The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Monday, October 19, 2020

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

It’s Monday, October 19, 2020. I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

Joe Biden Wants You to Know He Supports the Entire LGBTQ Revolution . . . Including Transgender Children

It was one of the most bizarre and revealing events thus far in American presidential politics. Last Thursday night in an ABC News town hall, the former vice president of the United States and 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, stated his emphatic support not only for the entire LGBTQ+ agenda but specifically for the right of a hypothetical 8 or 10-year-old child to declare a change of gender, and for the entire society to align its reality with that affirmation.

In the ABC News town hall, the former vice president declared that those who identify as transgender and others on the LGBTQ continuum should face zero discrimination. Now, the former vice president has already been way out front, even of many other major national Democrats, on these issues. Back in 2012, he declared himself in favor of the legalization of same-sex marriage. Remember, this had been the ticket that in 2008 with Barack Obama as president and Joe Biden as vice president, the ticket had insisted it was not in favor of the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Just four years later, Biden declared that he was absolutely in favor of same-sex marriage. He did so before President Obama, either by accident or orchestration, we may never know which, leading to Obama’s declaration that he too had evolved on the issue, to use his word now common to politicians. They evolved on the issue. He evolved on the issue, and he was then in favor of the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Now, just to put in a footnote here, when it comes to President Obama, let’s remember the fact that he was for the legalization of same-sex marriage back when he was running for the state legislature in Illinois. That was before he ran for the Senate when he was against the legalization of same-sex marriage, before he ran for president when he was against the legalization of same-sex marriage. And then when running for reelection as president, he was for the legalization of same-sex marriage. Thus, when it comes to Barack Obama, he was for same-sex marriage, before he was against same-sex marriage, before he was for same-sex marriage again. Let’s just say that that’s a very interesting, if convoluted, evolution.

But when it comes to Joe Biden, he would now have us to believe that he was for same-sex marriage even before he was for same-sex marriage and that, basically, he’s held to a very progressive view of homosexuality, and you could extend to that the LGBTQ array, before he seems to have told anyone about it.

Biden has repeatedly, at least in recent years, told an anecdote about his father. He says that when his father, now over 50 years ago, drove Biden to get an application to serve as a lifeguard at a pool at an African American community, he tells us all that in this anecdote, he saw two men who leaned up, and hugged one another, and kissed one another. Biden says, “I turned to my dad, my dad looked at me and he said, ‘Joey, it’s simple, they love each other.'”

Now, I’ll just state straightforwardly that I don’t believe that story is true. Now, it might be true in some sense, but when it comes to Joe Biden, you’re talking about a major candidate who is rather well-known for telling stories that he believes to be true because he apparently has told them so often. It was being caught for telling a story, he made it a personal story, that turned out not to be true that was behind his exit from the 1988 race for the Democratic presidential nomination. I’m not saying he doesn’t think it’s true as he’s saying it. I’m just saying that if you think about it, he’s trying to tell us that 50 years ago, his father, who was supposed to be a rather traditional Catholic man, a white-collar man who was in sales back a half-century ago, was evidently so progressive as to be ready to say that two men who were embracing each other in public, again, we’re being told this was 50 years ago, are just to be considered normal and simply to be honored for the fact that they love each other.

I’ll just say that if that’s so, it would make Joe Biden’s father, rather conveniently in this retelling, amazingly, that’s an understatement, progressive for someone in that time and of those religious beliefs on that issue. But, nonetheless, Joe Biden has gone to incredible lengths in recent years to declare himself absolutely in favor, in a relatively unmitigated and unlimited way, with the LGBTQ agenda.

And that takes us to the 8-year-old or 10-year-old. This was the child, the hypothetical child in this case, that Joe Biden was talking about at the town hall. He was actually responding to a question from a mother about a transgender child was identified. But what’s important is what the former vice president said. Speaking to the moderator he said, “The idea that an 8-year-old, a 10-year-old decides, you know, ‘I decide I want to be transgender. That’s what I think I’d like to be. It would make my life a lot easier.’ There should be zero discrimination.”

