Tuesday, August 25, 2020
This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
It's Tuesday, August 25, 2020. I'm Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
Does the President of the European Union Commission Mean What She Tweets about Human Sexuality?
Last week, it was the Democratic National Convention. This week will be the Republican National Convention. And even as the Democratic National Convention was and was not in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Republican Convention will and will not be in Charlotte, North Carolina. A lot of the formal business for both of the conventions will have taken place in those two cities because it's required by their bylaws and policies. But the main presentation to the public is going to come down to a virtual event. Last week, we saw what the Democrats had on offer. This week, it will be the Republicans. And in the course of this week, we'll be talking about what happens at the Republican National Convention and what it means for us. But we're going to wait for those events to unfold.
In the meantime, I want to turn to a very different issue and a very different context, and it all begins with a single tweet. This tweet came from Ursula von der Leyen, who is the head of the European commission, that is, she officially holds the title of President of the European Commission. The European Commission is the central executive branch of the European Union. The European Union goes back to the desire in the 20th century, to try to create of Europe, something like the United States of America. It hasn't actually happened, anything like the federal system of the United States with its national identity, but it has spawned a massive bureaucracy and it is in itself a compromise of the nationality of those European nations that are involved. Put a footnote here just to remember that in 2016, the United Kingdom with a majority of its voters decided to leave the European Union, what was known as Brexit, for this very cause.
But just considering the European commission as it is, as the executive branch of the European Union and to the German Ursula von der Leyen who is indeed the president of the European Commission, the reality is that her tweet tells us a great deal about the way of the world. Her tweet was this, "Our treaties ensure that every person in Europe is free to be who they are, live where they like, love who they want, and aim as high as they want. I will continue," she said, "to push for a #UnionOfEquality," then the "#LGBTI." Now that tweet caught my attention even as it was posted on the 30th of July. It seemed to me to be an encapsulation of the moral revolution that we are experiencing. Now, Europe is in general, a more liberal culture than the United States. Ahead of us, in a sense of the timeline on secularization, more liberal over the course of the last several decades on so many of these issues.
But let's face it. The United States is doing its best to catch up with this moral revolution. We now have the legalization of same-sex marriage and so many other issues that would have been unthinkable just a generation before. But it's also true that the European commission doesn't really represent in these moral terms, all of Europe. For one thing, you have a basic divide between the East and the West. Western Europe, far more secular and far more liberal in moral terms. Eastern Europe, less secular and less moral, not by coincidence, in moral terms. And actually the tweet by Ursula von der Leyen was in response to the fact that there are Eastern European nations that are not getting with the program and her view when it comes to this moral progressivism, and the moral revolution, and the very hashtags that she offered, #UnionOfEquality and #LGBTI, just in case anyone had missed the point.
But I want to make a point in response to Ursula von der Leyen's point. And that is that she really doesn't mean what she says, or then again, maybe she does, but I don't think so. But what she says is what's actually going to happen whether she means it or not. Are you following me? Well, let's just look at the tweet. Again she said, "Our treaties ensure that every person in Europe is free to be who they are, live where they like, love who they want, and aim as high as they want." Love who they want. Now that might be something of a slogan for the moral revolution based upon the sexual revolution taking place all around us. The argument is everyone ought to be able to love who they want, as they want, as many as they want. Well, you can go down the list. It's all about what anyone wants. Love who you want. In her case she says, "Love who they want and aim as high as you want."
Now, does she mean that or not? Well, I'm going to argue that right now she probably doesn't mean it. It's not basically an honest statement. What I mean by that is the fact that I don't think she wants to extend that to every possible human love. I don't believe that. I don't believe that even the European Union, even the most progressive nations of the European Union are ready to take all moral boundaries off of human sexuality and the ordering of society. I don't think she means it right now. If you're talking about polygamy, the right to have more than one legally recognized spouse, I don't think she means that. But do I think she means it when it comes to polyamory, people outside of marriage having sexual partners, multiple sexual partners, identified sexual partners. I think she probably does mean that. But if so, she's not particularly honest when she says simply, "Live where they like, love who they want, and aim as high as they want," because she's not at this point offering legal recognition to polygamous couples.
