The Briefing

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The Briefing

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

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It's Tuesday, February 16, 2021.

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

Part

An Insight Essential to Understanding American Culture: The Dominant Media Have a Default Position on Abortion Rights and It’s Complete Celebration . . . No Explanation Needed

One essential insight necessary for understanding our culture is the default setting, you might say of the mainstream media. When you take the most important media, especially news outlets, such as the New York Times, the Washington Post or Los Angeles Times, you'll get the major television networks. And by that, I mean the old networks such as ABC, NBC, CBS, you look at CNN, MSNBC, you look at just about any kind of representation of the basic default media in this country. It's default liberal, you'll also note it is default pro-abortion.

Now some people are going to take offense that I put it that way. They're going to say no, they are default pro-choice. No, there really is a pro-abortion slant. You see abortion or abortion rights just absolutely taken for granted is what any civilized person, any cultured, any kind of cultivated educated person should understand. They should support abortion rights. They should deny and repudiate and find nothing but embarrassment in a pro-life position, because after all, all right thinking people think to the left on the issue of abortion. And as you see, that's a pattern that extends to other issues as well. Amongst many people on the left, the reality is that they don't really understand how anyone could think otherwise than themselves. Now this can be a problem for Christians, which is one of the reasons why we have this conversation every day. It's because when you think of the Christian responsibility to think a part of that responsibility is understanding why we think as we think, and why people would start with a very different set of presuppositions think very differently.

But there are at least some Christians, many, perhaps more in the past than in the present who at least thought they had the luxury of never having to think through why either Christians believe what we believe or why those who start with a different foundational set of beliefs would come to different conclusions. But it's true on the left. On the left, there is now just, well, something like the Bible Belt used to exist for Christians. When you consider the mainstream media and the cultural creatives, they have a Belt of their own. It's a certain kind of mentality in which they don't really ever have to think about why we think what we think. And there's a second issue here, when it comes to many people in that culture, they don't really even know anyone who's a believing Christian who thinks in these terms, who's pro-life or who will just perish the thought when it comes to that worldview, would actually believe that marriage is and can only be the union of a man and a woman.

But I want us to look today at the issue of abortion in particular. And as I said, we need to understand that that is basically the default position. A default position that says this has to be redefined as a woman's right to abortion. The fetus if acknowledged at all, cannot acknowledged as a person. The very idea that human beings are made in the image of God, which would have to be extended to the unborn or the pre-born, the reality is that is just a foreign way of thinking. And when you think about all of this, you realize it is revealed sometimes in the most amazing ways, the ways that you would think at least would be caught by an editor, even a liberal editor in a liberal newspaper, even a pro abortion editor in a pro-abortion newspaper.

Well, earlier I mentioned the New York Times, and now I want to turn to an article that ran in the New York Times, and yes, this is crucial. It's an article, it's not in the opinion section, it's not an opinion piece, it's not an editorial. It's a news report by Lisa Lerer, and the headline of the article is, "Departing NARAL Chief On Roe v. Wade's Future." Now NARAL is an acronym that used to stand for the National Abortion Rights Action League. That was when abortion was in the name of the organization. Trust me, abortion is just as central to the organization, but just like other companies and brands are simplifying their name, they're now simply NARAL. Now they're the same organization they always were, it's analogous to say the AARP that used to be the American Association of Retired Persons, it was shortened to AARP, but now it's legally just AARP as if those letters are supposed to mean something. Well, they are themselves a brand, so as NARAL.

But here's what's really important. What's so important in this article is not just that it appears as it does, but that it is published and printed in this case, in the print edition of the New York Times to a readership that presumably shares this very same worldview. Now, one indication of this kind of assumption, and this is another interesting worldview insight. One indication of the presence of that kind of assumption is that there's no case for abortion made in this article. There's no moral case, constitutional case, legal case. It's simply understood that right-minded people will simply affirm abortion rights if not abortion itself. Now, I just want to remind us, Christians can do the same thing in a mirror image. We can sometimes also just talk with the assumption that we don't have to prove the case for Christianity, that all right minded people would simply agree with us.

But that violates the very exhortations of the New Testament. When you think of apostles like Peter and Paul were told to contend for the faith, when that's in the book of Jude, we're actually to make the case. We are to set out the intellectual truth claims of Christianity. We are to present the gospel, not just to assert that Christianity is true as if everyone even understands what we're talking about. But we're not talking about the gospel at this point, we're talking about the New York Times and abortion. Lisa Lerer begins by introducing the situation this way. "For Ilyse Hogue, who announced on Monday that she was stepping down as the head of NARAL Pro-Choice America after eight years"--that's the new name, NARAL Pro-choice America--"abortion rights are at something of a crossroads, with Democrats facing the choice of whether to try to deliver on their promise of codifying Roe v. Wade."

