The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Friday, November 5, 2021

It’s Friday, November 5th, 2021.

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

Part I

PETA Wants To Substitute ‘Arm Barn’ For ‘Bullpen’, Citing Speciesism — The Insanity (And Triviality) Of An Organization That Undermines Human Dignity

Fans of the Atlanta Braves were ecstatic on Tuesday night when the Braves won another World Series, their first in just over 25 years. The Braves defeated the Houston Astros. But today we’re going to be talking about the worldview dimensions of sports, and we’re just going to be looking at a few issues that have come up in recent days. And one of them came up just in anticipation of the world series. And in this case, the worldview issue was raised by PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, because they are demanding a change in the cultural and operational life of baseball. They are demanding the end of the use of the vocabulary about a bullpen. They’re saying that the bullpen must be renamed the arm barn. As Tien Le reports for NPR, “PETA is pitching major league baseball to retire the term ‘bullpen,’ and use ‘arm barn’ instead. The animal rights group says bullpen mocks the misery of animals and devalues players.”

Now NPR tells us, as if we didn’t know, in baseball, a bullpen refers to both the group of relief pitchers, and the physical area where the pictures warm up. The PETA statement tells us in its version what bullpen refers to, telling us it refers to, “The area of a bull’s pen where bulls are held before they are slaughtered. It’s a word,” they say, “with speciesist roots, and we can do better than that.” Now the word “speciesist” means with a preference for a species, and by the way, human beings had better have a preference for the human species. PETA went on to say, “Switching to ‘arm barn’ would be a home run for baseball fans, players, and animals.” NPR later reports that PETA says that cows and bulls are typically held in bullpens before they are “hung upside down and their throats are slit in the meat industry, and tormented into kicking and bucking, by being electro-shocked or prodded.”

PETA is outraged. The problem is of course, that once again, you see an activist group like PETA putting out a statement that gets media attention. And in this case you might even argue it deserves media attention, but it also deserves a much closer look. PETA doesn’t believe in a distinction of value between species, and humans, they say, are just another species. As we spoke about, a far more urgent issue where PETA was demonstrating its absolutely anti-humanist or anti-human worldview. Ingrid Newkirk, one of the founders of PETA infamously said in an article, “A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.” The inclusion of a boy in the series, rat, pig, dog, boy, saying they are all the same, tells you the devastating consequences of accepting a worldview that tells us that human beings are just another species. If we’re just another species, then it would be morally right, or at least equally morally wrong, for bulls to put human beings in a pen.

But of course there’s more to the issue than that. And there’s more to the issue of the bullpen than that. It turns out that even experts in baseball don’t have a really good idea of where the term came from. You can look at media sources and they will give you, citing baseball authorities, something like seven, eight, nine different theories about the origin. It might have emerged from the context of rodeo. It might have come from cattle ranching. It might have come from any number of sources, but the fact is we don’t know where it came from. We do know that the first reference of which it is known that the bullpen was used as a word referring to pitches, that was in 1877, published in a sports report in the Cincinnati Inquirer. But what we know now is that PETA has shown its hand and revealed its worldview once again.

Its moral priority in the midst of all the issues going on in the world is to demand, as if this would make the slightest moral difference, that baseball renamed the bullpen as the arm barn. Now let me just tell you the good news. It’s not going to happen. The good news is it’s not about to happen. The good news is there is more common sense and moral defiance when it comes the basic common sense of the American people, then to rename a bullpen as an arm barn. Nor to even buy into the idea that it’s insulting to bulls that the pitchers awaiting, and the area where they are awaiting is known as a bullpen. I have not taken a poll of bulls to ask them, but I can assure you, they are not offended.

