briefing, Albert Mohler

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

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

It’s Tuesday, February 18, 2020. I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

Elections Have Consequences . . . Sometimes Deadly Ones: Planned Parenthood Back in Abortion Business in Kentucky after Election of Pro-Abortion Governor

Actions have consequences and political actions have political consequences, but those consequences often go far beyond politics. Elections have consequences, and sometimes those consequences are a matter of life and death, particularly these days for the unborn.

Consider the consequences of last year’s gubernatorial election in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Just a few days ago, the Courier-Journal in Louisville ran a story with the headline telling us that Planned Parenthood now has approval by the governor’s office in Frankfort to begin offering abortions, performing abortions in the city of Louisville. Planned Parenthood once it begins offering abortions becomes the second active abortion clinic in the state of Kentucky, both of them located in Louisville.

What are we talking about when we say that elections have consequences? Well, just four years before this last election that came at the end of 2019, Governor Matt Bevin moved to shut down abortion in the state of Kentucky, and he was successful beyond what almost anyone had imagined.

By the time the end of the Bevin administration came around, Kentucky’s General Assembly had adopted and the governor had signed several very important legislative items of pro-life meaning. And then you jump to the fact that by the time Governor Bevin ended his time in office, there was only one abortion clinic operating in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. And the Bevin administration had actually done its best to shut it down before a federal judge blocked the measure.

But when in last November Andy Beshear, then the Attorney General of the state was elected governor, well, everything changed, and that everything is reflected in this headline news story and once again, it is a matter of life and death. And here is the really haunting thing: the citizens of the state of Kentucky had full realization of the pro-abortion intentions of Governor Beshear. When he was the Attorney General, he did his best to make very clear that his commitment was to a pro-abortion—of course he would instead style that as pro-choice—position. He had fundraisers even in the home of an abortion provider. He was backed by organizations such as NARAL. That organization was formerly known as the National Abortion Rights Action League. And even though it’s changed its name, it has maintained and expanded its deadly intention.

Back in November, the voters of Kentucky had a very clear choice between a very well-identified pro-life candidate, the incumbent governor, and a pro-abortion candidate, the Attorney General. They chose the Attorney General, and they did so knowing the importance of the issue of abortion. Deborah Yetter reports, “The decision by the administration of Governor Andy Beshear was hailed by Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky as a victory for women’s health and reproductive rights, saying the move allows it to provide ‘a full range of reproductive healthcare.’”

Just again, note that that is not only a euphemism, it is a macabre euphemism. It is a smokescreen to try to reclassify the intentional murder of an unborn child as instead a woman’s full range of reproductive healthcare.

The Courier-Journal then went on to report “This week,” and that’s a few days ago, “Kentucky went from one abortion provider to two, which is a significant win for reproductive healthcare in the state,” said Chris Charbonneau, Planned Parenthood’s CEO for Kentucky and Indiana. Charbonneau said, “All people in Kentucky deserve to make their own pregnancy decisions, and to have access to safe and legal abortion.”

Now notice carefully this portion of the report, “The decision to grant the approval follows a four-year fight by Planned Parenthood with former Governor Matt Bevin, an anti-abortion Republican whose administration had twice denied it a license to provide abortions. But in January, the administration of Beshear, a Democrat who supports the right to abortion, rescinded that denial and announced that officials would allow Planned Parenthood to pursue approval. Beshear took office December 10.”

Now, the nomenclature used in this article is not all that surprising, it’s likely what you would find in any major news source these days, but it is not neutral. Just notice the fact that the unborn is never mentioned. Instead, abortion is simply described on the one side as a contest between an anti-abortion Republican and a Democrat who supports the right to abortion. According to these news sources, Planned Parenthood in Louisville plans to begin offering abortions at its clinic in March.

But notice the words that I use there, “Planned Parenthood plans.” The one thing that Planned Parenthood most importantly emphatically doesn’t plan is to protect, in any way, the life of an unborn human being. What Planned Parenthood does plan to do is to try to offer as many abortions as possible. Now notice there’s also big money in those procedures, and to do so as many places as possible, for as long as possible, with the enablement of as many politicians as they can support and elect as possible.

As you’re thinking about a distinction, a contradiction in worldview, just consider the contradiction between those of us who on the basis of Scripture and belief in God as Creator understand every single human being to be made in God’s image, and thus every single human life to be worthy of protection under every condition from the moment of fertilization until natural death with the opposite worldview that says that babies—indeed, they will not even call them babies until they want to call them babies—are expendable in the womb if for any reason or no reason it is believed that the mother doesn’t want the baby. The bottom line for us is in realizing that when voters go into the ballot booth to cast a vote in an election, they’re often voting for more than a candidate. They are often voting for matters of life and death.

