Thursday, October 3, 2019
This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
It's Thursday, October 3rd, 2019. I'm Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
Freedom vs. Totalitarianism: A Massive Worldview Conflict Turns Violent in Hong Kong
The worldview clash turns out to be an actual clash that turns violent. That was the case in Hong Kong over the last several days. The Daily Telegraph in London reporting yesterday, "Hong Kong police shot a teenage pro-democracy protester yesterday, marking the first use of live fire in four months of demonstrations as skirmishes overshadowed celebrations to mark 70 years of Communist Party rule in China."
Now, just a few days ago in The Briefing, we talked about the 70th anniversary of Communist Party rule in China. We talked about the fact that China was looking for a great patriotic occasion, a massive military parade, and a show of force and influence by the Communist Party, but we also talked about the powder keg that is Hong Kong, and a little bit of background might help us here.
For over a century, Hong Kong was a colony under the governance of Great Britain. It was a part of the British Empire. By the end of the 19th century, in the beginning of the 20th, Hong Kong became the busiest port in the world. The British Empire at that point, covered about a third of the world surface and included about a quarter of the world's population, and Hong Kong became a vital, perhaps even the vital outpost of the British Empire in the Eastern world. But Britain didn't actually conquer Hong Kong, they didn't take it away from China, they instead ended up leasing it. It was a long-term lease that expired in 1997. At that point, the Chinese regime that reclaimed Hong Kong was not the same Chinese regime that had offered the lease to Great Britain over a century before. Indeed, communism had happened. By the time the lease came up, Chinese communism was well into its half century of experience, and yet we are also looking at some of the illusions that Westerners often tell themselves when we're looking at this kind of worldview clash.
If you just go back to 1997, and you look at Hong Kong and mainland China, you are looking at two fundamentally different worlds. Mainland China under the totalitarian control of the Chinese Communist Party, and Hong Kong experiencing Western liberties, a Westernized culture. Even as China was poised to reclaim Hong Kong, the Communist Party made big assurances to the West, big assurances to Great Britain trying to avoid both trauma and some kind of political, not to mention military conflict when the handover of Hong Kong would take place.
There's something else that was going on, and that is that Hong Kong is a very densely populated place, and the Chinese on the mainland, the Chinese Communist Party were very concerned that the citizens of Hong Kong remained peaceable and keep the economy going. That turned out to be a key issue.
The Chinese communist regime needed the finance and the money, the flow, and the capitalism of Hong Kong even as they were trying to establish a new form of state governed economy there in China. Hong Kong was important and for the West they believe that the Chinese communists were giving ironclad assurances about respecting the rule of law, human dignity, Western concepts of liberty for Hong Kong. This included the right of the citizens of Hong Kong to elect their own government there in what was redefined as a semi-autonomous region.
But over the last several years, it has become clear that China never really intended to honor those promises. There's another big story going on here. China is now not so economically dependent upon Hong Kong as it was. That probably at least provides some of the explanation as to why China is now ruthlessly cracking down even on the streets of Hong Kong, even as China was trying to avoid this at almost any cost in order to have no interruption or embarrassment, a major issue for the Chinese regime, when it came to the big celebration this week of that 70th anniversary of the rule of the Communist Party in China.
The story in The Daily Telegraph, which was repeated virtually all around the Western world, reminds us that what had been an intense but nonviolent conflict just over that last 72 hours became violent with an 18-year-old young man shot by a Chinese police officer at point blank range. As The Daily Telegraph noted, "The unrest marred Beijing's carefully choreographed birthday meant to underscore its ambitions to replace the United States as the dominant power in the Asia Pacific region."
But as you step back and understand what took place this week, in worldview analysis, we are really looking at two massively conflicting and contradictory worldviews facing off in Hong Kong and Mainland China. You have to ask a big question, why is Hong Kong different than the rest of China? The answer is you, might say in the first place, history. Hong Kong has a different history than Mainland China. But that's a relatively recent development, certainly over the scale of human history. The big issue is what that history represents, and what it represented in Hong Kong was the fact that Western notions of human dignity, of human identity, of human liberty, and of representative government, and ordered liberty, all of those were established in Hong Kong in a way that they never were throughout Mainland China, and in a way that is a direct challenge to the ideology and the rule of the dictatorial Chinese Communist Party on the Mainland.
The stage was thus set for the conflict that turned violent this week. But it's really interesting to look at some of the news coverage and understand that huge issues are really being revealed here. The story that appeared on the front page of the New York Times was by Peter S. Goodman and Austin Ramzy. They wrote, "In a part of the world familiar with conflict, dislocation, and ruthless ideological extremism, Hong Kong has long beckoned as an oasis of stability."