Trying to add some kind of moral urgency to their argument, PETA executive vice president, Tracy Reiman, said, “Words matter, and baseball bullpens devalue talented players, and mock the misery of sensitive animals.” Again, I’d like to find the player who’s going to say out loud that he is offended by being called part of the bullpen, or being said as being in the bullpen. And furthermore, when you’re talking about the misery of sensitive animals, that could be an important moral issue. But making an issue of baseball’s bullpen does not affirm the moral importance of any issue. It undermines that moral importance. It makes you look not only trivial, but for that matter, practically morally insane. And of course, Christians understand given our responsibility of stewardship, that there are moral issues involved in our relationship with animals, our use of animals, our organization of animals. Yes, all of that can have moral significance. But PETA is arguing that we are just another species along with the animals.

That is a direct refutation of biblical truth made clear in the very first chapter of Scripture. But this is where the world view of PETA leads. But this pales in significance to a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.

Part II

NAACP Sides With Pro-Abortion Movement And Urges Pro Athletes To Avoid Signing With Texas Teams —And, Let’s Tell the Truth About the Hippocratic Oath

But next I want to switch to another issue. USA Today’s sports section, just a few days ago, ran a headline, “NAACP”–that’s the organization initially known as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the NAACP, a major civil rights organization–“urges free agents to avoid Texas.”

Now this again is a reference to professional sports. Analis Bailey, reporting for USA Today, tells us, “The NAACP issued a letter to all major player’s associations, calling for athletes in free agency to avoid signing with teams that are in Texas, in response to the state’s recently enacted voting laws, and new restrictions to women’s reproductive freedoms.” The NAACP statement and press release stated, “In response to the most recent attacks on voting rights and reproductive care, the association sent an open letter to the national player’s leagues, urging free agents to reconsider moving their families to a state that is not safe for anyone.”

The two page letter, we are told, was sent to the NFL, NBA, WNBA, MLB, and NHL player’s associations, and was signed by NAACP president and CEO, Derek Johnson, and the Texas NAACP president, Gary Bledsoe. Now again, the issue here is the NAACP citing abortion law in particular in Texas, also voting laws. But most importantly, what they refer to is laws restricting a woman’s reproductive freedoms, in their terms. They’re saying that free agents should avoid signing with Texas teams. This is an intended moral statement, no doubt. They’re trying to make a moral point, but the moral point we need to know is telling us very clearly that the NAACP, which was originated as a civil rights organization, is now pointing to abortion as a crucial issue of its moral concern.

And its concern is to avoid any state that would restrict any abortion. And that puts the NAACP in the position of now being avidly, avowedly pro-abortion, whether they want to admit it or not. But I want to draw a particular attention to a section of the letter from the NAACP, again, calling for free agents not to sign with professional sports teams in Texas. I want to look to one section that has received just a little bit of press attention. It deserves great deal of attention from us. As USA Today tells us, “The letter also notes that physicians cannot uphold their Hippocratic oath to properly and ethically care for women and children. The Texas government has also empowered vigilantes within the authority of the law, going so far as to offer $10,000 incentives to sue all who aid women in exercising their constitutional right to an abortion.”

Now notice what the USA Today report tells us about this letter, telling us that the letter cites the claim that physicians, because of Texas’ law restricting abortion “cannot uphold their Hippocratic oath to properly and ethically care for women and children.” Now we can’t let that pass. We can’t let that pass for a single moment. Now the great moral authority in human life is not the Hippocratic oath. The Hippocratic oath is, by common grace, to a considerable degree evident of the moral law that God has implanted in the universe. It was a significant achievement. The oldest fragment we know of the Hippocratic oath goes back to Hippocrates, of course, the ancient Greek physician, the oldest fragment to about AD 275, however, so that would mean later than Hippocrates’ life himself. But the point is, the Hippocratic oath was a very clear sign of the emergence of medical responsibility as a part of the medical profession.

