Friday, September 17, 2021
It's Friday, September 17th, 2021.
I'm Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
Will Conscience Be Crushed, Too? Mexico Has Moved to Legalize Abortions, but Doctors Don’t Want to Perform Them
Big changes, moral changes in the world reflected just a few days ago in the fact we talked about Mexico's Supreme Court decriminalizing abortion. It's going to have a nationwide effect, and of course, the pro-abortion movement all over the world is celebrating this as inevitable progress.
You're talking about Mexico, which has an overwhelmingly Catholic population now becoming one of the biggest nations to legalize abortion in this way. Technically, abortion is going to be decriminalized. There'll be no criminal penalty, no criminal charge for someone involved in abortion. But even as that story ran, we understood that Mexico's Supreme Court may rule this way. But the big question is what actually happens on the ground in Mexico.
Now here's something really, really interesting. And you see this, by the way, on the abortion issue, the pro-life issue in many different contexts. It comes down to this, you have the elites and that's going to be a consistent concern during the Briefing today. You have elites who say abortion is not morally wrong in any way. We need to remove any stigma from abortion. We need to just normalize abortion. You even have courts that come along or politicians that are complicit with the moral elites in trying to say, "Look, abortion's no big deal. Just go on. There's nothing to see here."
The people tend to have a very different understanding of abortion. In the United States, it comes down to the fact that the elites are basically demanding abortion on demand without restriction period. Whereas survey after survey, insofar as this tells us much, tells us that Americans actually are not in favor of abortion on demand under all circumstances.
But we were talking about Mexico. It was Mexico's Supreme Court that made this latest deadline. And just a few days later, the New York Times ran a major news article by a pair of reporters. Here's the headline, "Despite Legality Abortion Ruling Divides Mexicans." The subhead of the article comes down to this, "Procedure is now legal, but many doctors won't provide it."
Now, as we have watched the pro-abortion argument in the United States, and especially as we see it right now, even a part of the major Democratic argument, that's the democratic platform. As you look at the progression of the pro-abortion argument, it has gone from what is demanded as a so-called woman's right to abortion, to a woman's right to a taxpayer-funded abortion. And to the fact that there must be absolute equity in the fact that any woman anywhere is able to demand an abortion and get one, regardless of ability to pay, regardless of other circumstances.
The idea here of the pro-abortion movement is that abortion must be treated not only as a right, but as a social good, that is to be paid for at taxpayer expense. Appallingly enough, that is actually the bottom line of the policy of their platform and proposal. But as you're looking here in the story in Mexico, you'll notice that one of the big questions is whether or not doctors will actually perform abortions, even if they are decriminalized.
The moral implication of this article appearing as it does on the front page of the print edition of the New York Times is that it is these doctors who are on the wrong side of history, these doctors who will be reluctant to perform abortions or resistant to being committed to perform abortions. It is these doctors who are now standing in the way.
But as we read the article, we are told, "Mexico's Supreme court has ruled that abortion is not a crime, setting a national precedent that puts the country on the path of becoming the most populous nation in Latin America to allow the procedure."
The article then goes on to acknowledge that the judges on Mexico's Supreme Court are out of sync with the nation's conservative majority, "Where polls indicate that most people don't believe abortion should be legal." Now, that's huge. That's absolutely massive. Where was that acknowledgement when the paper ran with the headlines about how this Supreme Court had finally ruled to decriminalize abortion in Mexico. It would have appeared that that would then make abortion widely available in the nation, but it turns out maybe not.
And it turns out maybe not because the doctors don't want to perform abortions. Why? Because they're committed to the preservation of human life, not to the destruction of human life. Now, that points to something else. We're going to be looking at a deeper level, this issue of the Mexican doctors and they're resistant to abortion. But what about in the United States?
Here's a fact the pro-abortion movement doesn't want to talk about. It is unusual to find a medical doctor in the United States who is ready to say that he or she is primarily in medical practice about abortion. Resistance to performing abortion in the United States among medical doctors and other medical professionals is huge. It is massive.
