Friday, April 22, 2022
It's Friday, April 22nd, 2022.
I'm Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
Building a Resume? LinkedIn Adds Stay-at-Home Parent to Job Titles List
There's a headline at USA Today that gets right to the heart of many of the biggest questions related to, say, modern life, family life, marriage, parenting.
The headline is this: "LinkedIn adds parenting-based job titles." I'll cut to the quick in terms of the story. The story is telling us that the career-oriented website and app, known as LinkedIn, is now allowing a choice for a job listing that includes stay-at-home mom, stay-at-home dad, stay-at-home parent.
The rationale given in the article for why LinkedIn has made this change is that there are many people, overwhelmingly women, no surprise there, who have gaps in their resumes and their work experience. And they said that's not fair. It's not that they are reentering the workforce, having not worked for a number of years; that kind of language is sometimes being used.
But rather that responsibilities at home have really required full-time attention. Thus, LinkedIn is making a major step here. It's an interesting step. It's also an interesting fact that this kind of story has been basically buried in the business sections of many of the major media and newspapers.
We are talking about something that is right at the heart of what Christians should be interested in, as we think about the family and as we think about our responsibility, both as members of the family, as parents, and as those who had, or have parents. This is a big story.
Now, for one thing, we need to rehearse a bit how all of this came about. Would such an app, if it had, say, hypothetically existed in the 16th century have included such options? The answer is absolutely not.
It would've been incomprehensible. How did this modern situation come to be? Well, this comes down to a couple of very interesting stories in human history. The most important issue here is the alienation of work from the home. And you say that sounds very, very theoretical. No, it comes down to this: dad working in a factory.
That's what it's basically about. If you are looking at previous millennia and centuries of human existence, work was basically, first of all, defined by the work of the family, the work of family in the home and the work of the family on the farm. Those were the big defining issues. And just about every member of the family was contributing, relative to age, in some appropriate way. But when it comes to the larger economy and the world of work, the other big development was called specialization.
And that's easy to understand too. And that means that within a village, within a city or a town, there'd be some people who are really good at, say, goldsmithing, certain people who are really good at chimney sweeping, some people who are really good at building houses, other people good at other things.
And so even before the Industrial Revolution, you had the development of trades and artisan work and craftsmanship, guilds and all the kinds of things that you would associate with life in a medieval village. Every village needs a blacksmith, but not everyone is a blacksmith.
This differentiation and specialization of roles was something that took place, not so much on a farm where it was much more informal, but in a town where you could actually put, say, a sign or a shingle outside your door saying, "Blacksmith here." But the next big development was the Industrial Revolution and that brings it all together.
The Industrial Revolution is symbolized, most importantly, by a factory. A factory is not where people live; it's where people go to work. They live somewhere else. Where would they live? Well, generally, in cities. It's impractical to put an industrial factory in the middle of a field, away from a population.
You need workers. Workers need to concentrate. The city becomes the answer. And thus, you have the dark, satanic mills of which Charles Dickens wrote in his novels, you have the big cities with the big factories and the big chimneys spewing out big smoke. And you also had millions and millions of workers, primarily men, going into those workplaces. In the cities, by the way, you sometimes had women, particularly young, unmarried women, who were also working in those factories. You also had children, in many cases. And Dickens writes about this, of course.
And you also have the fact that one of the big humanitarian advances, one of the big human rights' causes, say, of the 19th century was to put an end to child labor, particularly the expectation that very young children would be working in factories and in mines. And thus, you had a big humanitarian revolution in response to the Industrial Revolution. And it ended up, primarily, with the pattern of men who worked in factories, some unmarried women who did so until they were married.
And you basically had a domestic sphere: the wife, the mother, the children in the home; father, working in the factory, leaving to go to the factory in the morning, coming back from the factory in the evening. The same thing was extended to the developing professions and the professional class. The same thing basically worked. It was just not so much a factory that was the setting, it was an office.
