The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Friday, April 1, 2022

It’s Friday, April 1st, 2022.

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

Part I

Unborn Life Under Threat, All the Way to Birth: Maryland Legislature Passes Radical Abortion Bill and Sends It To Governor Hogan

The preservation of and protection of the sanctity of human life is a frontline Christian concern and Christian responsibility. Thus, we have to be particularly alert when there is a big change on this front. It has happened just over the last few days, that a front has emerged in the state of Maryland.

Maryland’s legislature has adopted a new abortion law that will now be sent to the governor of that state for signature or for veto. This new legislation effectively liberalizes Maryland’s abortion law beyond just about anything that would have been imaginable a few years ago. For example, this new law in Maryland expands the categories of those who may perform abortions. It’s no longer going to be limited to medical doctors. It’s going to be open to others as well.

But the language of the bill is most ominous in that it basically justifies abortion and legalizes abortion, all the way up until the very moment of birth. Arguably, the original language contemplated for this bill would have gone even further. There’s a big story there, as you imagine. Similar issues have arisen with very radical pro-abortion legislation in states like Rhode Island, Illinois, New York. But the original language of the bill in Maryland actually meant that no criminal action, not even a criminal investigation, would be instigated if the fetus or the baby died during what was defined as the perinatal period.

Now here’s what’s really important. The perinatal period means the period of pregnancy or the period of pregnancy and birth. And that would go up at least until the moment of birth, but the phrase perinatal period, actually in legal and medical terms, extends beyond even the moment of birth. This would have meant no criminal scrutiny if the infant dies even in that perinatal period but after the moment of birth. It was a truly chilling development.

Now, by the way, it still is a truly chilling development because even with that language changed to refer to the perinatal period as the pregnancy, the reality is that means at any point in the pregnancy. And once again, we are looking at the horrifying reality of abortion as represented in what even most Americans who think themselves pro-abortion, or they might classify themselves as pro-choice, even as what they think, when they think of late term pregnancy, they understand you really are looking at a baby that looks like a baby in the womb.

You’re looking at a baby that is just undeniably a baby. And yet the reality is that these third trimester abortions are real and they are happening. This legislation just underlines the fact that at least in Maryland, if this bill becomes law, that inhabitant of the womb has no inherent right to life, no inherent dignity all the way up until the moment of birth, all the way. The report in the Washington Post simply introduced the Maryland development in these words, “In the most sweeping change to Maryland’s abortion laws in three decades, state lawmakers passed a bill that would dramatically expand who could perform abortions and forbid most insurers from charging patients out-of-pocket costs for the procedure.”

Another very interesting fact comes up immediately. This particular radical piece of abortion access legislation passed in the Maryland legislature only on the votes of Democrats. There were no Republican votes for the legislation. It was, even as the Washington Post recognizes, a party line vote. The politics of the situation are that in Maryland, even as the Democrats have a majority in the legislature, it is a Republican who sits in the governor’s mansion, and that is Republican governor, Larry Hogan.

But Larry Hogan is not predictably conservative on many of these issues that will be in contrast to at least many other Republican governors. There is no current indication as to whether or not Governor Hogan might veto this legislation. He well might, and indeed he morally must. But nonetheless, it’s interesting that we are told in this Washington Post piece, “The Democratic controlled legislature is rushing its priorities on abortion, climate change, paid family leave, and gun control among others, to the governor’s desk so that they would have time to override him before they are required to adjourn on April the 11th.”

Again, they’re looking at the fact that even if the governor were to veto this legislation, they think they have a chance at overriding the governor’s veto. I begin on this issue today because it is one of the most important developments on the sanctity of human life in recent weeks and months. And it’s huge. We really are looking at the fact that two Americas are coming into view, an America in which abortion will be celebrated, legislated, legal, made available, funded at just about any point in pregnancy, and another America in which the dignity and sanctity of unborn life is recognized.

We’re increasingly looking at two different Americas on this issue, and that will inevitably point to a realigned political map. The issue will be clear. Where a state stands on the issue of abortion is going to have a great deal to do with indicating where it’ll stand, for example, in a presidential election every four years. Given the connection of worldview issues, that will not be by accident.

