The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

It’s Wednesday, August 18, 2021.

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

Part I

‘Becoming Parents’ — The Moral Revolution’s Contradictions Are in Full View in Just Two Simple Words

The headline came yesterday, “Pete and Chasten Buttigieg Say They Have Become Parents.” That was in the Washington Post. The story is getting a lot of attention. Ian Duncan was the reporter for the Washington Post. The article begins, “Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Tuesday that he and his husband, Chasten, have become parents, following a year-long quest to adopt a child.” In a tweet, the secretary of transportation had said, “For some time, Chasten and I have wanted to grow our family. We’re overjoyed to share that we’ve become parents. The process isn’t done yet, and we’re thankful for the love, support, and respect for our privacy that has been offered to us. We can’t wait to share more soon.”

Now, as we kind of telescope back for a moment, we need to recognize once again that this is one of those news stories that would make no sense, just a matter of say, a decade ago, 20 years ago, wouldn’t have been imaginable. We’re talking about the secretary of transportation of the United States of America, a man married to another man, and now you have the headlines that they have become parents. Well, as we have discussed on The Briefing before, when you use phrases such as have a baby, or become parents and you put it into this context, the first thing we need to recognize is that we have left to the ontological world where having a baby means a man and a woman, a mother and a father, where becoming parents is largely restricted to that in terms of even a biological reality to which would be added adoption. What you’re looking at here is that the entire moral landscape has shifted. Now, Christians need to think carefully about this. For one thing, there are several issues here which are reflective of common grace. We need to recognize that.

Common grace means that adults, almost any adult, smiles when that adult sees a child. When a man or a woman sees a baby, sees a child, there should be an almost inevitable, automatic smile. We love children. We are to see them as signs a promise for the future. According to biblical theology, the very presence of a child is a sign of God’s love, and that child also requires and deserves our love, in particular, the love of parents. Common grace also means that it is a good thing, that there would be an urge on the part of many people to become parents. That’s a good thing in and of itself. In the Christian worldview, the goodness of that urge is rooted in creation, but it is also true that the Bible makes clear that there are structures, and realities, and moral issues that have to do with how that rightful impulse, which is good in itself, has channeled in such a way that brings God glory. And also, that means obeying His law, obeying His plan, but also strengthens the entire human community and human society.

That means that when we look at this headline, we recognize there really is something very right about two men wanting eventually to be fathers, but there’s something essentially wrong about the picture in which this parenthood, as it’s being redefined, is being celebrated. Now, there are some Christians looking at this who would simply say, “There is nothing good in this picture at all.” And we need to recognize, we do believe that this ought not to happen. It should not happen, that this is a revolt against God’s law and that it will weaken the entire society. But Christians are happy when any one child is cared for and loved when that child would otherwise had been vulnerable. It is a good thing for any child to be taken care of, nurtured, loved, protected, fed, clothed.

So, when Christians talk about this situation and reflect upon this headline, we have to say we are glad that this child will be loved, we are glad that this child will be cared for. But it’s also true that Christians can’t deal with this as an abstraction, we have to recognize we are answerable for a larger moral reality. We also recognize that humanity can’t go forward this way. There are severe biological limitations on just how far you can try to redefine parenthood. For one thing, even right now, you still need a man and a woman, and you still need a sperm and an egg. You still need a mother who is willing to carry that child to term. There are certain things you still need that biology insists are needed, and frankly, there is no way around them.

Christians understand that’s also a part of God’s plan. That’s how he intended the human race to go forward. That’s why He created us male and female and gave us the gift of the institution of marriage and then gave us the command to be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth. So, let’s be clear. We’re very happy that this child will be cared for and we want this child to be loved, but at the same time, we can’t share the joy that is an abstraction on the part of the larger society that says, “Look, evidently, you don’t need a father and a mother.” No, that child still required a father and a mother. And who would go on to say, “Well, two fathers or two mothers can do just as good a job as a mother and a father.” In biblical theology, we don’t believe that. On biblical grounds, we can’t accept that. We believe that it was God’s plan from the beginning that there’d be complementarity, the child needing both a mother and a father, and a man and a woman coming together in the covenant of marriage is itself the very foundation of civilization.