Now, what we need to note here is that the former vice president did everything imaginable, apparently, to state that he’s enthusiastically for the LGBTQ, including the “T,” that is transgender revolution, and he specifically extended it to children. And then went on to relate his own hypothetical case of an 8 or 10-year-old child identifying as transgender.

Now, notice when he says, “There should be zero discrimination,” that actually means, and he knows it means, far more than most Americans may have heard. That means that you’re looking at the fact that the American people are simply supposed to say, “Oh yeah, that makes sense. 8 to 10-year-old children are ready to declare themselves transgender. We should be ready as taxpayers to pay for whatever hormone therapy and thus approve it, what kind of surgery and thus approve it, that might be called for by those who have joined this revolution. Oh yeah, this makes perfect sense when it comes to locker rooms and bathrooms.” And furthermore, it insinuates that it makes perfect sense to talk in public as a presidential candidate about the sex and gender lives of 8 and 10-year-old children. Now, the first thing I want to note is that this is morally shocking in itself.

And if America’s not morally shocked by this, you have to wonder what would shock America at all anymore. Are we now, basically, so far along in the LGBTQ revolution that we’re no longer even shocked when a major party presidential nominee, in this case, the Democratic Party, not by accident, goes on to talk about this kind of issue, and he’s talking about children who are still in elementary school?

Part II

You Can’t Stay Ahead of the Revolutionaries, No Matter How Hard You Try: Not Even Joe Biden’s Radical Comments Can Appease the LGBTQ Activists

Well, that’s the first issue I want to ask about. The second is this. What does it tell us about our country and about our current political and moral context that, apparently, the Democratic presidential nominee felt that he was supposed to answer the questions in this way? He’s supposed to talk in this way, in such a positive sense about the full array of the LGBTQ+ revolution, and if there is any concern demonstrated in what the former vice president had to say, he seemed to be afraid that anyone might think that he’s not even more progressive and further along when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues.

So, considering the second point, what alarms us is not just what this says about former Vice President Joe Biden, it’s about what it says about our nation. And, in particular, what it says as the prospect of a President Joe Biden dealing with these issues. And, on that point, the former Vice President said that he would immediately reverse President Trump’s executive orders on these issues but he went on to say that he wants to see his position that he calls non-discrimination, and, of course that’s, as we just pointed out, a lot more than what Americans will hear in just non-discrimination, he wants to make this the law of the land.

But, third, there is another very important issue here, and it has to do with the fact that the moral revolutionaries were not satisfied with Biden’s comments. Not even close. As a matter of fact, this created an entire controversy among the Democrats and, in particular, among LGBTQ activists. Why? It’s because of the language that the former vice president used.

Now, some are explaining he’s just old. He’s so old he doesn’t know the kind of language he’s supposed to use. Wink, wink. What did he say? Well, let’s go back to the comment that he made to the moderator, “The idea that an 8-year-old, a 10-year-old decides, you know, ‘I decide I want to be transgender. That’s what I think I’d like to be. It would make my life a lot easier.’ There should be zero discrimination.” What’s the problem? Well, many in the LGBTQ activist community jumped on the former vice president because he used the word choice. That’s very similar to the kind of trumped-up controversy that came last week over the use of the phrase sexual preference or preferences related to sexuality that was used by Judge Amy Coney Barrett during her confirmation hearings. You had many people who said, “That just shows that’s code language.”

Well, it’s interesting that they’re not accusing their former vice president of using code language. It’s basically a parallel development. Instead, they are saying, “He was simply clumsy.” That word’s been used over and over again. He misrepresented, perhaps because he misunderstands, the fact that according to the transgender ideology these children are not choosing their gender, they’re merely declaring their gender. And, again, this is the insanity of the transgender revolution, that says that when someone who was biologically male says, “I am female,” whether girl, or woman, or whatever nonbinary point they want to identify, we’re supposed to agree with them that that is simply the truth as it always has been, and there never was a before.

