Thursday, March 17, 2022
It's Thursday, March 17th, 2022.
I'm Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
‘They Worshiped the Creature Rather than the Creator’: What’s Behind the Moral Confusion in Your Culture
The headlines over the course of the last 24 hours have been nothing less than bizarre. And I mean, bizarre as corrupted in a society of incredible moral confusion that has reached the point of outright moral rebellion. And what we also see is the fact that popular culture and government are very much complicit, along with others in the elites of the society in pushing this kind of revolution forward and presenting it public as progress and as inevitability. And that's what we're seeing right now in a couple of developments that have taken place in the past 24 hours, but I am not going to begin with those headlines. I am going to begin with scripture, Romans 1:18.
Paul writes, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and righteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world in the things that have been made. So, they are without excuse."
But of course, the passage then goes on to tell us that even as God has revealed his order, his design and creation, and indeed even his moral law and his own invisible attributes; the fact is the human beings no longer see rightly what is plainly there. There is rebellion behind this. This is not something that happened to us, it is the result of our sin.
But then Paul writes this, "For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise., They became fools and exchange the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore, God gave them up in the lust of their hearts to impurity to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the creator who is blessed forever. Amen."
In the normal course of events, our normal process on The Briefing, we will start with a contemporary development, perhaps a story in the news, a controversy in the culture, and then we would think about how Christians should think about this. And of course, Scripture is the ultimate authority in establishing how Christians are to think and what Christians are to think.
The Moral Revolution Demands Absolute Surrender: USA Today Announces Rachel Levine — A 'Transgender Woman' — As a Woman of the Year
But today, I am starting with the scripture, with Romans 1, because it is implausible to begin today with some of the developments that have emerged just in the last 24 hours, because we simply have to center ourselves before turning to what has become headline news and sensationalism all across the social media environment, as well as major media.
Now, the first has to do with USA Today. USA Today ran an article published just in the last 24 hours in which it presents an interview with the individual identified as, quote, "the nation's highest ranking openly transgender official."
Now we have discussed this official before. This official goes by the name of Rachel Levine, and this individual identifies as a transgender woman. Now, on The Briefing months ago, I discussed the fact that President Biden had made this nomination. It's now an appointment. This is a Senate-confirmed position. And we are to told that it is the first major Senate-confirmed addition of someone to the nation's sub-cabinet ranks who is openly transgender. In this case, someone presented as an openly transgender woman.
But when this state's highest ranking, it's referring to the admiral position, actually a four-star admiral, in what most Americans probably do not know is a federal commissioned corps. In this case, the U.S. Public Health Service commissioned corps. In other words, this is an admiral rank and that's because this particular corps, which comes under now the United States Public Health Service, follows the ranks and the nomenclature and many of the traditions of the United States Navy.
Levine was confirmed by the United States Senate, and I discussed the fact that we really are looking at a bizarre development in American history. We're also looking at the "T," as an LGBTQ, the transgender revolution, and we're looking at the fact that the elites in our society who are pressing this agenda of moral progressivism and a rebellion against the very structures of creation, they are now hammering this at every opportunity.
So, just in the last 24 hours, USA Today announced that Dr. Rachel Levine, now Admiral Rachel Levine, is presented as the next in the series of USA Today's Women of the Year. The beginning of the article in USA Today says this, "Rachel Levine is one of USA Today's women of the year, a recognition of women across the country who have made a significant impact. The annual program," the paper tells us, "is a continuation of Women of the Century, a 2020 project that commemorated the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote. Meet this year's honorees at womenoftheyear.USAToday.com."
Except of course, this isn't a woman. This is a man claiming the identity of a woman, claiming the name of a woman, and we are looking at the confusion in our society reaching the point where we are being told by USA Today that we are to celebrate this particular woman, as identified by USA Today, without qualification in terms of the title of this award. We are to celebrate this identity and understand this represents moral progress for the United States. So much so that USA Today has made this a major issue.
Now, a little footnote here. USA Today, that particular paper published by Gannett that emerged in the last decades of the 20th century presented as, on the one hand supposedly the nation's national newspaper, and on the other hand, media-lite. Basically just a very, very minimal newspaper as compared to, say, the New York Times or the Washington Post. It was supposed to be for people who didn't have much time to read a newspaper, and USA Today has complied with that by presenting a newspaper that isn't much of a newspaper.