I don't know of a single European nation that is doing so. And so, as I said, in the beginning, she made this claim, she expressed it as a tweet, but I don't think she means it. She doesn't mean it as she said it, but then again, maybe she does. Maybe she is actually so liberal that she is committed to the eventual normalization and legalization of just about any conceivable human sexual arrangement. And that might not even be limited to humans. But let's just think about it for a moment. Whether she means it or not, I do think that she's pointing to the future of a society that has refuted and rejected all moral limitations. That doesn't see marriage as any kind of fixed institution and sees human sexuality as something that is merely a matter of sexual expression. Does she mean it? I don't think so. Does she mean it in some way? Probably. Does what she say point to the future anyway? Yes. But Ursula von der Leyen is speaking about the European Commission as a part of the European Union, and thus she's talking about Europe. What about here in the United States? Where are we on this? Well, you have no shortage of cultural authorities and the intellectual elites on America's campuses and speaking from Hollywood who will tell us that, well, basically they affirm that all Americans should say the same thing. People ought to be able to be who they are, live where they like, love who they want, and aim as high as they want. Period. Who could possibly disagree with that? Except what we're looking at is the fact that the moral revolution, as it was easy to predict in the beginning, really can't be stopped.
The Moral Revolution Can’t Be Stopped: Polyamorous Parenting in the Pages of the New York Times
Evidence of that comes once again in The New York Times. Not one article, two. One published on the 4th of August, the other on the 12th of August. Now just think. That's just eight days of separation. And both of them are about the inevitability of polyamory if not polygamy. Here it comes, get ready for it. And actually, both of these articles are about the fact that The New York Times is arguing we had better get ready to be reconciled to polyamorous parenting.
The first article dropped on August the fourth is by Cynthia McKelvey entitled, "The Challenges of Polyamorous Parenting." McKelvey writes, "Policymakers in the United States are just beginning to expand their definitions of what makes a family as the City of Somerville, Massachusetts passed an ordinance in June giving polyamorous groups, rights that are typically only given to two parent couples, like the ability to share health insurance. Somerville City Council president said that he felt the ordinance was urgent because of the pandemic as it would allow more residents, healthcare coverage." But this isn't an article that just describes the situation as it has developed in Somerville, Massachusetts. It celebrates it and points to the inevitable expansion of this logic elsewhere in the future. She writes, "This ordinance is an outlier. Though nonmonogamy seems to be on the rise — or at least society is more open about it than ever before — families consisting of three or more parents can face challenges that are in some ways different from, and similar to, those faced by divorced parents, single parents and L.G.B.T.Q. parents."
Now notice what's going on here. She says the Somerville, Massachusetts action was an outlier, but then she goes on to say, "But on the other hand, non-monogamy seems to be on the rise. And when you think about it, we ought to have sympathy for these non-monogamous parents, these polyamorous parents, as they face the challenges of raising their children." Now here's what you need to note. This was exactly one of the forms of logic that was used in order to demand and then bring about the legalization of same sex marriage. It is actually in the very beginning of Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion in Obergefell from 2015 legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states. Anthony Kennedy writing for the court's majority dared to redefine marriage because he said, "Failing to do so will harm the dignity of children who are in same-sex headed families. It will wound them emotionally because society does not recognize their parents as being morally equal to a husband and a wife who are married."
Now, let's just also back up as Christians and say, no court can actually make those relationships equal. They can simply say, according to law, they must be treated as equal. But the fact is, morally speaking, they are not equal, and cannot be equal because God established marriage as the union of a man and a woman. But God has implanted that knowledge so deeply amongst human beings, even in our moral consciousness, that it is going to take a quantum act of denial to get past the fact that most Americans still don't see those relationships as morally equal. Now a society that is headed towards the full embrace of irrationality might actually achieve that denial and irrationality, but not yet. But here you see the next front, and we saw it coming all along, polygamy and polyamory. The article then goes on to talk about adoption and the complications of polyamorous relationships that is at least three adults in a recognized sexual relationship. And the reporter goes on to tell us that these families face difficulties.
One of them is that in most states, there is the legal recognition extended only to two parents, not to three or four or five. The article gets more interesting when we get to a real life person, Lori Selke, identified as a teacher in Oakland, California. We're told that she "and her family found themselves in a similar scenario while co-parenting their twins. Selke’s partner was the biological father of the twins, but her husband at the time was automatically listed as the father on their birth certificates. It’s common in many states for the mother’s spouse to be automatically listed as the father, regardless of what the parents say." Well, let's just state that throughout human history, that would be considered necessary and normal and right. But the implication of this article is that it's irrational, and discriminatory, and unacceptable as intolerance to continue to assume that the spouse of the mother might be the father of the children.
As the article continues, we're told that California is one of 12 states that has in some way recognized families with three or more parents. The article moves to talking about co-parenting agreements and then reaches the very interesting paragraphs about coming out. Listen really carefully to this language. The reporter tells us, "Research on the effect of growing up in a non-monogamous family on children also remains sparse." This is according to an expert cited in the article. And also we don't dare miss who this authority is, Heath Schechinger, PhD, "a co-chair of the Consensual Non-monogamy Taskforce Division 44 of the American Psychological Association." Massively important. One of the things that was necessary in the moral revolution was for the therapeutic organizations, such as the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association to turn and do a 180 on their judgment of homosexuality. That occurred about 1972, 1973.
