briefing, Albert Mohler

Thursday, January 30, 2020

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

It’s Thursday, January 30, 2020. I’m Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

The Arena, the Activist, and the Irony: The LGBTQ Revolution Just Can’t Keep Up with Itself

The Senate impeachment trial of the president of the United States continues, but to date it has continued basically to form and to expectation—no big surprising headline news. That might change either today or in the next several days of the trial, but at this point it is playing out pretty much exactly as anyone would have predicted looking at the process even as it began. We’ll be watching that process closely and if there is breaking news and if there is a new development we’ll talk about it and consider it from a Christian worldview.

In the meantime, there are some really interesting headlines from around the world that do demonstrate to us just how fast our society and by this, not just in the United States but particularly in the nations shaped by Western civilization are changing on the most basic moral issues of our day. One of the most interesting things that Christians have to keep in mind is not only that the society is changing—it’s changing socially, politically, morally—but that moral change is happening at warp speed. It’s happening faster than any previous generation of human beings have ever experienced, and sometimes you have to look at a headline and blink once or twice in order to understand what we’re watching here is a world changing before our eyes.

The headline in the article by Simon Cambers is this, “Martina Navratilova Calls for Margaret Court Arena to be Renamed.” It doesn’t sound like that big of a story and in terms of world consequence, it probably isn’t that big of a story, but in worldview significance, I think we’ll see that it is. The article begins, “Former world number one, Martina Navratilova,” of course we’re talking here about tennis, “said she believes the Margaret Court Arena there in Australia should be renamed because of the Australians controversial views on sexuality and race.”

Well, who are we talking about here? Well, we’re talking about Margaret Court, who at one point was the most famous Australian professional tennis player. She was a champion player. The court there was named for her and ever since major tennis events in Australia have often been held in and broadcast from the Margaret Court Arena. Here we have another major world figure when it comes to tennis, former multiple champion Martina Navratilova, who is calling for the Margaret Court Arena to be renamed because of Margaret Court’s views on sexuality.

Well, let’s look at the story, “Navratilova said Tennis Australia should remove court’s name and rename the stadium in honor of Yvonne Goolagong who Navratilova said is the ‘embodiment of what a role model or hero truly is.’” Now, Yvonne Goolagong is another retired hall of fame athlete there in Australia. It could be argued that this arena could well be named for her, but the accusation made by Martina Navratilova, who was after all one of the most sensationally reported openly gay athletes of her time, the accusation is that it is now a moral blight upon both tennis and Australia for the arena to be named for Margaret Court.

After her retirement from tennis, Margaret Court became very well known for her life within the Pentecostal church in Australia, and she defended that church’s teachings, which after all founded on Scripture, concerning the nature of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, the creation of human beings as male and female, and biblical understandings of the required pattern of human sexual behavior. That means that homosexual behavior in every form is a violation of Scripture and God’s plan. Of course, when Margaret Court began saying those things, just about everyone in Australia was affirming the very same truths, but now the world has changed and the world has changed now so much that Martina Navratilova says that Margaret Court’s name should be taken off of the arena.

Tennis Australia, that’s the Australian Professional Tennis Association, it finds itself exposed as having something of a divided mind. As the ESPN report tells us, “Margaret Court was presented with a special trophy on Monday at Melbourne Park 50 years after she won the Grand Slam of Wimbledon, the US Open, Roland-Garros and the Australian Open in 1970.” But the next sentence says this, “But the Australian Open has been careful to distance itself from her views,” which it says, “have demeaned and hurt many in our community over a number of years. They do not align with our values of equality, diversity and inclusion.”

Now, let’s just note one of the ironies here. Just like we often face the intolerance of those who say that they campaign under the motto of tolerance, here we see the fact that inclusion when used in this kind of context always means excluding anyone who holds to a biblical worldview. This is almost like George Orwell’s 1984 or a similar kind of warning that words have been turned on their heads, but that’s actually what happens when there is a revolution in morality, which is exactly what we have been experiencing.

So far you’re looking at a major news report. This is at and it has to do with an openly gay, that is lesbian athlete calling for the removal of another previous champion whose name is on the arena, who does not endorse the LGBTQ array of issues. Well, that’s the story in so far as ESPN reports it, but what ESPN seems not to remember is that this revolution in morality is moving so fast that Martina Navratilova is already on the wrong side of history, according to that worldview.

