Thursday, January 9, 2020
This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
It's Thursday, January 9, 2020. I'm Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
A Shocking Development in Modern Parenthood: Dividing the Goods of God’s Creation
When it comes to the American establishment, it's hard to come up with a more central symbol than the newspaper known as The Wall Street Journal. The Journal, as it has been known for decades now, has a central place, not only in American financial life representing big business and the corporate sector, but it is also highly indicative of where the paper thinks that America's culture is headed.
There are good commercial reasons why businesses and corporations need to keep very much attuned to that question, but the Wall Street Journal represents a center-right perspective on American politics and culture. That's why a recent article that appeared there is all the more significant, and it appeared in just yesterday's edition and it comes with the headline, "Apps Help Strangers Have a Baby Together." The headline is shocking enough, but the subhead says this, "Services aim to match people who want kids, not necessarily romance."
Now we're going to return to that subhead in just a moment, not so much because of what's there, but because of what's not there, what's not there is the word “marriage.” But first of all, we need to look at this article by Julie Jargon, and it's written as part of the family and tech column series of the newspaper.
She tells us, "When Jenica Andersen felt the tug for a second child at age 37, the single mom weighed her options, wait until she meets Mr. Right or choose a sperm donor and go it alone, but we are told she found the first alternative lacking in promise, and she found the second lacking in appeal." So what is she going to do?
Well, it turns out that the very purpose of the article is to tell us that what she did was to discover another option, "Subscription-based websites such as PollenTree.com and Modamily that match would-be parents who want to share custody of a child without any romantic expectations."
Jargon tells us, "It's a lot like a divorce without the wedding or the arguments." The next sentence, "Given the prominence in today's society about single parenthood and online dating, this digital approach could be seen as a natural progression." But then she also says, "It could also be considered shocking."
Well, of course to mainstream America, not to mention anyone operating out of a biblical worldview, it is indeed shocking. Perhaps it is the inevitable development of the moral revolution and the reproductive technologies around us, but it still is shocking. It has to be shocking.
The woman whose story began the article summarizes, "It's a controversial approach to creating a family and there are people who balk at it, but the idealized version of a man and a woman falling in love is shortsighted." We are told that she is now 38 and pregnant.
Reporter Julie Jargon goes on to tell us more about these platforms. "Using technology to find a platonic parenting partner comes at a time when it seems harder than ever to meet anyone the old-fashioned way.
Jargon goes on to say, "As people spend more time building their careers, it can be difficult to forge relationships outside the office where romance has become a verboten, and as the cost of living has increased, it has become harder for many people to consider marriage or children until later in life, factors that have resulted in a declining fertility rate in the U.S."
So by the time we come to understand what's at the center of this story, it is the arrival of online platforms and apps that enable people who do not intend to become romantically inclined, they certainly do not intend to become married nonetheless to become parents together.
The article goes on to one of the co-founders of the site PollenTree.com. According to the Journal, he said, "About 60% of the co-parenting seekers are women. The male clientele is evenly split between single gay men and heterosexual men both seeking to be co-parents with women. There are also, we are told same sex couples looking to have a mother or father figure in their child's life."
Well, if you need some kind of documentation in order to understand the deep moral revolt in our culture and the basic brokenness of our society, it's hard to come up with an article that would be more sufficient than this, just one article, about a half page, in the print edition of yesterday's Wall Street Journal.
There are a couple of huge background issues here. For one thing, there is absolutely no moralizing in this article. We are told that it might be shocking that people are doing this, but it shouldn't be for any basic moral reason. And furthermore, as I said in the beginning, there is no understanding that marriage is to be a central, non-negotiable part of the equation in any sense, and of course, The Wall Street Journal has already signed on to the fact that marriage now means not only a man and a woman, the union that alone can produce a baby, but also a man and a man or a woman and a woman and when you add all the complexities still unfolding of the LGBTQ revolution, you come to understand that when you do face the intersection of the moral revolution and the technological innovations in human reproduction, the opportunities for disaster are now virtually endless.
It is important to note that even as the Wall Street Journal documented this story just yesterday, The New York Times had offered a story on February the 8th of 2013 about the very same phenomenon, even citing what had already existed and that is PollenTree.com and Modamily.com. That article is by Abby Ellin and in that article, again, there is no moral judgment whatsoever. This is just presented as something that is probably inevitable and should be celebrated by the larger society.
In this case, Ellen described, "A new breed of online daters looking not for love, but rather a partner with whom to build a decidedly non-nuclear family." Well, that's a very clear description, but we also need to look deeper in this article to understand actually the depth of the revolt.