But what it is now is a propaganda piece for the moral revolutionaries. This paper hardly ever misses an opportunity to try to beat the drum for the entirety of the LGBTQ revolution, and furthermore, for the larger project of moral revolution and moral permissivism, and you have the fact that bleeds over even obnoxiously, continuously into the sports coverage of USA Today. But in this case, it's not sports coverage, it's news coverage, and we are told that Dr. Rachel Levine is now to be celebrated as the most recent USA Today Woman of the Year.
There's a huge story behind this, the massive cultural of this moral liberalism, but there's something else here. It's a deeply personal story, and the personal story is actually one we can't avoid at this point, precisely because of the national attention drawn to this singular individual in this story. USA Today is offering an interview about what this particular would say to America about the meaning of life, and that comes down to the words, "Be true to yourself." That's something we're going to look at in just a moment, but right now let's look at what we're really dealing with here.
We're dealing with an individual who entered professional life as a pediatrician as Dr. Richard Leland Levine, and we're looking at someone who's served as the highest ranking public service doctor in the state of Pennsylvania, equivalent to the position of surgeon general in our federal government. But we're looking at someone who basically entered the national agenda when President Biden appointed Dr. Levine to be the assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Now, that sub-cabinet position still requires Senate confirmation. And the big news was that Dr. Levine, now Assistant Secretary Levine, would be the very first person openly transgendered to be confirmed to a position by the United States Senate. But the phrase "highest ranking" here has to do with that admiral rank. Again, most people don't even know out the military aspect of the United States Public Health Service Commission Corps. And as the head of that organization, Dr. Levine, by this appointment, became four-star Admiral Levine. And so, that's where the highest ranking part of this headline comes from.
But what's most amazing in this story by Jarrad Henderson and Suzette Hackney of USA Today is the fact that what is being presented to the American public is that we are now simply to see the transgender revolution as a largely completed project for now, and the nation is now simply being told we now must not only accept this, we must celebrate this as USA Today celebrates Dr. Rachel Levine, the current name by which Dr. Levine goes, as the next in its series of women of the year.
Now to be honest, as I was thinking about today's edition of The Briefing, this wasn't on my screen. This wasn't an issue that I anticipated talking about. That's going to be true for the next issue we discuss as well. But the fact is, here we are. And what's important about this is not just the opportunism of USA Today, but the fact that this is being force fed to the American people as something that we simply now have to accept as a new moral reality. And you're looking also at the fact that this comes with a worldview. That worldview, on the part of Dr. Levine, has to do with looking within and being true to yourself.
Now, that makes perfect sense given the worldview that produces the transgender ideology. It's a worldview that says that we as human beings basically determine who we are. Now, in the language or in the narratives often told by people who identify as transgender, it is a story of discovering who they really are, of discovering their true identity and their true self. That's very similar to what we see here in the interview with Dr. Levine.
Well into the interview, the doctor is asked, "What is your definition of courage?" And Dr. Levine says, "I think my definition of courage would be to be true to yourself. Be true to who you are, and then to pay that forward to work towards the common good. That's what I have always tried to do."
Now, that language, "be true to yourself," it's very familiar. It comes to us, of course, in quintessential form in Shakespeare's play Hamlet. But the reality is that it is a very, very weak argument for human identity. It is so weak that it basically says that we are who we discover ourselves to be by looking within.
In the interview, when Dr. Levine is asked the question in for transgender nonconforming or questioning people, "What is your advice to them on their journey?" Dr. Levine said, "I think you have to be true to yourself, and I think that you have to be who you are. You have tremendous worth just for who you are, no matter who you love, no matter who you are, no matter what your gender identity, sexual orientation, or anything else. And to be true, be true to that, and then everything else will follow."
Now, I just want to put in a qualifier here. I don't believe Dr. Levine means all of these words. I don't believe any sane person means all of these words. I don't think that we say to all of humanity, just consider what that would include, who that would include; I don't think we say to all of humanity, "No matter who you are, no matter what your gender identity, sexual orientation or anything else, be true. Be true to that."
Without going into any kind of lists of sexual perversions, let's just say that at least when it comes to some of them, you would have even, I'm sure, Dr. Levine saying, "Don't be true to that." This article is written, and this news comes out with USA Today writing and presenting this story in such a way that every right-minded decent human being is supposed to nod and say, "Yeah, that makes perfect sense." Except of course, it doesn't.
