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The Briefing

Friday, June 4, 2021

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It's Friday, June 4 2021.

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

Part

A Look at the President’s Proclamation on Pride Month: The Incredible Power of Identity Politics and Validation on the Cultural and Political Left

For years, it was known as Pride Month. That would be the month of June every year. Now it is simply known as Pride. We're looking at a major cultural development and it's worthy of our attention, because what we're looking at in Pride Month or Pride for the month of June, is a total transformation of society taking place on the calendar as a scheduled celebration. And as we think about what's going on during Pride, during the month of June, we're going to learn a great deal about what's going on at far more fundamental levels in the United States.

On Tuesday of this week, President Joe Biden, who has declared that he's determined that his administration will be the most pro-LGBTQ in American history, by the way, he's basically already achieved that. He issued a presidential proclamation declaring Pride Month in the United States. In his proclamation, the president basically used the opportunity to issue a resume of sorts, bragging rights with the LGBTQ+ constituency. He wrote, "My administration is taking historic actions to finally deliver full equality for LGBTQ+ families." Well, wait just a minute there. Let's just pause. Because when he speaks here of full equality, he means support for the Equality Act, the most dangerous piece of legislation when it comes to Christian conscience and religious liberty, in all of American history.

During the campaign, he said that he would support it, he did, and he has supported it even now, very aggressively, even as the Democrats and the House of Representatives have approved it twice. All that stands between us and the Equality Act is the United States Senate. But the president continued, "On my first day in office, I signed an executive order charging federal agencies to fully enforce all federal laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. As a result," said the president, "the federal government has taken steps to prevent discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in employment, healthcare, housing, lending, and education."

He went on to say, "I also signed an executive order affirming all qualified Americans will be able to serve in the armed forces of the United States, including patriotic, transgender Americans, who can once again, proudly and openly serve their nation in uniform." He also bragged about a national security memorandum that, he said, "Commits to supporting LGBTQ+ federal employees serving overseas." He said a good deal more, but we need to recognize what he's talking about here. He reversed several policies put in place by the Trump Administration.

One of them recognize the fact that the challenge, let's just use the word challenge here, of incorporating any number of openly trans-identified soldiers, sailors, and airmen, is going to be a very, very difficult proposition. You're talking about the proximity of combat and military deployment. You are talking about a major transformation that defies human biology, but the president's bragging about it as a success of his administration. He went on to say, "My administration is also working to promote and protect LGBTQ+ human rights abroad." Now let's just stop for a moment. What exactly does that mean? Well, for one thing, it meant that a gay pride flag is flying on the US embassy in the Vatican. Talk about an in your face kind of action here. The official doctrinal teaching of the Roman Catholic church is that homosexual relationships, affections and homosexual behaviors, are inherently, intrinsically disordered.

But nonetheless, you have here the United States Government in the presence of a United States Embassy, now advertising its support of the LGBTQ+ agenda by very publicly and demonstrably hanging a gay pride flag right inside of the Vatican. That's just another way that the Biden Administration is saying, "There's a revolution underway. We have taken sides in the revolution. This is the side we have taken, and we consider all who would stand in our way to be basically on the wrong side of history, on the wrong side of this moral revolution. And you deserve to have our agenda put right in your face." I mentioned a few weeks ago that under the New Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, the State Department had announced that it would allow us embassies to fly the gay pride flag along with the American flag.

Well, here's a problem. It's a problem that should be apparent to anyone who understands the United States flag and what hanging any flag along with the United States flag actually means. Basically in symbolism, it is saying that the full faith and credit, the full power of the United States government and its authority is behind the LGBTQ+ revolution. Now, keep in mind the fact that if you look at a map of the world, the majority of the places that will be located on that map, the majority of the surface of the earth, will be marked by countries that have not joined this moral revolution. The United States government is now saying that they are on the wrong side of history too. That they're on the wrong side of the moral revolution.

Of course, those nations could well respond to the United States, to the current administration in the United States, "You may say we're on the wrong side of history, but you're on the wrong side of reality." Just to say explicitly, "The wrong side of biology." At the end of this rather long proclamation, the president stated, "While I am proud of the progress my administration has made in advancing protections for the LGBTQ+ community, I will not rest until full equality for LGBTQ+ Americans is finally achieved and codified into law. That is why," said the president, "I continue to call on the Congress to pass the Equality Act, which will ensure civil rights protections for LGBTQ+ people and families across our country." And he concluded, "That is why we must recognize emerging challenges, like the fact that many LGBTQ+ seniors who faced discrimination and oppression throughout their lives, are isolated and need support and elder care."