It was a list of moral principles to which physicians must be committed. Margaret Mead, the American anthropologist, pointed out that the Hippocratic oath was a key turning point in human history, with a clear separation of curing and killing. That’s really crucial. An absolute separation, for the first time in terms of the medical profession, between curing and killing. The first lines of the Hippocratic oath? “First do no harm.” The Hippocratic oath makes very clear that physicians must be about curing and never about killing. And here’s something else: remember that this letter claimed that physicians in Texas because of the restrictive abortion law in Texas cannot fulfill their Hippocratic oath. But the Hippocratic oath, if we understand it actually in the beginning, and throughout most centuries until modern times and its revision, according to the pro-abortion mandate, the actual Hippocratic oath includes a very clear moral principle that doctors will not participate in abortion. In particular, the statement that includes the words, “I will not.” It’s a pledge: “I will not.”

And it goes on to say, “Administer medicine to a woman that would cause an abortion.” What we see here is full evidence that the moral revolutionaries are intending to invade every single dimension of human life. And that means American public life. And that means sports at every level, high school sports, little league sports. For that matter, you’re looking at even university sports, professional sports, every dimension of sports, just like every dimension of every other arena of life. The moral revolutionaries will leave nothing untouched. They want to turn the world upside down in moral terms. And in order to be successful, they have to turn the world upside down everywhere that world is experienced. Now that means that sports is not morally neutral, and here’s where Christians understand sports can’t be morally neutral, because we do not live in a morally neutral world. But we also note something else. When you’re talking about professional sports, just to give an example, the professional sports leagues often just find themselves, oddly enough, making decisions that do not hurt their bottom line and are likely to increase their profits.

I’m not begrudging professional sports, or sports at any level their gain, or in the case of professional sports, their profit. But the point is this. That’s inconsistent with the kind of moral posturing and virtue signaling we are seeing from the arena of sports, where just like actors, actresses, other public figures, academics, and all the rest, we are finding that sports figures are now considered to be on the line to make a moral statement in order to prove just how woke they are, and to signal their commitments to the progressivist ideals and ideologies of the day. But by now I think, or at least I hope, that most Christians in the United States have learned not to look to the arena of sports, particularly to professional sports, for moral cues for moral living.

Part III

How Should Parents Talk To Their Children About The Sexual Revolution? — Dr. Mohler Responds To Letters From Listeners Of The Briefing

But next we turn to the Mailbox. I’m always thankful for thoughtful listeners who send in questions, comments, sometimes even arguments.

I’m glad to hear from you glad to have intelligent listeners who raise intelligent issues. Also intelligent questions. A question from Brian asking about the sexual revolution and how to help a nine-year-old child, in this case, a nine year old daughter, but let’s just say a nine-year-old child, to understand what’s going on and what’s at stake. To be a good Christian parent to a nine year old, let’s just say a school age child in the midst of this revolutionary time. I really appreciate the question. I appreciate Christian parents, a Christian dad here, being very concerned about raising children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, raising children who will be able to be faithful and to stand firm in the midst of the moral evolution taking place all around us. Particularly just think of the letters LGBTQ, but beyond that, the total sexual revolution, which means that personal autonomy is the only true moral criterion at stake.

Brian writes, “I would like to know if you have any specific methods for creating conversations with our daughter, so that she has the ability to recognize this,” meaning the sexual, moral revolution, “as she is inevitably exposed to it,” or, he says, “Other resources, and just how to be consistent in messaging about this.” Well, let’s look at this Brian for a moment. First of all, your relationship with your daughter, a parent’s relationship, Christian parents’ relationship with children is a privileged relationship, and no one knows your child as you do. No one bears the stewardship that you bear, no one knows your child as you do. I know some nine-year olds who will need a rather lengthy conversation about some of these issues. I know some nine-year olds who would not yet need very much detail on these issues. Some of it will come up in everyday life.

And some of it needs to come up in conversation where you ask the child what the child is observing about the world around them. You first of all arm the child, and remind the child about God’s pattern, God’s gift in creation. His good purpose of making us male and female, creating men and women, giving children mommies and daddies, making boys and girls. And at some point, especially as our society continues to roll along as it is, at some point, children just need to know where babies come from, and just the basic mechanics of reproduction. And by the way, that glorifies God, again, to point to the institution of marriage and to having a man and a woman in marriage as a mother and a father. No salacious details here. And for that matter, the child often will signal to you how much detail is needed, how much wouldn’t be helpful, simply by the regular conversation that you have as a Christian mom, as a Christian dad, with your child or with your children.

