The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Friday, February 18, 2022

It’s Friday, February 18, 2022.

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

Part I

An Unprecedented Reign and the Lessons of History: Queen Elizabeth II Set to Celebrate Platinum Jubilee

As we think about social, moral, cultural change, sometimes we see that change in a single lifetime. Sometimes that’s a human frame of reference that’s actually helpful to us. We have a very hard time imagining centuries, much less millennia. Lifetimes we can imagine. But some of them are very long, and some of those lives have seen so much historical, moral and social change. One of those lives, one of the most interesting lives to which we can look is the life of the current reigning monarch of Great Britain, Elizabeth II. There’s a reason why there’s so much attention to Queen Elizabeth during these days, and it’s because this month marks the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne. 70 years. She is one of the longest reigning monarchs in world history.

As you think about Elizabeth II, and you realize that she became the monarch of Great Britain, the Queen of Great Britain in 1952, you fast forward to 2022, and in those 70 years, an entire world, an entire civilization has changed. One has passed away. Another has come. An entirely new moral regime is now in place. Just one lifetime. Now, an equally interesting life and time span was represented by her late husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. He of course had a grandfather who was the king of Greece. He had other grandparents who had been the monarchs of Denmark. He also had aunts who were Russian grand duchesses before the Bolshevik Revolution. But as we think about Queen Elizabeth II, now celebrating that 70th anniversary on the throne, we need to consider just what is represented in her one life and why that matters, as we think in Christian worldview terms about the changes that have come into the world.

Let’s consider the fact that Princess Elizabeth, as she was known, was not expected to be the queen of England. She was expected to grow up as a royal princess, the daughter of the Duke of York, the second son of King George V. But it was her uncle who became, as the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII who was expected to be the long-reigning king of England. But he didn’t reign very long. He came to the kingship in January of 1936, and he abdicated as king before the end of that very same year. By the way, 1936, just think about it, one of the great transitional years in Western history. Just think of the looming world war, the rise of the Nazis, the rise and fall of empires and kingdoms and thrones.

And even as you are thinking about Queen Elizabeth, recognize that she spent her girlhood, at least in the beginning expecting to be a princess who would be married off, a footnote in history. And instead, she became the reigning queen of England, and now of course serving longer than any other British monarch. But our main concern here is moral change. There is a huge indication of vast moral change that we ought to think about in her one lifetime. She did become the heir to the throne in 1936, when her uncle, King Edward VIII abdicated the throne for, as he said, the love of a woman, the woman referred to in England simply as that woman, Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American. King Edward VIII gave up the throne in order to marry Wallis Simpson, and that meant that in his abdication, his younger brother, the Duke of York became king. And he was of course King George VI, the father of queen Elizabeth, then princess Elizabeth.

But here’s one of the big issues we need to note. It was the issue of marriage and divorce. It was the effort of the monarchy to represent the moral conscience of the nation. It was a very clear, unbending definition of marriage that led to the abdication of Edward VIII from the throne. Queen Elizabeth would never have become Queen Elizabeth if Edward VIII had merely followed the rules, the regulations, the doctrine and the teaching of the Church of England on the issue of marriage. We would not be talking about her today, and she would never have become known as Queen Elizabeth II. Back in 1936, the Church of England was resolute on the issue of marriage. It was unbending. The issue of divorce was unthinkable for the monarch, not to mention marrying a woman who had been already divorced twice.

It was so far be beyond the moral imagination of the royal house, the House of Windsor and of the Church of England, that the continuation of Edward VIII on the throne, if he was determined to marry Wallis Simpson, it became unthinkable. Thus he did the unimaginable. He became King known as Edward VIII early in 1936 upon the death of his father, King George V, but by the end of that year, he was no longer king, and simply because he had abdicated. Now, something else to keep in mind is that monarchies barely survived, at least European monarchies barely survived the tumult of the early decades of the 20th century, most particularly the crisis of the First World War. As the world went into that First World War, most of Europe was headed by imperial houses and by crowned heads, that is to say by kings and queens and emperors. But by the end of World War I, the Romanov dynasty that had ruled for centuries in Russia, gone. The Hapsburg Empire in Austria-Hungary had also simply fallen.

Monarchies had come and gone in some nations in Eastern Europe and already, and at least some places like Greece. And yet in England, you had the House of Windsor that survived World War I not only intact, but with even greater prestige and greater credibility on the part of the British people, precisely because of the demeanor of Queen Mary and King George V. They were understood as portraits of monarchical righteousness. They represented the nation. They were the physical incarnation in that sense of the definition of England. They had defended England over against its continental enemies and had emerged victorious. And the House of Windsor was in a very, very strong place at the end of World War I, at least, especially as compared to other European thrones.

