.” Now, California is undergoing a massive revision of what’s called it’s health education framework. Now, let’s just pause there for a moment. The health education framework.

In the educational system in the public schools in California, the framework is established by the state board. The framework doesn’t designate exactly what must take place in every school system within the state, but it establishes the basic framework, it establishes the goals and it also authorizes—that’s what’s so important here—the new health education framework will authorize public school teachers addressing these questions, and that’s what’s led to much of the pushback from parents.

But we need to note something else. This is under the rubric of a Health Education Framework, so when you hear the word “health” used in this way, it sounds like something that everyone would want every young person to know. But we also have to understand that when the word “health” is used in this context, it really becomes a license for addressing just about anything, and especially just about anything involved in human sexuality, or for that matter now, we also have to include gender identity.

So when you’re talking about the state developing a new health education framework for grades K through 12, it eventually means there’s going to be a revolution in how sex and gender and the entire complex of these issues are going to be presented to the young people, including very young people, five-year-olds in kindergarten in the California public schools.

But there’s something else to note here as we saw also in Colorado, when this is packaged as health, and when it isn’t just about sex, then the school system can say, “This isn’t sex education and thus we do not need to give any advance notice to parents nor need there be any right of parents to opt out their children.” So be aware of the word health in this kind of context. It should be at least a catalyst for understanding there’s probably a lot more at stake here than might first appear.

Just to make that point clear, in the Sacramento Bee article, I read, “Schools are not required to implement the framework. They are merely recommendations for teachers and administrators. Students can opt out from lessons about sexual health, but the state says students can’t opt out of lessons that include gender identity, discrimination and explain social issues such as the Supreme Court ruling of same sex marriage.” In other words, this parental opt out turns out to be a very limited provision at all, and what we’re watching is the subversion of parental rights and it’s being carried out right before the eyes of the citizens of California.

And remember something else: this is a new framework that was adopted unanimously this past Wednesday by the state board there in Sacramento. Much of the controversy over the last several days has had to do with extremely explicit materials that were included as resources within the framework, and when I say that they were extremely explicit, I’ll simply tell you that I cannot even describe them on The Briefing. If I can’t describe them on The Briefing, then you can pretty much guess they shouldn’t be talked about with young people in the public schools.

But we’re also talking here about explicit material being presented even to the very young. You’re talking about authorizing discussions that are almost unimaginable with kindergarten students. But here’s where we also have to recognize that none of these issues can actually now be confronted, discussed, much less taught without invoking massive worldview commitments. Someone’s worldview is going to be taught here. Someone’s morality is going to be enforced here. And also make no mistake, the morality that is expressed in this framework is an explicit rejection of the sexual morality that is held and has been taught by the Christian Church for two millennia. This is not by accident.

And also understand that the sexual revolutionaries have understood that the secularization of the process, as part of the larger secular trend in the society, gives them the opportunity to bring in an entirely new morality, and that’s exactly what this framework represents. Adam Beam of the Associated Press reported, “LGBT advocates praised the new recommendations for giving attention to a community that is often left out of sex education policies.” I’m simply going to pause here and say, “Since when?” Certainly not in recent times. When has anyone seen a recent controversy or even routine coverage about sex education that hasn’t involved these issues? What this really means is that the LGBT community is now in the driver’s seat. That’s what’s really taking place. The article in the Associated Press went on, “But some parents and conservative groups assailed the more than 700 page document as an assault on parental rights arguing it exposes children to ideas about sexuality and gender that should be taught at home.”

Again, that’s not really a fair way to represent this. It’s not just that parents are concerned that these ideas might be expressed, they’re very concerned about which ideas are going to be expressed. It’s not just the issues are going to be brought up, it is even what is going to be represented as morally right and good in the presentation of those issues and questions. Beam again, reporting for the Associated Press about the framework says that it gives even to middle schoolers tips about how to be involved in sexual activity, and then we are also told that it creates, “An environment that is inclusive and challenges binary concepts about gender.” Again, somebody’s worldview is being represented here. You really don’t have to ask whose worldview it is.