Part II

Is Polygamy a Big Deal or Not? Utah Considers Making Polygamy an Infraction Instead of a Felony

But next, we’re going to shift the scene to the state of Utah. USA Today ran a headline article in recent days, “Polygamists still go to jail in Utah. A new state law may end that.” Lindsay Whitehurst of the Associated Press wrote the article telling us that polygamists have lived in Utah since before it became a state. 85 years after plural marriage was declared a felony, they still number in the thousands and have even been featured in the long-running reality TV show, Sister Wives. But now in Utah, a state lawmaker, ‘Says it’s time to remove the threat of jail time for otherwise law abiding polygamists.’”

Now, wait just a minute. Before we go even a millimeter further in this story, let’s consider those last words—those words, “otherwise, law abiding, polygamists.” Just think about it. That “otherwise” is a really, really big word in that particular phrase, “otherwise, law abiding polygamists.” Now, just consider the fact that if you’re talking about many other issues, you would not possibly consider putting the “otherwise law abiding” in front of what would be the offense. In this case, the offense is polygamy. Is it a small thing or is it a big thing?

Well, the state of Utah is not really sure about it. At least according to this kind of legislative proposal. Utah State Senator, Deidre Henderson, a Republican, said, “The law is a failure. It hasn’t stopped polygamy at all, and it’s actually enabled abuse to occur and remain unchecked.” Her proposal, we are told, is to make bigamy an infraction rather than a felony, and we are told that it has gathered significant support. It was unanimously approved by a legislative panel in Utah already, “despite resistance from former members of polygamist groups who said it could embolden abusers.”

Now, the Associated Press article goes on to tell us that there are an estimated 30,000 people—that’s not a small community—30,000 people living in Utah’s polygamist communities. And many of them, indeed, the vast majority of them are at least rooted in the tradition of Mormonism, at least in the 19th century, and they believe that plural marriage “brings exaltation in heaven.” The Associated Press article recognizes that that belief is a legacy of early Mormonism.

Then the report says this: “The mainstream faith abandoned the practice in 1890 under pressure from the U.S. government, and now strictly forbids it.” But the article also goes on to say that for years after the state of Utah had criminalized polygamy and the church was teaching against it, it had effectively winked or blinked at polygamy until it began to crack down on the practice in recent decades, even threatening to and actually excommunicating polygamists.”

The argument made by this state senator for ending the criminalization of polygamy, turning it into just a minor infraction rather than a crime, indeed a felony, is that making polygamy illegal drives the practice underground and becomes a cover for abuse. But those who argue against the legislation argue that polygamy itself is a form of abuse, and even bringing it out into the open does not end the abuse. It is an objectively wrong and deformed human relationship, and it can never be made non-abusive. It can never be made safe.

That argument was made very clearly in an article that appeared in the Deseret News there in Salt Lake City by Valerie Hudson. Now, Valerie Hudson is herself distinguished university professor at The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. She asked the question, “Has Utah Legislature done its homework on polygamy?” She says that the position of those who are trying to decriminalize polygamy is untenable.

She writes, “Where polygyny is involved,” and polygyny means a man with multiple wives, and the vast majority of polygamy cases are in fact cases a polygyny, that is the union of one man to multiple wives, “the harm has been found to be inherent in the practice.”

In 2011, the Supreme Court of British Columbia was asked to rule on the constitutionality of Canada’s ban on polygamy. One of the star witnesses, we are told, is professor Rose McDermott of Brown University, who has written an academic book entitled The Evils of Polygyny. We are told, “McDermott finds a statistically significant relationship between the legality and prevalence of polygyny within a country on the one hand, and what they call ‘an entire downstream suite of negative consequences for men, women, children, and the nation state on the other hand.’ Their data analysis points to a significant relationship between polygyny and poor outcomes, including higher levels of sex trafficking and higher levels of domestic violence.”

Now, let’s also just note here that that’s sociological language. It doesn’t seem morally adequate to describe those things as poor outcomes. But the research also points to “consistent underinvestment overall in the children that polygynous unions, including lower rates of primary and secondary education for both male and female children, higher rates of child labor, higher rates of child malnourishment, higher rates of genetic abnormalities, and lower age of marriage for girls.”

There is also, as this article points out, a very cruel arithmetic for teenage boys. The fact is that powerful older men taking plural wives tend to see younger men and teenage boys as potential future competitors for these wives, and those boys and young men are often ostracized and kicked out of the community because, after all, the cruel arithmetic says that they are no longer needed. They are threats to the established polygamist men.