Anything that is artificial and claims the status of marriage essentially weakens marriage, confuses the society, and will not lead to more widespread human happiness, but will lead to the weakening of the society that makes such happiness possible. Now, those who are pushing the moral revolution love this kind of story, but at the same time, it also tells us that there’s something angular going on here that you kind of have to catch on the margins. What do I mean by that? Well, there are those within the LGBTQ community who are going to insist upon the fact that these two men actually are married, they’re going to insist upon that. And the law now says it, even though we believe God’s law says that they are not, but we do understand the human law right now in the United States of America, statutory law says that a man and a man can be married or a woman and a woman can be married.

But there are those in the LGBTQ community who don’t like that because same-sex marriage is in their accusation, a pathetic attempt to try to mirror a hopelessly patriarchal and outdated heterosexual institution that is oppressive to the full display of LGBTQ identity. There are even those within the LGBTQ movement who say that attention to this kind of story actually just erases, that’s one of the words we’re going to see today on The Briefing, erases those who don’t buy into this kind of cult of domesticity and make the mistake. That’s exactly what’s going on here when you have Pete and Chasten and Buttigieg saying that they’ve become parents and inviting the entire society to celebrate with them, that is indeed an attempted picture at that domestic tranquility and a domestic picture of happiness.

But there are those within the LGBTQ movement who will say, “That simply erases us because our intention is to violate and to eradicate the institution of marriage, to have basically nothing to do with parenthood, and to follow an ethic of transgression against established social norms.” By the way, as you’re thinking about that, the Washington Post also ran an article just in recent days by Sean Sullivan, Tyler Pager, and Seung-Min Kim, and the headline of this one was, “Outsider” Buttigieg Plays a Skillful Inside Game, Positioning Himself For The Future. This team of Washington Post reporters is pointing out before the announcement about the parenthood issue that Pete Buttigieg is becoming the consummate inside player in the Biden administration. Now, anyone who’s been watching him during the time he served as the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, or when he was running for president for the democratic nomination, saw that he desperately wants to play the inside game.

And yet he was running on an outsider reputation. After all, he wasn’t from Washington, he hadn’t been in Congress, he wasn’t a Washington politician, he was, after all, a mayor from South Bend, Indiana. But if you were secretary of transportation of the United States of America, you are a part of the Washington inside game. The point being made here is that Buttigieg is clearly a skillful player in that world, positioning himself at his thought, perhaps for an opening to run for the democratic presidential nomination for the election of 2024. Now, as you would expect, if he does run for that slot and President Joe Biden is not running for re-election, then he is going to have a good deal of competition for that democratic nomination. That means that there are people who, in an article like this, want to be a source saying, “He really is a man of great political skills and he ought to run for president,” and others saying, “He is nothing more than an empty shirt serving as secretary of transportation.” That’s the way politics is played.

Without apparent irony, the team of reporters for the Washington Post included in their report this sentence, “Six months into his tenure as President Biden’s transportation secretary, Buttigieg has not only entered the arena, he is standing at center court and schmoozing with players on both teams.” But a subtext of that article has to do with the overarching question as to just how conventional the first openly gay Senate confirmed member of a President’s Cabinet can be, or how unconventional. It’s a very interesting question that has relevance, not only in Washington, but elsewhere.

Part II

One 'Pride Flag' Isn’t Enough? The LGBTQ Community Has an Inclusivity Crisis Over a Flag — And It’s Worth Your Attention

But then we turn to another report, this one from a pair of reporters at CNN. The headline on this one is this, “LGBTQ Groups Across The U.S. Consider a New Flag Meant to be More Inclusive of The Transgender Community and People of Color.” Yes, a new flag because the gay pride flag is outdated and it is exclusive.