So much so that one of the biggest moral issues, even constitutional and legal issues, this country, that is, the United States of America will have to face is whether or not government can coerce medical professionals and others to violate deepest conscious on issues such as abortion. We're not there yet, but we're headed there. And evidently, now so is Mexico.
So, I just want to repeat that this follow-up article on the abortion decision in Mexico acknowledges right out loud that the justices are out of sync with the vast majority of the population in Mexico that doesn't believe that abortion should be legal. Now, here's a little more background in Mexico. In 2018, legislators there "enshrined a doctor's right to refuse to perform any procedure that goes against his or her personal beliefs."
That again is at the New York Times' article that goes on to say that that is "a contentious issue that the Supreme Court is expected to take on this week that could ultimately determine how widely available abortion is in practice."
So there's an alarm. Now we're told that the very same judges who are wildly out of sync with the majority there in Mexico is now going to decide whether to coerce medical professionals, including doctors, to perform abortions. But the article also goes on. And in the article you have Roberto Castro, a health researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico who's cited as saying, "A lot of health and medical workers are trained on the issue of abortion with a very traditional perspective, even influenced by religious values."
He went on to say, "When you ask if they would perform an abortion, we have many doctors saying they are conscientious objectors because they will not kill a human being." Well, thank God for those doctors. So, let's just recognize what this tells us about the abortion issue right now. It tells us that once again, in Mexico, we have judges that are taking the issue on for themselves ruling on the issue, even over against the majority conviction of the people in their own country.
That's pretty much exactly what happened in 1973 in the Roe v. Wade decision in the United States. But you'll notice that the pro-abortion forces in Mexico and parallel developments are taking place right now here in the United States, they are not going to let the situation stand.
The New York Times' report tells us, "Despite the Supreme Court ruling last week that having an abortion is not a crime, the procedure remains extremely difficult to obtain. Before abortion becomes legal across Mexico, the many state laws that outlaw it must first be challenged in court unless local legislatures vote to change them on their own. Even in the few parts of the country that have already made abortion legal, the backlash has been significant with medical professionals at times refusing to perform the procedure. Doctors and medical researchers say they expect a similar reaction to the Supreme Court ruling, making its next big decision on the right of doctors and nurses to refuse to perform the procedure all the more important."
Well, here's what we need to note. If the pro-abortion movement understands accurately, just how important that issue is, the pro-life movement had better understand with even greater urgency what's at stake right now.
Saying it’s So Doesn’t Make it So, Even if You are Mexico’s Chief Justice: People Don’t Get Pregnant — Women Do
But by the way, before leaving this issue, we need to understand how the language is changing just about everywhere in ways that reflect not only the atrocity of abortion, but the insanity of the transgender movement. The entire dimension of gender confusion that is now being driven so deeply into our own society. Let's go back days ago to when the Supreme Court of Mexico handed down that decision decriminalizing abortion. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Judge Zaldívar, according, again, to the New York Times, "Made clear that he saw the ruling as the first step toward a more fundamental transformation in Mexican society."
The chief justice said this. Now listen to these words. The chief justice said, "Now begins a new path of freedom, of clarity, of dignity and respect for all pregnant people, but above all, for women. Today is one more step in the historic fight for their equality, for their dignity and for the full exercise of their rights."
Did you listen carefully? Did you hear the phrase pregnant people? Did you hear the insanity of the chief justice of Mexico saying that the court's decision decriminalizing abortion opens the new path of dignity and respect for all pregnant people, but above all for women? That implies very clearly, even by the phrase pregnant people, that the people who can be pregnant are merely people. All you have to do to become pregnant is be a person.
But it turns out it remains incredibly inflexible that the only people who can actually become pregnant are those with XX chromosomal patterns. That is to say, they were made in God's image, female. They were born identified as female. And regardless of how they may now identify, one way or the other as merely a pregnant person, they remain women.
