The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

It’s Tuesday, January 12, 2021.

I’m Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

Here We Go Again? House Democrats Bring Article of Impeachment Against President Donald J. Trump

Well, here we go again. The House of Representatives has drawn up an article of impeachment against the incumbent President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, and it has done so within 10 days of the president leaving office. Furthermore, the Democratic leadership of the House, having drawn up this article of impeachment has indicated that it will move forward for a vote no later than Wednesday of this week. It is interesting to look at the actual article of impeachment. Now just imagine for a moment, by the way, if you were to be told, say 10 days ago, that President Trump might be impeached or might face an article of impeachment in the House of Representatives, would that have been imaginable just a matter of about 10 days ago?

Well, whether it would have been then, it is now, and even as we were looking at legitimate questions about whether or not this is the right action for Congress to take, nonetheless, it becomes predictable under these circumstances that the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, largely led by energy from its left wing, would move forward with an attempt to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time. If successful, Donald Trump would become the very first president to have been impeached twice and the very first president to face a trial in the United States Senate after he has left office. All of this comes back not only to the events of last Wednesday and the entry of those protestors, indeed, an unruly mob into the United States Capitol, it goes back as the article of impeachment makes clear to President Trump’s denial of his loss in the 2020 presidential election, and furthermore, his effort to subvert the democratic process.

There’s also explicit reference within the article of impeachment to the phone call that President Trump made to the Georgia Secretary of State, imploring him to find something just short of 12,000 votes in order to swing the election to himself. The actual article that was introduced yesterday, accuses Donald John Trump of having engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors by inciting violence against the government of the United States in that, and here I’m quoting from the article, “On January six, 2021, pursuant to the 12th amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the vice president of the United States, the House of Representatives, and the Senate met at the United States Capitol for a joint session of Congress to count the votes of the electoral college.”

“In the months preceding the joint session,” now, again, I’m reading from the article of impeachment, “President Trump repeatedly issued false statements, asserting that the presidential election results were the product of widespread fraud and should not be accepted by the American people or certified by state or federal officials. Shortly before,” states the article, “shortly before the joint session commenced, President Trump addressed a crowd at The Ellipse in Washington DC. There he reiterated false claims that we won this election and we won it by a landslide. He also willfully,” says the article, “made statements that in context encouraged him foreseeably resulted in lawless action at the Capitol such as,” and this is quoting the President….

I’m actually not going to quote this because there’s a curse word in it. But then the article of impeachment states, “Thus incited by President Trump, members of the crowd he had addressed in an attempt to, among other objectives, interfere with the joint session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election unlawfully, breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced members of Congress, the vice-president and congressional personnel and engaged in other violent, deadly destructive and seditious acts.” Now it’s interesting there to notice that that word sedition appeared as I predicted it would in the nation’s discourse. We discussed the word just yesterday because it was destined to become a part of the national conversation because it’s legally and morally significant here.

Sedition being defined as taking actions, which would include trying to prevent the United States government from accomplishing its constitutional purposes. Now you’ll notice that is exactly the language that the Democrats in the House have used in this Article of Impeachment. They have been looking at the law. They’ve been trying to figure out how they could frame the language in order to successfully impeach the 45th president of the United States, again. Now let me put this in a bit of political context. The Democrats, and that includes nearly the entire party, have never come to terms with the fact that Donald Trump was elected president of the United States in 2016. As we will discuss in coming days, there was an effort to deny legitimacy to his election from the beginning and there was the accusation coming from many Democrats that if he won, even in the electoral college, he could only have won due to some kind of outside interference or manipulation in the election.

Thus, the accusations that Russia had intervened in the election on Trump’s behalf. Trump fought back against the accusation and he did so resentfully because when it comes to President Trump, he thinks of everything essentially in personal terms. But nonetheless, he was right that the Democrats had sought to subvert him as president, but he has been repeatedly wrong in that he has behaved in such a way that he has played right into the hands of his political enemies, doing exactly what they charged he would do. But in terms of the politics, in which we understand that the Democrats hold the majority in the House, the House has the sole authority of the impeachment of the president. The Democrats have the numbers, albeit a slightly smaller majority than they had in the 116th Congress. Nonetheless, if the Democrats stick together, they will have the votes to impeach the president of the United States.