But on the other hand, republican movements were just beginning to gain a bit of energy inside the United Kingdom and at least in some places throughout the British Empire. The empire and the House of Windsor were very much intact. They were far more intact than other monarchies. But at the same time, there was the imagination now on the part of many in Europe and at least some in England of the fact that there could be a national identity without a reigning monarch. That was decidedly a minority opinion. And so for that reason, the House of Windsor was actually in a very strong position. And then George V died and Edward VIII came to the throne. He had already been considered something of an incredibly handsome playboy during the time that he was the Prince of Wales and the heir apparent. His father had incredible concerns about his fitness to rule. His mother appeared to have even greater concerns about his fitness to rule. But given the law of primogeniture, he was the eldest son, and he would ascend to the throne, and he did, disastrously so.

In moral and cultural terms, what you need to recognize is that Edward VIII posed a direct threat to the House of Windsor and to the monarchy and Great Britain that the enemies of monarchy had never posed in the past. The great danger to the credibility of the monarchy and of the throne in England and Great Britain, it didn’t come from without, it wasn’t occasioned by revolution from below. It was actually brought about by the moral disaster of the reigning King Edward VIII, who by the way was never coronated. He became king the moment it was known or declared that his father had died. That’s another royal controversy by the way. But nonetheless, he never had a coronation because he was not on the throne long enough even to experience a coronation. So the House of Windsor that had appeared so secure, even and especially in light of comparison with other thrones, all of a sudden it is in a crisis, and you need to recognize that the reigning elite in England, the aristocracy knew it was a crisis.

Edward VIII had many friends, but eventually even those friends had to abandon him for the nation and for the monarchy to survive. There were those at the time who tried to paint Edward VIII in some kind of heroic light because he followed his heart, and he allowed himself the dalliance of a romance that was so strong that he was willing even to give up the throne. Americans found that a very interesting concept. But in Britain, it was understood that this was a direct assault upon the very identity of the nation. The compact between the people of the United Kingdom and the throne had been broken by a narcissistic prince who became king, and was unwilling to commit himself to the nation and to national service by forbidding himself the romantic partner that he insisted upon having over against centuries, indeed millennia of the moral teaching of the church, and that included the Church of England, of which he was supposed to be the supreme governor.

But there’s another aspect to this because there are those who would say, well, Queen Elizabeth and her mother and her father, they must have been very glad when Edward VIII abdicated because after all, that meant that the Duke of York would actually now become king. No longer a footnote in history, he will be the king who would actually reign in Great Britain and lead that nation as king during the tumult of the Second World War. It might be tempting and natural to think that Queen Elizabeth II would have seen an opportunity for her own service as queen of England in the education of her uncle, King Edward VIII. But she did not see it that way. Her father decidedly did not see it that way. Her mother did not see it that way.

As the second son of King George V, the Duke of York had married Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, and they had created a very clear bond as husband and wife. They also had two princesses, and that would mean of course Elizabeth and Margaret. And they had created a very happy domestic home. They were very happy. They were very secure. The Duke of York did not want, indeed that should be stated emphatically, he did not want a public role for reasons that have to do at least in part with trauma he had experienced as a child. He stammered, and that created a problem for a reigning king, especially one in the age of radio, not to mention television that would require a king to speak. And of course Hollywood has told at least that much of the story.

But the important thing to recognize is that King George VI never wanted to be king, but he did so as a duty. And he did so as a duty in one of the darkest hours of British history, during the years of the rise of Nazi Germany and the horrors of the Second World War, in which even Buckingham Palace experienced being bombed. King George VI’s Queen Consort, Queen Elizabeth, later known after the king’s death as Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, she never forgave Edward VIII for advocating and thrusting this responsibility upon her husband, and she blamed Edward VIII for bringing about the early death of her husband due to the stress and strain.

But even if George VI did eventually reign with such rectitude and such courage that he became so widely admired by the British people and also, by the way, by many Americans, King George VI and the queen came to the United States, the first British monarch to visit the United States since what might be described as the awkwardness and the unpleasantness of the American rebellion against the British monarchy. By then, all was basically forgiven because Britain desperately needed the United States, and the United States was basically regaining its understanding of national identity and continuity with the English-speaking tradition in general and with England in particular. King George VI reigned from 1936 until 1952, and just imagine how much happened in Western history during that time.

Part II

Queen Elizabeth II and the Moral Convulsions of the Twentieth Century: Hard Lessons Extend to Her Own Family

But his daughter became the queen in 1952, actually became queen on the 6th of February of 1952.

When she became queen is not known because it was not known when King George VI had died. He was found by one of his servants dead in his bed. Thus it was known at that time that even as the king had died, England now had a queen. But the queen was in a treetop in Kenya. The woman who went to Kenya in 1952 on a state visit as a princess, she returned a queen, and she became queen in a resort hotel known as Treetops, which overlooked the savannah in Kenya. She then began a very long and very faithful reign. She had made a pledge to the people that she would serve them for the entirety of her lifetime, which explains in part why it is very unlikely that she will abdicate and effectively retire. It seemed to be an indication that she was determined to serve until she took her very last breath.