Part II

‘In Oregon, We Say Gay’: Oregon Governor Responds to Florida Parental Education Law — But Why Is Oregon So Different from Florida?

Next, yesterday on The Briefing, we talked about the state of Florida and its confrontation with Disney and what’s going on inside the Disney corporation. Just incredibly revealing. But once again, we see the two Americas revealed. Let’s just take the fact that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the legislation. He had called for the legislation. He had publicly supported legislation. He has been involved in public debate and in public representation on behalf of the bill passed in Florida.

You’ll recall that opponents of the bill called it the Don’t Say Gay bill. Well, in response to that, a governor of a very different state has spoken up. That would be Oregon’s governor, Kate Brown. Oregon’s governor said, actually, in response to Florida, “In Oregon, we say gay.” Well, she certainly says gay because she’s identified as the first openly gay person to be elected governor of one of the 50 states.

Now already she’s been joined by Jared Polis, who’s the governor of Colorado. But in this case, she also represents a different letter in LGBTQ. She represents B, publicly identified as bisexual. Governor Brown, in response to the Florida governor signing of this legislation said, “Oregonians are welcoming of our LGBTQIA community members. We want to make sure Oregon is a safe, inclusive, and welcoming place for all.” She posted that on social media as well.

There’s so many interesting aspects to that. But just look again. We saw the same thing in at least some of the Disney communications. We’ve had LGBT. We’ve had LGBTQ. We’ve had LGBTQ plus, but here you have the governor using LGBTQIA. Well, it’s going to be very interesting to see where all those letters go in the future. The moral revolution these days marches on letter by letter, all in caps, of course.

As we’re talking about this, by the way, let’s just step back for a moment because we should perhaps ask the question, why would Oregon be so different than Florida? It’s interesting to come back at that and say, “Well, in terms of worldview analysis, there’s several things for us to consider. First of all, demography. Florida and Oregon are very different states. Throughout most of American history, Florida was really considered a part of the south.

And so, as you think about regional differences in the United States and a greater conservatism on moral issues in the south, you would say Florida is probably predictably more conservative than Oregon, because Oregon has been, for the most part, even though it’s had a bipartisan history, it has been on many moral issues, more liberal than the rest of the country because that entire region of the Pacific Northwest has been more liberal.

That area, the Pacific Northwest, has also been more secular. In fact, one of the distinctions between the two most liberal parts of our culture, which are the West Coast and the East Coast, one of the distinctions is that as you think of, say, the Atlantic Northeast coast, you had the influence of institutional Christianity, the fact that most of those colonies were at least committed officially to some form of Christianity.

You also had the history of those regions in which the American Northeast, the Yankee land in the United States, was the very heart, not of one, but of two massive revivals known as the First and Second Great Awakenings, very influential in the shaping of American culture. But all of that, both of those historic waves of revival that affected the Northeast in particular, they didn’t affect the Northwest because at that point, the Northwest was neither highly populated nor highly congregationalized.

There are other issues that set those states apart as well. But it’s just really interesting to look at something like a map of the United States and recognize we are talking about regional differences that still have an ongoing significance. Those regional differences, at least in part, also point to worldview differences. But this points to another development, which is that if you’re looking at the cities inside those major states, the larger the city, the more that city is likely to mirror cities of the same size in other states.

That’s to say that Oregon and Florida have very different governors, Oregon and Florida have very different histories, but Portland and Miami, well, probably more alike than different. One other interesting thing on this issue, you have governors seizing the opportunity to point out their differences with other governors. You have states pointing out their differences with other states. You have Gavin Newsom, the very liberal Democratic governor of California saying to Disney, “Don’t let your jobs go to old repressive, conservative, Florida. Keep your jobs here.”

Meanwhile, you have governors in more conservative states also pointing out the distinctives of their conservative states as compared to the more liberal states. And by the way, one of those distinctives is often far lower taxation.