Sometimes singularly, sometimes just rolling along in the car, talking about things and maybe an issue has come up, where you’re just looking at a family. Or you’re looking at a situation in which you say, “How are we supposed to think about that?” And again, you’re looking at the natural level of interest and need to know, of a nine year old. But Christian parents have to understand something else, and I really appreciate your question, Brian, because we have to be a bit more strategic about thinking, at least just a little bit ahead when it comes to our children. At least arming them with sufficient biblical truth that they will know enough not to believe what someone else may be telling them, or the point of which someone may be seeking to convince them. And so that will require an ongoing conversation, but I really appreciate the question.

There isn’t a magic resource here. I’ll simply say to Brian, God made you the resource. God made and your wife the resources for your child or your children, and you’re going to do the right thing here. You’re going to feel and know how to do the right thing. One of the things you need to do is simply, when issues are confronted, and it may be as one mom brought up to me just a little bit ago, it may be that you’re walking in a park and two men go by holding hands, or kiss one another, or you have something else where the child clearly notices, well, lean into that. Maybe not just that instant, but don’t let much time pass before you lean into that. Raise the issue and say, “Did you notice that? What did you think about that? What do you think God would think about that? Let’s think about that together.”

Part IV

How Should We Approach The Virtue Signaling Of Corporations? — Dr. Mohler Responds To Letters From Listeners Of The Briefing

Next, also related to the moral revolution, Beth wrote in, and she tells us she’s the mom of three children. And she also, with her husband, likes skiing and in particular thinking a place like Jackson Hole Mountain Resorts, looking there to that stunningly beautiful area of Wyoming, which is known not only for its scenery, but also for its skiing. And she points to something very, very important. She writes about controversy, news reports that have come out about the firm Patagonia pulling their merchandise due to what they complained about as the resort’s, or some resorts’, complicity, by having a conservative group to meet or speak there on the facility. Now, this is the kind of thing we’re going to see over and over again, we use the phrase virtue signaling, you know it, you understand it, you sense it. This is when a company seeks to signal its own brand identity’s superiority of virtue by taking this stand or that stand, putting its merchandise here, pulling its merchandise there.

Well, the big issue here is really not the location. Jackson Hole, Wyoming just happens to be the location here. The bigger issue here is the company that’s making the moral decision, and that is Patagonia, but let’s not be surprised. Patagonia has for a very long time been one of those companies that has identified with just about every form of moral progressivism, and has identified with the left. And corporate executives, by the way, in their meetings in Jackson Hole, just for an example, often sport Patagonia vests in order to signal the fact that they’re the kind of people leading the kind of companies that are the kind of people and the kind of corporations that would wear Patagonia vests. And Patagonia thus becomes a cultural signal, a form of virtue signaling by wearing a vest. So I really appreciate your question, Beth. I don’t think you should have any moral concerns, when it comes to your moral complicity in going to a ski resort, so long as you just know right up front what that might mean and what it might not mean.

But what we do know just based upon the data of what we’re talking about here is that if you do decide to go to Jackson Hole on a ski vacation, you just might decide to go there while not wearing a Patagonia vest. And that would mean not wearing a Patagonia vest while you’re not eating Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

Part V

Are All Rights In The Constitution, Like Gun Rights, God-Given Rights? — Dr. Mohler Responds To Letters From Listeners Of The Briefing

But next I want to turn to a question sent by Grayson. Grayson raises the very interesting question, as we think about say the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution, when we talk about rights being given to us by God, as the Declaration of Independence says, that we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights. Does that mean that when we look at the Bill of Rights, we’re saying that God has given us every one of those rights? Well Grayson, the right way to make the argument is that if a right is legitimate, if a claim to a right is legitimate, it can be tracked back to what is clearly a God given right?

