Friday, October 15, 2021
It's Friday, October 15th, 2021.
I'm Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
Dutch Royal Family Updated for the Moral Revolutionaries As Prime Minister Declares Royal Successor Can Marry Person Of Any Gender
Word finally came from the Netherlands this week about the biggest question you probably had on your mind, could a future king or queen of the Netherlands be married to a person of the same gender? Yes. That's the big story coming out of the Netherlands. And as James Marson reports for the Wall Street Journal, "The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001. Now the government says any king or queen of the country wouldn't have to forfeit the right to the throne if he or she married someone of the same sex."
Now already, because you are forward thinking people and you have alert ears to issues of moral and political significance you notice that even the statement coming from the Dutch government has the problem of using the words he and she. As if male and female are still meaningful words. It just tells you that even a country that is as intentionally liberal on these issues as the Netherlands is going to find it difficult to keep up. After all of you're using the word king and queen, you are implying that gender is more than just something that is infinitely malleable or non-binary.
There perhaps are few words that actually make the binary more clear than king and queen. Speaking of the way that moral revolutions work, Christians will want to look to one particular sentence in this article because it tells us a great deal. It tells us this, "The question is a challenging one for royal families which are sought to move with the times." Now, here you have the modernist impulse and this is something that is now so taken for granted in our society, in our modern worldview, that you might not even notice it. So what am I talking about? I'm talking about that if you look at the actual evidence from most centuries of human history, there was no particular understanding that the times were changing or that anyone needed to change with the times. There were those who thought of it, of course, in the grand scale, you had the Greek philosopher Heraclitus who made the point that you can never step in the same river twice because the water is moving.
But the reality is that throughout most of the centuries, indeed, most of the millennia of human existence, sons have lived pretty much like their fathers, daughters have lived pretty much like their mothers. And over the period of time from the fall of the Roman Empire to the dawn of the modern age, say at least about a thousand years there sometimes referred to as the Middle Ages, one of the things that made that particular epic in history interesting is the fact that almost nothing changed. That is to say there was no expectation of any kind of vast cultural change. Armies may march here, armies may march there, princes will be born and kings will rule, kings and queens will both rule and die. There is a course of life from infancy until death but the reality is that the society stayed basically the same. The understanding of most of those centuries is that truth is unchanged and unchanging.
The world view that marked the dominant sense of those centuries and most of the people who lived in them was that our grandchildren are going to face a world, not only our grandchildren, but our great and great, great grandchildren that they would face a world pretty much identical to our own. The same institutions, the church, the government, the monarchy, the same kind of situations, the same kinds of enterprises, whether it be a farm or a blacksmith shop, things remained pretty much the same. But the modern age changed all of that. One of the hallmarks, one of the leading impulses of the modern age is the expectation of change. The fact is that the expectation of the early modern age, say in the 18th and 19th centuries was that our grandchildren will not know a world exactly like ours, but that's nothing like where we are today, where the realization is that we ourselves don't live in a world that is much like the world into which we might have been born.
I was born in 1959. Trust me, people really didn't know what marriage is. I was born at a time when Americans weren't really perplexed by questions like whether or not there actually is an objective truth. Instead, we're now living in a time where even if you are the most ardent modernist, it's going to be very hard to keep up. The point in that sentence I pointed to is again, this, the question that means the question of whether or not a king or a queen can marry someone of the same gender, the same sex, the article tells us the question is a challenging one for royal families which have sought to move with the times. There is that modernist impulse. The times are changing, you have to move with the times. Well just how fast can you move? Well, this comes back to something else.
What exactly is the function of a monarchy? An imperial house or a royal house, a monarchy exists in whatever form it may be found precisely to make things stay the same. The monarchy was honored throughout centuries of experience because it was the great sign of continuity. Continuity to the point of this, the tradition, for example, in the British monarchy is that the announcement of a transition between Kings comes down to this. The king is dead, long live the king. In other words, the monarchy always lives. It just moves from monarch to monarch. The king is dead, long live the king. But now we're living in a time that is so different. We are told that royal families they want to keep up with the times. Well, they're going to have to answer the question as to whether or not the royal princess and princesses can marry someone of the same gender and remain in the line of succession.