It is erasing some who claim identity within the ever expanding LGBTQ+ movement. Now, back during Pride Month in June, USA TODAY, for example, gave a massive four-color spread to varieties of the gay pride flag for different kind of claimed transgressive sexual identities. That was interesting in itself. We’ve reached the point that identity politics colliding with the revolution and sexual morality, and now a revolution in gender, we now have to have multiple flags. The gay community is demanding multiple flags. That is the LGBTQ community, gay being a hopelessly outdated term, unless you’re Pete Buttigieg. The CNN article begins with the fact that 55 years ago this month, “a group of transgender women in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco fought back against the police as they arrested patrons at Compton’s Cafeteria,” identified as “a go-to hangout for temporarily avoiding the harshest harassment, discrimination, and physical violence they faced on the streets. While the ultimate reason for their arrests is unknown, police frequently arrested those who dressed in clothing opposite to their sex, which was a crime at the time.”

So, that’s 55 years ago, and what we’re being told is that even as there was a gay rights movement back then or a homosexual rights movement, it did not include those who were here identified as transgender. Now, another little footnote, the term transgender did not exist back then. So, this is at least in part reading backwards in history, a sexual identity that didn’t exist at the time. Now, by the way, we talked on The Briefing about the fact that even being dead 1,000 years does not protect you from that kind of historical revisionism. We talked about the grave in Finland, about a thousand years old, in which you had people proposing there was a transgressive sexual identity based upon the items in the casket and the genetic study that had been done of the body in the casket.

You’re looking at that, even being dead a thousand years doesn’t protect you from this kind of revisionism. But in this case, the article is all about the fact that the gay pride flag just isn’t enough for the expanding sexual identities that are now represented in the LGBTQ+ movement, and of course, there will be more to follow and that’s explicit in this article. But the interesting logic here is something we need to follow. Here, you have those identified as “transgender women”. Now, again, that’s a category that actually means they are men presenting, claiming a female identity. But the point is that they are arguing that when that gay pride flag, that pride flag was adopted, they were not considered a part of the picture. Therefore, it was erasing them and continuing to use that flag erases their identity. Now, the reason I want us to look at that language is because this is what is coming up again, and again, and again.

This is where critical theory and the sexual revolution collide in a very toxic mix. First of all, erased, you are erased. Now, the argument being made here by the critical theorists is that if you are not explicitly treated within some kind of historical reference, you have been intentionally erased. The argument here is that the dominant forces in society, intentionally by both omission and commission, erase people from history that they do not want to acknowledge existed. Now, that term erasure goes along with the other word that you’re seeing over and over again, and that is the denial of existence. That’s the term, it is existence. The argument is that if you do not accept someone’s claimed transgender identity, then you are denying that person’s existence. This comes up again and again, and again.

By the way, it’s not just limited to the LGBTQ revolution, it is now expanding to all kinds of dimensions of identity politics. If you do not accept my claim concerning my identity, then you are denying my existence. That is the logic. So, erasure is one term when speaking of history, or politics, or economics, and then denying the existence. The argument here is that when you take the LGBTQ movement, the L, and the G, and presumably also the B are indicted for erasing or denying the existence of the T, or all the permutations that have come and will come in what’s called the gender non-binary scale or the gender non-binary spectrum. What you’re really looking at here is an argument that’s even within the LGBTQ community. By the way, if you really understand L and G, they don’t go with T, but nonetheless, they’re all basically transgressive, they are all a denial of the conventional sexual morality and of the biological binary, at least, in its implied purpose, and eventually, in its existence.

The CNN report tells us, “In late June, the Castro lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and Queer Cultural District,” known in short as CQCD, that’s in San Francisco, “voted to recommend to the Castro Merchants, the business association that has jurisdiction over the flagpoles in the area, that it replaced the original pride flag in Harvey Milk Plaza with a new version of the flag that’s more inclusive of Black, brown, and transgender members of the LGBTQ community.” The article continues, “The CQCD Advisory Board voted seven to two to recommend the change of the commonly recognized rainbow flag, also known as the Gilbert Baker design with the Progress Pride Flag. The new version includes black, brown, light, blue, white, and pink stripes, in addition to the original colors of the pride flag to recognize and include Black, brown, and transgender members of the LGBTQ community.”

