The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

It’s Tuesday, December 7, 2021.

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

Part I

Adoption as Morally Suspect and Abortion as Moral Good? The Truth Revealed About the Abortion Rights Movement’s Rejection of Adoption

Well, the biggest abortion case in a generation came before the Supreme Court last week. And this week, we are looking at the inevitable ripples that will emerge from the fact that the oral arguments were held and arguments were presented. And what you see predictably in this kind of context is a few days later, especially on a case before the Supreme Court of this significance, you have hope and panic mixed on various sides of the argument. Right now, the pro-abortion side is in panic. And not only that, they’re in full frontal attack upon some of the arguments that were made by the defenders of the Mississippi abortion restriction law in the Supreme Court just last Wednesday. Now, consider this. During the oral arguments on Wednesday, the newest Justice of the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, raised the issue of adoption.

And she did so because a part of the record in the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion back in 1973 was the statement that the Court’s majority was concerned about inflicting motherhood upon certain women who had become pregnant. That was the argument. And we discussed it last week, the fact that right out there in public view was the argument made by the abortion rights inventors and defenders that a woman, in order to be equal with a man, had to be equally capable of being unpregnant. And that was extended to protecting women. That was the language that was used from the imposition of the responsibilities of motherhood. But Justice Barrett brought up the issue of adoption because one of the legal innovations that has taken place between 1973 and 2021 is the fact that all across the country, universally now, some form of what is known as a safe harbor law is in place.

And that means that women who give birth to babies are given a safe harbor to surrender those babies, no questions asked, about their own responsibility or whatever else might be involved in order for that baby to be placed within the adoption care system and thus, given a home. These safe harbor laws were put in place in order prevent what had taken place in too many tragic cases where babies lost their lives because there was no way to care for them because the mothers had abandoned them. Instead of abandoning them, these mothers are given the opportunity of basically surrendering them, giving them over to the safe harbor and the babies will be assured of being taken care of. Now, Justice Barrett simply raised that saying, “Why don’t the safe-haven laws take care of that problem?” The so-called problem being the imposition of the responsibilities of motherhood upon a woman who was pregnant.

But here’s where the backlash is now coming. And you could see this taking shape even during the oral arguments last Wednesday. You could see that the pro-abortion argument simply can’t abide even the discussion of adoption as an alternative to abortion. And here you need to note that this is ideological. It is because of the monomaniacal focus on abortion rights and the fact that those who have been arguing for decades now for abortion rights understand that the biggest problem with adoption is that adoption makes very clear that we are talking about a baby, a baby who, after all, is much desired. More couples are seeking to adopt, then there are babies available for adoption. And the numbers by the way, are pretty stunning. According to one estimate, there are about 18,000 to 20,000 baby adoptions in the United States each year. There are just under a million abortions, something like 900,000 abortions. So, we are talking about something that really is a matter of life and death.

And there are just too few babies available even for the current desire when it comes to adoption. But a report on National Public Radio made these issues very, very clear. Now, NPR is after all, National Public Radio and there is a sense in which, even in the aftermath of the Dobbs oral arguments last week, NPR had spokespersons representing both sides of the argument. But the human interest stories tend to be extremely pro-abortion in their power and in their force and context. In this particular report by Mary Louise Kelly of NPR, she had a conversation with Gretchen Sisson, identified as a sociologist at University of California, San Francisco, “who has studied whether the option to put up a child for adoption alleviates the need for a woman to get an abortion.” Well, in this case, Mary Louise Kelly simply played some of the words stated in the oral arguments by Justice Barrett and invited the professor to respond.

The professor responded by saying, “This is really irrelevant because there just aren’t that many women who would choose adoption rather than abortion.” She brought up the numbers herself when she pointed out about 18,000 to 20,000 private domestic adoptions per year. “And these are the adoptions in which a woman makes the decision during or immediately after her pregnancy to terminate her parental rights and place that child for adoption.” The 900,000 numbers, the number for abortions, far larger. So, clearly, you are looking at many, many times more women choosing abortion than adoption. But that’s actually not a reputation of Justice Barrett’s point, it makes justice Barrett’s point. She’s making the point that in every state, there is the alternative of adoption, but vastly larger numbers of women are choosing abortion. The point is that if abortion were no longer legally available, adoption would still be an option. But then you get in this interview to the real issue.