But why are the Dutch talking about this now? And why are we talking about the Dutch talking about this now? It's because it's a big story. The origin was the publication of a book in the Netherlands that pointed out what was identified as the problem. The problem that this question had not been answered. And since we are now living in this age of sexual and gender revolution, and since of course, the Netherlands has always been on the front edge of that revolution, how are the Dutch going to respond to a future prince or princess who would be a future king or queen who might choose to marry someone of the same gender? At least the current policies understood by the Dutch government would have prevented such as same sex marriage without the individual being removed from the line of succession. Technically the issue comes down to the fact that the Dutch parliament must approve of any marriage of someone in the royal line of succession.
And if there is a disobedience to the will of parliament, the individual is removed from the line of succession. The big question right now has to do with the 17-year-old princess who is next in line for the Dutch throne. The report by Sammy Westfall in the Washington Post that tells you something of how much attention this announcement from the Netherlands is receiving. That story says this the position of the government changed Tuesday when Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the Dutch princess, 17-year-old Catharina-Amalia Beatrix Carmen Victoria, yes, all those names as befits a royal name. Now the interesting thing there of course, is any gender. Any gender! So, now we've even gone beyond, could marry someone of the same sex to can marry someone of any gender. Now remember, not too long ago Facebook came out with the options of hundreds of genders.
So now presumably given the modern ideology of sexual and gender revolution, the line of succession in the Netherlands can include those who are married to persons of any gender. Boy, it's going to get interesting. In a letter to parliament that was published on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said, "The cabinet does not see that an heir to the throne or the king should abdicate if he, she would like to marry a partner of the same sex." Again, notice they're trying to keep up with the times, they're not exactly even keeping up with the times. The revolution, the ideologies, they have moved further than this. We are told that this is not primarily about the 17-year-old princess. It is about the Netherlands trying to make clear it is going to be on the front line of the moral revolution and stay there. Now that article on the Wall Street Journal was right.
The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize same sex marriage. I remember that event very well. When it happened, the Netherlands became the first jurisdiction anywhere in known history to have legalized marriage as the union of, in that case, the first marriage is there, a woman and a woman. Later also a man and a man. But as you look back to it now, that was 2001. That was so old school, because going back to 2001, it was indeed the same sex marriage that was being celebrated and legalized but that means you have to know who is male and who is female. Who is a man and who is a woman. After all you can't have same sex marriage without knowing who's actually the same sex. There is a clue. But now we are told that those who are in the line of succession for the Dutch crown can marry someone of any gender.
Now just about every major newspaper or news source has covered this story one way or the other, but there is, let's just say, a delicate aspect, but an obvious aspect of this story that demands some kind of attention. The Wall Street Journal got to the point, rather comprehensively saying that the question of the children who might emerge from such a union of the crown person and a person of any gender, the question of how those offspring would or would not be included in succession, that question's been punted. But you'll notice the Wall Street Journal and I'm not going to read the words here. It gets right to the problem of biology. A same-sex couple or for that matter a couple that is arranged according to any gender, can't produce a baby, can't produce an heir. An heir is going to require a male and a female or donated cells, let's put it that way.
The Wall Street Journal puts it more graphically. But, the statement that was published in USA Today says, "When the topic of how same sex marriages could affect future succession of royal couple's children," the Prime Minister said, "The bridge will be crossed when the time comes. The Dutch Prime Minister summarized it this way, "It's just very dependent on the facts and the circumstances of the specific case. As you can see by looking back at how family law can change over time." Well, let's just be really honest and basic and biological as Christians here because we believe that biology, which is to say creation order, is indicative of our sovereign God's plan for humanity. And here's how that plan works. Without a male and a female you simply can't have an heir. Perhaps the most self-evidently true statement made by the Dutch Prime Minister was this, "The logistics of succession are still frightfully complicated."
My response to that is, oh, frightfully, indeed.
Speed Of Moral Revolutions To The Left On Display As Cambridge University Releases Document Explaining How To Spot Trans Exclusive Radical Feminists—You May Be Next
But next, just before turning to the mailbox, the Telegraph, a major newspaper in London ran a story with a headline, Cambridge University TERF-spotting guide condemned as a witch finder's charter. Now here you see the intersection of the modern, critical theories, ideologies, sexual identities, identity politics, all colliding on the college campus but this isn't just any campus. This is the campus of Cambridge University in England where the woman's officer that's an actual official of the Cambridge University's Student Union has been criticized for issuing a guide on how to spot TERFs. But folks, we're not talking about grass on a playing field. No, instead the term T-E-R-F stands for trans-exclusionary, radical, feminist. I know what some of you were thinking, this is Friday. Do we have to learn vocabulary like this?