And just in case you don’t understand how this works, the Vox report on the town hall about Biden on these issues said, “Other times, Biden fumbled.” I’m quoting from the report. “When speaking about the work of his late son Beau Biden, he described a person in his office as ‘a young man who became a woman,’ but,” says Vox, “a trans person doesn’t ‘become’ a person of a certain gender. That’s who they are.” Beau, according to Biden, “Was the guy that got the first transgender law passed in the state of Delaware, and because of a young man who became a woman who worked for him in the Attorney General’s office.” And just notice what you have here is that Joe Biden, speaking what he thinks is the language of the transgender revolution, says that his son, the late Beau Biden, when he was Attorney General, actually sought to move this issue forward, speaking of a young man who became a woman. But, again, violation. A young man doesn’t become a woman according to the current transgender ideology. That young man is declaring a female identity that was simply real but the only before and after is the before and after declaration.

Now, of course, this is absolute insanity, and we should know it’s insanity, not only according to God’s revelation in scripture but to creation order, as nature testifies of this reality. But, nonetheless, it is the open and absolutely coerced embrace of irrationality and unreason that is now demanded. And what we’re noticing is that (A) the Democratic presidential nominee has embraced it enthusiastically. (B) That tells us that the current political and moral moment is now at least on one side of the political equation, to the point that these issues are now non-negotiable, absolutely to be celebrated. And then (C) that the moral revolution is taking place so fast that even the politicians who want to stay on the leading edge get eventually run over by the rapidly developing ideology.

But, finally, before leaving this important issue of where the former vice president established himself last Thursday night on this issue, I want to point to the fact that sometimes a candidate, by speaking so, well, let’s use the word in the press, clumsily about this issue, can create a rather significant challenge for staffers to explain. But I’ll give credit to one Biden staffer for taking one for the team.

In this case, the Vox report tells us, “Biden’s LGBTQ+ Engagement Director, Reggie Greer, clarified that quote during last night’s exchange. He,” meaning Biden, “was critiquing the wrong idea that being transgender is a choice.” I guess the best way to explain what this staffer, a liaison for the LGBTQ+ community for the Biden campaign, meant to say, is this, “What you heard on Thursday night was the former vice president speak clearly to this issue but he actually meant to critique the actual point that he made. And you would’ve understood that he meant the opposite of what he said if you weren’t listening to him.” But I’m just hoping, I’ll say, that enough Americans were listening to him and understood exactly what he was saying.

Part III

A Rare Moment of Intellectual Honesty about Transgender Ideology: Biological Males Competing in Women's Sports Is Absurd, Even The Economist Knows It

But next, as we’re thinking about another dimension of the transgender revolution, every once in a while, a ray of reality shines through and sometimes from an unexpected source. When it happens, we need to note it. In this case, it’s from a recent edition of The Economist.

That’s one of the most influential periodicals coming from the United Kingdom. As I’ve explained in the past, it’s something of a combination of the Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine, and it has an international readership. Just in recent days, it ran a news story that explains, “On October the 9th World Rugby, the global governing body for Rugby Union announced that it would bar transgender women–people born male but who identify as women–from playing in the international women’s game.”

The Economist goes on to tell us, “The decision drew condemnation from some quarters and praise from others. England’s rugby authorities have already said they will carry on allowing trans women to play at all other levels of the game within England. It puts World Rugby,” we’re told, “at odds with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) whose rules allow trans women to compete in women’s Olympic events,” by the way, we need to put a significant footnote there, but continued, “and with other sports that have followed the IOC guidance. Trans women competitors have enjoyed success,” we’re told, “in sports including weightlifting, cycling, and athletics. Yet, World Rugby’s decision to exclude them was the right one. Other sports should follow its lead.”