Now again, just remind yourself that when he was a candidate Joe Biden, he said that he was going to put Roe v. Wade into law. That Roe v. Wade was threatened by the new conservative majority on the Supreme court, and that it would be a central ambition of his administration to put Roe v. Wade into law. Another reminder of the fact that Roe v. Wade is not the law of the land by legislation, but merely by court fiat, the court can reverse itself. This is the unalloyed uncompromised support for abortion which is now the orthodoxy in the Democratic Party. The article continues. "When she assumed the role of president of the abortion rights group in 2013, the Democratic party controlled the Senate and the White House and had a reliable liberal majority on the Supreme court. Eight years later, Democrats are back in power, but abortion rights face a precarious future."

Now that's absolutely fascinating. There's more there than perhaps we even saw or heard for one thing we're told that Ilyse Hogue became the head of NARAL Pro-choice America in 2013, and here's how that year is described. Now, just do the math. We're talking about just eight years ago. Eight years ago we're told, and this is supposed to be quite normal, this is the way things are supposed to be evidently the way the article is written. "The Democratic Party controlled the Senate and the White House and had a reliable liberal majority on the Supreme Court." So now you've heard that twice. We are told here that when Ilyse Hogue became the head of NARAL Pro-choice America, it was very different situation. But you'll notice the last words are about a reliably liberal Supreme Court, a reliable liberal majority. Now, when you hear an acknowledgment of the current conservative majority on the court, it's supposed to be an absolutely intolerable imbalance, but you'll notice here, there is an absolute concession that just eight years ago there was a reliable liberal majority on the Supreme Court.

That shift also explains why the pro-choice, pro-abortion movement is in such panic. But there's something else here, we're told that there was a Democratic party control of the Senate, and they had a Democratic president in the White House, but then the article continues. "During the presidency of Donald J. Trump, it became harder to get an abortion in many places across the country than it had been at any time since the Supreme court established the legal right to an abortion nearly 50 years ago. With the court now dominated by conservatives, maintaining legal access to an abortion may face an even more precarious future." Read that paragraph backwards. A precarious future for abortion rights is supposed to be something that is to immediately alarm readers of the New York Times. Just think about what's being communicated here, implicitly, not so much explicitly it is, that the default worldview here is abortion, good, restriction on abortion, bad. Democratic leadership, good, Republican leadership, bad. Liberal majority on the Supreme Court, good. Conservative majority on the Supreme Court, bad.

And now of course, there's more to this paragraph because even as it says that it became harder to get an abortion in many places in the country during the presidency of Donald J. Trump, well, here's where we need to note something, that reduced access to abortion in some States had far more to do with efforts that were undertaken state by state than by anything undertaken by the federal government. But then the article goes on, "Yet even as the abortion movement lost ground in the courts, it made major gains elsewhere," argues Ms. Hogue. The article goes on to say where elsewhere this happened, "The movement expanded its level of popular support and de-stigmatized a medical procedure traditionally seen as taboo, even among some Democrats." Now wait just a minute, that really hasn't happened. At least it hasn't happened nationwide, the unique place where it has happened is amongst leadership Democrats or for that matter, even grassroots Democrats who are running for elective office.

What's changed is not anything that could really be described as de-stigmatizing abortion rather abortion has just become a part of the official orthodoxy of the Democratic party. And it's not just the Democratic Party. This is not just about politics, you can't take politics out of it. This is a far larger problem for the pro-life movement, because we're really talking about those who are in the elite levels of the cultural productives, those who make the movies, make the news, print the newspapers, write, edit, teach in universities and colleges. Yes, there, you will find this very, very clear de-stigmatization problem with abortion. What could that problem possibly be? But amongst mainstream Americans, no. There is no way that's true. And proof positive is the fact that repeatedly the pro-abortion movement has to announce it is undertaking yet another major advertising campaign or attempted movement to remove the stigma from abortion.

And I'm just going to be emphatic here, that's not going to happen. There will always be stigma attached to abortion, even amongst the people who say there is no stigma attached to abortion. If you have to keep on saying there's no stigma attached to it, the very fact that you're saying it proves that there is. And of course, we as Christians understand that there is because of the very order of creation, the fact that God did make us in his image, there are things we cannot not know, and one of those things we cannot actually not know is that killing babies in the womb is wrong.

Part

The Destigmatization of Abortion for the Left: No Defense of the Pro-Abortion Position Is Required, Abortion Support Is Simply Assumed

Ilyse Hogue actually raises the political issue saying that when she went to NARAL in 2013, "The Democratic consensus toward abortion rights was mostly check the box and move on with some amazing exceptions." But she then goes on to say that the Democratic Party now really has made abortion rights basically a litmus test, it's a matter of the party's orthodoxy.