All that just reminds us there’s far more behind many of these headlines than might at first appear.

Part III

‘What Does Family Look Like to You?’: The Destabilization of “Family” In American Culture

Speaking of headlines, USA Today ran a headline in recent days, asking the question, “What does family look like to you?” This was on the opinion page. It was under the category of their Our View column, looking at a changing America.

But I draw attention to this because what this article represents is not just identity politics and a new sense of inclusion. It’s the complete destabilization of the definition of family. It means that if you look at the implication of this article, family means whatever, anyone, at any time. And for that matter, does it mean plural people or just a single person? Because you also have those who are trying to redefine family in terms of single people.

But nonetheless, you have the argument here. Everything goes. Every family is just a family. There is no normative picture of a family. The article begins, “The makeup of the US family has changed.” You have a Pew Research Center statement, “Parents today are raising their children against a backdrop of increasingly diverse, and for many, constantly evolving family forms.” We’re told at least 15% of kids live with parents in a remarriage, 7% are living with cohabiting parents.

It goes on and on and on. The basic point is there is no definition of family, no stable definition of family. That just gets back to a basic question of the Christian worldview, is there such a definition or not? If there is such a definition, and let’s be clear, the Bible says there is, what do we think about that as we think about other family forms, or other gatherings, or other people living under other arrangements? What do we think of all that?

Well, the Bible actually speaks of two very important categories. The first of them is the normative family. And there’s simply no question that that’s present in scripture. It’s explicit in both the Old and the New Testaments. Now it is more expansive as a category than many modern Americans might think, because as you think of the nuclear or the natural family, in the United States, you think of mother and father and their children.

The Bible’s definition is more expansive than that, but is more expansive generationally in terms of extended family. In other words, you have parents and their children, parents and their children, parents and their children, that’s parents and their children by birth or by adoption. The family just expands in terms of the extended family, but at the heart of every one of those extended families are families, mother and father and their children, mother and father and their children.

Now the Bible also acknowledges the reality of broken families, which is to say that sometimes there isn’t a mother in the picture. Sometimes there isn’t a father in the picture. Sometimes there is something in this picture that is different than the mother and father and their children in the home. And then the question is, what does that mean for God’s people? Well, in the Old Testament, there were some very clear are protections given to families that did not have mother and father and children in the family, but might have had some vulnerability.

It was a part of the responsibility, even the covenant responsibility of God’s people, to take care of those families. The New Testament affirms that basic family structure, even as it points out that the family of faith is eternal, whereas the family here on earth is temporal. It still points out the fact that by the time you get to say the book of Ephesians in the New Testament, it’s explicit. It is basically the same picture, mother and father and their children in the family.

Extended family, yes. The family of faith, yes. But when it comes to raising, the central picture is mother and father and their children in the family. The implication of this USA Today article is, there is no right picture. There is no right answer to the question, what is the natural family? Here’s where the Christian church understands that sympathy, empathy, concern for all does not mean destroying any notion, any normative notion of the family. It can’t mean denying the category of the natural family.

The biblical worldview tells us that if we try to deny, try to subvert, try to reject the institutional structures that God has given us that lead to human happiness, then it’s human unhappiness that will follow. And that’s exactly what we also see reflected in this article. One final observation, before we turn to questions, as I think about this article, it’s really interesting that I hadn’t noticed to the same degree in any other kind of coverage like this, the fact that this is all absolutely about the present.

It’s all as if the question’s limited to a snapshot of, say, March or April of 2022. But we understand that the family is actually an institution, a structure that looks backward and forward. It’s about past, present, and future. You have to look at many of these arrangements and wonder, in fact, wonder out loud, how long are any of these going to last? What exactly does this look like, as you think not only of children, but of grandchildren, as you look to the future?

I look at this article and I see a whole lot of questions about how much of this is even anticipated to be continued as we go forward in time. Christians are called to respect every single human being and to be concerned for the welfare of every single human being. But that doesn’t mean that we deny what we know. It gives a whole new meaning as we think about past, present, and future to all those biblical references about our children and our children’s children.