For example, in this article published in The New York Times in 2013, the reporter cites, Sarah J. Schoppe-Sullivan, identified as an associate professor in the Ohio State University's Department of Human Sciences, who speaking of the child to be produced by this kind of program said, "Certainly from a research standpoint, I don't think having a romantic relationship is necessary to have a good co-parenting relationship."
She went on to say, "Research shows that if parents can have a warm cooperative co-parenting relationship, then that's going to be positive for the child's development." Note that when you do have this kind of development showing this depth of revolt, you are also going to have prominent academics here to tell us that this is just something to be celebrated and welcomed and furthermore, it is an improvement over that old restrictive, patriarchal, nuclear family and certainly it is an escape hatch from that previous imprisonment known as marriage.
But looking at these stories, especially the one that appeared in yesterday's edition of the Wall Street Journal, Christians need to remind ourselves of what the biblical worldview has to tell us here. Well, for one thing we need to remember that there is a basic Christian worldview principle about the indivisibility of created goods. That may sound pretty deep and complex, but actually, it's pretty easy to understand. It is just the Christian principle that when God gives us something good and in creation, he has given us what he himself declares to be good, then we are not to seek to divide it.
Let's just think in terms of what's in this story. For example, here you have embodiment, gender, sex, marriage, reproduction, babies, children, romance, and parenthood. Well, we are told that we are not to divide those goods that indeed the Scripture tells us from the very beginning that the goodness of what God has given us in these things is actually in the fact that they are related specifically one to the other.
We are told that man and woman are made male and female precisely in order to bring glory to God and to multiply and reproduce and specifically within the context of marriage. That's why at the end of Genesis 2, we are told, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife and they shall become one flesh."
That's in just the second chapter of the entire Bible, and there we are told as we have reinforced over and over in Scripture that we are not to divide what God has put together and that is exactly what Jesus says in Matthew 19—“What God has put together, let no one tear asunder.”
Now let's just remind ourselves then that a central part of the fall of the human revolt against God in our sinfulness is an effort to divide what God has put together to try to have sex without marriage, romance without sex, sex without children, children without sex, romance without marriage, without any kind of obligation, parenthood also without marriage, and now we are told that we are free to express ourselves, even to declare ourselves a gender other than the sex in which we were born—remember, created by God for his glory. All of this is one great effort that is ongoing and becoming even more radical by the hour to divide the goodness of God's creation.
Another issue that we as Christians need to understand is just how fast this revolt is expanding. For example, if you were to talk about this story just as we looked at it in The Wall Street Journal reminding ourselves that the technologies have been around, The New York Times reported on them basically back in 2013, but if you were to take this story and try to explain it to someone just 10 years previous, it would be in comprehensible and yet, it's not incomprehensible now. The main issue behind The Wall Street Journal's article is the fact that it is now presented as something new in our society that is to be welcomed without any kind of moral judgment.
And marriage itself, as I said, is just missing. It's as if marriage no longer even has to be discussed. The subhead in this article speaks of those who are single individuals who, "Want kids, not necessarily romance,” as if romance is the fundamental good that God has given us.
Romance is not the fundamental good that God has given us. Instead, romance is a part of the attraction which used to bring a man and a woman together. It is to be what the Bible describes as a unitive bond which brings us to marriage and keeps us alive in marriage, but the marriage is far more fundamental than the romance. We're actually married when we feel romantic, we're married when we don't.
For Christians, this should also be a humbling recognition of the fact that we are not free to try to divide just a little bit when we see what the world is doing here, trying to divide the goods of God's creation to a great extent, a little bit is also sin.
Instead, Christians living out faithfulness to Scripture and according to God's law, living under God's glory, we are to accept and to obey and to celebrate and receive the goodness of God's creation and to do everything we can to hold those goods together, to hold marriage and romance and children and family together, to hold our understanding of sex and gender and morality and for that matter, reality together.
One final issue that demands to be attended to here and that is the fact that at the center of this story at the end is the fact that all of this is about having children. It's about the conception and the birth of babies and here's where we need to remind ourselves of another very basic Christian biblical principle and that is that even in a fallen world in which there is the effort to divide the goods of God's creation, they still remain goods, but when they are divided, they become far more fragile, which is to say every single child is to be welcomed. Every single child, every single baby is made in the image of God. No baby, no child is ever to be disrespected because of the circumstances of his or her conception or birth or parentage. The child is an unalloyed good that God has given us.
