Tuesday, June 7, 2022
It's Tuesday, June 7, 2022.
I'm Albert Mohler. And this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
‘It’s Just Not A Lifestyle We Want to Encourage If We Believe in Jesus’: Tampa Bay Rays Players Opt Out of Wearing Uniform to Support Pride Month
There's some really big ballot measures before voters today, most interestingly in the state of California: two recall elections when it comes to very liberal district attorneys or prosecutors. We're talking about San Francisco and Los Angeles. They are big stories. We're going to talk about them once the results are in, once we know how California voters have voted on this question. Either way, it's going to be a huge story. We'll come back to it once we know the answer to the question.
But next, shifting to the larger cultural frame, perhaps you hadn't noticed it's Pride Month. That means LGBTQIA Pride Month, according to the White House and other institutions and officials in this country. And as we're thinking about this, you recognize that Carl Trueman's exactly right. He wrote a piece for World Opinions in which he makes the argument, it's absolutely correct, that Pride Month is an effort to try to push a moral agenda and what's claimed to be a new moral metaphysic, for that matter, in time and in space. Time refers to a month. It's trying to dominate time. Now, remember there is also, in the fall, what we are told is LGBTQ History Month. So, we're looking at the fact that the issue is now, in a propaganda sort of way, just before the American people, an onslaught, not just of Pride Month, but also LGBTQ History Month. And, of course, it's not going to end there. It is also an effort to try to fill space. And the most important space we're talking about here is the space of public conversation.
And the Pride advocates, trying to bring about their own moral revolution, have been stunningly successful. And one indication of that is the fact that no one can really avoid or, for that matter, Christians, no one should avoid talking about these issues at the very time we are being told we have to adopt to the new morality, the one thing Christians cannot do, the one thing we must clearly resist and make fundamentally clear as we are trying to be faithful in the midst of an increasingly rebellious society.
The other thing we need to note is that our society is increasingly not only rebellious, but confused and deluded. And it's a self-delusion. You have to see that through the headlines. For example, the White House released a statement indicating that the White House is absolutely proud that President Joe Biden is glad to be an advocate for the LGBTQ community and to declare his own solidarity with Pride Month. In this case, the politics will be exceedingly clear. For example, the White House statement, issued in the name and in the voice of the President of the United States, spoke against bills that have appeared in several states. For one thing, radically enough, saying that membership and participation on girls sports teams ought to be limited to girls. You would think that would be just a fundamental truth, but no, the White House is now dead set against such policy. The White House statement also said, in reference to Pride Month, that the White House is laser-focused on the fighting against similar kinds of legislation.
One of the biggest issues here in which there is going to be a head-on collision between the Biden administration and many Americans, millions of Americans, and in particular Christian Americans or Americans who believe in just, for instance, the fact that an XX chromosome and an XY chromosome determine biological sex and identity. And that's going to come with the redefinition of Title IX requirements and regulations. As we shall see, there, you're looking at the fact that the entire legislation known as Title IX only makes sense if you know who a woman is and who a man is, or, for that matter, a female and a male. More about that later.
But as you're thinking about Pride Month and you're thinking about the onslaught of stories, frankly, it's coming with such an avalanche, it's impossible to keep up. But nonetheless, some of these stories, some of these developments come in such a way they just appear to be illustrative of the larger revolution and rebellion and worthy of our attention.
One of them comes from the world of sports. It comes from Tampa Bay. It was published as a news article in the Tampa Bay Times. The headline: Most, but not all, Rays show their LGBTQ+ support. Most, but not all, Rays. In this case, this refers to the Tampa Bay Rays, a Major League Baseball team there. And, of course, the big news here is that during Pride Month and what was to be celebrated as a Pride Day, even as uniforms for the Tampa Bay Rays were to include some pro-LGBTQ insignia, some of the members of the team did not wear the insignia. They actually wore alternative uniforms and caps. And that set off a very interesting debate.