That phrase from chief justice, all pregnant people, but above all, for women has to go down as one of those statements that we should long remember in the annals of insanity.
Is There a Problem Here? AOC Wears ‘Tax The Rich’ Designer Gown to Met Gala (Which Costs $35K a Ticket)
But next, we need to turn to the theme of moral inconsistency, otherwise known by the name hypocrisy. Now, here's something we need to recognize. Republicans and Democrats can and do commit hypocrisy. Liberals and conservatives can and do commit hypocrisy. Hypocrisy means living differently than your stated principles and convictions. But bluntly, every single human being at some point is guilty of hypocrisy.
But at the same time, sometimes hypocrisy becomes a matter of art. Here's a distinction. When conservatives commit something that amounts to hypocrisy, they generally stay quiet about it out of shame or potential embarrassment. But when the political elite commits a kind of moral hypocrisy, they often post it right on Instagram. It's a very interesting form of virtue signaling. We're at least signaling something.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, one of the most famous or infamous democratic members of Congress, now famous as a so-called member of, if not leader of, the squad of very progressive women in the house of representatives, she went just days ago to the Gala, the annual event that is a huge fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And she wore a designer dress, a white designer dress. Embroidered upon that white designer dress was a heavily designed motto of politics. She said, "Tax the rich," and it was strategically placed on the gown in such a way that any photograph of representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would include the red text, "Tax the rich."
Now, why is this an issue? Well, for one thing, tickets to the Met Gala, one of the most coveted elite events in New York City's very elite life cost at minimum $35,000. We are talking about a very expensive event. When you have people on the political left talking about economic inequality and offering the message tax the rich, you would think that they would not accept admission to an event that cost $35,000 a person wearing a designer dress.
How many people who are the constituents of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who declares herself something of a socialist, how many of them can afford to wear such a designer dress? Regardless of what texts might be embroidered on it.
And you can count on the fact that very, very, very few of them will ever see the inside of the annual Met Gala. It's also interesting to see how many people go to these events precisely to be seen, to send some kind of message, to be able to post a picture. And at these events, they're actually official places where you could have a picture taken so that you can post it on social media so that everyone can know you're the kind of person who goes to the Metropolitan Museum of Arts Annual Gala with some of the richest people on the planet wearing a designer dress that says, "Tax the rich." The ironies are just massive.
Anika Reed, writing for USA Today, spoke about the Gala asking the question, "But all the bright lights and glitz raise questions, is the Met Gala what it once was? Do people still care and should they? The answers are complicated."
You see the kind of moral posturing behind this kind of event. One of the designers had asked in show notes, "What is American, and who gets to be it all, or none of it?" The article then says, "For many attendees, the resounding confusion was clear and disappointing, though it was an accurate depiction of, where we are as a country, failing to speak in the same language of equity."
Yes, failing to speak in what's described as the same language of equity as you go to a fundraiser, the ticket of which is $35,000 a pop. By the way, the press reports also tell us that the member of Congress had a purse by the same designer to match the gown, you wanted to know.
But next, it also turns out that ethics complaints and all been lodged against the concern that the member of Congress appeared at this event accepting the tickets as a gift, which could well violate house rules, not to mention the gown, not to mention the fact that evidently the representative's boyfriend also attended. It turns out the house rules allow a husband or an immediate member of the family to attend some of these charity events.
Yes, $35,000 a person, a charity event, but that is not extended to boyfriends, or girlfriends, or in the language you might say of Mexico's chief justice, person friends. But there we see the kind of moral posturing that has become just indicative of Hollywood and so many in the elites. It's one thing to condemn the elites and then to demand tax the rich and then to go to one of the richest events in the entire nation's cultural calendar in order to make that point on your designer gown. Again, that's rich. There goes my invitation to the next Met Gala.