And again, the danger here is that if rights are understood as simply being given by the government, by what’s called positive law, just makes it up and says, we believe this, then those rights become so flimsy that they are unable to hold a society together, or for that matter, to undergird the necessary protection of human dignity. But when we’re looking at a particular question, and Grayson raises the question of the second amendment. We just talked about it on the briefing this week. What about the right to bear arms? Are we saying that’s a God-given right? Well, not by direct statement, Grayson, but we are saying it by inference, and here’s the inference and it works two ways. First of all, the positive inference, the positive inference is that in the Scripture, God makes very clear a responsibility for protection from violence. God makes very clear a right to self-protection. That’s made clear in the Old Testament law, and even as you look through, the apostle Paul talking about the role of government, it is to protect, to uphold the right, to punish the evil doer.

And when it comes, just thinking about human history and thinking about Christian responsibility, there is a responsibility to protect. Now that’s a responsibility that is given, for instance, to government, but also it belongs to the community. So there’s a negative inference that has to be thought about here too. And that is the fact that denying a right to self-protection in this historical context would be denying what is a responsibility given to us by the creator. By the way, Grayson, this part of the larger Christian ethical context of the appropriate or inappropriate use of violence. And it also comes down to defensive versus offensive actions. All this is summarized in terms of what is historically known as just war theory, about the legitimate or illegitimate use of violent force, but you know what Grayson, this is a huge issue. I’m thankful you asked it.

One more issue here, by the way, I just need to point out. The language about the rights with which we are endowed by our creator, those unalienable rights, that language comes from the Declaration of Independence. That’s its own statement. I believe the Constitution is rightly to be understood in light of the Declaration of Independence. But the issue here is that the Constitution is an effort to flesh out what those rights are and are not, and how they are to be best understood. So I want to say that I think it’s an inflexible law that we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights. As to whether the constitution accurately mirrors those rights, that’s a matter for human debate, which is what made the founding era of the United States so interesting. What is illegitimate is inventing new rights out of whole cloth, without the moral context that we see reflected here.

Grayson, by the way, is right here in the Tri-Cities area of Tennessee, where I’ve been speak in these recent days, and Grayson’s coming to Southern Seminary as a student. Grayson, we’re holding a place for you.

Part VI

Has Virginia Gone From Blue to Red? Is That Possible? — Dr. Mohler Responds To Letters From Listeners Of The Briefing

Finally, a question from Christopher, looking to the political upset that took place, the big seismic shift in politics in the governor’s race in Virginia. He says, “Is that evidence?”–and by the way, it wasn’t just the governor’s race. It was the lieutenant governor, it was the attorney general, it was the house of delegates. But he asked the question, “Does this mean that Virginia has gone back to red?” He means from blue. “More importantly,” he asked, “has any other state turned from blue? Is that possible?” Well Christopher, I guess the easiest answer would be time will tell, but we do know this. We shouldn’t think of red and blue as just absolute political fixtures. The map is not painted permanently blue, permanently red. You should think of blue and red in this sense as ongoing arguments.

And as you’re looking at the shift from red to blue, or blue to red, as you’re looking at states turning from one to another, or even if you’re just looking at the map, what you’re looking at is the direction of an argument. And the question is, which argument is winning? That’s the big question about the future of the culture. Which argument is winning, the red argument or the blue argument? The shift in this case, for at least this one election in Virginia from blue to red, I will say is encouraging. It tells us that the battle is not lost, and the argument is not over, but we just need to hear ourselves say that again.

The argument is not over. We have to stay in the fight. We have to stay in the argument, and it’s never going to be over. Not until Jesus comes.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

For more information, go to my website at You can follow me on Twitter by going to For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to For information on Boyce College, just go to

I’m speaking to you from the Tri-Cities area of Tennessee, and I’ll meet you again on Monday for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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