And then the question is asked by the New York Times, "So is there room in the party for Democrats who do not support abortion rights?" The answer is amazing. Amazingly candid. "There always has been, and there always will be room in the party for individuals who have all sorts of different feelings about everything, and abortion is no exception." Now just pause here. Christians need to be alert to catch one particular word in that sentence, and that is feelings. If our opposition to abortion is merely a matter of our feelings, then it's not a very substantial moral outrage and it will not last. Of course, I'm arguing that even based in the order of creation, it's more than a feeling, but you'll notice again, what we see here is the default understanding of the pro-abortion movement in the mainstream media.

If you're against it, it must be about your feelings for the fetus. But she goes on to say that there is room, there has been, and there always will be room in the party for people who have different feelings about everything and abortion is no exception, but then she says this, and this is where she takes back virtually everything she had said before. "What there is zero room in the party for is people who would oppose the seven in 10 Americans who don’t think politicians should be governing their decisions about pregnancy and family. The opposition to abortion never, never actually mapped onto faith as much as it mapped onto hostility to social progress, gender equity, racial equity." Notice what she's done there, she has simply conflated every liberal cause and made it into one thing. She says there's room in the party for people who have different feelings, except those in the party who have a difference of opinion on an abortion who actually believed that should have any public and policy consequence.

There's no room for you if you actually believe in a pro-life position. Now there's room for you in the Democratic Party she says, if you actually hold to a pro-life position without actually holding to it. If you just have feelings, well, you're welcome in the party. But if those feelings are to be translated into facts and legislation and judicial nominations in law, any restrictions, what so ever you'll notice here, well, then you aren't going to be welcomed in the Democratic party. So celebrates the now outgoing president of NARAL Pro-choice America. By the way, there's another very sly telling and intellectually dishonest portion of this interview. The interview itself turns out to be something that should violate journalistic ethics. Where's the news here, this is presented as a news story. Well, she goes on to say this that is Ilyse Hogue, the now outgoing president of NARAL Pro-choice America, she goes on to say that the modern day anti-choice movement is what she calls it.

And she says, it's not to say every person who identifies is pro-life. She goes on to say, "But the movement is one that believes in minority control to right Christian men." That means that conservative men in this case, conservative men identified is right. That means on the right Christian men, they are out to restrict a woman's right to abortion. The enemy here is conservative Christian men, is just as clear as she could possibly say it. But here's what's intellectually dishonest about that. Women in America are actually at least slightly more opposed to abortion than men. As you look at the organized pro-life movement in the United States, it is overwhelmingly led by women, women who are on the streets doing so much of the work and the counseling outside of abortion clinics, women who are passing out pamphlets and women who are yes, the CEOs and presidents of major pro-life organizations, the absolute alternative to NARAL Pro-choice America.

Trying to make this something that is basically just a conspiracy of conservative men is not only wrong, it's intellectually dishonest. And I want to say that as a conservative Christian man, here's what I want to say. The majority of Christian men in this country should be embarrassed by the fact that we were not providing leadership for the pro-life movement when we should have been from the beginning, it was a failure actually of conservative Christian men to engage this issue, not all there were some very brave exceptions. But the reality is that many conservative Christian men in this country were willing to sit out this battle, but thanks be to God. There were evangelical, there were Christian women, there was an army of Roman Catholic nuns out there on the front lines of the pro-life movement when men were largely absent to our shame.

One final word about this very celebratory piece that appeared in the New York Times revealing the default of the media, a statement made by Ilyse Hogue, the outgoing head of NARAL in which she says, "The movement is stronger than it's ever been." She says, "It’s more diverse than it’s ever been. The idea of abortion rights as a fundamental human right no longer just lives in the repro movement." That's her language. She says, "We've seen the progressive movement writ large take it up." Well, that's again an accurate statement. That's very important, it's incredibly revealing. She's telling us here that the progressive movement has now taken up the argument that abortion is a fundamental right. You have to understand that language. Fundamental rights are beyond legal even constitutional scrutiny. It's an amazing statement, but it's right there, and was presented as a news article in the New York Times.

There is news there, but it's not what the New York Times thinks is the news.

Part

The Parliament of the European Union “Lashed Out at Poland's Near-Total Abortion Ban” — There’s a Great Worldview Divide Between the Religious and the Secular, and It Shows

But thinking of abortion, also putting it in international or a global perspective, we see that the global elites think the same way as the progressive elites in the United States. So for example, the nation of Poland as we have talked about on the briefing, has recently undertaken legislation that basically outlaws abortion in the country, even outlawing exceptions to abortion in the country. And in particular exceptions that have to do with the health of the fetus. And in this case, we're talking about the fact that many people are declaring as a fundamental right, the right to abort a child right up until the moment of birth if it has major medical problems, but recognize that, that also relates to children with Down syndrome, many other non-fatal, absolutely survivable conditions.