Now, that’s a fascinating turn. You have The Economist reporting that the World Rugby Association, known as World Rugby, has made this decision that it’s out of step with the IOC and other sports but it quickly says it was the right decision and encourages other sports to follow the lead of World Rugby. As I said, every once in a while, a ray of reality shines through. But what’s really going on here? Well, rugby is, if you know anything about rugby, the very essence of a contact sport, and those who have greater muscle mass and larger skeletons, largely the result of undergoing male puberty, have an inherent advantage.

Now, you’ll notice in that lead paragraph, The Economist told us that this decision by World Rugby not to allow so-called transgender women to compete as women, it was said that it’s in conflict with the International Olympic Committee. But as The Economist reports, clarifying its own statement very quickly, the IOC doesn’t just allow so-called transgender women to compete as women, it requires them to have a lowered testosterone level. And, of course, that means artificially or medically lowering the testosterone level. But is that enough? No, the point that is being made here by The Economist is that the compromise of the IOC in the words of the magazine, “Does not work.” They go on to explain, “Suppressing testosterone appears to have only a minor impact on strength, too small to undo the advantages bestowed by male puberty. And,” according to The Economist, “no amount of hormone therapy can shrink skeletons.”

They explained that was enough for World Rugby to decide that “The risk posed by trans women to other players in the women’s game would be too great.” This is really interesting. This is just a matter, by the way, of let’s just say, physics. Something you would think would be impervious to ideology, in this sense. You’re talking about the fact that you’re looking at a certain amount of mass, body mass, and strength, and skeletal size against other persons with a lesser skeletal mass, and lesser size. And just as a matter of kinetics, you’re talking about the fact that the one with the greater mass will have an advantage over the one with lesser mass.

And it’s not only that, the one with greater mass will pose a physical threat in a contact sport as violent as rugby with those who have lesser mass, just talking about the skeletons. But then, in what I can only describe as rather unusual courage and bravery, The Economist goes on to say that the same concerns should pertain also to non-contact sports.

The Economist tells us, “That evidence matters for non-contact sports too, for it also concerns fairness. Women’s sports exists precisely to exclude males. That is true at both the elite level where rewards are greatest and at the recreational one where the vast majority of sport is actually played.,” Without it, that is without this kind of rational policy, “Half the population would be left struggling against an insurmountable advantage created by mere biological chance to the other half.”

They go on to say, “If testosterone suppression cannot remove that advantage, then it is unjust for those who still possess it to compete against those who never did.” Now, here, it’s also really interesting to note something. It’s the absolute and rather rare moral clarity of one rather short sentence in this article. “Women’s sport exists precisely to exclude males.” Very interesting. The problem here is not those who are biologically female at birth trying to compete as men, declaring themselves in this ideology to be men.

No, that’s not the problem. The problem is the opposite. It is those who are undeniably born biologically male, having the physical advantages of undergoing male puberty, who then want to declare themselves to be women, to demand to be recognized as women and to compete against women. And, of course, it’s not just an adult issue. It has a lot to do with children and especially teenagers and adolescents involved in organized sport.

If it’s true, that again, as The Economist says, women’s sport exists precisely to exclude males, it’s even more emphatically true, and perhaps even more morally urgent as true that girls’ sport exists precisely to exclude boys. The Economist seems to be trying not to make any argument about gender or sexuality at all, but simply about, well, physiology, and biology, and physics. And it concludes the article that way. “It is, in the end, simply a question of fact, whether testosterone suppression can guarantee the fair competition in practice, and,” says The Economist, “the evidence so far suggests it cannot.”

Now, the very interesting question immediately comes down to this. Will the world of sport pay any attention to this entirely reasonable, rational, and necessary, morally powerful argument? There’s little evidence to suppose these days that there will be any such attention or credence given to this article. But it didn’t appear in some kind of conservative website. It didn’t appear in some kind of Christian periodical. It appeared under the banner of The Economist and that, at the very least, means something.

