The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

It’s Tuesday, May 4, 2021.

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

Part I

“Male and Female Created He Them” — Another Important Biblical Distinction Christians Must Affirm

Yesterday on The Briefing, I discussed the fundamental issue of distinctions to the Christian worldview, indeed, the biblical theology, looking at the very beginning of Scripture in the opening chapters of Genesis. And as we saw in headline news issues yesterday, the crucial issue is confusion over the distinctions, including two of the most fundamental. That is the distinction between the Creator and the creation and the distinction between human beings and all the other creatures.

But today we’re going to look at the third of the big three distinctions in the book of Genesis, the third of the big confusions of our modern day. This is a confusion that goes far beyond our imagination and far beyond the imagination of those who rebelled against those distinctions in the order of creation during millennia past, even the entire experience of the Christian church.

The challenges we now face on this third distinction being denied, the distinction between male and female, this is where we are looking at a revolt against creation, and as we know as Christians, a revolt against the creator, that is now demanding nothing less than universal capitulation to a mass delusion.

The delusion is that someone who is biologically male can become female or someone who is biologically female can become male. And of course, this is now demanded of us. As you’re looking at the LGBTQ revolution, this is the “T,” and as we’ve said, from the very beginning of public conversation on these issues, the “T” is the most disruptive of all, because it is an absolute rejection, even in personal identity of creation order.

Those distinctions, again, the distinction between the creator and the creation, absolutely necessary, the first distinction found in scripture. The second distinction, between the human being and all other of the animal creatures. That’s a distinction of immense importance, and the third distinction is equal to it, the distinction between men and women. The scripture could not be more clear. God made us in his image, “Male and female, created he them.” All of that is in just one phrase of just one sentence and just one verse of just one chapter of the Holy Bible. We’re talking about the very first chapter, Genesis 1, the distinction between the Creator and creation, the distinction between human beings and all of the animal creatures, the distinction between male and female. That is to say, man and woman.

Consider this mass delusion that we are now ordered to join. Now, you have the story coming from the Ninth Circuit. That’s the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. That’s the federal court. That is the appellate court for the western United States. Idaho is a part of the geographic area covered by the Ninth Circuit. The headline comes from NPR yesterday, “Idaho’s Transgender Sports Ban Faces a Major Legal Hurdle.”

Well, this law that was passed by the Idaho legislature and then signed into law by the state’s governor makes very clear that a biological male cannot compete in high school or collegiate athletics as a female. Now, the law works the other way, too. That would mean a biological female can’t compete as a biological male on boys or men’s teams at the school level or the collegiate level.

But that’s not a big issue. We all know what the big issue is. It is those who have the physical advantage of going through male puberty who are then presenting and claiming identity as females and seeking to play on female teams at either the interscholastic or the intercollegiate level. The ban in Idaho would be very clear on that question, saying that only boys could play on boys teams, girls on girls teams, women on women’s teams, men on men’s teams. That would seem to be exactly in alignment with Genesis chapter one. But the question is, does it now align with the constitutional interpretation of the United States Supreme Court? That’s going to be tested at the Ninth Circuit. Ultimately, it will be tested at the Supreme Court of the United States.

And one of the issues we have to face here is that on this transgender issue, as on so many issues, including the abortion issue, if these matters were left to the states, it would be a patchwork quilt across the United States. Well, not exactly across when you think about it, because the vast center of the United States would be consistently red. That would say, aligning with the positions of the Republican party, far more conservative than what you would find on the states on the coast. The west coast would be uniformly liberal.

Again, if using the traditional color distinctions, the west coast would be uniformly blue. It is very difficult if not impossible to find a Republican elected statewide, any kind of conservative elected statewide, in any of the three states on the Pacific West Coast, Washington, Oregon, California. But shift to the east coast, the picture is slightly different, but mostly it’s because you’re going south, but you’re looking at a gradation from very, very blue to something that might be at least for now somewhat purple to what might be still red, including the state of Florida, that would conclude the map at the southeast of the east coast.

But nonetheless, the two coasts would be far more liberal than the heartland of the United States, but that’s true when you’re looking at the abortion question. If you go back to the period before Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that infamously legalized abortion in all 50 states, if you go back before 1973, it would have been a patchwork quilt. You would have had very pro-life states, just to say one, such as Mississippi. You would have had very pro-abortion states, just like the example of Massachusetts.

But when you are looking at the issue of the “T” in LGBTQ, it’s very interesting to see the overlay of this map. Now, in worldview thinking, there’s another reason for that, one we will talk about at length in coming days, and that is the fact that what you see is an alignment of basic moral judgment. That is to say, your basic moral judgment on the sanctity of human life is probably dependent to a great extent on whether or not you believe in the divine creation of the cosmos and God’s creation of human beings. That is how you ground human dignity.