By the time you get to the 20th century, you can just think of all those men working in factories. Often, those factories coalescing in one area. Think of the massive automobile industry in the United States, basically centered in Detroit and in other cities around Detroit. But you also think of the offices. Think of all those towers going up in Manhattan and all those men wearing dark suits and white shirts and narrow dark ties, going into those buildings by the thousands, by the millions every day.
Dad goes to work, mom stays at home. The family needs the salary that dad earns, the family needs the domestic investment that mom makes all the time in the home. And at least in the ideal situation, dad is to be very much engaged when he comes home. That didn't always happen.
By the time you get to the 1960s, you have a feminist rebellion against this model. The feminist rebellion comes back and says, "Look, the differentiation of roles between men and women is nothing more than a social construction. It is forced upon society by false expectations and by an ideology of male supremacy. There is no reason why it should be the mom who stays at home and the dad who goes to work."
You also had socioeconomic pressures because in an economy like ours, as you had consumer expectations rise, as you had prices rise, lifestyle expectations rise, you had the fact that many families could not keep up with the economic expectations with a single salary. And so you had the massive entry of women into the workforce in the 1960s, in the 1970s. And you had the fact that even among many Christians, there were big questions about what should the normal picture be?
This development, this headline story coming from LinkedIn is just another reminder that you can never get far from the most basic questions about human life. That's a good Christian worldview observation. No matter how much you want to say I am independent of those questions, I'm not even interested in those questions. Well, guess what? The baby needs a diaper change. You're living that question.
The article at USA Today, by Jennifer Jolly, begins by her focusing on one woman, a friend of hers she said, who had not worked outside her home in the daily care of her four children since shortly after her first son was born 12 years ago. Now we are told, "Before kids, she had not one, but two gratifying careers: first, as a school teacher, then as a registered nurse." But then listen to this, "Through the parent grapevine, she heard about an opening for a school nurse at her oldest son's school and wondered aloud whether she should apply."
"That's so perfect for you," this friend, exclaimed. "You've been talking about going back to work, you're going for it, right?" She said, "Are you kidding? I have no references, no letters of recommendation. How do I even begin to explain not working for the past 12 years?" Now, this writer says that she thought all the right things and said all the right things to her friend, including the fact that she wasn't not working while she was a stay-at-home mom.
But basically, this is an introduction to the story about LinkedIn adding stay-at-home moms, stay-at-home fathers, stay-at-home parent, as options to explain gaps in a career. The article declares, "Stay-at-home mom is now an official job title, according to the world's largest professional networking site. The company also added stay-at-home dad and stay-at-home parent to the dropdown menu in the profile experience section about a year ago."
The paper then summarizes, "This is a significant step in normalizing parent-based career gaps." So much here for us to consider. Just to take a few minutes, what is the normative Christian expectation? Well, the normative Christian expectation is that human life should be organized, first of all, around marriage, the lifelong monogamous faithful union of a man and a woman.
And by the way, even within the life of the couple, there is a differentiation and a specialization. It's not by accident that even though many men are good cooks, it is wives who do the majority of the cooking and have the majority of the experience in the cooking. This is not a theological matter in the sense that the Bible says to men, "Thou shalt not cook," or to women, "Thou shalt inhabit the kitchen and be happy about this." It just gets down to the fact that society has clearly defined certain roles.
And thus, you have the feminists saying, "Yes, but that is all about oppression. It's just at the expense of women. There's no reason why the entire picture shouldn't have been fathers staying at home and doing the domestic task primarily and mothers going to the workforce." Except, there is a problem with this. The Christian worldview begins with marriage, the man and the woman. And there's a differentiation in almost every couple's life.
The famed economist, Adam Smith, saw this insight when he said that marriage begins one of the most fundamental economies. There's a distribution of energies, a distribution of investment, a distribution of labor all because of the common project of building the marriage and building a home. And then children enter the picture. Now, again, you have feminists saying there's no reason why women shouldn't be as much in the workplace as men. There's no reason why the child should be primarily cared for by the mother rather than the father, except obviously there is.