Because the real issue here is opposition to the idea that abortion and adoption should be discussed in the same argument. And furthermore, the bizarre argument here, and this is just incredibly revealing in terms of worldview analysis, the bizarre argument is that adoption is an imposition on the woman in a way that abortion is not. The professor says, “Adoption is a very hard decision. And I think a lot of women know that intuitively. And our research on women who do relinquish their parental rights shows that, that this is not an easy choice, and it has a lot of adverse outcomes. We see a lot of grief, a lot of mourning, a lot of trauma for the women who go through relinquishments. And that has not really changed even as the context of adoption practice has changed over the years,” she says. “But we do not see that most women are choosing between abortion and adoption. Most women who are considering or pursuing adoption have already ruled out or have never really considered having an abortion.” Well, there you have it.

Here you have an abortion rights defender simply saying, “I’m not going to allow or even imagine adoption as an alternative. And most of the women seeking abortions aren’t ready to do so either. Because just think about it,” she’s saying, “Just think about it. There are emotional issues that are involved in an adoption. An adoption can come with grief, mourning, trauma.” And here’s where anyone with moral sanity just has to stop for a moment and say, “Now, which one are we talking about? The abortion of the unborn child, which is the termination of the life of the unborn child or are we talking about adoption in which the child is given the opportunity for a wonderful life?” These words, grief, mourning, trauma, you’ll see how they are completely misdirected here. Now, one of the things that becomes very evident is that anyone, especially those in a pastoral or a Christian responsibility, dealing with a woman who is indeed making the decision about adoption and relinquishing her child to have a life, to be cared for by another, that has to be an emotionally wrenching exercise.

That has to involve the full range of emotions. But the point is, those are emotions that are directed towards the gift of life. No defender of the rights of the unborn, of the sanctity of human life should underestimate or fail to sympathize with the plight of women who are having to make some very, very hard decisions. Our point is that abortion ought not to be one of those alternatives legally, and certainly, even more importantly, in moral terms. But we do not minimize the fact that, of course, there are emotional issues that are invoked in the issue of adoption. The point is that the pro-life community is not denying that. But the pro-abortion community is basically denying that there are such issues involved in the willful termination of human life in the womb. Later on, Professor Sisson says, “A lot of people say adoption is a win-win for both the pregnant person and the child.” Now, just stop for a moment. Did you notice the language there? The reference was to a pregnant person.

Women are just disappearing, even in the language of women. Women who had been defending abortion rights in the name of women now are talking about pregnant people. That is a massive shift in language that represents a nearly unprecedented, no, I’ll go further, a genuinely unprecedented event in all of human history. We are forgetting who men and women are. And in this case, it is women in the name of women’s rights who are now well, just failing to remember who is and is not a woman. But again, the professor said, “A lot of people say adoption is a win-win for both the pregnant person and the child. This is sort of a bipartisan issue, right? I think that that framing of adoption glosses over the extent to which adoption is often the result of lack of power and is made from a position of, for some women, desperation and hardship. And framing adoption as a win-win glosses over the power and privilege dynamics that are very key in understanding why women relinquish infants for adoption.”

Now, there’s the strange mixture of a radical ideology that is using the language here of power and privilege, but it’s doing so in such a way that insinuates that society’s responsibility is to solve all of these supposed systemic issues before you can actually deal with the sanctity of human life and with an individual woman’s decision about what to do with the unborn life within her. If you want to know how all of these critical ideologies are working their way through the system of actual policy, well, here is all the evidence you need for the fact that this kind of Marxist analysis is now being brought into a report on National Public Radio about why abortion rights advocates simply will not abide the idea that adoption might be an alternative. But as strange as that report is, The New York Times ran an article as an opinion piece, identified as a Guest Essay, that’s even more remarkable, even more radical.