It was just a matter of months ago that Martina Navratilova complained that transgender athletes posed a danger to all of women’s athletics and sports, arguing that it was unfair for those who identify as transgender women to compete against biological women when it comes not only to tennis, but any number of other athletic activities. Of course, that is right now the front line of the great controversy in our culture.

You often are told that there is a united presentation L–B–G–T–Q, but in reality, T is really out of step with L and G and B. When it comes to one who is most arguably, certainly one of the most famous lesbians on planet earth, Martina Navratilova was roundly condemned months ago for being out of step and for violating the new morality by suggesting that there was anything unreal or unfair about someone claiming to be a woman and trying to play in organized professional and Olympic athletics as a woman who actually has the body, which is to say most importantly, the skeletal structure of a male.

What are we looking at here? Well, we are looking at a headline, “Martina Navratilova Calls for Margaret Court Arena to be Renamed.” Margaret Court’s name is to be off. Her moral commitments are no longer tolerable. She is out of bounds. She’s on the wrong side of history. It is an embarrassment to have Margaret Court’s name on this very prestigious athletic facility in Australia. But it’s not going to be long—and you can predict this—before you’re going to see headlines that someone else is calling for Martina Navratilova’s name to be taken off of all trophies and all awards and all contests and all facilities.

Why? Because right now, even as Martina Navratilova wants to present herself to the moral revolutionaries as one of us, she has already outed herself in this sense as one of them. One who is going to be out of step, at least to some degree with the moral revolution taking place all around us reshaping all of society. There’s another little footnote here. It has to do with the fact that this is Australia, and Australia, even though it is there in the Southern hemisphere in the Pacific is after all a nation that is derivative of Western civilization, and it’s English speaking, just remind yourself. In Australia the distinction is there that the nation was never evangelized as, for instance, its mother nation, Britain was. As we discussed even recently on The Briefing, there are some strong and stalwart wonderful evangelical churches, congregations, and denominations there in Australia, but the reality is that Australia is right now one of the most hyper-modern and hyper-secular societies on earth.

The big lesson in this particular story is that revolutions eventually consume their own founders. They consume their own soldiers. They consume their own proponents, and that’s what’s taking place here. The left can’t possibly keep up with itself. Every generation—and when we’re talking about this revolution, generations come in the course of say five or six years—it now comes with an entirely new and absolutely categorical moral demand. Those who won’t go along with it are simply out of date. Their names are to be taken off the building. They are on the wrong side of history, which leads us to another story.

Part II

What Unites L, G, B, T, and Q? A Rebellion Against the Order of Creation and the Law of God

This one appeared in the Atlantic. The headline in the article, “Bridging the LGBTQ Generation Gap.” The article begins by telling us, “The LGBTQ community is often referred to as a family,” ‘family’ put in quotation marks with the connotation being that it is a supportive close knit group of people. According to researchers however, “The analogy is particularly salient when it comes to another not so positive aspect of families—generation gaps.” As the article tells us, “More than 60% of LGBTQ elders report feeling and isolating lack of companionship. Two in five feel disconnected from the younger LGBTQ community,” and we’re told this is especially true for survivors of the AIDS epidemic.

The article by Emily Buder goes on paragraph by paragraph to indicate this yawning generation gap in the LGBTQ community, but that just points out one of the inherent contradictions of this entire picture. It really isn’t an organized community. It’s an organized political movement because that’s how political movements are successful. They bring together different coalitions that hold together for a political purpose and they present to the political world a unified front, but often they’re actually not a unified front at all.

Morally speaking, as we said, there’s an inherit tension between L and G and B and T and Q. For one thing, it’s even interesting to see how all of this came about. When you had the revolution in morality really begin in the United States when it came to same sex relations, it was referred to as the gay rights movement and so it was for well over a decade. Gay rights, would be in the headlines. People would be demanding gay rights and explaining gay rights.

But then came the complaint, gay rights will not contain explicitly lesbian rights. Lesbians are simply then invisible within a category that is dominated by homosexual men. So it has to be gays and lesbians. So we had years of reporting gays and lesbians, but then perhaps the smallest of all of these and the least defined, bisexual, also came to be included. That by the way, coming as a result of demands made by a very small but very active bisexual activist community. Then it was gay and lesbian and bisexual. But then there came the accusation that saying gay and lesbian and bisexual puts gay men first as a matter of privilege, and so it should be lesbians and gays and bisexual, but of course that puts gay before bisexual. So as you’re looking at LGBTQ right now, that’s just where we are even on the alphabet for a brief moment in human history.