And furthermore, the political reality is that given the events of the last several days, there are going to be Republicans who will join in the effort and will vote for impeachment. How many? We don’t know. But the Democrats in the House of Representatives are counting on at least a significant number of Republicans who will take action by voting in this regard. But that’s also something that is deeply, let’s just say complicated when it comes to the politics. Politicians, regardless of the time, regardless of their party, have to be making a continuous evaluation in which they are balancing the present and the future. That’s a very interesting thing to watch in politics. As a matter of fact, you can watch it in virtually any arena of leadership, measuring or balancing the demands of the present and the future. You have to make decisions in the present, but they’re going to be evaluated in the future.

You have to act in such a way that you survive the present if you’re going to stay in office, but you want to act in such a way that you do not invalidate your own future. Now in the best of political circumstances, that’s something of an interesting process. But in the worst of political circumstances, and frankly, that’s where many Republicans are right now, in the worst of political circumstances, it becomes extraordinarily difficult, indeed excruciating and furthermore, it’s very difficult to know exactly how long into the future one must calculate. That’s just a part of the honest equation of leadership in any arena. But right now in the political arena, and right now Republicans in the House of Representatives are very much on the hot seat. The Democrats will do what the democratic base wants.

But what will the Republicans do? That’s going to be a very interesting question and of course, it sets up the future question as to what the United States Senate will do. Right now, the question is addressed to the current majority leader of the United States Senate, Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. But the very same day that Joe Biden will take the oath of office as the 46th president of the United States, Chuck Schumer, the Democrat of New York, will become the majority leader of the United States Senate. The question will then shift to him. Now just a big and necessary reminder to us all, impeachment does not mean removal from office. Impeachment basically comes down to something like an indictment. It means that there are formal charges that will be presented to the United States Senate and at that point, the United States Senate becomes a giant jury of 100 members and they will try a president impeached by the House of Representatives just as the Senate did early last year.

And here we are again. But these are the most unusual circumstances and all of those who bear responsibility for this question right now, have to understand that when we’re talking about volatility, we’re talking about a situation that could be volatile moment by moment, not just day by day or month by month. Two other big considerations here, one of them has to do with the president-elect of the United States, Joseph Biden. Once he takes the oath of office on January the 20th and becomes president of the United States, he has his own agenda and the responsibility will fall upon him as the nation’s chief executive. The big question is will a move to impeach the current president of the United States make the incoming job of the new president of the United States all that more difficult? And that leads to the other big issue we have to consider, which is that in a nation that is so deeply divided politically, impeaching a sitting president of the United States, just within 10 days of that president leaving office, is likely to have political consequences that will drive that partisan divide even deeper.

That was the point that was made by the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, representative of California. He advised the Democrats to avoid moving towards formal impeachment, but nonetheless, Republicans in the House are assuming that that is exactly where this is headed. Now technically, the actual measure undertaken by the Democratic majority addresses first of all, the vice-president of the United States, Mike Pence, asking him to invoke the clause and the 25th amendment that would allow the vice-president and the Cabinet to remove the president, not necessarily from office, but from his presidential duties, but that is extremely unlikely. And even as that vote is expected to take place on Tuesday night and the Vice-President is expected to respond, “No,” the House Democratic majority has indicated it will take up the article of impeachment early on Wednesday. That’s where things currently stand.

There will be a lot more for us to consider here. Brothers and sisters, we are ourselves living in one of the most tumultuous moments in American history. And even as we work together and pray together to hold this Republic together, we must understand we will be telling our grandchildren and perhaps our great-grandchildren about these days and these events, I encourage Christian parents to help the young people in their own homes, children and teenagers, to understand what is at stake, to understand what these things mean. And there is one central principle that we have to think about and we need to talk about. It is a principle that is by God’s intention woven within the very structure of the universe by general revelation and by common grace. It is basically known to all. It’s in the categories of that moral knowledge that human beings made in the image of God actually cannot not know.

But it’s also made very clear in special revelation, it’s made abundantly clear within the text of Holy Scripture and that is this principle, actions have consequences, they always do. And as you think about that, you might immediately say, “Well, those actions and consequences might be tied in a way that is absolutely simple. Someone does this and that is the result. If you do A, then we do B.” But the problem is this is a very complex world and so the President undertook actions. Those actions will have consequences, the full measure of those consequences, not yet known. But Congress is going to take action and those actions will have consequences and the outcome of those consequences, not yet comprehensively known. Do actions have consequences? Absolutely. That is again, part of God’s structure of the entire creation. It’s a moral principle that the scripture makes very clear and it’s a warning to us all, that our actions will have consequences.