Part IV

Is a Military Draft Moral? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Well, let’s turn to questions. It’s always interesting to see what questions are sent by listeners to The Briefing. We’re going to turn to several today. Let’s get to it.

The first question comes from Caleb, a 17 year old young man. He says that he has a question about the draft. That means the military draft. He says, “With all the tension rising in our world, my entire eighth period Algebra 2 class got into a debate over whether the draft is morally correct.”

He says, “Some claim that we are beyond that,” but he says, looking at the Russian invasion of Ukraine, “I argued that it was morally correct to protect our freedom.” Caleb, a very interesting question. I appreciate you asking it. Well, for one thing, let’s just remind ourselves that at times the United States, along with other governments, other democratic constitutional governments has conscripted or drafted, or you might even say legally coerced young men into involvement in the military, indeed into the army, into the armed services, into war. Sent them into battle against their will, in some cases.

This goes back to the fact that sometimes the defense of the nation requires that it is the nation that makes a decision. And it has to coerce that decision, even with its own citizens, in order to have an adequate military response. This has been a huge, huge issue throughout American history. It was a massive issue, especially on the Northern side, during the civil war. It became, again, a very big issue in World War I.

World War I in the experience of modern America really became the first big test case for the draft. World War I was new in American history in that it was an enterprise that took Americans across the Atlantic, into war in foreign territory, and yet it was a conscription of soldiers into that army or into those armed services. And that we continue, of course, into World War II. The draft continued through the Korean conflict and it continued through the Vietnam war. It came to an end after the Vietnam war.

I was born in 1959, I’m now 62 years old. And as a young man, I fully expected to have to register for the draft, because the draft was so much a part of American life. But at the time that Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976, even with Gerald Ford as president, before that there was a move to stop the legal necessity of registration for the draft. The draft itself ceased, and then it was a matter of redefining the American military into a “all volunteer force”.

But one of the most important things to recognize is that even in the 1970s, the United States government never said it would never reinstitute the draft. It never said that there was any constitutional barrier to the draft. It was a political decision made in the exhaustion of the nation after repeated wars in the 20th century to say, “We are going to redefine our military as an all-volunteer military.”

America’s military has been very strong, but if you get into a situation in which the United States military needs conscripts, that is, means needs draftees, it will no doubt take that action. That is, Congress would no doubt take that action. Caleb, I’ll just say, the way you frame the question, I’m with you. I believe that it is morally right to defend your nation and the nation can be morally right to require that service of young men.

That raises a whole host of questions, doesn’t it? Because these days, in terms of the debate in Congress, there are those who are saying, “Well, if men and women are equal in all respects, why shouldn’t women equally have to register with selective service? Why, if there is a draft, would they not be equally susceptible to be drafted? Here’s where you’re going to find out whether or not our society actually means what it says when it says there is no difference.

Now I’ll go back on the fact, I don’t believe the society really means that there is no difference. It means that the society wants to say there is no difference when it wants to say there is no difference. But if you want to see Americans all of a sudden believe, oh yes, there is a difference, just see an awful lot of American mothers and fathers who are told, “Oh, by the way, your daughters may be drafted into combat as well as your sons.” My guess is that a lot of hypothetical support for an egalitarian draft would disappear in a hurry.

Part V

Is the Language ‘Gender Assigned at Birth’ Incongruous with the Christian Position? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Next, I’ll go to a different question. Joel writes in about the language “Gender assigned at birth.” He says, “Doesn’t that statement affirm the supposition that a doctor gets to pick gender when we are born? It also,” he says, “seems incongruent with Christian theology regarding life beginning at conception.” He says, “Should we instead be saying that gender is assigned by God or created at conception”? Theologically, Joel, you’re on very solid ground.

Sometimes when we’re looking at the language used by a society, we have to say, “We can’t use that language.” The fact is that in a lot of legislation and public debate, the phrase is “gender assigned at birth.” But here’s what’s crucial and a little jump in the logic of your question. The fact is that as you look at that legal statement, gender assigned at birth, that was never in terms of its historical usage, to mean anything other than the gender or the sex that is actually apparent at birth.