But if you believe in the defense of unborn life precisely because God made human beings in his image, and that means every single human life is worthy of the same dignity and respect and sanctity, then you’re also going to believe that the creator assigned human identity according to male and female, that it’s not just some kind of cultural construct, it’s a part of the order of creation. That’s the alignment of these issues on fundamental moral terms. No real surprise there.

But what you’re also looking at is the constitutional or the legal reality that the Supreme Court ultimately is unlikely to allow this patchwork quilt. This is a basic question, a basic constitutional question, even a basic identity question for the United States of America. Are we going to determine all of these issues at the national level? That’s what the left has pushed for for years, or do we allow the states given our federalist system and the federalist understanding written into the constitution originally, do we allow the states to define so many of these issues?

Little footnote here, this will also be a major debate when it comes to President Biden’s very, very expensive and very, very ambitious plans to basically federalize education from the age of three all the way to the first two years of college. That too’s going to raise basic issues of federalism. But getting back to the LGBTQ issue and particularly to the “T,” you now have a legal challenge to the Idaho law, and the challenge is now arriving at the Ninth Circuit. That’s because a federal district court judge has already put a hold on the Idaho bill until the appeals court could consider it.

But the Ninth Circuit almost certainly will not be the only circuit to rule on this question and you’re likely to have conflicting circuits and eventually, the question will arrive at the United States Supreme Court. This story that appeared, for example, in NPR yesterday is announcing that we better get ready for this question to arrive at the Supreme Court.

But the report at NPR by Melissa Block is also interesting, and urgently interesting at that, for several different statements that are included in the article. The article begins with a focus on two individual athletes, both of them intending to compete as women at the collegiate level, one of them born biologically female, the other born biologically male. Madison Kenyon, born female, identifying as female, is actually one of the figures behind the legislation in Idaho, and also now at stake in this question that comes before the Ninth Circuit. It’s interesting that the article begins by identifying her as cisgender.

Now, one of the things we need to note is that we have now drilled down so deep as a society into this confusion that you are identifying people who were born as girls and still identify as women as being labeled by an identity for which a new word had to be invented, cisgender. The very existence of this word driven by the ideological left and the sexual revolutionaries indicates just how far we are into this mass delusion. And NPR begins the article with that word. It’s just the fourth word in the first sentence of the report. That tells you just how pervasive all of this has now become.

Leslie Hickox is a student at Boise State University identified as transgender, and the student said, “I’m just a 20 year old girl and I just wanted to be able to compete. It was just so blatantly wrong for politicians to legislate this.” Well, let’s just be clear, this is what politicians do. What do legislators do? They legislate. But you’ll notice the identity statement. It’s just a straightforward sentence, “I’m just a 20 year old girl and I just want to be able to compete.”

Now, notice what we have here. You have two rival justice claims, and this is where we need to look as Christians really closely. They’re both claims for justice. The first is coming from a biological female who intends to compete as a female, and she says that it is an injustice as a biological female that she would have to compete in what’s going to be identified as women’s sports against someone who was born male and underwent male puberty and has those advantages. But the one who is squaring off against her is making a rival justice claim saying that it is an injustice if as an individual identifying as female, this individual, the student, is not allowed to participate in and compete in female intercollegiate athletics.

Listen to the two sentences made in these rival justice claims. Sentence number one, “To step on the field and have it not be fair and to get beat by someone who has advantages that you’ll never have, no matter how hard you train, it’s so frustrating.” She went on to say, “What I’m fighting for is to preserve the integrity of women’s sports and to make sure that it’s a fair playing field.” And again, that’s contrasted with the second justice claim, “I’m just a 20 year old girl and I just want to be able to compete. It was so blatantly wrong for politicians to legislate this.”

Now, the question is, which is the authentic justice claim? And that’s where Christians understand that justice is not a compliment that we pay to negotiated settlements that we like, that we would prefer. This is where we as Christians understand that justice has to be rooted in an objectively true context. And the objectively true question comes down to whether or not it is possible for someone born biologically as a male to actually become a female or for someone born biologically female to become a male. And here’s where we understand that. At that fundamental level, if you accept the plausibility of the claim, then you have just accepted the plausibility of the justice argument as well. It all comes as a package.

Christina Holcomb of the Alliance Defending Freedom, who’s going to be making the case on behalf of the woman who is suing for the right for female sports to be limited to biological females, she points out the fact that there have been decades in which girls and women’s sports have been protected even by federal law in what is now known as Title Nine and the only way that law has made any sane, rational sense is if we know who a girl is and we know who a woman is.