In this case, the article is by Elizabeth Spiers and she is identified as a Democratic digital strategist. And we are told that she was adopted as an infant. Here’s the headline in the article, I Was Adopted. I Know The Trauma It Can Inflict. Now, here’s a woman who, as an infant, was adopted. And she is outraged to Justice Barrett’s suggestion that adoption ought to be an alternative when the issue is abortion. This Democratic digital strategist responds, “She may not realize it,” speaking of Justice Barrett, “but what she is suggesting is that women don’t need access to abortion because they can simply go do a thing that is infinitely more difficult, expensive, dangerous, and potentially traumatic than terminating a pregnancy during its early stages.” Now, again, just listen to that language. The three words that were used in the NPR article, and now you have this.

We are told that adoption is infinitely more difficult, expensive, dangerous, potentially traumatic than terminating a pregnancy during its early stages. There you have this argument. It’s right there in black and white. It’s right there in the print edition of The New York Times, it’s right there for everyone to see. The analysis is simply stunning. The argument here is that adoption is a worse alternative for women because it is emotionally fraud, and after all, you do have the ideological issues that the there’s a power. There is an inversion of power and privilege here. Now, interestingly, she reconnected with her birth mother and here’s what she tells us that both her birth mother and her adoptive mother, “oppose abortion on religious grounds.” Now, let’s just stop for a moment. That goes a long way in explaining how the author of this article has even come to life and then grew to adulthood and was cared and nurtured in such a way that she could eventually become a Democratic digital strategist and proponent of abortion.

If the abortion logic had prevailed with her birth mother, she would never have existed. But this author is actually infuriated that anyone would make that argument, including, stunningly enough, her birth mother and her adoptive mother. She wrote, “My mom is white and Southern Baptist. Maria is Hispanic and Pentecostal. Both like to point to me to justify their beliefs, saying that had Maria gotten an abortion, I would not exist.” She continues, “It’s a familiar argument. The anti-abortion movement likes to invoke Nobel Prize winners who might never have materialized, or potential adoptees who might have cured cancer, if they hadn’t been aborted at eight weeks.” Now, by the way, there may be those who make that argument, but actually, we’re defending the sanctity, and the glory, and the dignity of every single life, whether or not that person grows up to win any prize anywhere.

But she goes on and says that she resents that “I resent the suggestion by people like Justice Barrett that adoption is a simple solution, and I resent it on behalf of Maria,” that’s her birth mother, “who found that the choice she made traumatizing and still feels that pain 44 years later. Even when an adoption works out well, as it did in my case, it is still fraught.” That is to say, it’s emotionally latent, it’s complicated. Well, of course it is, life is. And once pregnancy happens, then there is responsibility there. That is what is completely missing from this entire moral horizon. And then, making an argument that this author thinks is the clincher for abortion, she actually makes an argument that makes the horror of abortion all the more clear.” The right likes to suggest that abortion is a traumatic experience for women, a last resort, a painful memory.

But adoption,” she writes, “is often just as traumatic as the right thinks abortion is, if not more so,” and here are the crucial words, “as a woman has to relinquish, not a lump of cells, but a fully formed baby she has lived with for nine months.” Now, notice what we have to point out here. That supposed lump of cells is actually an unborn baby, and it was an unborn baby from the start. Now, we’re going to confront this argument in various forms over and over again in the years ahead. It’s basically the argument as was recently presented in a court case that it was better that I had never existed. Now, this woman does not go quite that far, but she resents the entire choice of adoption and the fact that that is now brought up as a morally significant issue. Now, what kind of world are we living in in which this kind of argument could make sense? Well, the only world imaginable in which this would make sense is a world in which abortion is a moral good and adoption might very well be a moral wrong.

Now, we’re going to be tracking these arguments, continuing to watch these arguments unfold in days, weeks, and months ahead. But before leaving today’s discussion of adoption, we just need to point out that as Christians, there is full biblical support for adoption, not only as something that is allowable, but something that is a moral good. And not just a moral good, but something that is so good, so morally right that it becomes a picture of the gospel itself. And adoption becomes one of the most important words in describing our salvation and what it means for us to be not only forgiven our sins and united with Christ, but adopted by the Father as joint heirs with Christ.