Some of the consequences of the last several days include people who have been arrested for invading and desecrating the United States Capitol. There are others who have undertaken actions with different consequences. And then you have the president of the United States. You have every single member of the United States House and of the United States Senate. But eventually that principle, that actions have consequences, comes down to every one of us. It is a deeply humbling realization. And the complexity of the current moment means that a part of being an adult, a morally reasoning adult in this world, a fallen world, is to understand that sometimes the consequences of our actions are not abundantly clear at the time. But nonetheless, those actions are ours and we take responsibility for them. Of necessity, we will be following these issues closely and we’ll be doing so together.

Part II

A Nonsensical Assault Upon Creation and the English Language: U.S. House of Representatives Adopts Rule Banning Gender-Specific Language

But speaking of actions and consequences, and speaking of the United States House of Representatives, I want to turn to a very different issue, in this case, not an Article of Impeachment, but a House Resolution that has to do with a set of rules that the House of Representatives in the 117th Congress has established for itself. Since the Democrats are in the majority, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco is largely in control. The Democratically controlled House Rules Committee is the organ that initiated these rules, but the rules will have consequences in themselves and there are many. But the one to which I want to draw our attention is one that changes the language of laws to be considered by the House of Representatives in terms of gender inclusive language. Just consider this.

I’m going to read it exactly as it is found in the House Resolution: “In clause 8(c)(3) of rule XXIII, strike, ‘father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, step-father, step-mother, step-son, step-daughter, step-brother, step-sister, half-brother, half sister, grandson or granddaughter,’ and insert ‘parent, child, sibling, parent’s sibling, first cousin, sibling’s child, spouse, parent-in-law, child-in-law, sibling-in-law, step-parent, step-child, step-sibling, half-sibling or grandchild.'”

Ladies and gentlemen, what you just heard is a disaster and yet it is now the rule of the United States House of Representatives. Laws that are to be considered by the House of Representatives under the current Democratic leadership are to avoid any reference to well, gender-specific language or the nouns that make the world make sense, such as mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, husband, father-in-law, mother-in-law, you go down the list. Those are now verboten.

They are now not to be used and instead you have the gender non-specific language that is now to be a part of the law of the United States, at least as considered by the House of Representatives. There will be no more brothers and sisters in the United States, only siblings. There will be no more mothers and fathers in the United States, only parents. There will be no more aunts, no more uncles. There are not even going to be anymore half-sisters or half-brothers nor grandsons or granddaughters. Instead, merely those who are step-siblings, half-siblings or grand children. Now what about the word cousin? Why is it in this list? Well, it’s not there because of gender specificity. But because it’s in the list of the nouns in the form now determined by the House of Representatives in the old list and now in the new list, you can still be a cousin, but you can no longer be a brother or a sister.

And furthermore, even as that first set of changed rule sets the House of Representatives majority over against, well, all of creation, there’s a second list that sets the House of Representatives over against the English language. For example, in clause 15(D)(2) of rule XXIII, “strike ‘father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, husband, wife, father-in-law or mother-in-law’ and insert ‘parent, child, sibling, spouse, or parent-in-law.’ In clause 4 of rule XXVII, “strike ‘himself or herself’ and insert ‘themself.'”

Now, again, the word “themself” is a plural reference in the English language, or at least it used to be, but that was before the moral revolutionaries claimed that all those centuries of English usage could be dispensed with and now they and them could become singular third person pronouns. It’s a disaster. It’s a disaster for the English language, but more than that, it’s, as Christians understand, a disaster far beyond language, because language is not merely about language. Language is about the construction of reality. It is about how we define terms. And we have to understand that what the Democratic majority in the House has done and what the new Democratic majority in the Senate may do is not going to change nature, but it is going to set our nation’s official discourse at war with nature. This is the demand of the LGBTQ revolutionaries and with the left wing of the Democratic party in control of that party, they’re not about to refuse whatever these revolutionaries demand. And this is where Christians just have to underline again, that a pronoun is never merely a pronoun. It’s a way of indicating reality.