But that child becomes more endangered, the good becomes more fragile, and not only the child, but the institution of the family and for that matter, the entire society when there is this revolt seeking to divide the goods of God's creation. At least some of the insanity we see in these articles is the suggestion that we shouldn't worry at all—the children can thrive in such a relationship. Notice that not only is romance missing from the equation amongst the parents, not only is marriage missing, but a household is missing. There's no implication that this child is going to be raised in a home with two parents. Looked at most cynically, this is just another exercise in post-Christian narcissism now rampant through our society, but it also represents an absolute brokenness, a tragic brokenness we need to recognize for exactly what it is.
The LGBTQ Agenda Infiltrates Public School Curriculum in New Jersey: The Curriculum Collides with the Sexual Revolution—And Parents Are Cut Out
But this takes us to the second issue of the day. This one appears in yesterday's edition of USA Today. It's by Hannan Adely. She writes for the Bergen Record in New Jersey, it was published in USA Today through the USA Today network. The headline in the article: "New Jersey classrooms to require LGBTQ lessons." Well, there are indeed huge lessons in this development for all of us, particularly for Christian parents.
Adely writes, "12 New Jersey schools will begin piloting a new LGBTQ-focused curriculum this month. The first wave of a requirement that will soon be mandated across the state." The background is that just a matter of months ago, The New Jersey legislature passed and then the governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy signed legislation that will require every school district in New Jersey to offer this LGBTQ-focused curriculum.
There is a sustained effort to try to get this kind of legislation passed in all states. The first state to do so was California—no surprise there—in 2011, New Jersey becomes the second state, and yet before the end of the year last year, Illinois became the third state.
By the way, one of the things to note is the reminder that elections have consequences. In the states of New Jersey and Illinois, the fact that Democrats hold virtually all levers of power in the state governments indicate why this is happening so quickly.
Now, another basic issue of the Christian worldview is understanding that when there is a revolt at the most fundamental level, it shows up throughout the entire picture, throughout in this case, the entire society.
Just consider this paragraph, "The pilot sites to be announced by the state Tuesday including schools in Hackensack, Morristown, Newark and Asbury Park are intended to be proving grounds for new lessons in history, economics, and even grammar designed to improve awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender contributions and issues. The instruction, approved by the state last year, will be a requirement for all of New Jersey's public schools starting in the Fall."
Did you notice that the word “grammar” appeared there? It's very, very revealing. We are told that this new curriculum is going to transform virtually every part of the existing school curriculum and specifically mentioned here history, economics and even grammar.
Now, grammar is the most fascinating thing to find here because what it signals is that when you have a revolt at this fundamental level, what Paul tells us in Romans 1 is actually a revolt against nature, then even the language has to give way. This is going to require a change in grammar. Now this is what we already see with the preferred personal pronouns and all the rest. The grammar has to give way. Washington D.C., we are told, is also in its own way far less significantly perhaps deciding that it's going to consider an absolute gender neutrality in language.
So no more manholes, no more fireman, no more chairman, not if this passes and of course, it's likely to pass because it's just the logic of the revolt and when you think about, for instance, firemen and chairmen, well, at least that's an ongoing issue. As we understand, there are women who fight fires and there are women who chair meetings, but when it comes to manhole covers, that just tells you that the language itself is breaking. Now, it comes down to cast iron circles in the middle of asphalt.
Now, there are some other issues we really need to notice here, parents in particular. One of the things we need to see is that this is the victory of identity politics because, just think about it for a moment, how exactly are you to transform the study of history in such a way as to include—well, what we're told in this article is—the stories that had been hidden from history? How exactly are you going to recover those stories? And remember that the modern idea of sexual orientation and sexual identity and especially this idea of orientation as identity, that's such a modern concept, people in the past didn't even know whether to articulate it or not.
So in other words, a lot of this is just going to be made up, and furthermore, it is going to press in ahistorical, absolutely incorrect, and unfair manner a sexual agenda and identity upon people who did not live with that identity, much less claim it.
But there are other issues here we need to note. For one thing cited in the article very quickly was Ashley Chiappano. She's identified as Safe Schools and Communications Education Manager for Garden State Equality, "The advocacy group leading the pilot program." So there is an advocacy group, an LGBTQ activist group that is actually designing the curriculum and operating it in these test programs in 12 different schools.
The moral revolutionaries are not just outside this process making demands, they're actually driving and designing the process and we also need to note that New Jersey's parents are effectively cut out of the entire process. There is no opt-out provision for parents to withdraw their children from this program in the New Jersey public schools.
Remember that within a matter of months, it will be in all New Jersey public schools. All of them. USA Today tells us, "The law does not have an opt-out provision. Law makers and advocates said it wasn't an option because the lessons are supposed to be integrated into New Jersey's curriculum through the year across subjects."