The picture of adoption there thus is not just one that is morally allowable, it is one that is morally superior to such a degree that it becomes a picture of the gospel. And that means, even as we leave this consideration for today, that there are relatively few of us who have had the honor of being adopted in this life.

But the only hope of salvation for any one of us is the sure message of salvation that comes to those who come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and thus are adopted by the Father. So, that is to say, in the age to come, the only way we will be in heaven is by adoption.

Part II

A Story of Service, Military Service, Patriotism, and American Politics: Senator Robert Dole Dies at Age 98

But next, as we think about transitions in American life, word came on Sunday that former Senator Robert Dole had died at age 98. He twice led the United States Senate as majority leader. He was, for decades, an institution in the United States Congress. In 1996, he became the Republican presidential nominee. In 1976, he had been the party’s vice presidential nominee. And his story was one of heroism, and warfare, and long tenure in American politics. Robert Dole was associated with Kansas for all of his life, you look back to the town of Russell, Kansas as the origin of his life and the grounding of his identity, the young Kansan, as a teenager, joined the war.

And during the final months of World War II, he was savagely wounded so much so that it was believed that he first might not live and thereafter, that he might never recover. And in one sense, he never did. He carried in his body the evidence of that horrifying German sniper fire. And even as he came back to the United States and experienced almost four years of constant hospitalization, surgery, and medical treatments, he was afraid that the only alternative left to him as a disabled veteran might be, in his words, selling pencils on the street of Russell, Kansas. Perhaps, that young man could not imagine that one day he would be the Republican Party’s nominee for the Office of President of the United States. He died at age 98, a reminder of a generation that once went to war in the defense of liberty when the warfare was against the kind of enemies that could only be remembered in history as Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

And both of them are on our minds today, December the 7th, 2021. But as we’re thinking about Senator Robert Dole, we need to understand that he forced himself by will to recover, to be able to walk. He forced himself by will and by personal discipline to go and enter into public life. After his collegiate education, he became a county attorney. Then, he became a member of the United States Congress from Kansas. Eventually, he ran for and won a seat in the United States Senate. And after a long period that included his responsibilities as varied as being head of the Republican National Committee to being, at one point, by the accusation of the left serving as hatchet man to President Richard M. Nixon, he became the Republican leader in the Senate. And as both majority and minority leader, he exerted an extraordinary influence in the American political process. Just thinking about the context of history, Robert Dole was forged by and shaped by the experience of the Second World War and those middle decades of the 20th century.

It was a time of remarkable American unity and patriotism. But at the same time, many of the partisan divides that would come to be known in the United States today were becoming visible then, Robert Dole was not primarily known for his political ideology or positions. He wasn’t, for that matter, ever confused as a conviction politician. He was elected out of a sense of patriotism and he served out of a sense of national service and loyalty, but there were no particular politics to which he associated himself on many issues in the Senate. And I don’t say this with admiration. Just as a matter of historical record, he was on both sides of many issues over about three decades of service. There are several lessons to be learned here. For one thing, going back to that period, many of the issues simply didn’t come with the kind of moral importance and urgency that they arrive at us with today. So, you consider many issues in economics. There really wasn’t that much difference between the Republicans and the Democrats.

Matters of foreign policy, there really wasn’t that much difference. And, of course, there were also vast areas of legislation in which there was bipartisan agreement. The disabled veteran, Robert Dole, became very much associated with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan consensus. That was morally right, if anything, it came even too late. But the reality is that what you see is that America then is quite different than America now. Something else you see is that over time, it is very interesting that memories tend to mellow. That’s not the case in every historical occurrence, but it is the case when it comes to Robert Dole. Just consider the fact that he was head of the Republican National Committee during a time that included his association with former President Richard Nixon. That’s largely now forgotten, you’re not going to hear much about that at Robert Dole’s funeral.