As a matter of fact, the laws that were written by congress and that were signed by the president and put into effect where to protect the integrity of women’s sports lest those women’s sports be undermined by the competition that would come with biological males. That’s the whole point of defining women’s and girl’s sports is to say they are for women and for girls. They are not for biological males.

But here’s where we see that the transgender revolution is demanding instant reversal of our entire understanding of reality, instant submission to this mass delusion, even to the point of arguing that if you do say that transgender females are those who were born, biologically male, you are “misgendering them.” Now again, that’s a neologism. It’s a new word. It’s a new word demanded by the moral revolutionaries.

Here’s something else Christians need to understand. If we operate from the Christian worldview, we really do not need new language. For every moral argument, we can use the historic language. We also need to understand that it is the ideologies of the left that keeps spawning the necessity of a new vocabulary. It’s because they are inventing arguments that had never been existed before. If you invent those arguments, you have to invent a whole new linguistic system in order to sustain and communicate and defend those arguments. And that’s what we see happening right now. Cisgender, misgender. I hope you get the point. This is invented language. Those terms are not real.

Part II

A Mass Delusion Demanding Universal Capitulation: Two Rival Justice Claims Square Off in Idaho and in California Over Transgender Persons Competing in Women’s Sports

But we shift at this point to say that there are those who will look at this picture and say it can’t get any more unreal than this, but you would be wrong. Consider the recall election for the governor in California and the fact that the individual identified as Caitlyn Jenner is now a declared candidate as a conservative republican. This is the person who identified as Caitlyn Jenner, who was known to the world as Bruce Jenner, the winner of the Olympic decathlon, and one of the best known male athlete celebrities in 20th century America. But then you also have the reality that Bruce Jenner reintroduced himself to the world as Caitlyn Jenner and the story has gone on about how Caitlyn Jenner, now identified, has become the most famous celebrity transgender figure in the United States.

But here’s where the story gets just wilder, because as Caitlin Jenner, this individual intends to run for election as governor of California in the event California voters recall the incumbent governor Gavin Newsome. But as Caitlyn Jenner, Jenner made the comment to a reporter that transgender females, that is those who are born biologically male, should not be able to compete with biological females in girl’s and women’s sports.

That made news. It made headline news because here’s the incongruency. Here’s the insanity of our hour. Now you have the most famous celebrity transgender woman, according to the designation of the revolutionaries, who has now committed the absolute apostasy of arguing what is called transphobia by the transgender advocates and other LGBTQ advocates. Now you have the most famous transgender celebrity breaking the transgender orthodoxy. A complete political sellout has to be the argument coming from the revolutionaries themselves.

The response has been swift and vitriolic. Debbie Jackson, the mother of a so-called trans girl, who was actually on the cover of National Geographic magazine about five years ago, she said, “When Caitlin first transitioned, it was wonderful to hear her say that she’s known she was trans since childhood. It was validating, but it’s disappointing and disheartening that she’s comparing her unaffirmed life and experiences with youth who are affirmed today. More than that, she is a danger to our kids by helping perpetuate the rampant misinformation about them. She needs to stop talking immediately.”

A similar statement is found in the Washington Post. This one’s attributed to Charlotte Clymer, an activist and former press secretary of the Human Rights Campaign. Clymer tweeted that Jenner, “Doesn’t understand the science and she is pandering to the ignorance of anti-trans people. I have absolutely no problem saying Caitlyn Jenner supports and directly benefits from transphobia.”

In order to understand this depth of confusion and rebellion against sanity, you have to understand something fictional, such as George Orwell’s 1984, but this isn’t 1984. This is 2021, and this is not fiction. This is real life. Thank you, California.

Part III

Why Do Revolutions Rarely Ever Deliver on Their Promises? A Look at the Failed Paris Commune on the 150th Anniversary of Its Fall

But finally today, as we think about the spirit of revolution that is in the air , yes, we’re talking here about moral revolution, but we’re also talking about a revolution against creation order and the very design God made in the cosmos, we’re talking about a rebellion against what is revealed in God’s word, but we’re talking about revolution and we’re talking about a generation in which there’s been a lot of lost knowledge about how most revolutions turn out. The vast majority of revolutions turn out to be deadly and violent. They turn out to be failures.

And this very month we’re coming up on the 150th anniversary of one of those disastrous and doomed revolutions. This was the 1871 fall of the Paris Commune. If you hear commune, you hear the refrain of communism. You hear 1871, you hear all the political, social and moral upheavals of the late 19th century that helped to give birth to the 20th century. There’s a big story here. It’s worth looking at for a few moments.