And part of this is just biological. Now for one thing, the Christian worldview would tell us there's something significant, very significant about the fact that it wasn't the father; it was the mother who was the carrier of this child, whose womb was the habitation of this child. It is the mother who gave birth to this child. The mother's body and the baby's body have been unitary for nine months.
And once birth happens, there is another biological function, which is not the product of some kind of materialistic evolution, but is part of God's plan and God's glory, which means that the mother, not the father, is given a natural means of sustaining the child in the exact diet the child needs during the earliest period of a human being's life, most importantly, infancy. There's more to this picture than that, but there's never less than this picture to the reality of family life of mothering, of fathering, of parenting and of being a child.
This is all a picture that basically has to be found in some meaningful sense in just about exactly the same way everywhere you find human society. It is primarily men who are the workers outside the home, it is primarily men, who even in an agrarian situation, are those who give the primary labor to the soil rather than in the house.
It is men who are primarily, throughout human history, wherever you look, it is men who are primarily, not exclusively, but primarily, the warriors as well. And there's a reason for that. It does include physical structure, but it's not just that. It is also the fact that if you try to design a society the other way around, it is very unlikely that society is going to work. This move by LinkedIn is, no doubt, morally significant. Actually, as Christians, I think would understand, it's much more morally significant than LinkedIn understands.
LinkedIn thinks... And this is in the official statement here in the paper. LinkedIn thinks that the use of these terms for occupation stay-at-home mom, stay-at-home dad, stay-at-home parent, that the primary purpose is to fill in gaps, in an otherwise self-explanatory career path, where you don't have to explain that you had this job or that job.
Evidently, what you do have to explain is where you had no job. No, that's understandable in an industrialized and professionalized society. But for Christians, we understand there is something really important that is being revealed here. And that is the fact that parenting is a full-time job. It is the reality that domestic home responsibilities are absolutely massive. And not only can the family not survive without those roles being fulfilled, but civilization cannot survive without those responsibilities being fulfilled.
The very sad thing here is that the gap in the career is evidently what LinkedIn thinks needs to be explained. Given LinkedIn and how it works, I guess that makes sense. But if you think about the Christian worldview, it should not be that anyone has to explain a gap in an otherwise self-explanatory life that comes down to the responsibilities of the home, and primarily, the responsibilities of raising children.
This is the glory of the Lord. It is by no accident. We understand that the vast majority of those who are going to pull down that menu and click stay-at-home parent are going to be stay-at-home moms. We understand that and Christians honor it. We also operate from the biblical presupposition that the last thing anyone should ever have to explain is fulfilling responsibilities that are a part of God's original plan and are central to how God has intended his human creatures to live and what reflects God's glory in a world, even in a fallen world.
You might say that this is the modern professional industrial version of the gap theory. The gap theory is something has to explain someone being outside the workforce, and thus LinkedIn is giving these options. But this is where Christians have to step back and say, "No. If there's a gap theory, this is not it." The reality is there is no calling higher than that of being a parent to a child. There is no calling higher than that of being a mother and a father.
And in the differentiation of roles, there is no calling higher than a mom in the home being a mom, as well as a dad in the home being a dad. Being outside the home is sometimes necessary, but it is being inside the home that is to be of ultimate and most-lasting importance. And I say this also as a way of honoring three women who have so faithfully modeled this for me: my mother, my wife, my daughter.
Mom, Mary, Katie, thank you.
How Can You Say Liberals are Getting More Liberal and Conservatives are Getting More Conservative? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing
Next this Friday, we're going to be turning to the Mailbox and there are always just great questions here. Some of them would actually take an afternoon to discuss. But nonetheless, we don't have that but we do have some time. I want to turn to some of the questions I think might be most interesting to listeners.