And actually you want to know this trans-exclusionary radical feminists are feminists who believe they know that female matters. In other words, these are feminists. To give you an example, Martina Navratilova, the lesbian tennis champion who is very clear about the fact that even though she is all supportive of the gay revolution, she's all supportive of feminism, she doesn't believe that males should be able to declare themselves females and compete in women's sports.
Thus Martina Navratilova is now on the wrong side of history as a trans-exclusionary radical feminist and she's not alone. Perhaps the most famous person in Britain who is condemned by this is the author of Harry Potter. The entire Harry Potter series. J.K. Rowling has been roundly condemned as being on the wrong side of history because she has indicated the fact that she believes that the categories of male and female are stable categories, or at least the category of female is. The document was presented by this officer, of the Cambridge University Students Union and the offering was a guide. A guide to recognizing a trans-exclusionary radical feminist when you see one.
"Some people who experience misogyny are not women. Students are urged to be allies by "keeping the eye out" for this way of thinking. And that includes when they read feminist works." That tells you again, now the feminists who were the left wing just a matter of a few years ago are now considered trans-exclusionary radical feminists unless they join the transgender revolution, which of course means actually abandoning the central logic of feminism. At least there was someone to speak some sanity into this. And in this case, it was a professor of the philosophy of religion at the Cambridge Faculty of Divinity, James Orr, by the way the same name as a very famous Scottish theologian of the evangelical tradition. This James Orr compared this document to a guide on how to spot a witch. Rightfully he said, "It's an attempt to set out a witch finders charter and it's driven by ideology, not reason."
He went on, "This is an extremely sinister development and it is effectively incentivizing behavior among students that is wholly opposed to the flourishing of any serious intellectual culture." Professor Orr went on, "These are perfectly plausible and defensible positions to hold. Not immoral and not even close to being unlawful and should be able to be expressed freely especially if you think they are wrong." He then went on to ask, "How long before people wake up to this crisis?" Well, Professor Orr, you've asked exactly the right question. How long will it be before people wake up to this crisis? There is no obvious answer to that question. And that is one of the central problems of our day. There is this infectious ideology of unreason that is now spreading like a variant of a virus throughout all of our society, virtually every level as we seem not only in elite academia, but right down the local school board meetings.
And not only that, right down to the question of the line of succession of royal monarchies. A part of what Christians must do in the midst of this kind of absolute confusion, but let's note, a willful confusion. A part of what Christians have to do is to be constantly vigilant that all of this does not just wear us down so that we inevitably just succumb to the revolution. We can't do this. It doesn't matter if the Royal House of the Netherlands joins the revolution. We can't. It doesn't matter if those who resist the revolution are targeted on the campus of Cambridge University. We can't surrender. We can't surrender because this ground is not ours to surrender. We start out in the Christian worldview by acknowledging we don't get to determine the truth. Our responsibility as believers, our responsibility as Christians is to believe and to obey the truth that God has revealed.
That's where we are. Pretty soon, they're likely to be offering guides about how to find us as well.
Should Christians Boycott Businesses That Support The Secular Revolution? — Dr. Mohler Responds To Letters From Listeners Of The Briefing
Now we turn to the Mailbox again. Thank you for the questions, the points, even the arguments that you send in. All are appreciated. Randon wrote, "Asking about the rightfulness of boycotting businesses that violate our own moral principles, for example, the company listed here is Amazon. The issue is the fact that it's a national corporate partner of the human rights campaign and also it has exercised censorship against some conservative and Christian positions." The question is, "Can Christians still buy products and services from Amazon in good conscience or should we vote with the money God has given us by spending it elsewhere? Is there a general rule that Christians should use to determine whether or not to boycott a business?" Well Randon, thank you. Very intelligent question.
It's actually a very timely question. But here I want to differentiate between our individual or family financial stewardship and the question of some kind of organized boycott. The reality is that organized financial boycotts are often not very successful. Not very successful in delivering the message. And there are many reasons for that but one of them is that in a fully integrated economy, there is only so far, you can get from any aspect of economic activity. So, you might say, I'm not going to do business with company A so you do business with company B only to find out that company B is doing business with company A. You also have the fact that there are so many interlinkages in the economy. You're looking at a third factor, which is the fact that there are so many businesses that dominate an industry where almost all the major corporations hold to basically the same very troubling policies.