But when it comes to a consumer society and the ideology, the left there are certain pre-born, unborn human beings who do not deserve to be born. That's not to deny or to discount, there are some horribly devastating diagnoses given to some parents or to some mothers when it comes to a pregnancy. But the reality is that the big issue here is the global elites cracking down on Poland, or at least attempting to ABC news reports, and the reporter here is Vanessa Gera of the Associated Press, "Members of the European parliament have debated a near total abortion ban in Poland." We're told, "Most European parliament lawmakers lashed out at Poland's near total abortion ban with several lawmakers arguing it was a fundamental violation of women's rights."

Oh, did you make the link fundamental right in that first article now fundamental right here. The claim is that abortion is a fundamental right not only in the United States, but globally. Now that's really interesting too, because we have historically argued as Americans that fundamental rights are rightly to be recognized by every civilization and every society. But that has been historically in American terms, a set of fundamental rights, such as those that are as constant, the declaration of independence. And of course, those were given by nature and nature is God, that is a natural order, a creation order given by the creator, governance responsibilities not to grant the right, but to respect it. But what you see here is the claim made on a global scale with antipathy towards Poland for violating this new morality. The idea is that you have abortion as a fundamental right, and even as there are activists in the United States making this case, have it globally as well.

EU Equality commissioner. Now that's an official title. This commissioner, "Acknowledged that the EU, the European Union has no legal control over how member States regulate abortion. But she said she viewed the abortion ruling as a sign of the deterioration of sexual and reproductive rights of women in the central European nation." And in other words, we don't have any absolute legislative power to crack down on Poland or tell them what their laws should be, but in the very next phrase, just like we saw in the previous article, she goes on to say, but Poland's position is wrong and unacceptable. Now in Poland, the situation is a result of both legislation and a very important constitutional court ruling that came in late January. There's one very brave Polish legislator quoted in the article, that's Patryk Jaki. He's member of the ruling Polish party known as Law and Justice, he's also the father of a child with Down syndrome. And he had the courage to tell the Associated Press that it is wrong to treat the right to abortion as a human right.

This brave father said, "Children, infants with Down syndrome, what do people want to say? That they are to die rather than to live? The Polish people have decided and it's the best thing." Bless that man. In handing down its decision in late January, Poland's top court known as the Constitutional Tribunal stated, "Human life has value in every phase of its evolution. And as a value, the source of which is the constitutional laws, it should be protected by law makers." Now that's an astoundingly true statement. I don't like the language about evolution, but that's not central to the case here, you could substitute the word evolution here for the word development. There is a development of the human being and at every stage of development, a human being is a human being and is to be respected and protected in terms of that individual's life. But you'll notice here that Poland Constitutional court also had the courage to tell Poland's legislators that it was their responsibility to uphold life as a fundamental right.

Well, there's a clash of worldviews for you. And it's really important to recognize that that clash of worldviews is in one news article explained by the New York Times, reporting on the decision by Poland's Constitutional Tribunal, the team of reporters tells us, "Abortion has long been a contentious issue in Poland, a staunchly Roman Catholic country, and the current debate has underlined a societal divide between traditional religious values and more secular ones." Fascinating. There's that worldview distinction actually acknowledged in the New York Times. That distinction between those whose fundamental worldview is shaped by, "Traditional religious values and those whose worldviews are shaped by more secular values." And yes, that is the great worldview divide not only in Poland, but in the United States of America. That's the great worldview divide increasingly all around the world. It's not going to change as a basic way of understanding the world anytime soon, there's basic conflict of visions, there's conflict of worldviews, is behind every single news story, every single controversy, but it comes right down to matters of life and death.

When you're talking about the unborn, one worldview leads to life, the other worldview leads to death, it really is that fundamental.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

I want to invite all youth, that is Christian teenagers to join me virtually. For this year's Renown Youth Conference at Boyce College. Over the course of this two day event, we're going to be diving deeply into the word of God, we're going to be asking a very basic, very important question, what or who is a Christian? Join me on March 19th and 20th. You can watch the event, participate in it, live from the campus of Boyce College, this year's Virtual Renown Youth Conference. For more information, and to register, visit renownyouth.com. That's simply renownyouth.com. I think it's going to be really important, we're going to be talking about again, what it means to be a Christian. I hope you'll join us. Bring some other young people with you. For more information, again, go to renownyouth.com.

For more information you can go to my website at albertmohler.com. You can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.com/albertmohler. For information about The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to sbts.edu. For information about Boyce College, just go to Boyce College. boycecollege.com. I'll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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