The inherent contradictions have to do with the fact that the T is absolutely contradicted by the ideologies of G and L—that is, gays and lesbians. Andrew Sullivan, one of the main activists and intellectuals in the gay community pointed out that there is no way to be gay if you don’t know who a man is. Similarly, there have been lesbians making the very same argument, and of course then you have the second wave feminists, they’d been arguing for inherit rights to be recognized in women, but it’s very important to them, at least when you look at that generation from the 60s and 70s and 80s and 90s, that they know who a woman is. And there is no point being a feminist if someone who was a man effectively and in reality can claim the rights that are now being defended for women.

You see the confusion. LGBTQ really don’t hold together except in one sense, but it’s the most important sense for us. Every single one of those letters is a rebellion against the ontological order of creation. Every single one of those letters is united in the fact that it is a direct act of revolution and rebellion against the order of creation and the law of God that God has established for His glory and for human good. They are united by the fact that they are successful as a common political front, but that common political front breaks apart, especially in the age of identity politics where L, G, B, T, and Q are now becoming major players in intersectionality and identity politics. Identity politics only works if you argue that your identity is more important than anything else about you.

In this article, there’s a pretty remarkable paragraph. It quotes researchers Glenda M. Russell and Janis S. Bohan. We’re told that the generation gap in the LGBTQ community can be attributed to many factors, but among them are in the words of the researchers, “The radical discrepancy between the life of today’s LGBT youths and that of their elders when they were young. The pervasive age segregation within LGBT communities, the extreme speed of change that renders today’s certainties tomorrow’s irrelevancies, and the very common tendency for each generation to dismiss the other’s perspective.”

What is so important for us to notice there? Did you notice that in this article about a yawning generation gap in the LGBTQ community, in this article there is the acknowledgement of “the extreme speed of change that renders today’s certainties, tomorrow’s irrelevancies”? That’s how revolutions eat not only individuals, but ideas. Putting both of these issues together, it explains in part why younger members of the LGBT community have decided already that Martina Navratilova is out of date.

But as Christians think carefully about this language, “the extreme speed of change that renders today’s certainties tomorrow’s irrelevancies,” it reminds us of the fact that our authority for knowing anything is the Word of God that does not change. If the Word of God did change, then we would be absolutely lost in confusion and incoherence. It is impossible that if our certainties are based rightly on Scripture, that they can in any way become tomorrow’s irrelevancies. In a biblically ordered church that is actually impossible.

Part III

Parental Rights Threatened in Wales: Why Are So Many Parents Celebrating the Denial of Their Parental Rights?

But next, an article that comes from Wales as reported by the British Broadcasting Corporation. The headline: “Sex and Religious Education to be Compulsory in Wales.” As the report tells us, “Parents will no longer have the right to withdraw children from lessons about relationships, sexuality, and religion. This according to confirmation from the Welsh government.” We are told, “Education minister Kirsty Williams said the move would be tested next year before becoming statutory when the new curriculum is launched in 2022.”

The article then tells us, “Parents are currently able to request their children do not take part in sex and religious education, but the new rules are exactly the opposite saying that parents will have no such opt-out provision.” Now this is headline news not only in Wales but throughout the United Kingdom and furthermore we’re talking about it here in the United States. We are seeing similar kinds of developments here. One of the interesting things about this however is that one distinction is the word ‘religion.’ That is something that is generally different from what is found here in the United States.

The United Kingdom still has a state church. In Britain, of course, it is the Church of England and it also has compulsory religious education. You’re looking here at the fact that parents have been able to opt their children out of that religious education which has been in its general form for decades now, a generally Christian education of some form, but as you might also recognize would now be required by political correctness, it is now more or less religion. Even still, parents had the right to opt out their children from religious education, also sexuality education, but according to this headline news that opt-out provision will now be taken away.