The modern age as we know it, linking the history of Europe and the United States, goes back to the fact that if you begin the 19th century, you begin with a very settled political picture, but that picture becomes very unsettled by the end of the 19th century. A part of this has to do with vast societal changes, including, for example, the rise of industrialization, the extension of the idea of democracy and the fact that citizens should have the right to vote. This made very tenuous many of the imperial and monarchial powers in Europe and especially when they turned on war against one another.

During the 19th century, you see the rise of what was celebrated and then feared, the rise of the modern state. And it began most importantly in Germany under the rule of Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck. And in order to understand the failed revolution of the Paris Commune in 1871, you have to go back to the fact that you had France and Germany … actually, France and Prussia because Germany wasn’t reunited yet … you had France and Prussia at war.

By the time you get to the middle of the 19th century, France is humiliated. It had been the great glittering imperial power, but France was in decline and it decided to press over against Prussia in order to regain territory. Let’s just say it didn’t turn out very well. Declaring war on Prussia turns out usually to be a bad idea.

Within a fairly short amount of time, the Prussian forces were outside of Paris and ready to take the city, but industrialization had taken place so many other changes have taken place. There was political unrest in Paris, partly because the French Revolution of the late 18th century into the 19th century had failed so badly leading to the time of Napoleon, eventually to the fall of Napoleon’s empire, and France had been in a great deal of turmoil. Its pride had been wounded. It declared war on Prussia, but wounded pride pales over against an absolute existential threat, which is what the Prussian forces now represented to Paris.

In Paris, there was an overthrow of the government and the declaration of a new people’s government. They declared it the commune. Now, at the very same time, you have radical revolutionaries, indeed, the communist revolutionaries, Karl Marx and Friedrich Ingles, writing their revolutionary works. And when it comes to the Paris Commune, there was influence going both ways. Eventually, Marx and Lenin, pointing to the communards, as they were known in Paris, said that that was where they understood the foundation of the communist revolutionary movement to begin.

It’s very interesting that the revolutionary identity taken by those in the Paris Commune included not only the separation of church and state, but a radically secularist position. Eventually, they would execute the Catholic Archbishop of Paris and other priests. This was an intentionally anti-theistic movement, but it was also a precursor to so many of the Marxist revolutions that would follow, particularly in the 20th century, including most famously the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. They claimed to exercise power in the name of the people. But in the end, it was the people who were crushed.

The story of what happened in and to the Paris Commune is long and complicated, but the bottom line is this. Eventually, France was able to re-establish a government that reestablished control in Paris, defeating the national guard that was under the control of the communards and defeating the commune itself. France was then once again under a constitutional government. It tells you something about just how many governments and constitution France has had since the revolution, because that was declared to be the third republic. The current French government is the fifth republic.

So much of Europe was unsettled at this time. Just take the great city of Strausberg. It was an imperial-free city for many years. In 1681, it became French. In 1871, it became German, thanks to the Franco-Prussian war and France’s defeat. In 1918, France gained control of Strausberg again, but the Germans gained it in 1940. The French got it once again, only with the defeat of the Third Reich in 1945, so you have just one city that was free, then French, then German, then French, then German, then French. It remains French today. But then again, history is unfolding.

The spirit of revolution was spreading around much of Europe, but here’s what we need to note. The Paris Commune didn’t last long. We’re not even talking about years. We’re talking about months. The revolutionary principles upon which the commune defined itself were actually impractical to the point of political failure. And what we saw in this attempted revolution was exactly what we saw in the French Revolution, a secular attempt to try to act on behalf of humanity that turns viciously and murderously anti-human.

But as we conclude The Briefing today, what’s really interesting is to know that much of the ideological and political in western nations began to look to the Paris Commune as inspiration, declaring those who died there to be martyrs and making the argument that other revolutionaries in other lands, and also in France, needed to take up arms in order to finally find the people’s liberation in a successful revolution.

Well, just think about 1917 and understand what happened in the murderous decades of the Soviet Union. Understand what happened under Pol Pot in Cambodia. Understand what happened in France, and you come to understand that most revolutions, the vast majority, fail ever to deliver on their promises. Instead, what they deliver on is crushed humans and a crushed human spirit.

But this is where Christians need to understand that there are lessons from history that explain the present. And one of the big lessons of history we need to remember in the present is that when you have people who try to define humanity, apart from the biblical definition of human beings made in God’s image, then what you have is a proclaimed revolution that doesn’t liberate humanity. Rather, it crushes humanity. And that means it crushes very real human beings and crushes the very reality of human hope. Beware those who claim to act on behalf of an anonymous humanity, because the real victims are likely to be none other than human beings.

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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