Gibson writes in, asking about my statement that it's safe to say that in the United States, the Democratic Party is far more liberal than it was a decade ago, and the Republicans far more conservative than they were about a decade ago. He said, "What does that really mean?" He says, "If you say someone is conservative compared to what? What's the standard?"
Well, it comes down to this. As you're thinking about liberal and conservative, you're not just looking at two different words, you're looking at two different arguments. And as you're looking at them, you have to recognize the use of those terms can change over time. That's one thing that can happen. It can change in different places.
Conservative, say, in the United States and conservative in Germany aren't exactly different, but they're not exactly the same. So we're talking about the Anglo-American. That is basically the English tradition, the English-speaking and the American traditions here.
Liberal, in its current usage, we're speaking in the year 2022. So in its current usage, liberal now means leaning towards or committed to far more liberal positions than would be true of conservatism. The liberal principle often comes down to, for instance, in economics, a greater willingness to use collectivization, to use high taxation, to create government services in order to meet individual community needs.
It also means more liberal positions on many social issues, more permissive issues. They're often declared by liberals to be progressive positions. And this can range on everything from matters of, say, equity and real estate sales, all the way to the entirety of the LGBTQ revolution.
The essence of the word, "liberal" is to liberate. And there's a sense in which all of us believe that it is a good thing for human beings to be liberated. But it's not right to say that human beings should be liberated from, say, biology, from the basic humanity that is God's intention, design and creation. It is not right that human beings should be liberated from God's law from a moral structure. It is not right that human beings should be liberated to nothing more than our own individual self-expression.
You can understand where all of that leads. But the opposing term, the contrast term, is conservative. And as you're looking over the last, say, 200 to 300 years, most importantly, the last 200 years in English political and social conversation, those terms have been pretty well defined. But increasingly, liberal means leftist and increasingly, conservative, it points very clearly to the right. Conservatism, in its essence, as a word, refers to the necessity of conserving what is necessary for human good and human flourishing.
And thus, conservatives are far more likely to see the absolutely essential role of institutions, whether that includes: marriage, family, community, voluntary association, corporations, institutions like colleges and universities, at least in theory. The conservative understands that there are certain virtues, most importantly, certain truths that have to be conserved if there's going to be any health in human society, any order in human society, any justice or righteousness in human society.
Clearly, I'm a conservative. But as you're thinking about these two words, I also mentioned the two political parties: the Democrats and the Republicans. And Gibson's asking, "How is it true that the Democrats have become even more liberal and the Republicans have become even more conservative?" Well, I mentioned that liberal and conservative aren't just words, they're arguments. And you know what? Over time, those arguments tend to develop and those arguments also tend to contrast even more.
So you take a liberal and a conservative in the early decades of the 20th century, they would've been closer together than a liberal and a conservative in 2022. I often point to the fact that if you just take the two political parties, you look at the political platforms of the Democrats and the Republicans in the year 1960, very hard to tell much of a difference. Fast forward, say, to 2016, radical difference.
So Gibson, I'll just end on this, just consider the issue of abortion. 30 years ago, you had people on both sides of the abortion question in both parties. These days, in terms of electoral office, that is so incredibly rare that it is increasingly almost impossible. So if you put abortion in a liberal and conservative structure, the Democratic Party far more liberal on abortion and the Republican Party far more conservative on abortion.
That's just to take one issue. That's how it works.
How Should I Address Gender Theory in My High School Speech? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing
From Texas, I heard from James, 17-years-old, a junior in high school. Eagle Scout, by the way. Congratulations on that. He took my class, The Most Dangerous Ideas of the Modern Age. And now, even as he is proudly homeschooled, he's going to be addressing in a classical education program, a controversial issue.
The one he has chosen is what's taking place in the public educational system with gender theory. He asks, "What would be some of your suggestions for points in addressing this issue? How should I call other faithful Christians to take a stand and affirm creation order?" He asks also about recommendations from scripture. He cites, Roman 1 and Genesis 1.