The article cites the fact that there are teenage boys who are “exiled in significant numbers from polygamists community so that male leaders may have multiple wives.” The article also points to serious psychological harms for women and children in polygynous marriages, including anxiety and depression. McDermott concludes, “Policy makers would have to change multiple laws across multiple domains to exert as much of an effect on these negative outcomes toward women and children, as could be accomplished by the abolition of polygyny.” Again, that is one man with multiple female partners.

It is also interesting even when you consider, maybe especially when you consider the destabilization of marriage that has been brought in this secular age, just think of the redefinition of marriage in order to legalize same-sex marriage. It is still interesting to note that virtually all of Europe, and for that matter, Canada and other nations, continue to criminalize polygamy simply because of the oppressive and distorting nature of the relationship itself.

By the way, you sometimes hear of the fact that the Old Testament speaks of polygamy but not the New Testament, but Jesus corrects that in Matthew 19. When speaking of a question related to divorce, Jesus responded, beginning in verse four, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female?” And said, “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Jesus continues in verse six, “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What, therefore, God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Notice that in the span of just those few verses, Jesus affirms marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Twice in just that very short number of verses, Jesus used a crucial number, the number two, for the covenant of a man and a woman. And he went on to say that because of the one flesh relationship, the two become one. That is impossible for more than two.

Now, something else to think about is that the federal government of the United States required the territory of Utah to criminalize polygamy if Utah were to become a state in the Federal Union, which of course it did. So what you have here, at least as proposed in the Utah Legislature, proposed with considerable support we are told, is actually a reversal of the very law and logic that was required of Utah to enter the United States of America as a state in the first place. There was a moral wisdom required by the federal government of Utah then, it is a moral wisdom that should be defended by the people of Utah now.

In worldview analysis, there are a couple of other huge dimensions for us to think about. For one thing, there is the teaching power of the law. The law exists as part of God’s gift to his human creatures in order that the law may educate. The law is to educate before it punishes. The punishment is to come only to those who defy the educational authority of the law. The law teaches what marriage is by legally defining marriage. Now it can do so rightly or it can do so wrongly. But in any event, even when it’s wrong, the law then has an increased danger because the law is then teaching wrongly. That’s exactly what the law of the United States is doing right now in supposedly normalizing same-sex marriage. But to legalize polygamy is to take another step further.

Now, technically, this isn’t legalizing polygamy, it would still remain an infraction, but jaywalking is an infraction. It would no longer be a crime. When you reduce polygamy from being a felony to being a mere infraction, you are saying, “We no longer have the moral will as a people to say, we know what marriage is, and that means we also know what marriage is not, and polygamy is not marriage as recognized by the state.”

Furthermore, there are some very, very sad tales out of the entire annals of polygamy when it comes to the abuse of women, and especially the abuse of young girls. We talked about the harm that comes to teenage boys and young men who are exiled from some communities because they are competitors to older men, but it is also the case that in Utah right now with parental permission, a girl can be married to a man of any age when she is merely 16. You understand the recipe that is for coercion and, of course, also for abuse, furthermore, for social and for moral disaster.

Understand something else: It is one thing to think of Utah in this discussion, but let’s take it national because this is going to be, and indeed already is, a national discussion, just without the specific history of Utah as a territory and a state shaped by Mormonism.

Consider the fact that at the national level, the big issue is right now, is that once you redefine marriage so that it is no longer the union of a man and a woman, when you say it can be a man and a man or a woman and a woman, then you lose a great deal of your foundation to defend marriage against a change in number. If you can change gender, in one sense, it is even a lesser thing as a logical obstacle to change marriage in number.

And once again, we’re looking at the fact that when you have actions, those actions come with consequences. The legalization of same-sex marriage largely by the Obergefell decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 sets the stage for the same legal claims to be made by those who are now the proponents of polyamory. Linguistically, that means the social acceptance of plural romantic relationships.

Part III

The Social Normalization of a “Throuple”: How Moral Change Happens in Modern Culture

And maybe some of you are saying, next, “Well, that is really not a part of our national conversation right now.” And yet, it is. Consider the fact that USA Today, just over the last several days, indeed timed for Valentine’s Day of all things of irony, offered an article the headline, “What you need to know about polyamory—including throuples—but were too afraid to ask.” The catalyst for this is the appearance on HGTV’s House Hunters of a have a relational triad identified here as a throuple, “a type of polyamorous relationship in which all three people are in a relationship with each other.” We are told that this particular throuple sought to buy a house in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Then USA Today tells us, “’It’s part of the broader umbrella of consensual non-monogamy,’ said Crystal Byrd Farmer, a writer based in Gastonia, North Carolina and the online editor of the magazine and forum Black & Poly.” USA Today goes on, “In short, polyamory is when people are in consenting relationships with multiple people,” that’s a quote from Farmer. And then USA Today says, “There are plenty of varying perspectives on how polyamorous relationships work,” she said, “but ultimately, all polyamorous relationships are different and based on the needs and wants of the people involved.” The next sentence, “Polyamory comes with its own set of guidelines and issues.”