The Mailbox — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners About Issues Addressed on The Briefing
Next we turn to the Mailbox. Several, really good questions from listeners. One of them came from James. He is a 23-year-old Evangelical. He says he's from out west, now living in the south. And he goes on to say that he has heard the claim that, "The Evangelical community was by and large supportive of abortion rights for years after Roe v. Wade was decided it was only when powerful figures on the rights saw abortion as a way to build support for their real agenda, private segregated schools that Jerry Falwell embraced the cause."
Well, that's a thesis that's been out there for some time. And by the way, here's an inflexible rule of the Christian worldview. Politicians, regardless of political party, regardless of whether or not they're liberal or conservative, will be tempted to do political things. That's an inflexible rule in a fallen world. So don't ever be surprised when politicians do political things.
And don't also be surprised when people want to take advantage of any group for their political gain. And yes, Evangelical Christians and our churches can become the targets for that kind of manipulation. But when it comes to the issue of abortion, it's frankly not intellectually honest to argue that Evangelicals did not have pro-life concerns until they were supposedly co-opted by a political effort.
Let me tell you my own experience. I grew up in an Evangelical home with an Evangelical mother and an Evangelical father. And my Evangelical mother was heavily involved in the pro-life movement long before many other Evangelicals had really seriously considered the issue.
Roe v. Wade exploded in 1973. People did not see it coming. And that includes, by the way, both sides of that moral conflict. But one of the other things to note is that many Protestant denominations, many Evangelical churches and denominations were not ready to face this issue. And they were basically caught in a very bad position.
That includes the Southern Baptist Convention. I'm the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I'm glad to tell you that for decades now, the Southern Baptist Convention has been a bastion of support for the unborn. It was not always so.
There are two factors here. Number one, many of the people who were in leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention then were far more liberal than those who are the leaders now. I consider that a good thing. Those who were the displaced liberals consider that a bad thing, but the abortion issue was very important in that controversy.
The second thing is that, just frankly, honestly, many evangelicals had not seriously thought through the abortion issue. And it took the shock of Roe V. Wade before many of them seriously considered the issue. The Southern Baptist Convention, prior to Roe V. Wade, actually had adopted resolutions that are now a humiliation.
Gladly, that was corrected. By the way, it was corrected as a part of recapturing the theological convictions and the biblical convictions of the Southern Baptist Convention. Turned out that those things went hand in hand, go figure. So James, thank you for your question. And you just point to the fact that it's really our responsibility to be honest about these things. Honest about evangelical achievements, honest about evangelical failures.
On the abortion issue, and here's something for which I'm very, very thankful. The recovery of evangelical conviction on abortion went hand in hand with the recovery of evangelical understanding of the importance of thinking in a way that was consistently Christian. That is to say, thinking by means of a Christian worldview, which is what we seek to do right here. And that also means we go back to our own history with the same determination to find the truth.
Another massively important question comes in from someone I'm just not going to mention his name. And I appreciate so much this email. He identifies as a major officer in the United States military. And he asked the question, "Concerning the fact that so many of the moral controversies of our age are playing out with a progressivist agenda in the military with so many turning the military now into a laboratory for moral progressivism and moral experimentation."
This officer goes on to say that because the military is an institution based on compliance, that's why so many people want to use the military to try to force coercion on these liberal, moral issues. And then the officer basically raises the question, given the reality of the American military, if a Christian, a faithful follower to the Lord, Jesus Christ can consistently, ethically and in good conscience continue in that service.
Now, that's a very good question. Now, by the way, Christians have had to consider these questions for two millennia now in one way or another. One of the first issues the Christian Church had to face was whether or not Christians could serve in Caesar's army, and remember who Caesar was.
But the wisdom of the early church then is also important as we try to think through these issues now. And so, I want to say to this listener and to all who are listening, there's a crucial distinction that Christians need to keep in mind. That distinction is between positive acts and passive acts.