Great place to start, James. I'm really glad to hear from you. I'm very proud you're going to be undertaking this. I would simply say that one of the things that you can do in a public presentation, is simply point to the fact that it just doesn't work. One of the rhetorical devices you can sometimes use is to point to the argument that you are confronting and seeking to expose, and simply say, "Let's just try to track this out and see where it goes."
And you have plenty of evidence right now about where this goes. And you could even say graphic evidence of someone who is clearly a male standing in a female swimsuit alongside female swimmers and insisting that this male is also a female swimmer.
You saw that, of course, in the case of the swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania. But it's not just that. It's the fact that our entire language structure simply breaks down. Our entire understanding of how the world works eventually breaks down. If you follow gender theory to its ultimate conclusion, not only do you have no sense, you also... Here's an obvious fact: you have no babies.
James, I'm glad you asked about scripture. I would just say that in addition to Genesis 1 and Romans 1, I would really lean into Genesis 2 because in Genesis 2, you'll recall that there, Adam is confronted with all of the creatures as they came by. He gave them their name and they came by two by two. And it was in that experience that Adam came to the understanding that there was not yet a helper who was a complement for him.
He did not have the partner that the animals had. And God was teaching a lesson. And even then, as God put Adam into a deep sleep and made Eve out of Adam and presented Eve to Adam, Adam understood this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. And that's when we confront God's own statement that therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cling to his wife and they should become one flesh.
And the man and the woman are naked in the garden and they are unashamed. What we would call the difference of sex is made extremely clear in Genesis 1:27, but it is explained even more comprehensively in Genesis 2. James, I'm proud of you for taking this on. May God bless your presentation and make it clear and then leave the results to God.
I Experienced an Ectopic Pregnancy. How Do I Reconcile This with My Pro-Life Convictions? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing
Finally, a letter came from a young woman, a beautiful, very moving letter about the fact that she and her husband had discovered that she was experiencing an ectopic pregnancy and that it was a baby at about six weeks of development with a beating heart.
She writes, "We knew that the baby could not survive in the fallopian tube and went forward with an emergency surgery to take out the tube." But she writes, "No matter how much it makes sense medically, I'm struggling to reconcile our decisions with what we believe about conception. What would the Christian pro-life position on this operation be?"
Ashley, what a sweet letter. I really wanted to make certain that I addressed it on this edition of The Briefing. What you did here, what the doctors did here was in no way, a violation of your pro-life convictions. Because even in the context of this letter, it is clear, you desperately wanted this child. You and your husband were welcoming this child.
This was just a situation in which the pregnancy could not continue. The baby could not develop under these circumstances. And under these circumstances, this could create a medical crisis for you that could not only potentially prevent you from having children in the future, but might actually have ended your life. Our biblical pro-life conviction means that you are rightly grieving the loss of a baby. And that's the very language that you use. And one of the sad realities of life in a fallen world is that not every pregnancy that begins gloriously ends with a healthy baby.
Now, where human intervention intentionally comes in to terminate the pregnancy, we understand this as a horrible sin. That is not what applies in your situation. I do not speak as an obstetrician. I am not one. I will simply say that in the Christian tradition, this kind of issue is well-understood as an unavoidable surgery in order to save a mother's life that had the unavoidable effect of terminating a pregnancy. But in this case, of a pregnancy that would have been terminated in any event.
Ashley, I understand your grief, but that grief should not be compounded by believing that in this case you did anything wrong. And I think I can say confidently so many people listening to The Briefing today will pray that you and your husband will have many wonderful children born in the future.
May God bless you both.
Thanks for listening to The Briefing.
For more information, go to my website at albertmohler.com. You can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.com/albertmohler. For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to sbts.edu. For information on Boyce College, just go to boycecollege.com.
I'll meet you again on Monday for The Briefing.