They go on to say, "It has prospered on the strength of its proximity to mainland China — close enough to be a base for investors capitalizing on China's development, and still beyond reach of the authoritarian hand of the Chinese Communist Party." The key paragraph is what follows, "It has served as a bridge between two rival powers nursing mutual suspicions, the United States and China. It is Chinese territory yet governed by a legal system inherited from the West, " capital W, "the West and intertwined with the global financial system."
That's incredibly important. What sets off Hong Kong from Mainland China according to this report, is the fact that Hong Kong is governed by a legal system inherited from the West, the rule of law, certain constitutional rights that are understood to belong to every single citizen. Those exist, or at least until this moment in some sense, tenuously continue to exist in Hong Kong. They have virtually never existed in China and certainly not under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party.
Another comment in this New York Times article is made by Lynette H. Ong, a China expert at the University of Toronto who said, listen to these words carefully, "The very reason for Hong Kong's existence — the rule of law, respect for the police, for public institutions, respect for the judiciary, the bureaucracy — everything has been eroded."
Note carefully what she is saying here, what she is stipulating that sets off the distinctiveness of Hong Kong as compared to Mainland China. Notice again the list, “The rule of law, respect for the police, respect for public institutions, respect for the judiciary, the bureaucracy — everything she said has been eroded.” Those things are massive. You have to ask the question and Christians need to learn the reflex of asking this kind of question.
How did those goods come about? How does the rule of law emerge? How does respect for the government, for police, for the judiciary, how does that happen? And asking the question another way, how are those goods destroyed? Well, let's look closely at this. First of all, the rule of law. How does the rule of law happen? Well, it turns out that throughout human history, the rule of law is really only respected when those laws are understood to be just, and that means that the law makers have to be just, that the system of making the laws has to be just, that it has to be open and based upon public accountability, what is described more fundamentally as the consent of the governed. It means that if there is going to be respect for the police, the police have to act respectfully. They have to have a respectful authority, and they have to act by due process and the rule of law themselves.
How does respect for the judiciary happen? It happens because judges are understood rightly to represent the people and to stand in the place of people, sit in judgment in the place of the people, judging justly and righteously and fairly, again, themselves respecting the due process of law.
And of course the word “bureaucracy” was used here, respect for the bureaucracy. Now that's an issue in almost every advanced civilization, but understand that too is an extension of the fact that the fundamental assumption is that government exists only by the consent of the govern. That is fundamentally not the case in Mainland China. It is absolutely contradicted. It is an idea that is utterly repugnant to the Chinese Communist Party. There is no respect for the rule of law. There is no accountability in the making of laws. There is no respect, and balance, and transparency in the application of the laws. There is no notion of what it means to be a human being and to possess human identity that involves the kind of affirmation of rights that is crucial to Western democracy, and most specifically articulated in the Declaration of Independence as those unalienable rights given to citizens by the Creator.
That's absolutely forbidden in the Chinese Communist System. That is ideologically ruled out and thus you have not only two different systems of government, you have two different understandings of reality, two different definitions of what it means for human beings to exist, two very different contradictory understandings of human rights. And given the fact that the Chinese Communist Party now is seeking to exert its control over Hong Kong, the Chinese communist regime is determined not to have two rival worldviews, but rather one, and that one must be the ideology of the Chinese Communist Party.
An 18-year-old in Hong Kong has a bullet in his chest precisely because that kind of worldview conflict doesn't stay non-violent. It turned violent just this week in Hong Kong and that just might be as we remind ourselves of the hundreds massacred by the Chinese Communist Party 30 years ago in the Tiananmen Massacre. It just might be frighteningly enough, a sign of things to come.
The Transgender Revolution’s Steamroller Keeps Rolling On, New Headlines Every Day
But next, we're going to turn back to the Western world and actually we're going to look at developments that are connected to what we talked about yesterday on The Briefing as further evidence of the transgender revolution, and the fact that not only is it wrong, not only is it incompatible with the biblical worldview, not only, frankly, is it incompatible with traditional feminism, it fundamentally just isn't going to work.
Here are just a few headline stories. One of the things that is often thrown at us is the question, why do conservative Christians have such a hang-up on this? Why do you give it so much attention?
Well, the answer is number one, we give it so much attention because it's being thrown at us at high volume and velocity every single day. Just in the course of the last 24 hours here in London, the major newspapers released at least nine different articles, headlining issues related to the transgender revolution. And the other reason is we as Christians understand that this level of worldview confusion really can't be overcome by anything but the truth. It can't lead to anything other than human unhappiness and massive confusion.