Now by the way, one of the issues from a Christian worldview perspective that comes immediately to us here is that there is no way for us to ground our identity in any substantial dimension in who we discover ourselves to be by looking within.
The entire Christian worldview is based upon understanding that, prior to looking within, we are to look to our creator. And not only that, we are to look to creation. I didn't by accident begin The Briefing today with looking at Romans 1, because Romans 1 says that all human beings are without excuse, because God has so revealed his own identity and moral order, in the natural order, in creation, that no one's going to be able to get to God on the day of judgment and say, "I didn't know. I had no idea."
But in this particular news story, we also see not just the level of confusion, and for that matter denial to which we are being morally called by the elites of our society, by major media, Hollywood, the entertainment complex, politicians; we also see how various sectors of the society seek to reinforce this progressivist direction. Let me give you an example.
After this news story broke from USA Today, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, former National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama, current Director of the Domestic Policy Council in the Biden administration, Ambassador Susan Rice; she tweeted, "Congratulations to the trailblazing HHS Admiral Rachel Levine on being named one of USA Today's Women of the Year. Your leadership during this pandemic has been vital." Again, just jumping on this, retweeting the headline story from USA Today, "'Be true to yourself': A message from the nation's highest-ranking openly transgender official."
As Christians, we need to understand what is being demanded of us. It is being demanded that we enter into this exercise in mass delusion, that we deny what is clearly evident in creation, and we deny what is clearly revealed in God's word; and instead buy into this mass experience in saying, "Nope, it's not what it looks like." And indeed, I simply say, all you have to do is look at the photographs and know that's what we're being told.
And the same thing is true of Lia Thomas, identified as now a member of the women's swimming team at the University of Pennsylvania. And you even have half the members of that swim squad speaking the obvious saying, "This isn't going to work." But now you have USA Today saying, "Oh yes, it's going to work, and you're going to get with the revolution or you're going to get absolutely plowed over by the progressives." So much so that now you have someone who is clearly not a woman who is identified as one of USA Today's Women of the Year.
Those who will not get with the revolution are described as being unloving. This is a very, very difficult predicament for biblical Christians, because to state the obvious and the profound biblical responsibility, we simply can't join this revolution. We join this revolution, and we are denying what God has revealed in scripture and in creation. The consequences of that are just as devastating as the apostle Paul described in Romans 1, with eternal consequences. But we also have to redefine what is being presented here as love, because love here is being presented as nothing more than unmitigated acceptance.
In the case of Dr. Levine, the demand, the urgency is for self-acceptance. In political context here, the demand is for mass public acceptance of this new claim about the transgender revolution. But another basic principle of the Christian worldview is that nothing which is a lie is loving. There is no such thing as a lie that is based in love, there is no such thing as mass delusion that is based in truth, and there is no way to honor God while denying his revelation in creation and in Scripture.
And by the way, let's understand that this gets down to the character of God. It gets down to the character of God in more than one way. Either God is good, or he isn't. Either God is infinitely good, or we are doomed. Either God's creation is good because he declared it to be good, including making human beings as male and as female. He either made creation faulty, or he didn't. He either meant what he tells us in his word, or he didn't.
And if it is true that conservative Christians are now said to be unloving simply because we cannot enter into this exercise in mass delusion, the implication is that the God of the Bible also is not loving; that he and his creation are not good. That what it means that God made us in his image, gave us life and revealed his purpose for us even in our bodies, that that is false and not true.
This gets back to another basic principle of Christian worldview thinking, and that is that when you look at any kind of confusion, you have to understand that comes after the fall. There is clarity before the fall. And this is where you have to understand that when it comes to, say, a corruption of personal identity or of the sexual impulse that comes after the fall, it is not found in the perfection of creation. Which is to say that when you explain something like this, and here remember something else. In Romans 1, Paul isn't talking about some people being sinners. He's indicting every single human as a sinner. When he talks about the ultimate exercise in the delusion of sin, he's not talking about only some people, he's talking about all human beings. That's why every single one of us can find salvation only through the atonement accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ. But in illustrating what human sin looks like, the apostle Paul mentions certain sins in particular, and he roots those sins in the rejection of creation itself.
And over against what we are now being told by those who would be the captains of our culture and the masters of our fate, we have to understand that going along with this revolution means abandoning scriptural sanity. It means denying biology, denying reality. And it means unfaithfulness to Christ, nothing less.