Part IV

As Peach County Goes, So Goes the Nation? Georgia’s Electorate Is Changing and Turnout May Be More Important Than Persuasion

Next, I am currently in the state of Georgia. And here, you’re looking at a very different electoral equation, at least in terms of polling and anticipation of the election on November the 3rd than people are used to as associated with Georgia. Georgia was, throughout most of the 20th century, certainly say the first three-quarters of the 20th century, predictably Democratic.

If you’re coloring them out now, that would be blue. It was a very deeply Democratic Deep South state. All that began to change when Georgia became part, not only of the South, but of the Sun Belt, and there was a conservative turn in the politics of the Sun Belt. It wasn’t just a turn in the politics. It was an absolute reversal of the partisan pattern. In this case, those who had been voting Democratic began voting Republican, believing that the Republican Party from the late seventies onward best represented the deeply ingrained conservatism of this part of the country. And, of course, it’s beyond issues of morality. It has to do with the size of government, taxation, support for the military, support for Israel. You just go down the list. But you’re now looking at the fact, and we’ve noticed this with Virginia and North Carolina, you’re looking at the fact that Georgia is transitioning somewhat, politically.

Now, again, as we saw, especially with Virginia, this has more to do with people moving into the state of Georgia than it does anyone persuading people in Georgia to switch their partisan pattern. It’s not the fact that people in Georgia are voting differently. It’s that different people are voting in Georgia. People are moving to Georgia because of the climate, and that means both the weather and the economic climate in the state. Many of the reasons people are moving here, politically, have to do with the fact that it has been a conservative state, and that’s when it comes to taxation and so many other issues, it’s economically attractive. But many of the people moving here for that very reason are actually voting in the old patterns they had in States like New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and California. They’re still voting like Californians and residents in Massachusetts.

Now, if you’re asking the question, what does it mean that Georgia is in transition, the answer is: No one knows yet. But we’re about to find out in a big way in 2020 because, not only do we have the national election, including the election of a president and vice president, we have the senatorial election, and Georgia bears the unique distinction this year of having both of its Senate seats up for grabs. And both of them, at least according to the mainstream media, are now up for grabs somewhat.

Now, being here in Georgia, I can tell you that most people don’t think the races are likely to be as close as many of the pundits are suggesting, but, you know, the volatility, in this case, means we really don’t know. And, furthermore, when you’re looking at the changes, even the demographic and population changes that have taken place in Georgia, there are reasons to believe that those who hold to a more conservative position may indeed be increasingly outnumbered or at least equaled when it comes to the vote in a state like Georgia.

But it’s interesting that yesterday’s edition of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, that’s the flagship newspaper of the state, ran a front-page article, the headline, Both Parties See Peach County as Ripe For Picking. Well, clever headline, but it has to do with a relatively small county. A county, actually the newest in Georgia, newest means about the early 20th century, and you’re talking about a population of about 27,000 people, but here’s the distinction. Peach County has now taken the role of something like the state of Ohio decades ago. It tends to be representative of the electoral direction. As Peach County goes, well, maybe so goes the nation. It has since 1992 with only one exception. Peach County is, appropriately enough, somewhere near the center of the state of Georgia. And we’re told that in recent election cycles, each cycle has been closer than the one before. There’s one very interesting point made in this article by political analysts looking at Peach County in Georgia, which is getting a lot more attention than a county of 27,000 voters normally would.

It has to do with the precedent here, but here’s the point. The political analysts are pointing out that the distinction between the winning side and the losing side in Peach County, Georgia in 2020 is almost assuredly going to have everything to do with turnout and not with persuasion. Again, very interesting. It turns out that the changes coming in Peach County, the close elections that are occurring now in Peach County have more to do with who turns out to vote than who persuades whom.

I think the interesting thing there is that that is probably true for the entire nation. And if Peach County in Georgia is actually indicative of the nation, it might not be so much for exactly how it votes than for the fact that when you’re looking at elections in the United States right now, you’re probably looking at the bigger variable being turnout rather than persuasion. Or maybe we could simply say that once you look at this data, you are probably persuaded that turnout is going to be the big issue.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

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

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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