Datelined from St. Petersburg, the story in the Tampa Bay Times tells us, "The Ray's organizational philosophy towards equality and inclusiveness extends towards the LGBTQ+ community, as evidenced as last Saturday's 16th Pride Night celebration at Tropicana Field." The president of the team, Matt Silverman said, "Our Pride Nights continue to grow both in terms of visibility and participation. By doing this," said the team president, "we extend an invitation, not just for this game, but for all of our games that the LGBTQ+ community is invited, welcomed and celebrated."
But then the news story tells us "in an effort to make their commitment more visible, the Rays this year decided to follow the lead of the Giants and add rainbow-colored logos to their Pride Night uniforms, to the TB on their caps and a sunburst on their right jersey sleeves. In doing so," the story continues, and I quote, "the team learned that not all players wanted to be included. No exact breakdown was provided, but well more than half the players appeared to participate. Pitchers Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson were among those who did not, electing to peel off the burst logo and wear the standard hat."
Jason Adam was elected as a spokesperson for those who did not wear the Pride uniform. And he made clear that his decision and the decision that was also made by several of his teammates, particularly fellow pitchers, was grounded in their own Christian conviction. The statement said "a lot of it comes down to faith, to a faith-based decision. So, it's a hard decision because ultimately, we all said what we want them to know is that all are welcome and loved here, but when we put it on our bodies, I think a lot of guys decided it's just a lifestyle that maybe, not that they look down on anybody or think differently. It's just that maybe we don't want to encourage it if we believe in Jesus who encouraged us to live a lifestyle that would abstain from that behavior, just like Jesus encourages me as a heterosexual male to abstain from sex outside the confines of marriage. It's no different." He went on, trying to say, "It's not judgmental. It's not looking down. It's just what we believe the lifestyle he's encouraged us to live, for our good, not to withhold. But again, we love these men and women. We care about them. And we want them to feel safe and welcome here."
Well, this pitcher and his teammates have discovered that welcoming people to the stands, regardless of their sexual orientation, is not enough. So, let's again be clear. These players were not saying that they didn't want LGBTQ fans to come to the game. They weren't opposing even the team holding this Pride celebration. They simply said, "We cannot put on our bodies an advertisement for something we believe to be morally wrong, based upon our Christian convictions."
Now, the response to this is as telling as anything else. Tyler Kepner, reporter for The New York Times, offered an opinion piece. And yes, it really is an opinion piece with the headline, "An Attempt at Inclusion Proves There Is More Work to Do." Now, just understand if you just saw the headline, what's the "more work to do?" The more work to do is ideological cleansing on the part of those who would not and did not wear the Pride insignia on their uniform. They must be brought to understand. They must be brought to submit to the moral revolution. But this sportswriter for The New York Times says that this was a big team fail because the team allowed these players to get by with not making a positive affirmation of the LGBTQIA-you-go-on-plus agenda. The article states "Yet, by allowing the players to opt out of the promotion and to use the platform to endorse an opposite viewpoint, the Rays undercut the message of inclusion they were trying to send. Words like lifestyle and behavior are widely-known tropes often interpreted as a polite cover for condemning gay culture."
Now, let me just speak Christian to Christian for a moment here. Let me just speak in candidness. And no, don't worry about the young. I'm simply going to say the reason why so many Christians use this kind of language is because the alternative is to discuss certain sexual acts and behaviors that the Bible actually identifies with pretty straightforward language. Or you might put it another way. Against nature is the way Paul describes such activities, behaviors, and relationships in Romans 1. Or you might say that these Christians were looking at the Pride stickers that were supposed to go on their uniforms and seeing instead stickers that basically said there should be pride in a man lying with a man as with a woman, or a woman lying with a woman as with a man, and they said, "We can't do that."
So, this sportswriter for The New York Times says that these players were using widely-known tropes often interpreted as a polite cover. Well, I guess the point here is that no language, no matter how calm, no matter how unradical, no matter how ungraphic is acceptable. The only thing that's acceptable is absolute surrender, absolute surrender to the LGBTQ and expanding agenda period.