It basically becomes a proclamation that is a catalog and a resume of bragging rights, as I said. But furthermore, it comes as a real warning of what we face, when at more than one point in this proclamation, the president makes clear his priority of the LGBTQ+ community. And that language is used over and over again, and specifically the legislation known as the Equality Act.

Now, here's something else for us to ponder. Just in recent days, considering the radically pro-abortion administration that is now in place. We mentioned the fact that abortion advocates have been frustrated because the president and spokespersons for the White House have not used the word abortion. They're saying that's a problem, because even as he supports abortion rights, he adds stigma to the reality of abortion by refusing to say the word out loud and having it routinely repeated by his administration. There's actually something similar at work in the story today because you're looking at the White House, continuing to use the language by acronym LGBTQ+, they use it over and over again. It is basically issued like it's a scientific formula.

But here's what we should note, it would be unlikely that the president would issue a proclamation like this by using all those individual words right out loud. Why? Because the American people would understand all of those words more easily than they'll understand the acronym. The acronym becomes in essence, a form of euphemism. Whereas with abortion, the president tries to talk about a woman's health or a woman's reproductive health, a woman's choice or reproductive freedom, et cetera. Here, the use of the continual initials, LGBTQ. And don't forget that plus sign. That's a very important part of the equation here. That's another way of euphemizing, of avoiding saying out loud, naming publicly the actual reality that we're talking about.

But even as we're thinking about the president's proclamation, something else was embedded in it that ought to have our attention. That was not a word. It was a number. The number was 14, as in 14%. The Biden Administration is bragging about the fact that by its own calculation, 14% of all its appointees are openly identified as LGBTQ+. 14%, that's a rather remarkable percent, but it also raises some really interesting questions such as, how exactly do you know? Well, they know, or at least they think they know, because of the incredible power of identity politics within the Biden Administration, within the Democratic Party and the American cultural left. Identity politics says you really don't exist until you identify your identity. And your identity, including your sexual identity in this sense, becomes what is most definitional about you.

If you exist, you must exist in terms of this kind of identity. That's the way the language and the logic of the moral revolutionaries work. And so, you have the administration bragging about that percentage, but of course, that sets up a very different cultural equation we need to watch. If 14% is the administration's number, how do they know that's the right number? You're looking at the fact that the activists in the LGBTQ+ community are never going to be satisfied with 14%. They wouldn't have been satisfied with 4%. They won't be satisfied with say, 24%. What would be the right number? The reality is that we don't know, because we are not looking at a sane and rational system here, of trying to understand the quality of the appointment's made by a president. Instead, we are looking at identity politics, basically being paraded before the American people, as if this is what we should be concerned about as we're thinking about federal appointments, especially to high office.

Well, in a sense, we should be thinking about it, but not in terms of the bragging that the Biden Administration is here offering. Speaking of the new administration and the president's proclamation, the story in the New York Times included a quote that ought to have our attention. It didn't come from the administration. It came from a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign. In this case, the president of the organization, the Human Rights Campaign or HRC as it's often known, is identified as the largest LGBTQ advocacy group in the country. Alfonso B. David is the president, and this is what he said, "For the past four years, it was difficult to get out of bed. It was difficult to get out of bed because you understood that you, your being, your identity were being assaulted."

He meant assaulted by the policies of the Trump Administration. Here's what I want us to note, that kind of language, by the way, deserves closer scrutiny just in terms of the emotivism of it. But also, the fact that here you have a statement being made by an activist, the president of this major organization, saying that just having president Trump in the White House, given the moral messaging that was coming from President Trump and from those who voted for him, it was difficult for him to get out of bed. But now he says in the Biden years, everything is different. Evidently he can now get out of bed because he says in this new administration, it is no longer true, speaking of himself, "That you, your being, your identity are being assaulted."

Here's what we need to note from a Christian worldview. This is the language of validation, a hunger for validation. That's very important that we recognize. First of all, we need to recognize that all human beings long for validation. Validation by the way, is a need that basically reflects the fact that every single one of us as a social being, requires some form of support from those outside of us, or at least if we do not have it, we crave it. Human beings as social animals, crave the affirmation and validation that comes from, we'll just say in the home children, crave the validation of their parents. Spouses crave the validation that comes one to the other. Family members crave the validation of each other. And what parents do in raising children lovingly, is to continually validate them. That doesn't mean to continually praise them. That's one of the contorted ideas that infected the psychotherapeutic movement. No, it doesn't say that we constantly crave praise and should receive it.

But validation is just saying, "I know who you are. You belong to me. I am going to take responsibility for you. I am thankful that you are my son. I'm thankful that you are my daughter." What we need to note here in biblical perspective is that this is a universal human need, the need to be validated, but we need to note a grave danger here. That validation is reflected in this statement from the president of the Human Rights Campaign. That statement implies that it is within the power and prerogative, the influence of the president of the United States, to grant or to withhold validation to citizens. Here's something we need to recognize. We should not be looking to the Government of the United States for validation. From a Christian perspective actually, this is a warning to us. We had better be careful to whom we give some power or influence of validation over us.