Both of those organizations of the psychiatrists on the one hand and the psychologists on the other instantly redefined their entire profession to say what they had said was a mental illness is now perfectly normal. Now this should raise all kinds of questions about the credibility of professions that can turn a basic issue such as that on a dime. Furthermore, as I document in my book, We Cannot Be Silent on the sexual revolution. The political manipulations on this were right out in the public. They weren't even hidden. This wasn't a medical decision, it was a political decision, but it had vast moral consequences. But now we see the same thing. It's ominous just to know that the American Psychological Association has a Consensual Non-monogamy Taskforce Division 44. It sounds like something right out of an Alexander Solzhenitsyn novel.
But after Dr. Schechinger said that the evidence on what it means for a child to grow up in a non-monogamous family is sparse, that didn't stop him from going on to say, "From what we do have, there's nothing to suggest that children in these situations are fairing any better or any worse." But he goes on to say more research needs to be done. So let's just understand how this kind of argument gets into the public through The New York Times. We really don't have enough evidence to speak one way or the other, but that means there's no evidence against it. But the most incredible part of this article is how it ends in a heading called the benefits of this kind of polyamory when raising children, polyamorous parenting.
Among the benefits, the reporter tells us, of polyamorous parenting include these, "More parents mean more time, more love, more experience, more finances and, best of all, more sleep." The article then turns to the woman cited at the beginning, Lori Selke. We're told that she said "that non-monogamous parenting has also enabled her desire to shed some traditional gendered parenting roles. With three parents, there's no script for the division of labor. It becomes more about who does whatever task best, who is the most available or who hates it the least." But then an author identified as Elizabeth Sheff. Dr. Sheff, a sociologist and author of the book The Polyamorists Next Door, said this, "That children also benefit." We're told that she reported that as kids from these nontraditional families begin to enter school and see their peers with two parents, rather than seeing themselves as unusual, they see their peers as bereft. That's the statement from the reporter.
And then Dr. Sheff is quoted as saying, "The kids come home and they're like, 'Oh my poor friend. They only have two parents. Can you believe that? How did they get anything done?'" Now, just notice how this most radical revolutionary idea, the idea of polyamorous parenting is now presented as a benefit to society, an advance on monogamy, and certainly an advance upon the family as beginning with the marriage of a man and a woman. This article published in The Times on August the fourth is evidence of how this kind of revolution begins to gain ground. The article's written as if the presumably liberal readers of The New York Times would say, "Oh, that's interesting. It's important. Society ought to embrace this." But then comes a second article just barely a week later.
This one on August the 12th. It's by Debora L. Spar, and the headline is, "The Poly-Parent Households Are Coming." Spar's article begins with two women, 36 and 39 years old--this is a scenario we're told--who've been close friends since college. "They each dated various men throughout their 20s and 30s, and had a smattering of romantic relationships that didn’t quite work out. But now, as they approach midlife, both women have grown weary of the merry-go-round of online dating and of searching for men who might make appropriate fathers for the babies they don’t yet have." So they hatched a plan. They're going to have babies together. But the article by Debora L. Spar is about advances in modern reproductive technologies that might well allow them both genetically to be, in some sense, the parents of the child. Spar writes, "Humans are reproducing in ways that would have been truly unimaginable just several decades ago: Two men and a surrogate. Two women and a sperm donor. An older woman using genetic material from a much younger egg."
She then writes this, "Each turn of the technological screw has been generated by the same profound impulse — to allow people to conceive babies they desperately want and to build families with those they love." Now we're right back to the tweet from Ursula von der Leyen. As if you can just redefine the family to mean it's whoever, no matter the number, no matter the identity, no matter the gender, that anyone might love. But there's an amazing concession made in the very next paragraph. Spar writes, "For most of human history, after all, families across the Western world were defined in largely biblical terms: one man, one woman, with children conceived through sex and sanctified by marriage." Now that sentence is profoundly true. Indeed, it's the truest sentence found in any of these articles. The point is: this article and the previous article are both intended to overturn that biblical consensus. But at least there's the recognition that throughout virtually all of Western civilization--you can actually take out the word "virtually"--marriage and parenthood were tied to the understanding that marriage was a man and a woman, and that children are to be theirs by reproduction.