So, what do you do? And if you're going to use a credit card, you have to do business with a credit card company. If you're going to have money in a bank, you're going to have to do business with a bank. You might say, well, I live in a place where the local bank is under local control. Yes, that's good. That can be a very good solution, approximately that is near to you, but you're still doing business with financial institutions that I can almost guarantee you are sold out to the moral revolution. So what do you do? Well, I'm going to suggest that individual Christians and Christian families or indeed Christians gathered together in a congregation can decide, look, this is a troubling issue. How should we think this through? How should we exercise our stewardship? But I want to say Randon, we must do that honestly. We must not act like we have taken an action that ends up having no material consequence.
We have to make certain there's not a hypocrisy built into the fact that we say we're not going to do business with this company because it holds to that policy when just a few minutes later, you do business with another company that holds to the very same policy. Sometimes we can take actions to make ourselves feel better without actually offering any consistency. But that's not an excuse Randon for not doing what God expects us to do in exercising stewardship. That often requires, in a fallen world, weighing economic decisions about A or B or C. It's very hard to find a really clear line sometimes because it is virtually impossible to be separate from almost any part of this economy, at least in terms of transactionalism. This doesn't mean that we're not careful where we invest our money. We should be. It doesn't mean we should not use moral and biblical discretion about where we do our business, buy our products, with whom we associate for professional services.
We should take all of these issues into consideration, but the biblical worldview just reminds us that in the interconnectedness of a fallen world, it's going to be much more difficult to maintain a principle than many Christians would acknowledge. Including many who will publicize boycotts. You've got to look very carefully at what it is and whether or not it's actually sending the right message. And whether the alternative that is proposed really is an alternative on moral grounds.
Where Do We Draw The Line Between Legislating Theologically And Legislating A Theocracy? — Dr. Mohler Responds To Letters From Listeners Of The Briefing
Next I want to turn to a question sent in by Jeff, he asked, "Where would you draw the line between a government legislating based on theological conviction and a theocracy?" Well, Jeff, again, a very smart question. Let's think about it for just a moment. And by the way, we could take a long time trying to unpack all of these. I'm going to try to offer a succinct answer that will help us to at least start thinking along the lines of these important questions.
A theocracy is a government, which is officially theological. It has an official theological commitment, and that means something else. That means that the theocracy is involved even in establishing right worship. Now, that's the clearest definitional distinction between a government that legislates on moral principles that have to be tied to theological truth and a theocracy. In a theocracy you have the very dangerous mix of the priesthood and the politicians in such a way that even the worship of what must become an established religion becomes a matter of government control and government interest. You also have the fact that in a theocracy, there is often, a classic theocracy there is often a situation in which someone dares to speak for God into the government. That's not what we're asking the government to do. That's not what Christians seeking Christian influence in politics and in legislation are seeking to do.
We are actually asking our government to offer acknowledgement of and respect of what is pre-political. That's exactly what you see in the declaration of independence. Where we understand the fact that there is a dignity, there are rights that are endowed by our creator. They're unalienable rights. Now that's theological in some sense. That's the point we often try to make on The Briefing. But it is not the establishment of a theocracy in the sense that there is not an argument for those very same principles that is offered on the plausible grounds of government respect for what is pre-political. That does not mean a specific theological commitment. And that gets back to something else that's really important theologically and that is, that our hope for government is for a government that will demonstrate the power of and the acknowledgement of, and a respect for common grace.
We are not asking for a government that seeks or presumes to operate on the basis of special grace, supernatural grace. The job of the church is the gospel. The job of the government is the maintenance of order. The maintenance of order is rested upon calm and grace, natural revelation, even as natural rights are cited, invoked in the declaration of independence and in our founding philosophy as a nation. A government's respect for an acknowledgement of common grace is not to transform that government into a theocracy. A theocracy is when the government is based upon the authority or the presumed or claimed authority of special grace or special revelation. That's a very different thing. It is by no means an accident that the prevailing moral understanding of all of these issues, including the pre-political that is to say what precedes politics and politics can't change. There is no doubt that the inheritance of Western civilization is based upon a Judeo-Christian inheritance.
There is no doubt about that and there should be no embarrassment about that. But what we're pointing to here is the fact that what we are calling upon the government to do is to respect what is made known to us by common grace and then to let the church be free to preach the gospel.
Thanks for listening to The Briefing.
Thanks for your questions. Keep sending them. We'll try to get to even more of them next week. For more information, go to my website at albertmohler.com. You can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.com/AlbertMohler. For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, just go to sbts.edu. For information on Boyce College, just go to boycecollege.com.
I'll meet you again on Monday for The Briefing.