Well, let’s just try to imagine we’re going with this logic for a moment. Well, the reality is that if you must be inclusive by putting on the colors of black, brown, and also what is it, light blue, white, and pink stripes, then you’re leaving other colors out, or other blends of colors, or other patterns of colors. Because by your own ideology of sexual identity, that’s identity politics and the sexual revolution, the gender revolution, then the combinations are never ceasing, they are unending. Furthermore, given the fact they were now told we’re supposed to be asking people their preferred personal pronouns, you have people who can invent their own personal, private sexual identity where all of the society is supposed to recognize, and celebrate, and put on a flag, and they can change it day by day. It is interesting to know that that first pride flag, and yes, it was called a gay pride flag then, originated in 1978 created by an activist by the name of Gilbert Baker.

According to the foundation that bears Baker’s name, the colors had different meanings. And CNN tells us, for example, red represents life while orange represents healing, you may not have known that before, but now it is explained. But evidently, there are a whole lot of other colors that are now needed. Such as the Castro who did it in San Francisco, that’s undergoing this consideration by the way, we’re told in 2017, Philadelphia, that is the city unveiled a new version of its pride flag, “which features the black and brown stripes in addition to the traditional rainbow.” You have to love a quote from the LGBTQ Community Center in New York. We’re told a spokesman for that center that says it uses different flags, explained that by saying that the intention was, “to express solidarity, expand inclusivity, and communicate acceptance,” as CNN says depending upon the occasion. I quote again, “The organization is also considering if it should make modifications to its current flag or add more outside, but said that displaying a flag is ‘just one of the ways we can visibly acknowledge and celebrate the colorful plurality of our community.'”

Now, let me just point out something that should be obvious. The history of flags is that flags are supposed to be symbols representing something definite that is understood, otherwise, there is no point of having a flag. Those flags can communicate a message, they can indicate a history or a heritage most importantly and throughout history. Most famously, they have represented nations. When you think about the United Nations, you look at United Nations Plaza, what you see is an array of flags, the flags of the member nations of the United Nations. It’s the flag that thus is important. But if you don’t know what a flag means because there are so many various flags, then everything is simply lost in a pattern of color waving in the wind. But from the Christian worldview, that points to something, and that is that once you start a revolution against creation, a revolution against God’s law, a revolution against the family and the basic building blocks of society, a revolution against gender, then guess what?

You’re never going to have enough flags, you’re never going to have enough colors, you’re never going to have enough patterns. You’re going to be erasing somebody or denying somebody’s existence because if you define yourself in that way, well, you’re going to need a flag for yourself, maybe a flag for just about every day.

Part III

The Self-Defeating Nature of Intersexuality: There Is No End to the Revolution

But finally, that just shows how toxic the idea of intersectionality is. If you’re looking at this kind of identity politics, well, you have to break everything down into various aspects of identity, and a part of the problem is that it’s not just the movement, the LGBTQ+ movement that is itself the intersection of so many sexual transgressions, it is also the fact that when you look at the individuals, the argument is, it’s one thing to be a white gay male, it is a deeper form of oppression to be a white lesbian female, it’s even more oppression if you are a bisexual.

You don’t get the allies from either the white male or the white female of the LGBTQ. And then, if you are not white, if you are a part of what’s identified as a sexual minority, then you just had another point of oppression at which the intersections add up to an absolute political movement that can take us nowhere. The gay pride flag in this case, or the LGBTQ pride flag, or you just have to say now, according to the press, the pride flag, is itself an indication of the fact that intersectionality is an ideology that falls in on itself. But as Christians, we can’t just leave it at that. One of the major problems in all of this is that identity politics, this modern theoretical construct of identity that’s identity ideology, and all the critical theory and intersectionality that goes with it, is actually a denial of human dignity and of the fact that our primary identity doesn’t come from anything like most of what’s claimed in identity politics.

It comes from the fact that we are creatures of a holy God who made us in His image and made us male or female, and made us, indeed, as a part of a human family in which our primary identity is with every single human being as brother and sister because of our common parenthood in Adam and Eve and because of our common creation by the holy God. Christians understand that our identity is not only in creation but eternally is in Christ. And that identity is a new creature in Christ is actually what is far more important than any other point of identity. Creation in Christ together are the identity of the Christian, the covenant identity of the Christian is what is most important. And we understand that if you surrender that high ground, you are surrendering into absolute chaos. If you want evidence of that chaos, you don’t just have to think about my words, just look at the newly invented pride flags.

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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