This is one of the major problems we face as Christians living in our contemporary society, increasingly secular and secular in the sense of increasing hostility. What will be required from us? What the price would be exacted from us, in order to gain validation from so many sectors in our society, is the abdication of Christian faithfulness. It's the denial of Christian doctrine. It's the surrender of Christian moral teaching. The surrender of biblical authority. That's what's required of us. If we want validation from those cultural authorities, we're going to have to get with their program and abandon ours. What we see here is a very, very pressing human need. Our heart goes out to understanding this need, but this raises a second issue. What we must not do is validate the behavior, the morality, the lifestyle, the beliefs of those who are believing, acting, who are behaving in ways, contrary to scripture. We validate them as human beings made in the image of God.

But what is being demanded here in this contemporary sense of validation is that we must validate and celebrate their own self-declared sexual identity or sexual orientation, their sexual behavior, their romantic entanglements, and of course then, extend that coercively through the entire society.

Part

Are We Really Supposed to Find Out Preferred Personal Pronouns for Every Person We Meet? Seriously? There’s No End to the Linguistic Madness

But next, as we think about Pride Month, National Public Radio, NPR, issued just in time for the Pride observance, and just in case you were wondering, it issued a guide to gender identity terms. Laurel Wamsley is the author of this guide. And we are told that the proper use of gender identity terms, "including pronouns, is a crucial way to signal courtesy and acceptance."

As spokesperson for a transgender representation at GLAAD, another activist group, told National Public Radio that using, for instance, someone's correct pronouns in pronouncing their name is, "A way of respecting them and referring to them in a way that's consistent and true to who they are." Well, I don't accept that logic, but I think I can understand that logic, but that logic won't even hold through the entirety of this article. And that frankly, is why we need to look at it. Let's say that you are going to try to join this revolution. Okay. I dare you, just to try it. Let's say for example, that you're going to teach in a liberal university. You're going to say right up front, that you're going to ask every student for the preferred personal pronouns.

Let's say that by the way, you teach three sections or three classes in teaching a course. So, you might have 100 or 150 students. Every single one of them has given you what could be a unique personal pronoun. Furthermore, your university or college, your corporation say, adopts new rules saying that if you fail, even by accident to use the right pronoun, you've just assaulted a person. You have just brought about psychic harm. You have just, to use the language of identity politics and critical theory, you have just made them disappear. You have eliminated them. They do not exist by this definition. Your career may well be harmed. You might not be promoted. Your contract might not be extended.

How in the world are you to keep up with different pronouns assigned to every single human being, at least in theory? But it's not just that, as this article makes clear, individuals may at the very same moment, have different pronoun rules, and you've got to pay attention to those. Furthermore, any individual over time, may constantly change the preferred pronouns. You've got to keep up. How would you possibly keep up? As I say, this isn't just contrary to nature and contrary to language, the whole point of pronouns by the way is to have collectives that make sense. So, that you're not constantly, for example, referring to someone only by name. The glossary offered by National Public Radio includes defining sex as merely a person's biological status, "Typically assigned at birth, usually on the basis of external anatomy." Well, so good so far, I guess, as if you have to say that.

But then gender, we're told is a social construct of norms, behaviors, and roles. Gender identity is, "One's own internal sense of self and their gender." Now, notice this is self and their gender, when it's one's own. Already, you have the implication here that when you're speaking of one's own, you're to use the pronoun their, rather than his or her. Already, the article is no longer making sense. We're told that gender expression is contrasted with gender identity, it's how a person "presents gender outwardly through behavior, clothing, voice, or other perceived characteristics."

We're told that cisgender, or simply cis, that's C-I-S-gender, "Is an adjective that describes a person whose gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth." Now, notice that even the most extreme of say, the transgender activists, estimates that no more than say, four or 5% of the human population is struggling with this kind of issue or identified in this kind of way. But the other 95% are now described in the language of identity politics, which would have been completely unnecessary and is now completely offensive as compared with the span of human history.

We're given other terms that are defined here. I will not share with you the definitions. These include transgender, non-binary, agender. And by the way, we're not close to being done. Other terms defined here include gender expansive, gender transition, gender dysphoria, sexual orientation, but then the article returns to the issue of pronouns. There is an extended discussion of the role of pronouns in, "Acknowledging someone's gender identity." One of the spokesperson in the article said that using the correct pronoun, "It's really just about letting someone know that you accept their identity and it's as simple as that." Well, that's also important.