And as you’re thinking about the massive worldview divide in this country, also recognize that the Associated Press report continues about a public event that was the hearing held before the vote on Wednesday. The Associated Press reports, “Speakers included 16-year-old Phoenix Ali Raja, a transgender boy who said he is rarely taught information for people like him during sex education classes at his Los Angeles area high school.” The young person said, “I’m never taught about how to be in a relationship with gay men.” The Associated Press said that he added that the conversation with sex starts from a different place.

Now, it’s important to understand this because this is the report in the Associated Press. It’s hard to come up with anything more mainstream in American media culture than the Associated Press. The AP report felt that it should include that particular point, and in it you see a voice coming from a transgender 16-year-old complaining that up until now, before the approval of this new framework, there had been no teaching about how to be in a relationship with gay men.

Again, just rewind that in your mind for a moment and recognize that that is now going to be authorized by this new framework. It’s also really important to recognize who’s celebrating this. USA Today ran a major article with the headline, “California’s proposed sex ed overhaul aims to be inclusive.” That’s the word in quotation marks, “Critics say it’s obscene.” Also, put in quotation marks. So the words inclusive and the words obscene are here represented in one headline, probably rather accurately, as the two major responses of the people on various sides of this worldview divide.

One of the persons very happy about the new framework is Samuel Garrett-Pate, identified as Communications Director for Equality California. He said, “There is nothing obscene about providing accurate and comprehensive information to students at an age appropriate level about how to have safe sex.” Notice here that he addresses the word “obscene” straightforwardly. He also uses other loaded words, including the word “comprehensive,” but also the word “accurate.” Here’s where we have seen, for instance, in the controversy in Colorado that the moral revolutionaries have rewired the word “accurate” to mean their presentation of these issues. If you present these issues differently, it is not accurate.

The word “comprehensive” obviously means that they can discuss anything. It appears to be authorized, but here’s where we also have to understand that the words “comprehensive sex education” are pretty much now a brand. It means the sex education is taught by the moral revolutionaries. “Comprehensive” means including, not only, a definition of marriage and an understanding of human reproduction, but of the entire moral network of questions as well. But notice the specific argument may by Samuel Garrett-Pate reported in USA Today. He says again, “There’s nothing obscene about providing accurate and comprehensive information to students at an age-appropriate level about how to have safe sex.”

Here’s what’s amazingly stunningly revealed in that statement. It’s amazing that he said it the way you said it. It’s amazing that USA Today reported it the way they reported it. He goes on to say, “It’s not just information about safe sex,” that would be problematic enough. He instead speaks specifically about giving students at an age appropriate level information, “About how to have safe sex.”

In the larger historical context, we need to understand that the very introduction of what was previously called sex education in the public schools was controversial, back during the 1950s in the 1960s. And that is when sex education in the public schools was basically about what might be described in an old historic age as the facts of life. It was about human anatomy. It was about the process of human reproduction, and it was basically in a context in which the morality of the larger culture on sex was rather settled.

The point to be made there is that if you are in a society that has a settled moral understanding of questions of sex and gender identity in marriage, than sex education can be largely uncontroversial. The controversy that came in that first age of sex education was simply about whether or not parents should be expected, and thus respected, to carry out these conversations with their children in their own way. Over time, the public schools began to expand what was defined as sex education.

By the time the late ’60s and the 1970s and ’80s rolled along, sex education had become far more complicated. It had become far more implicated in contemporary controversies. Big questions about abortion and especially birth control during the era led to the development of what was often referred to as an extended sex education curriculum. But then the catalyst for the biggest revolution came during the 1980s and the 1990s, and that catalyst was the AIDS crisis. When the AIDS crisis emerged, so linked to sexual activity predominantly among homosexual men, there came the health urgency that was pushed even by the federal government to expand the sex education to offer education about how not to contract the AIDS virus. And that was when you saw the first wave of conversation about so-called “safe sex.”

But then came the development of the comprehensive sex education movement with comprehensive, as we had noted, meaning having to do with the entire moral structure, having to do with the redefinition of marriage, and with it now comes a clear liberal message, a very revolutionary message when you look at human history, a message given to children now we know as young as kindergarten, telling five-year-olds that there is no binary understanding of gender. Those who first argued for incorporating something called sex education in the public schools, they never could have imagined—you can bank on that—the fact that by the time you get to our times it would be controversial even to use the words “boy” and “girl.”