But when it comes to human beings, it’s about defining the human person and the new radical ideal of personal autonomy has now suggested to many modern secular Americans that they can define themselves. Sadly, there are even many Christians who are showing themselves completely confused about this issue. They tend to agree with the moral revolutionaries. “Just give them the language they demand,” say these, but the reality is if you give the language, you are redefining the reality. Now you’re not changing the reality because the creator actually establishes that reality. A male is still a male, a female is still a female. XX and XY chromosomes don’t change, even as an individual may legally demand to change pronouns. But this is where Christians also have to understand that complicity with this kind of intentional confusion will also be an action that comes with consequences. Jason L. Riley, writing in his Upward Mobility column for The Wall Street Journal, points out that this gender neutral language is more than a word game.

He’s exactly right. It’s never merely a word game. Riley begins his article with these words, “In his 1946 essay, ‘Politics and the English Language,’ George Orwell wrote that political language ‘consists largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.'” Riley then said, “The description fits Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s new House rules on gender-neutral speech to a tee.”

Part III

Is This the End of “It’s a Boy!” or “It’s a Girl!”? Prestigious Medical Journal Calls for the End of Sex Designations on Birth Certificates

But finally, we have to recognize that this kind of nonsense tragically isn’t limited to the United States House of Representatives. For an even deeper violation of the order of creation, we have to go to The New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most respected medical journals in all of modern medicine. Just before Christmas, The New England Journal of Medicine dropped an article entitled “Failed Assignments, Rethinking Sex Designations on Birth Certificates.” Three doctors conspired to write the article: Vadim Shteyler, Jessica Clarke and Eli Adashi.

And their argument is that birth certificates should no longer, in the information that would be publicly available, indicate whether or not the baby is male or female, a boy or a girl. As the article begins, the doctors say together, “We believe that it is now time to update the practice of designating sex on birth certificates, given the particularly harmful effects of such designations on intersex and transgender people.” Now, any thoughtful person understands that when it comes to intersex people, that is where there is some ambiguity, when it comes to even the physical observation of the baby’s identity. We understand that even as that is very rare, Christian concern would leave it up to the individual and the parents and consultation with doctors. The numbers given in this article by the doctors is that this would apply to about one in 5,000 people. That has virtually nothing to do with the real agenda here.

This is where the LGBTQ revolutionaries, particularly the “T” or the transgender revolutionaries, they’re not talking about an issue in which there’s physical ambiguity. They’re talking about the issue in which they are claiming absolute autonomy to declare themselves male or female, without respect to what is now dismissed as the sex designated at birth. Of course, it’s not designated. Christians understand it’s not designated. It is merely recognized and it’s also recorded, that’s why we have birth certificates. But now we are told, “Designating sex as male or female on birth certificates suggests that sex is simple and binary when biologically it is not. Sex,” say these doctors, “is a function of multiple biological processes with many resultant combinations.” Now that just tells us, and this is what’s so important, that what is now called modern medicine is when it comes to the LGBTQ revolutionaries, now a part of the revolution.

Now this doesn’t accomplish what these doctors call for. This article in The New England Journal of Medicine doesn’t mean that birth certificates are going to instantly change, but it does mean that now you have the authority of modern medicine behind the moral revolution, and we need to note, it is a capitulation to the rejection of creation. That’s really what it is. Interestingly, these three doctors arguing that birth certificates should no longer publicly state male or female, state that they concede that knowing the sex of newborns may “further public health interests”. But they argue that that information should be moved below the public line of demarcation, “moving information on sex below the line of demarcation wouldn’t compromise the birth certificates public health function, but keeping sex designations above the line causes harm.”

Now just recognize the contradiction there. These doctors are saying yes, it really does make a difference even in public health, not just personal health, but public health as to whether or not this individual is a male or a female. But even as we can see, that really is medically significant, we’re going to state that it is simply not in keeping with the LGBTQ revolution, particularly with the transgender revolution, to identify the fact that the gender of this baby, the sex of this baby, the fact that this baby is male or female is not just private, but public and its consequence. These three doctors conclude their article, “To protect all people, birth certificate sex designations should be moved below the line of demarcation.” Now just recognize what this means. This means that the prestige of The New England Journal of Medicine is now behind this nonsense, but the nonsense isn’t limited to medicine. We saw the nonsense and the new rules adopted by the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives.

We are in a world increasingly drowning in nonsense. It’s up to Christians, not because we are smarter than the rest, but because we know what God has told us in creation, and most importantly in Scripture. Because we do know these things, we cannot act as if we do not know them and knowing them, we know that they are significant for what will lead to human flourishing, the rejection of which can only lead to disaster.

Never lose sight of those facts.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

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I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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