Well, indeed, it does come with issues. After all, we are talking about a refutation of God’s purpose in creation for marriage as the union of a man and a woman for the establishment of a covenant union that leads to the family, the very bedrock of human civilization. We’re talking about a moral revolt that is now taking the form of what is packaged as polyamory, and is now even branded increasingly in American pop culture as a throuple.

Here’s something to note as we consider how moral change happens in a society. When you begin to summarize and euphemize issues such as polyamory or polygamy with phrases such as throuple that show up in pop culture, that is one of the driving engines of how social normalization and acceptance takes place. You don’t see that necessarily as a great leap forward for the moral revolutionaries, and yet that is exactly what it is. There is huge success for those pushing this sexual and moral revolution in the fact that this HGTV series actually aired and gave publicity to this throuple, and there is great gain in that USA Today ran this article with this headline on Valentine’s day of all things.

It’s noteworthy to look later in the article where we are warned that the power dynamics within polygamists relationships “tend to be different.” “Those power dynamics are something to be aware of in polyamorous relationships,” according to Dr. Mimi Schippers, a professor of sociology, and gender and sexuality studies at Tulane University. USA Today then says, “Equality is a key component of polyculture, and many polygamists marriages can be unequal.”

Now, wait just a minute. That’s an absolutely irrational sentence. You can’t have that subject with that predicate. What does it mean that equality is a key component of polyculture and many polygamists marriages can be unequal? You can’t make the claim that equality is a key component, and then acknowledge in the next phrase that is often not a component at all. Which is it?

You will also notice the fact that identity politics and the identity profile of modern psychiatry and popular culture finds its way into this discussion, with those who identify now as polyamorous just saying, “You have to deal with it. That’s just who I am.” That is to say it is not merely a pattern of behavior, it is now a matter of identity, thus identity politics. Thus, we see the very same kinds of arguments used for the entire array LGBTQ. And as we have often warned, the list of letters won’t stop there. After all, right here we’re looking at P, and perhaps several versions, perhaps an infinite number of versions of P.

Part IV

So Americans Are Ready for This In the White House? Michael Bloomberg Unmarried Though in a 20-Year Relationship

Meanwhile, in conclusion, what about no marriage at all? I’ve been waiting to see who in the media would finally speak to the non-marital state of former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, now very noisily talked about as potentially a major contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, the former socially liberal three-term mayor of New York City, who was a Republican before he became an Independent, before he became a Democratic candidate. He is not married but has been in a personal romantic relationship with a woman, a specific woman, so far as we know with this one woman throughout the last 20 years, but what he has not done is marry her.

We don’t know all the terms and conditions of the romantic relationship of Mayor Bloomberg and the woman identified as Diana Taylor, but they have spoken of it. She’s been described as being unfettered because she is not bound by marriage. We are told that this unmarried state is “a testament to her independence.” But the Washington Post commented, “Their relationship is not new and it runs deep, but it isn’t bound by law or religion.” That’s an astounding statement.

Here you have someone, we are told to be a major contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, and that is thus a plausible or potential candidate to run to be president of the United States, who is living very visibly and for two decades or more outside of the institution of marriage, he is having a relationship with a woman for 20-plus years in which he is identified with her and is clearly involved with her, but he’s not married to her.

Let’s just state the matter plainly, there has never been an actual contender for the office of president of the United States who has represented this kind of non-marital quasi sometimes cohabiting relationship with a woman. It raises a couple of huge questions. Question number one, are the American people really ready for this? I have to say, I doubt it. I actually think that even though the polling tells us one thing, I believe that the vast majority of Americans are actually not going to place their trust in a man who is merely in a romantic relationship with a woman to whom he is not married for 20 years. I don’t think that Americans are ready for that. At least I hope not.

But the second observation is this: Where’s the mainstream media, even in talking about this? It seems that for the mainstream media, this isn’t even a story. And as we so often know, that for us actually becomes a story unto itself. That’s an issue for us to consider. What the mainstream media doesn’t want to acknowledge as an issue but really is an issue, well, that’s an issue, and one we will track over the course of how this election cycle unfolds. As we know, elections have consequences. Don’t we know?

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

For more information, go to my website at You can find me on For information on the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to For information on Boyce College, just go to

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

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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