Christian parents considering all this have to understand that it raises the question district by district, state by state, as to how long Christians can leave their children in the domain of the public schools. Because when it comes to many of the sex education and comprehensive health education programs, it turns out that parents do not even know what is being taught to their children. They are not even aware of the moral messaging that is being presented, and you can count on the fact that there are going to be an awful lot of Christian parents in California who are going to be asking how long they can leave their children in the public schools.

At this point there is still local control of the public schools in many states to the extent that it really does matter where you live, district by district, but we have to ask the question as to how long that can last, because the moral revolutionaries aren’t going to be satisfied until their new moral framework becomes the curricular framework of every single public school in every single public school district coast to coast. They will not rest until that is done.

Part II

Heroism is not dead, and we must be thankful that it isn’t: Young men in North Carolina and Colorado show that manhood still matters, especially in the face of evil

But next, we want to turn to tragic headlines concerning shootings in the schools in recent days, one of them a fatal shooting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and the second having to do with a public school there in the neighborhood of Denver, known as Highlands Ranch. And in both cases, what we need to look at today is the news coverage and the cultural attention to something that happened that made the news, for instance, in yesterday morning’s papers just about across the board. And that was the fact that in both of these cases it was young heroes who responded, and they are credited in both cases with bringing an end to the ability of the assailant to continue the murderous assault in the school context.

First, it was a 21-year-old young man at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, his name Riley Howell. He is now recognized and rightly lionized as a hero. The 21-year-old young man went into action when the shooting began in a school there in Charlotte, and he was shot three times by the shooter, but by the time he was shot the third time, he had largely disabled the shooter, saving the lives of other students. He paid for that with his life.

But observers on the scene indicated that with a rush, the young man, again, Riley Howell, who was planning for a future in the United States Military, he sprang into action, and he was called then and is recognized in the newspaper coverage and in the media conversation as a hero, and rightly so. And as a matter of fact, his grieving family received at least some solace in the fact that he gave his life in order to save others, and he was also buried with full military honors, indicating that he had planned his future as a commitment to the military and he was recognized as having served, so to speak, even before he wore a uniform, even as he had received training in the ROTC.

The second was a young man, and 18-year-old, who was a student at the Highlands Ranch school, who on Tuesday of this week helped to save many of his classmates by also rushing a shooter. The young man was Kendrick Castillo, and even as he went into action to defend his classmates, he also paid with his life. But even as he did so, he was largely instrumental in stopping the shooter. There was a second young man who also sprang into action there in the high school in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. His name Brendan Bialy, he survived and he plans to become a Marine. He, according to the news media, along with Kendrick Castillo, leapt into action and they went at the assailants and, once again, they are credited with saving many lives.

Also credited, by the way, in the case of the school in Highlands Ranch is a former Marine who was a security officer on the site. He was credited with apprehending one of the assailants and also helping to preserve human life. The word “hero,” the word “heroism” has been invoked in the media. For example, Nicholas Kristof, in his opinion column in yesterday’s edition of The New York Times, “Two dead young heroes.” He then asked the question, “When will we act?” Similarly, USA Today headline, “Horror and heroism at Colorado school.” Headline in the New York Times news story, “Another shooting, another heroic student dead, this time in Colorado.”

But what’s interesting in this case, at least in part, is what the mainstream media is trying not to say. They are really trying to avoid using the words “boys” and “men,” but in every one of these situations the heroic action was undertaken by a young man, a teenager as young as 18, or by a 21-year-old college student. And, what we also need to note, is that this isn’t incidental to the story and it represents a larger crisis in our culture. Civilizations have understood that one of their first responsibilities is to corral the energies and the commitments of young men, of adolescent boys and of young men moving into adulthood.

One of the challenges of a civilization is to inspire young men to do exactly what these young men did, to spring into action, to act in defense of their colleagues, fellow citizens, and friends and classmates, to put themselves at risk with what may be required as drastic physical action in order to end a threat, to act righteously, to act in protection. At least a part of this in the Western tradition of civilization has been defined as chivalry. Chivalry is based upon a culture of respect and responsibility, but chivalry also requires a basic distinction and understanding of the differences between men and women, and boys and girls.