Speaking of validation, what's being demanded is to use the pronoun because using the preferred pronoun is a way of identifying or affirming, accepting someone's identity. We've been told right up front, what that's supposed to mean, but then later the question is asked, "Should people be asking everyone their pronouns or does it depend on the setting?" Fascinating question, rather necessary question. Does this mean that we're supposed to ask everyone we meet for a preferred pronoun? The answer given is this, "Knowing each other's pronouns helps you be sure you have accurate information about another person." Notice that this explicitly implies that we're supposed to be actively interested in and by asking pronouns, interrogating people about their sexual and gender identity. As if in human concourse, in human discussion, that's the way any kind of normal conversation, especially when you're meeting people in public, would ensue.

But that is the ideology of the moral revolutionaries. The identities determined by identity politics and the new sexual morality, the new ideologies, that is presented as the most important thing, the most important reality, or at least the most important claim of identity about an individual. If you meet me, you've got to meet my sexual and gender identity, and you've got to know my pronoun and you better ask for it. The article then looks at the corruption of our language, of course, it's being celebrated in this article. The corruption of our language, turning they and them into supposedly singular, non-binary pronouns. Within the article, it takes a fascinating turn, asking the question, "What does it mean if a person uses the pronouns he/they, or she/they?"

How in the world is this question going to be answered? Well, a spokesperson quoted in the article said, "That means that the person uses both pronouns and you can alternate between those when referring to them. So, either pronoun would be fine and ideally mix it up. Use both. It just means that they use both pronouns that they're listing." So, this means that when you meet someone or when you meet together in a group, you're not only morally responsible to find out everyone's preferred personal pronoun, but guess what? They may use two. And if they use two, you're supposed to use those two, too. Another spokesperson answering the same question said, it depends upon the individual, "For some people, they don't mind those pronouns being interchanged for them. And for some people they're using one specific pronoun in one context and another set of pronouns in another, dependent on maybe safety or comfortability."

Look, don't make any mistake, what we're looking at here is the dissolution of an entire society. It's not just turning a moral order upside down. It's basically destroying any sense of moral order. Because even when you look at the new moral commandments that are being communicated here, how in the world can this possibly work? And then, there's more before we leave this article, one expert quoted an answer to the question about pronouns says that the best approach, "Is to listen to how people refer to themselves." But here's what's interesting, generally, when a person refers to him or herself, the use of the pronoun is the first person, personal pronoun. We would speak of, I or me, in the possessive, mine. You'll notice that none of those words actually reflect any kind of gender or sexual identity at all.

Are we now supposed to join the revolution by referring to ourself in the second or even the third person? Well, I will simply say for myself, he won't be doing this.

Part

Did You Know That in California You Can Support Pride Month When You Buy Your Cannabis Products? If Not, the LA Times Is Here to Enlighten You

Finally, as we're thinking about Pride Week, Pride has to mean everything. We will note in the course of this month, how American corporations are joining the Pride bandwagon and coercing their employees and their stockholders basically to do the same. But the LA Times ran an article by Adam Tschorn entitled, "10 LGBTQ- Owned California Cannabis Brands for Pride Month." The moral insinuation here is that you'll be doing yourself a favor and celebrating Pride if you go to LGBTQ-owned, California cannabis brands that are Pride-identified.

Now, I'm just going to tell you, I can't even read the names of many of these products or even the names of some of the companies. Trust me on this. But as we think about how all these issues come together in the current mash of our cultural confusion, and yes, they are interconnected. I'll just illustrate this by pointing to one of the products that is mentioned here. We are told that this product is a "wildly popular sparkling beverage brand that specializes in," and I'm reading this, "low calorie, low dose, THC infused social tonics. 8-to-35 calories, two milligrams of THC and four milligrams of CBD per 7.5 ounce can." This product we are told is released in "mad, refreshing flavors that include lemon lavender, grapefruit rosemary, blood orange cardamom, ginger lemon grass, and pineapple jalapeno. The bonus, "They're vegan and gluten-free."

Finally, another product advertised as a joint effort among partners. We are told that, "This year-old brand offers low dose pre-rolled joints that combine sun-grown cannabis with one of four botanical blends, rose petals and peppermint; ginger root, lemon balm and damiana; lavender and passion flower; and chamomile, yerba santa and calendula. Then," we are told, and I'll conclude on this today, "on top of that, they source their flower from queer-farmer-owned Spirit Chicken Farm in Mendocino County." You heard it here first.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

For more information, go to my website at albertmohler.com. You can find me on Twitter by going to twitter.com/albertmohler. For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to sbts.edu. For information on Boyce College, just go to boycecollege.com.

I'll meet you again on Monday for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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