Well again, that's really the point. We see here parallels to what has happened in California with Planned Parenthood being invited into the public schools to design its own programs. And you also see parallels here with California and other states where the entire LGBTQ issue is being pressed throughout the entire curriculum. In California for example, often repackaged explicitly as health education rather than sex education so that it does not trigger the kind of parental opt-out provision that even California's legislature put into effect some time ago.
One final note on this issue, the subhead of the USA Today article is this: "Law touts inclusiveness, ‘morality’ worries critics." But what we need to note is that in the print edition and online, the word “morality” is put in scare quotes, as if morality isn't anything real. It's just a part of an argument that parents and others in New Jersey are putting up against this proposal. Indeed, it is no longer proposal, it's a program. But morality is now what is artificial. The LGBTQ agenda, well, that's what's taken for granted. In New Jersey's public schools, that is now the basic reality. Parents, not only in New Jersey but virtually everywhere, you have been warned.
Is the Story of Noah’s Ark Just a Fairy Tale? NBC’s Meet the Press Seems to Think So
Finally, I want to turn to NBC’s news program Meet the Press. It is actually the longest running television program on TV. It began with its first broadcast on November the 6th, 1947. The current and 12th host of the program is Chuck Todd, and he's been serving in that position in the anchor seat since 2014.
Chuck Todd has been a political analyst for NBC News for some time, but there is no position of greater respect and prestige in American television news than hosting the program Meet the Press, but just before the end of the year, Chuck Todd said something very interesting.
In a conversation with two political analyst guests, he decided to pull up a letter to the editor to a newspaper not in Washington. Rather, it was the Herald leader of Lexington, Kentucky.
He called the letter a fascinating attempt, his words were a “fascinating attempt to explain why so many Americans support President Donald Trump.” Now, the point of our consideration today is not the support for President Trump. It's indeed the worldview that was revealed by Chuck Todd when he decided to read this letter, a letter to the editor from the Lexington, Kentucky newspaper.
That letter to the editor is by David Bowles of Lexington and he said, "The question of the decade is why do people support President Trump?" Well, he asked a question and he intends to answer it. He asked the question as to why good people, in his estimation, would support President Trump. He says, "It's because people have been trained from childhood to believe in fairy tales."
He went on to say, "From childhood, they were told stories that were fascinating, but simply not true. This set their minds up to accept things that make them feel good. Later in life, some people mature, study facts and cause and effect, and start thinking more logically even if the results are undesirable."
So he's making the accusation that good people, as he calls them, who would vote for President Trump are those who want to believe in fairy tales. Unlike himself and his friends, they're not mature. They don't study facts, they don't understand cause and effect, they don't think logically.
But here's the punchline in the letter to the editor, "Show me a person who believes in Noah's Ark and I will show you a Trump voter. There are multiple solid scientific reasons,” he writes, “the ark did not happen. Some people learn this and some don't, and those who don't will accept Trump. But can the world survive on fairy tales?"
Now, note why we are talking about this argument today. It is not because David Bowles wrote this letter to the editor to the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky. That's not the point. The point is that of all the hundreds and hundreds of newspapers and the thousands of letters to the editor, the host of NBC's Meet the Press somehow fixed on this letter and read it, suggesting that it is a fascinating attempt to explain support for the president of the United States.
My point is this, forget for a moment the entire political context and just focus on the biblical and theological context. The host of NBC's Meet the Press read a letter to the editor that equated what he understands and argues to be irrationality, fairytales with believing in Noah's Ark, and the host of Meet the Press read it as if of course that is patently and obviously true.
Becket Adams writing at the Washington Examiner gets it just right when he tells us, "NBC News Chuck Todd offered a good reminder this weekend that many in the press view people of faith as regressive knuckle draggers."
Let's just remember that one of the most influential hosts of Meet the Press, Tim Russert used to end every broadcast of the program by saying, "If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press." That's certainly a memorable promotional line, but it's also a signal to Christians to remember just what the media thinks of us, and for that matter, thinks of Sunday.
The Bible makes very clear that the entire account of Genesis and all of that is presented as history in Scripture, but in particular given this story, the account of Noah's Ark in the book of Genesis, it is presented and is to be received and believed as space time history.
It tells us something that this letter to the editor appeared in the Lexington Herald-Leader, but it tells us far more that the host of NBC’s Meet the Press chose this letter of all letters to read affirmatively on the program Meet the Press.
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 Orlando, Florida, and I'll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.