Let’s be clear, girls are also capable of heroic action and so are women, and frankly, women and girls perform heroic deeds all the time. But what we are talking about in this case was a particular need for the kind of heroism that young men, and in the case of the teenagers in these schools, boys are still called upon to perform.

One way to look at these headlines is to understand that as confused as our society is, there has to be something right with a culture that is producing young men like this. There’s still something basically, right. It also tells us something else. Despite all of the moral messaging coming from the sexual revolutionaries, also revolutionaries now in the question of gender, there is still a basic understanding within the hearts of young people that there is a difference between young men and young women. There is a difference between men and boys, and there are times when men and boys are called to take action on behalf of others, and woe unto the civilization that does not call out that kind of heroism, does not recognize it, does not valorize it, and does not reward it.

We used to live in a society that told boys, even very young boys, the stories and tales from history and literature that called out chivalry and heroism, and tried to instill in the hearts of boys and young men a desire that should the demand, the hour come, that young boy, that young man would be there to do what had to be done. Here’s where Christians also have to think far more clearly than the secular world around us about what’s really at stake here, because when you’re looking at this kind of act of heroism, we do not want this kind of act to be necessary.

We know that we’re looking here at the undiluted evil of those who plot and plan murder, even amongst young people in the context of a high school or a college campus. Christians, possessed with a biblical worldview, have the theological framework in order to explain how that evil exists, but this is where Christians also understand that in a fallen world, we have to prepare for the need for heroism. This also helps us to understand why the Christian worldview allows us to see light even in the midst of darkness. The sinking of the Titanic was a horrifying disaster, but there were moments of greatness and heroism in the middle of that disaster.

The same thing is true in the context of war and, sadly enough, sometimes given the kind of murderous assaults that take place elsewhere in society, even in the midst of that undeniable horror, there are moments that remind us that human beings are also capable of incredibly heroic action.

Part III

A doctor’s conscience on abortion should never be respected? One congresswoman’s amazingly honest statement and the moral subversion of society

Finally, we turn to another recent headline we discussed on The Briefing. This has to do with the recent announcement by the Trump administration of the expansion of religious and conscience rights for those who are involved in several medical professions, having to do with conscience provisions so that one could not be coerced into involvement in abortion or in other forms of what might now be categorized as medical care that would violate personal conscience. Just imagine how many people are on the front lines of this kind of urgent question, ranging from those who are pharmacists, to those who are nurses and doctors, and psychiatrists and psychologists. You can go all the way down the categories. There is so many people whose consciences are at stake here.

But what we need to notice urgently is a news report that came two days ago in the Washington Post by Erica Werner. She reports with the headline, “House Democrats seek to block Trump’s faith-based protections for health workers.” Now, the headline is in one sense to be expected because this is the response that one would expect from Democrats within Congress, but also to those whose argument is that no one should be granted any conscience protection from being involved, particularly in abortion.

So why are we talking about it today? We’re talking about it because on Wednesday the House Appropriations Committee did indeed vote to block the new Trump administration rule, but we’re looking at it most importantly because of a statement made out loud by Representative Barbara Lee, Democrat of California. She is speaking against the Trump administration policies said, “This dangerous and discriminatory rule attempts to enshrine discrimination in virtually all facets of healthcare by granting new rights to those who believe their personal beliefs should determine the care a patient receives.”

Most importantly, the following words, “Personal beliefs should never determine the care a patient receives.” The most important word there is the word “never.” “Personal beliefs should never determine the care a patient receives.” Here’s where you see the comprehensive argument being made. Conscience simply has to go out the window. Anyone who holds to a pro-life position simply has to get out of medical care entirely. If you won’t perform an abortion, you don’t belong in medicine. If you will not participate as someone in an allied medical profession then get out. She says, categorically, I quote again, “Personal beliefs should never determine the care a patient receives.” And the background of that, again, is the fact that care here, like the words accurate and comprehensive, comes in a new context in which medical care means abortion and other procedures, and the person seeking an abortion well, is here redefined as a patient.

If you want to look at the moral subversion of our era in a nutshell, it’s hard to come up with a sentence more concise and more clear than hers. “Personal beliefs should never determine the care a patient receives.” Frighteningly enough, I’m rather certain that when she used the word “never” there, she meant it.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

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I’ll meet you again on Monday for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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