Parents, we are told, have greeted the announcement with mixed opinions. This is really interesting. “Sally Stevenson, a mother of a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old from Cowbridge Vale of Glamorgan told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast with Claire Summers, ‘I just think it’s a really good idea to teach children about different religions and different relationships.’” Now that’s a form of parental naiveté you just ought to see at face value. Here you have a mother celebrating the fact that her 13 and 15-year-olds are going to be confronted with alternative worldviews because after all she seems to imply they need it.

She said, “I want them to understand that we are all different and there are people who live different lives to us and most importantly I want them to be open-minded and respectful of other people and their beliefs.” Well, here you have that trope ‘open-minded’ used as if it makes obvious sense, but just how open minded can any supposedly open-minded person be? It’s like the intolerance that comes with those who insist on tolerance, the exclusivity that comes under the theme of inclusivity, and here you have it, the close-mindedness that comes as the demand of open-mindedness.

Some other parents in Wales are quoted as disagreeing with the newly announced policy, but what is most amazing in the article is how many parents are calling for the schools to subvert their own authority. Here’s a statement by Maxine Watson Whitaker who we are told has a three-year-old daughter. Keep that number in mind, a three year old daughter. She welcomed the move, “I think it’s a good thing that little children are able to have the full perspective of life really rather than the narrow viewpoint of their parents or family. I think the more you experience, the more information or knowledge you get, the better.” Well, that’s not only a recipe for civilizational suicide, that is also a recipe for removing the very purpose for which parents exist. What astounded me so much looking at that article is that in this case we are told that she is a mother of a three-year-old and she’s calling for her three year old to be exposed to something other than her own, evidently, narrow viewpoint.

It is interesting to see that there was actually a complaint from a sort of unexpected authority here and that was the group known as Humanist UK. That is the secular humanist organization in the United Kingdom. Why is it offended? It is offended because in the name of atheism and secularism, it does not want the opt-out provision for parents to be removed when it comes to that compulsory religious education.

What does that tell us? It tells us, frankly, that parents should have this opt-out provision and that we should recognize that that provision should be given to all parents. Why? In order that they might actually parent and raise their own children. What’s really tragic, it’s heartbreaking here, also revealing, is how many parents are evidently falling all over themselves to celebrate their own parental authority and their own parental rights being subverted, compromised, basically eliminated in this way.

Why would they hold this position? Well, we can look at a couple of reasons why that might be so. Maybe these parents really don’t believe much of anything. Therefore, they’re not concerned with their children being taught much of anything. They’re not going to be specifically offended one way or the other, but I actually doubt that is often the case. I think what we see here, are parents who are in a culture of this radical new revolution morality who believe that there is simply no way ultimately to oppose it. They simply are going to have to go along with the flow, and if their children are going to be successful in life, then they need to be inculcated in this new worldview. That’s exactly what the sex education curriculum and all the rest is going to do.

I think we should also recognize that in a radically secularizing society, as now marks the United Kingdom, you are looking at the fact that there is so much confusion that it’s not only about the sex education and the religious education, the relationships education, it is also about parents basically being ignorant of what their assignment in the world is. Furthermore, of a coherent moral universe and framework for the entire world that gives them any way of negotiating this without just surrendering upfront.

Of course, here we’re not just looking at surrender. We’re looking at surrender transformed into what amounts to celebration. “Yes, thank you for coming after the hearts and minds of my children. Thank you for indoctrinating them in a worldview different than my own. Thank you for taking away my rights because maybe that also takes away my responsibility to raise my own children and to teach them.”

Of course, Christians understand something else. We understand not only the parent’s responsibility to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We understand what stacked against us here and the challenge, one of the greatest challenges at any time, is to raise children in such a way that they perpetuate and embrace for themselves the truth that we know, but there is also the reality that when you’re looking at a category like sex education, it can never come without a total moral framework. It just can’t. There is no way to teach “Just the facts, ma’am” sex education, there is no such thing. It is impossible, and everyone knows it.

When you look at this kind of sex education curriculum, I can guarantee you that it is ideological, and the entire purpose is to indoctrinate them into the central moral doctrines of the moral revolutionaries. Because make no mistake, they are in control. They are in such total control that you can now look at this headline news in which we are told that sex and religious education is now to be compulsory in Wales. Parents rights are to be denied, and that has led to a headline and not a revolution, and that’s a tragedy.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

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I’m speaking to you from New Orleans, Louisiana, and I’ll meet you again tomorrow—and it’s compulsory—for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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