Two Dads, One Donor Mom, Two Surrogate Mothers = One Social Media Circus that Reveals Moral Corruption
But then the next big issue that got so much attention yesterday is political commentator Dave Rubin, sometimes identified as a conservative who tweeted a picture of himself alongside his husband with pictures of two ultrasounds representing two babies, and with the announcement on a sign, "Coming soon, Baby 1, 8/22/22, and Baby 2, 10/14/22."
Well, here you have two men who the government says are married to each other. And yet, you also have the announcement of two baby coming on different dates, separated by weeks. You unwind this entire story, it takes no less than five people. It takes a mother who had donated her cells in terms of the eggs. It takes the two men who claim to be married, and according to the government are married, who have donated their own cells. You do the math. And then you have two surrogate mothers. So, two surrogate mothers, two donor dads, one donor mother. That's five people.
Now, I go back to what we talked about earlier this week with the complexities of surrogacy. There is nothing morally suspects about the babies who will be born. What's morally suspect, in the most radical sense, is how these babies have come to be. And one of the issues I talked about when we discussed surrogacy and the surrogacy industry in Ukraine that has simply been exposed under the conditions of war, is the fact that the more you abstract all of the parts of this equation from the context of marriage, mother and a father in the conjugal union producing a baby; the more you abstract, the more morally suspect everything becomes.
And in this case, just consider what we're looking at. We're looking at a homosexual couple. We're looking at, nonetheless, the claim that they are having babies. You're looking at the fact that they clearly can't have babies in any normal sense. And so, they've each donated sperm cells. A mother has donated her eggs. Two other women are necessary as surrogates. If this is having a baby, it means an entire team necessary to have a baby. Clearly, this is a redefinition of everything God intended in creation. It is a substitution of God's plan for the plans of sinful humanity.
Merely Being Against the Left Does Not Make You A Conservative — So-Called Conservatives Who Defy Creation Are Not Conservatives At All
But we also have to face something else, and this tells us a lot about how culture changes and how complex these kinds of equations can be. In this case, Dave Rubin is sometimes described as a conservative. He was far more liberal, a progressive, but he experienced some kind of intellectual change. He now a lot of followers on social media, and as a commentator he has a lot of influence, and that includes influence with a lot of people who identify as conservatives. He has done programming for a number of conservative platforms. He is actually more libertarian than conservative. He's pro-abortion, he is pro-same sex marriage. He's pro just about everything from what I can tell you'd identify as LGBTQ.
He is basically a libertarian. That is very different than a conservative. He's granted the word conservative because he has repudiated some parts of liberalism, but I simply want to remind us of this. There is no conservatism that is conservative in any sense and will last for any amount of time and has any or coherence, if that conservatism supposedly begins in rebelling against creation itself.
And yet, some identified right now as not only critics of the left but as conservatives, including any number of those who are sometimes identified as conservative who've fallen all over themselves to congratulate this same sex male couple on supposedly having two babies. The reality is that if you find this something to celebrate, if you find this something that you can endorse; you are actually not a conservative in any sense. Deal with it.
You are not a conservative if you agree on an attempt to try to unravel creation and say, "On the other side of unraveling creation, let's try to see what we might conserve." It's another reminder that being against the left does not make you a conservative. Rather, a consistent effort to try to conserve what God has given us in life and in all things, that's conservative.
It takes courage these days even to think about these things sanely.
In a Day of Diminishing Conviction: Demonstrations of Courage Are Worth Celebrating, Wherever They Are Found
But to that courage we are called. And yesterday, there was much discussion across the United States about the address given by the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to a session of the United States Congress.
Demonstrations of courage are all too rare in the world today, and so when you see even a vestige of courage, much less an open and continuing display of courage; our attention is drawn to it, precisely because it is so rare. There'll be much more for us to consider about Russia and Ukraine. And of course, it's a matter of life and death for so many in Ukraine right now. But we also have to understand that courage is required of every single human being in some context of life. And in our fallen complex, confusing, rebellious world today; courage sometimes comes down to knowing the difference between male and female, knowing that difference between the truth and a lie, and summoning the courage to say so.
Thanks for listening to The Briefing.
For more information, go to my website at AlbertMohler.com. You can find me on Twitter by going to twitter.com/AlbertMohler. For information about The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to sbts.edu. For information on Boyce College, just go to BoyceCollege.com.
I'll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.