You’re not going to hear much about the accusation that he was Nixon’s hatchet man, and that is not a compliment. You’re probably not going to see too much video of Robert Dole as the 1976 Republican vice presidential nominee. Now, you might remember how that happened. You had President Gerald Ford running for election. Yes, not reelection, but election in 1976. And he had Nelson Rockefeller, the very liberal Republican former governor of New York as his vice president, there was no way that Rockefeller was going to be anything but a liability so Gerald Ford added Robert Dole as a pugnacious conservative. And what he got was pugnacity more than conservative. But in any event, Ford and Dole went down to defeat by the ticket of Jimmy Carter in Walter Mondale. Senator Dole ran for the presidency three times, and in what could only be arrived as something of a well, less than exhilarating run. He won the Republican nomination in 1996. Now, that was not a favorable year for Republicans.

You had an incumbent Democratic President Bill Clinton, and he was running with a lot of economic energy at his back. But it’s also safe to say that Robert Dole did not run the best presidential campaign in history. At one point, he simply got frustrated and told reporters, “It really doesn’t matter what I say.” I’ll simply point out that when the candidate says that, the media basically take him at his word. It’s also simply true that over a long period of leadership, and in this case, we’re talking about 30 years in Congress and over a half century in the American public stage, Americans have a way of coming to know who someone is. You might say, “Warts and all.” In other words, Bob Dole lived a public life, he exposed himself to that kind of public view, and he did so in such a way that was driven by patriotism for his country and a sense of loyalty to the United States and public service as a grand calling. And for that, he ought to be rightly honored.

By any estimation, living to age 98 is a remarkable thing in and of itself. And in his final years, former Senator Robert Dole, former Republican presidential nominee, major political figure on the American scene, put so much of his energy into the creation of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. and honoring his fellow veterans.

Part III

‘A Day that Will Live in Infamy’: Remembering the Attack on Pearl Harbor 80 Years Later

But that brings us to the other big issue of historical recognition for today, and it was 80 years ago today. On December the 7th, 1941, that the forces of the Empire of Japan launched an unprecedented sneak attack upon the forces of the United States, in particular, the United States Navy at the Pearl Harbor installation, the base there in the State of Hawaii, which was then not yet a state. Throughout the annals of American history, the words Pearl Harbor will be associated with that heinous attack and with the fact that it launched the United States into the conflagration known as World War II.

In just a matter of days, Adolf Hitler of the Third Reich in Germany, would declare war on the United States. And the United States was at that point, involved in this great global war on two different fronts, a European front and the Pacific front. But the conflict with Japan had been rising for the greater part of the generation. Once the war broke out, America simply had to win it. Just thinking of Senator Robert Dole’s death on Sunday at age 98, you recognize that as time is now fleeting, you’re looking at 80 years ago today. That means that a 17-year-old young sailor on the deck of one of those vessels there at Pearl Harbor would be 97 years old today. There are still a few returning to Pearl Harbor and elsewhere in honor. We are told that today, a 101-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor will attend the 80th memorial service. And we are told by CNN he’ll be accompanied by his daughter and dozens of kind strangers who made his visit possible.

The associated press tells us of another veteran and survivor of Pearl Harbor, who at age 101 visited the naval base, now a joint base yesterday. He had been serving as a Seaman First Class on the USS Oklahoma. He had decided to go below the deck on the vessel, but then he thought better and decided he had better go above. He was blown off of the vessel. But as you now know, the USS Oklahoma was sunk with a loss of at least 429 lives. That would be the second greatest death toll of any one ship. The greatest, of course, being now as part of the annals of American history, the loss aboard the USS Arizona, which went down carrying 1,177 to their deaths. Addressing a joint session of Congress for a declaration of war after the attack upon Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt referred to December 7, 1941 and the attack on Pearl Harbor as a day that will live in infamy.

And indeed, it did, and indeed, it does, and indeed, it shall, reminding us of the reality of war and of violence in a fallen world and of the necessity of defending freedom and of our gratitude for so many who have defended it for so long at such a cost. For those of us who were not there as Americans but are alive now, our response, our profound response, must be not only remembrance, but deep gratitude.

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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