It’s not just assigned. It’s assigned as in you check this box or that box. You write in boy or you write in girl. You recognize male or female. That language in the history of American medicine was never about just assigning a gender. And that’s why I say it should be the gender recognized at birth. It should be what is clear just in terms of, shall we say, the most natural of natural revelation? Joel, you raise another issue about language. Sometimes inside the church, we have to be really, really clear that we mean, even by the same words, something different than what the world means.

And yet, we can’t avoid using at least some of that terminology because that’s how the conversation comes to us. That’s how, say, the law is written. That’s how the policy in the corporate handbook is found. Sometimes we have to take that language and try to fix it as best we can. But you’re raising a good issue. If gender is merely assigned at birth as if a doctor, or anyone else for that matter, getting to assign it, if that’s all there is to it, we’re in big trouble.

Part VI

How Would You Define What a Woman is? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

But finally, today on The Briefing, I’ll address the question that morally I just ought to have to answer. That’s the question, what is a woman? After all, I dealt on The Briefing with the fact that it was Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who basically refused, let’s just say, declined to answer that question when Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee asked her the question, and asked her directly. She said she wasn’t a biologist and then veered off.

We understand, given the LGBTQ movement and the Democratic Party’s commitment to that movement, she was in a very difficult position. But that in itself is the story, isn’t it? Because if you’re in a position, where even as a woman, in her case, or as a man, you can’t answer the question, what is a woman? If you just can’t answer that question, because politically you can’t live with answering that question, then we are in a very troubled time.

Fair game, several people have asked me, then how would you answer the question, what is a woman? I would simply answer this way, look to the book of Genesis. The woman is the human being made in God’s image, just as the man, who is nonetheless distinct from a man in being created out of the man and being created as woman and given an identity as woman that is as basic as the genetic structure, in the female XX, whereas in the male XY.

There is also a physical constitution, which is a difference between the male and the female. There is a reproductive function and a conjugal union that requires the male to be male and the female to be female. The female is created not only so that there is the rightness of the conjugal union, but so that the new life that comes out of that union may be gestated in her, may actually grow in her, be nurtured in her until the moment of birth.

And so, to be a female is to be born with the physical constitution that implies and promises, under the right circumstances, not only being a daughter, but being a mother. To be a male is correspondingly just about exactly the opposite. Now candor requires us to say that for most people, there really isn’t any need for a genetic test. It is simply obvious. And it’s been that way throughout most of human history.

Where there’s some confusion, we need to deal with that as we would with any kind of brokenness or confusion about any other physical manifestation. But let’s face it, when we ask the question, say, what is a woman or what is a man, the reality is most of us know, indeed, basically all of us really know it’s in the category of those things the Scripture defines as the things we actually, by general revelation, cannot not know. That means that confusion on this issue is, in one way or another, a lie.

Christians also understand how lies work. Lies originate in denying the truth, indeed as you find in Romans 1, preferring the lie to the truth, suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. Lies are so insidious that there are some people who receive a statement as the truth, even though it actually is a lie. This is where there has to be correction. Ultimately, we are only rightly corrected by the word of God. But it is also just profoundly true that something this basic in creation, this basic in God’s plan, this reflective of God’s glory, is overwhelmingly difficult to deny.

It is actually extremely difficult to confuse. Thus, we end up with categories that have made sense throughout human history, and if we’re honest, still make sense. That is to say male man, boy. It is to say woman, female, girl. It is an entire constellation of meaning, shared meaning, rather certain meaning. For most of human history, unquestioned meaning, to the extent that it really does come down, if there is confusion on a matter such as this, as to whether or not you can actually have a culture, a society, or a civilization at all.

I guess one thing to say as we close here, is that a society that actually doesn’t know how to answer the question, what is a man, what is a woman, what is a boy, what is a girl, is already on the other side of a slide into insanity, from which it is relatively difficult to imagine recovery.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

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

Today I’m in Laguna Beach, California, and I’ll meet you again on Monday for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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