Added to the family would be children from adoption, but not the redefinition of marriage and thus the redefinition of the family into absolute relativism. Spar writes about what is now called I.V.G, in vitro gametogenesis, and that is different than I.V.F, which is in vitro fertilization, because it would allow genetic material from two women or from two men to be used in genetically creating eggs and sperm in order to allow reproduction and thus to totally redefine what it means for human beings to reproduce. The very words "having a baby" are thus completely redefined. One of the moral issues raised in this article is that right now I.V.G. is limited to animals, but as Spar writes, "With very few exceptions, recent history suggests that advances in reproductive technologies nearly always jump eventually from the animal world to humans. If we can figure out how to make babies, and to configure their creation in more precise ways, we do it."
That gets back to what I've often discussed on The Briefing as a principle we need to observe, which is the principle of the technological imperative. It was Jacques Ellul, a French theologian who coined that term during the 20th century. If a technology is created, someone will use it in a fallen world. Even if it is a technology that will do evil, someone will use it. Not only that. The technology eventually becomes more widely used because if someone's using it, others will demand to use it too. Spar at least understands the revolutionary nature of what she's writing about here, "If the revolution of I.V.F. was to liberate reproduction from sex, then the even bigger revolution of I.V.G. is to dismantle completely the reproductive structure of heterosexuality." Well, there you have it. The big point here is that the moral revolution is indicated by just this kind of argument and articles appearing in a publication like The New York Times just a matter of days apart.
The common theme, polyamory. The common impulse: the notion of heterosexual marriage as the basis of civilization and the foundation of parenthood is to be done away with. It is so old fashioned. It's yesterday. This pair of articles, in the month of August, in The New York Times, is evidence of the traction that this argument has already gained. By the time articles like this appear, the arguments are already fairly well-developed. And you certainly see that the way these articles are written. It's as if this is going to happen. It's inevitable. Get used to it. Readers of The New York Times are being warned or alerted that they can celebrate it before everyone else. Again, remember that second headline was absolutely in your face, "The Poly-Parent Households Are Coming." But here's what Christians must understand, that as much as human society wants to delude itself that it can give itself to this kind of total revolution, it isn't going to work. It never has worked. And operating from a biblical worldview, we understand the fundamental reason why it is so.
It is because of what the Bible affirms as reality. This is what theologians call ontological reality. Real reality. What Francis Schaeffer had to talk about is true truth. It is the fact that the world is real because the creator God made it real, and he made it as it is. And he made us real human beings. He created marriage as a reality, not just a pattern of relationships, but as an ontological reality. You can't redefine it as much as you might claim. You can't take the goods produced by marriage and transfer them to something you're going to call marriage. You can't revolutionize the civilization and civilization go on. The radical decline in human birth rates ought to be evidence enough of the fact this isn't working and it can't work.
What’s Coming Next to Disney Channel? Apparently the LGBTQ Revolution
But as we understand how these moral revolutions take place, another headline is where we will end today on The Briefing. This one from CNN, the headline, "Disney Confirms Its First Bisexual Lead Character, Who Is Also Multicultural." Well, of course. Now we have the news that for children, tweens and teens, a Disney series known as "The Owl House" is now going to make way for an explicitly bisexual character. CNN reports, "Diversity is making its way onto the Disney Channel. Disney has confirmed that it has a bisexual lead character on 'The Owl House' series. The 14-year-old Dominican-American girl, Luz Noceda, is not Disney's first LGBTQ+ character. Pixar featured a gay main character in a short film on Disney Plus, but Luz is the first bisexual character to make a Disney debut on a television series."
We're then told that "The Owl House" series follows Luz's adventure to becoming a witch, even though she does not have any magical abilities. Dana Terrace, the series' creator said in a tweet--here we end on a tweet as we began--"I was very open about my intention to put queer kids in the main cast. I'm a horrible liar so sneaking it in would've been hard."
This is how it works, folks. This is how it happens. This is how a moral revolution is furthered by and accelerated by the kind of entertainment that is presented to children. In this case, it is the first bisexual animated character in a Disney series. But in order to stay in the headlines, you're going to have to have another character with a different characteristic, another character transgressing a different boundary, and then multiple characters in multiple series, because after all, you can't have just one bisexual animated character in all of the Disney universe.
And Disney did this, of course, to the applause of Hollywood, but you also have to note, it would have been roundly condemned by Hollywood if it didn't play along. That's the way all this works. And it's really important that Christians, most importantly perhaps, in this case, Christian parents understand it.
Thanks for listening to The Briefing.
I am so thankful for the return to campus here at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College, and one of my responsibilities as president is to open the academic year with a formal convocation address. It's going to be released tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock Eastern time. The title of the address, "Learning In Pandemic Time." I was honored to have the opportunity to speak from my heart and from the word of God in the 91st Psalm. There's a very important historical context for the address and again, it will be released at 10 o'clock this morning, Eastern time at sbts.edus/live. For more information and further resources, 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'll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.