But I promised you a few of these headlines and trust me, they're worth it. First of all, from yesterday morning's edition of The Daily Telegraph, an article at the headline, "Trans patients can choose their own ward under new NHS rules." That's National Health Service rules, socialized or nationalized medicine in Great Britain.
The Telegraph reports, "Transgender patients can choose whether they want to be treated on male or female wards, according to new NHS guidance. NHS England says patients should be accommodated 'according to their presentation,’ noting the 'way they dress, and the name and pronouns they currently use.'" It comes after we are told an investigation by the Daily Telegraph revealed that despite guidance from the Department of Health, hospitals routinely allowed male patients into female wards if they self-identify as women.
But then The Telegraph article takes this turn. We need to listen to it very carefully, "The guidance says having different," and then it goes on to mention sexual appearance, “is not a reason to deny patients a place in a single sex ward,” adding all patients “should be treated with dignity while using maternity services." Now, where did that come from? We weren't talking about maternity services until all of a sudden it shows up here, but that goes back to an article that appeared all over the British press last week that I talked about in which a British judge ruled according to, actually necessarily according to British common law, that only a mother can give birth.
As a matter of fact, as he pointed out, even as Britain had never had to define a mother legally before. The only way he could come up with the definition was that whoever is pregnant and gives birth to a child is a mother. Even though a so-called trans man had demanded that he be listed even as he had given birth as the child's father rather than its mother. Interestingly, this established a new principle in British common law, we'll see if it lasts, that every individual in Britain has a basic right to know who is his or her mother. Just think about what kind of cultural confusion is necessary that you have to define and clarify in those terms.
But looking at the article in The Daily Telegraph, it again gets to the point that this isn't going to work. It isn't going to work to allow men who claim to be women to be in women's wards and maternity wards in hospitals. And then you might think, well, when you think of those who are going to protest this, first in line will be traditional Catholics, evangelical Christians and others who operate out of a biblical worldview, and you'd almost assuredly be right.
But there are two other very interesting sources of opposition to this kind of insanity. One of them is just a common, populist, generalized understanding of the fact that even as our culture will put up with a great deal of nonsense, most parents, no matter how politically correct they want to appear to be, don't want their daughters in a bathroom with teenage boys, and they don't want their mothers giving birth with those who identify as men right next door. And furthermore, even having men on the same ward under other circumstances.
But there is another group that's opposed to all of this, and it's right in this article in line to say, "This isn't right and this won't work." And that is traditional — “traditional” is an odd word to use here, but now it almost seems to fit — very classical, second way feminists. These were the ideological gender feminists who argued that, yes, there's a distinction between men and women. Men oppress women and women actually have superior gifts to men. It matters tremendously if you're a woman. Therefore, you can have women's colleges, and you can have schools for girls, you can have quotas concerning how many women or girls have to be in this or in that, but if you don't know what a girl is, you can't have a decent feminist movement.
The Transgender Revolution Just Won’t Work: Gender Confusion in the Hospital, Theatre, Classroom, and Courtroom
And then also yesterday, another sign of the times. This went in the very same newspaper, London's Daily Telegraph, another headline. This from the Entertainment Section, “Old Vic lavatories put gender in the picture.” Now, that's a very British headline. Most Americans looking at that would have no idea even what that headline means. Here's what it means: One of London's oldest theaters is relabeling its bathrooms, its restrooms in order to take off “ladies” and “gentlemen.” Just think about how out of place those words are now in this world, but rather to identify the different rooms with pictures. Well, what would those pictures be? That's frightening to consider.
Well, it turns out that the pictures are of a cubicle and of a urinal, and the administration of the theater says that they will allow people to sort themselves out based upon which kind of plumbing they intend to use. Now, here's the big deal, human civilization used to make that distinction based upon what kind of plumbing an individual had. This is a massive reorientation and redefinition of what it means to be human that comes down to what in Britain are called the lavatories and the lavvy of the Old Vic Theater.
By the way, this kind of cultural insanity simply has to be noted. "The new rooms will be marked not with signs, but with pictures of a cubicle or a urinal, allowing people to make their own decision about which loo," that is restroom, "is suitable for them." But the administration of the Old Vic is not finished being politically correct and signaling their virtue. No, there is more, and it comes down to the beer that's going to be served in the theater. Listen to this, "The revamp also includes a new cafe with a 'key focus on ethical production and sustainability,’ with a promise to be single-use plastic-free by early 2020. Its new gin and craft beer menu has a 'focus on gender equality amongst suppliers.'"