In that sense, as we think about moral and cultural change, we need to recognize that Queen Elizabeth, like her father and like her grandfather represented a commitment to a certain kind of moral stability that has largely disappeared in the modern world. She is a relic in that sense. She is an antique. She holds herself to a standard of commitment and to a standard of service that is simply no longer to be taken for granted in her own kingdom and most tragically in her own family. The lifetime of Queen Elizabeth includes the arrival of the atomic age, not to mention the digital age. So many things have taken place. The world has changed. Empires and kingdoms have risen and fallen. The map of the world has changed and changed again over the last 70 years. But the biggest change is moral change.

The biggest change has come in the reality that we have a newly defined definition of marriage, that divorce, which was so unthinkable that her uncle had to abdicate the throne if he was determined to marry a divorced woman, divorce is now largely taken for granted. What was not an option for the British monarchy, not imaginable in the 1930s has now become something of such a viral nature that three of the four children of Queen Elizabeth II are or have been divorced. As you think about the massive redrawing of the entire cultural and moral and theological landscape, and you think of the radical secularization that has taken place in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, you recognize that the world that greeted Queen Elizabeth II when she took the throne is in many ways no longer the same world, as she continues her reign 70 years after she ascended to the throne in 1952. 2022 is a different moral world.

That’s not to say that moral truth has changed. Moral truth is determined by God. God doesn’t change. His moral truths do not change. But human moral judgments have changed, and they have changed again and yet again during those 70 years that Queen Elizabeth has been on the throne. All you have to do is ask yourself the question, how is it that she became queen? And then you fast forward to how do you explain her own family and all of its various scandals? The official celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee will take place in the summer with better weather. But even as we are talking about this and thinking about it today, we need to recognize in closing that as the queen gave an official address as the 70-year queen, she made a statement not just about herself but about her successor, the current Prince of Wales, Prince Charles and his wife known as the Duchess of Cornwall.

In her speech, the queen mentioned that the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla should become known as Queen Consort when her son, Prince Charles accedes to the throne. She made this as her own royal statement of prerogative. She gave her approval to Charles’ current and second wife, Camilla becoming known as queen by the British people. That’s going to be a very hard instruction for the British people to reject. But that then brings us full circle to recognize how much moral change is represented here from a queen who only became queen because of the unthinkability of divorce in the 1930s, to now a future queen to be known as Queen Camilla, who was divorced, who is married to Prince Charles, who would become king, who also was divorced. Simon Heffer, a British historian, speaking of Camilla said, “Her success is not because she has changed as a person to make the people admire her more. It’s because the people have changed their view of her and realize she was a very good sort all along.”

I will comment no further except to say that represents the fall of a great civilization, to go from the king or queen as a model of national rectitude to merely the understanding that a future queen is after all a fairly good sort. That would lead a rebellious American to ask the question, what possible purpose would having a queen serve if the queen is merely a good sort?

Part III

Is Cryptocurrency Gambling or a Form of Investment? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Next we’ll turn to the Mailbox.

I was very glad to get a question from 14-year-old Eli. He was asking about cryptocurrency. Thinking about the gambling issue, is cryptocurrency a form of gambling, or is it an investment? Eli said, “I don’t believe it’s gambling because you’re not paying for a chance to obtain the currency, but I’m not sure if it’s an investment either, since you’re not investing in a physical object or business.” Eli, thanks for listening, thanks for writing, thanks for asking such an intelligent question.

The fact is, I think the answer has to be that time will tell whether cryptocurrency is an investment or a form of speculation. By the way, that now covers a host of different products in which both might be true. In the classic sense, cryptocurrency like any other form of currency is not just based upon value by speculation.

But Eli, it’s also true that people will turn currency into an opportunity for financial speculation, basically just gambling as to whether the currency will gain or lose value relative to something else, usually some other currency or commodity. Big economic change and development sometimes come with something like a contested no man’s land of the Wild Wild West. There simply isn’t adequate evidence yet to know exactly how cryptocurrency will and will not work, or for that matter how it will or will not be defined. But it’s a very good day when a 14-year-old asks such a question. So Eli, thanks for listening. Keep thinking.

Part IV

Does Russia Have Legitimate Reasons to Reject Values of the West? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Next, as we think about Russia and Ukraine, Trey asks a very interesting question about Russia’s lack of appreciation for the West, when it comes to many Western moral imperatives, especially for example, the LGBTQ revolution. He raises the question, “Don’t Russians reject Western values of gay marriage and abortion on demand? Aren’t these values part of why Russians do not want Western influence? If so, Russians have a legitimate dislike to the West?” That’s with a question mark. Well, yes, Trey, there are serious issues here for Christians to consider. And we’re looking at valid rejection on the part, not just of Russia but of other countries like Poland and Hungary of the moral liberalism and progressivism that America is now seeking to transfer and to impose upon their own countries.