Now, in one sense, whether speaking of a positive act or a passive act, we're responsible for both, but there's a different level of responsibility. Sometimes we are a part of a bigger organization that takes on, say, a policy or a policy with which we are not in agreement, but we didn't have any hand in putting that policy into place. We've used whatever influence. We have to try to prevent that policy and to advocate for a better policy. And we're in a situation in which we are passive when it comes to that policy inside the organization.
The contrast to that is a positive act in which the individuals actually by either will or coercion positively engaged in the making of that policy or in the execution of that policy in such a way that it is an absolute violation tantamount to having to deny Christ. That's the crucial issue.
Now, when you think of those soldiers who may have been in Caesar's army, the early church's wisdom was basically they can serve faithfully in Caesar's army, but they may not acknowledge Caesar as Lord. That's the distinction. They can even serve in Caesar's army with Caesar claiming to be Lord, but they can never bend the knee and confess him to be Lord.
Now, admittedly, that does not instantly grant absolute clarification in all of these questions, which is why one of the most important things I can say to this officer or to any other in such a situation is that this is one of the reasons why we desperately need the local church and we need the wisdom and the council of those Christians with whom we are in covenant fellowship. We need the leadership, the elders of such a church, applying the word of God to counsel us. This should not be a lone ranger decision.
This question from a military officer is the same question in a different context faced by so many people working for major American corporations or teaching in major American in institutions. This is going to be a conflict of conscience, a pressure cooker of conscience for so many Christians in this society in an increasingly secular age, increasingly hostile to biblical Christianity.
But I really appreciate this question and the timing today. It was just providential in the sense, because we talked about what we are now facing in Mexico with the likelihood that medical doctors there may be forced by law to perform abortions. Here's what I want to argue. It is not necessary for Mexican doctors to cease practicing medicine in a country that legalizes abortion, but I believe it would be absolute sin and unfaithfulness to Christ for one of those doctors there or anywhere to actively participate in the murder of an unborn life.
Those are two different things. One is passive, one is positive. It is the positive action for which we must take the far higher moral responsibility. But make no mistake. What is passive now will be demanded to be positive later. We better all be thinking through these issues and be ready to answer faithfully.
That distinction between the positive action and the passive action doesn't work in every circumstance. It wouldn't have worked, for example, in the case of someone serving as a prison guard in Nazi Germany in a concentration camp. It doesn't work in a context where the entire enterprise is itself evil. In that context, passive and positive, make very little distinction, if any at all.
Finally, I was really pleased to receive an email into the box in recent days, coming from a teacher in a Christian school, Wakulla Christian School in Florida.
Students there listen to The Briefing and he asked the question and he says, "Since they are listening, I was hoping that you could give them a piece of advice you give to high school seniors as they begin to transition into either college or the workforce." And I'm very glad to give that piece of advice. It's a great honor to do so.
And to speak to the students there, Wakulla Christian School, and in all other schools. I will simply say this. The most important thing you can do is to make certain that wherever you are, by the way, at any stage in life, and whether you go to a college or university here or there, the most important thing you can do is be a responsible, faithful, vital part of a local Bible-believing, gospel preaching congregation. That's the most important thing.
Remaining integrally tied to the church of the Lord, Jesus Christ, to the body of Christ. Finding your primary identity there is first and foremost. The second clause in that, and it is just at all times to remember that our primary identity is that we belong to Christ. And thus, thirdly, as one who above all things belongs to Christ, our responsibility is to please Christ in all things. And that includes foundationally how we think and how we believe.
And that's the advice I would give to the students there in that school or to any other. But frankly, it's the advice I would give to myself and to any listener to The Briefing. It's advice I would give to Christians, but Christians who are in school right now are on the foot lines of the battle of ideas. And so, these issues are crucially important. God bless you all.
Thanks for listening to The Briefing.
For more information, go to my website at albertmuller.com. You can follow 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.