There is no indication as to how in the world that is going to be consistently applied, but it does tell you what a theater in London thinks it has to have in order to be sufficiently politically correct, and ethically and politically progressive to keep its place among the leading theaters in London.
But as I told you, yes, there is more, turning to The Times of London, that is in one sense the most establishment related newspaper in Great Britain that continues in print. On one single page, page 18 of the print edition of the Times of London. The first article, listen to this, "Pupils switching gender just to cause a stir says former head." That means head of school like a principal.
David Sanderson is the reporter in this case, "Schools are facing a transgender problem with some pupils declaring that they want to change or modify their gender identity in order to, ‘cause a little bit of turbulence in school,’ the former headmaster of one of the country's leading schools has said.” This former headmaster is Clarissa Farr. She was the high mistress of St. Paul's School For Girls until 2017, very respected school. And in recent days, she told The Henley Literary Festival, "That it was important to distinguish between those who were genuine in their feelings about their own gender, and those who just enjoyed being linked with radical causes."
There is probably not a coincidence in the fact that this is a school for girls. Because this issue of gender confusion leading to this kind of announcement of a nontraditional gender identity is far more common, we're told now, amongst adolescent girls than adolescent boys. This head of school had made the point that many of the girls who are indicating this nonbinary or transgender identity were doing so, she said, because they "just enjoyed being linked with radical causes." Now, the former head mistress is the author of a new book entitled, The Making of Her: Why School Matters.
Here's the point. She thinks that it matters that girls receive a first-rate, quality education. She believes in that. She believes in girls’ schools. She was the headmistress of one of the most respected in the nation. But in order to do that, she has to also believe in girls. She has to believe in them in two ways, number one, that they exist and secondly, that they are worthy of a first rate education. That's the argument she's making here. And then in the articles she goes on to make a point that is quite understated here in typical British pattern, she made the point as the paper says, "That there were difficulties for a single-sex school when girls said that they did not want to identify as girls."
The article also reports ominously enough that Britain's Equality and Human Rights Commission is expected to issue guidelines for primary and secondary schools in England and Wales on transgender pupils very soon. "These are expected to set parameters over issues such as school uniforms, the use of changing rooms and lavatories and accommodation on school trips." The article ends just by pointing out that there is a radical clash of worldviews here, and here's where we have to go beyond the article and say, when you're looking at many of the parents of the girls in this school or furthermore, the parents of children in any number of schools, they desperately expect clarity where the society is insisting upon confusion, and that is the kindest way to put it.
But on the lower part of the same printed page of the Times of London is one of those articles that simply demands headline attention for evangelical Christians, and for others concerned with human liberties in our society as well as in Britain. Here's the headline, "Christian GP loses row over trans rights." In this case, GP means general practitioner, which of course means physician. Ben Ellery reports for the Times of London. "A Christian doctor who was sacked from his government job for refusing to call transgender people by their preferred title, has lost a claim for discrimination. David Mackereth was told that he could not be a disability assessor for the Department for Work and Pensions if he did not give people the pronouns they requested."
The story continues telling us, "He told an employment tribunal in Birmingham that he had suffered discrimination for his belief in Genesis 1:27." The paper then has to tell the Britons reading the paper what Genesis 1:27 is. They'd have to do the same thing in the United States. "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." But then the story turns stunning. "The panel said Christians should not be discriminated against for their beliefs, but that Dr. Mackereth's views were incompatible with human dignity and conflict with the rights of others, specifically transgender individuals."
Just consider what we're looking at here. Once again, we see that inevitable collision between the newly declared sexual liberties, so essential to the transgender and the sexual revolution and religious liberty. And you'll notice that in this case, as in so many others, it's religious liberty that loses. On both sides of the Atlantic, our society is increasingly embracing the newly declared sexual liberties and denying what America's founders rightly called America's First Freedom, that is religious liberty.
And you'll notice that here, this is presented by this tribunal as if there is no inherent contradiction in what they say. They said Christians should not be discriminated against for their beliefs, and then they discriminate against this Christian for his beliefs because the trump issue here, above all others in their view, is that the doctor has a worldview that is "incompatible with human dignity and conflicts with the rights of others, specifically transgender individuals." So there you have a tribunal saying religious liberty should not be compromised, and then they compromise it. Religious liberty should be respected and then they disrespect it.
All of that in just one day in major newspapers in one world city. Again, sadly enough, a harbinger, a sign of things to come.
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 London, England, and I'll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.