But when it comes to Russia, it’s very hard to keep a straight face or even to make a straight line, given the fact that it is such an outlaw state in so many other ways. Yes, there are very legitimate criticisms to be made of the West, and let’s line up to make those ourselves. But that doesn’t justify having 100,000 to 150,000 Russian troops on its border with Ukraine poised for military action and inexplicable, unless this is an effort at either intimidation or aggression. By the way, Trey, in coming days, we’re going to be looking at the Eastern European option when it comes to pressing back on some of the issues, including the sexual revolution that is now being so foisted upon the East by the West.

Part V

What American Interests Would Justify U.S. Military Intervention in Ukraine? How Would That Fit with Christian Just War Theory? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Another good question comes from Ernie, and it’s also about Ukraine, speaking about American interest and asking what American interests would justify intervening militarily in Ukraine and how this fits with a Christian understanding of just war theory? Well, just war theory represents the Christian worldview, an attempt to try to think through the questions of when war is justified, who has the right to declare war under what circumstances, how war is to be fought. Those are very important questions, but it’s really important to state that it is not at this point on the table that America would become directly involved in military action against Russia in Ukraine. As a matter of fact, there’s a very clear bipartisan policy on the part of the American government that that is not going to happen. By the way, and indeed it would be one of the most dangerous and ominous developments in world history, if we could imagine the United States and Russia in a face off that could quickly turn nuclear.

But Ernie, one aspect of Christian worldview thinking addresses the question of when and to what extent a stronger power bears a responsibility to protect a weaker power against a form of aggression. Now, there’s no clear answer to that. But there is also the matter of national interest in the sense that if Russia were to gain control of Ukraine, that would put Russia and Russian forces right on the border with Poland, which is a NATO partner with an absolute treaty necessity of the United States and allies joining in military action to defend Poland as a matter of our own national interest. The NATO treaty basically says that the parties agree that an invasion of one is the invasion of all.

Part VI

Who is the Highest Political Authority for Christians in the U.S.? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Another interesting question was asked by Oscar, “How do we understand the Christian call to be subject to the governing authorities in the context of our constitution? Is the president or the constitution our highest authority?” Great question, Oscar. The answer is neither one. The highest authority is God that we as Christians must recognize that. But politically speaking, the highest authority cited here is the people. We, the people. That’s the important thing here, the consent of the governed. So the constitution gives justification for the kind of government that will serve the people in the name of the people, for the people, by the people.

Now, clearly that can become an absolutely a disastrous meaningless circle if we just say for the people. But the people have to recognize in one sense or another a legitimate form of government. Constitutionalism points to the appropriate government and says the government described in this constitution is the legitimate government. The president is a constitutional official and the presidency of course deserves our respect and admiration. But the president is only head of the state and head of the government. He is not the state and he is not the government.

Part VII

Would Abortion Become Illegal if SCOTUS Reverses Roe v. Wade? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Couple of good questions about abortion and the looming Dobbs decision to be handed down by the Supreme Court. One of the listeners is asking, “If Roe v. Wade is struck down, wouldn’t abortion become illegal?” The answer is no, because what would be struck down is the Supreme Court’s precedent in Roe v. Wade that there is a woman’s right to abortion in the constitution. So if Roe v. Wade is reversed, merely reversing Roe v. Wade would be to say there is no such constitutional right, and thus at this point, leave to the states the right and power to legislate the issue of abortion. It would not make all abortion illegal. That’s what we hope for. That’s what we have to work for. But the reversal of Roe v. Wade in itself would not accomplish that.

Brian similarly asked, “Is there a chance that the Supreme Court could go even further and simply rule that life in the womb is human life, and therefore abortion is itself the unconstitutional taking of human life? Could the Supreme Court go that far?” Well, the answer is yes, they could, but almost assuredly they will not, because they signal in taking a case what particular question or questions they’re going to answer. And that is not one of the questions they indicated. They are taking the question as to whether or not a state has the right to restrict abortion in the way that the Mississippi law does. If they rule conclusively on that, it will reverse Roe v. Wade.

But in this case, they do not yet take the question as to whether or not abortion should be rendered illegal in all circumstances. Now again, we have to hope for, pray for, strive for that result, but we’re going to have to work long after the Dobbs decision to continue that fight and that struggle.

Again, we always appreciate your questions, and each week we’ll get to as many as we can.

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’ll meet you again on Monday for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

I am always glad to hear from readers. Write me using the contact form. Follow regular updates on Twitter at @albertmohler.

Subscribe via email for daily Briefings and more (unsubscribe at any time).