But The New York Times decided to make a theological statement as well. That's very important for us to recognize. This sportswriter cited a statement made by Andrew Morales, who wrote a biography of one of the first players to come out as openly gay. This particular author said, "When people use their interpretation of religion to justify discrimination against people for the way they were born, it's really an indictment of them and their faith. Acknowledging that people are people and that all fans are welcome is not something you should be able to opt out of."
Now, again, just notice the players didn't fail to acknowledge that people are people and that all fans are welcome. They simply refused, on the basis of their own religious convictions, to advertise positively for what they believe to be sin, and not just sin, but something that is injurious to human flourishing.
But you'll notice here that The New York Times that says it's against discrimination, well, it's all for discrimination when it comes to conservative Christians or others who have religious convictions. And you'll notice that the statement, again, is just worthy of repeating. "When people use their interpretation of religion," you'll notice that there's no acknowledgement there of any truth in religion, it's just an "interpretation of religion to justify discrimination against people for the way they were born." Again, an entire worldview and moral claim baked into that "it's really an indictment of them and their faith." So, we're being told that these are bad people, these team members, who would not wear the insignia and they hold to bad religion.
Now, I want to turn to one of the big lessons we learn here, but I simply have to note another news story. Joshua Rhett Miller, reporting for the New York Post, tells us that the Carolina Panthers, the Carolina Panthers have hired the National Football League's first openly transgender cheerleader. Yeah, they've done it. And evidently, they think it is to their advantages as a team not only to do it, but to tell you about it during Pride Month, when, by the way, the NFL isn't playing football right now. Evidently, it's playing moral revolution.
But let's get back to the big picture. What's the big lesson for us to learn here? Well, it's really important for Christians in every arena of life. It is called positive declaration or positive affirmation. Now, in one sense, positive affirmation is a redundancy. It's saying the same thing. Affirmation? Positive? That's pretty much the same thing, but you put it together in order to make this point.
What's being demanded of us in the public square, in so many different arenas is not just to say, "Yeah, I'm perfectly willing to be a good neighbor to an openly LGBTQ neighbor. Yes, I'm perfectly willing in this sense to understand that when I go into the public square these days, I am going to be confronted with certain messages that others are claiming their freedom to broadcast." The distinction is this: what's being demanded of us is actually to send the same message, to join in the same message, to make a positive declaration of the fact that not only are we at work with people we know to be LGBTQ in most, say, large American businesses, even though we know that same-sex marriage is declared to be legal by the Supreme Court. And there are people we work with and see out in everyday life who think they're married. We are not saying that we won't do business with such people. We're not saying, these players weren't saying they don't want such fans to come to a Rays game. They're simply saying, "We will not and cannot, with integrity, make a positive declaration or a positive affirmation of the fact that gay is great."
Christians often ask me, and you've heard this as we've answered questions in the Friday segments and other kinds of situations in which I've simply made the point that what is being demanded now, and the line we must not cross, is positive declaration. It is not wrong for you to work for a company that has pro-gay policies. It is wrong for you to work for a company that demands that you endorse them, that you make a moral declaration of agreement and solidarity with that moral judgment. It is not wrong for you to participate in many areas of the economy, where, frankly, you don't have that much choice, if you want a cup of coffee in the airport. What's wrong is if, for instance, they give you a cup with a message and they say, "You've got to carry this cup. And you've got to join in this message."
Positive declaration is a line. It's a line we all are going to have to learn to be able to discern. It is one thing to walk in a store that has a Pride sticker on the door because you've got to get a part for your appliance repair. It's another thing for you to have to wear the sticker. That's the big distinction.
But you'll notice where the moral revolutionaries are marching here. And you can see exactly what they're trying to do. In business by business, they're saying, "No, it's not enough that you allow and accept the fact that the person working next to you is going to have a Pride flag. No, you got to put a Pride flag on your desk." That's a very real challenge coming to many employees in major American corporations or, for that matter, probably smaller American companies now too. Students in schools, the very same thing. And for that matter, even on something like a little league team, where yes, in some communities, this has become an issue. But you'll notice the moralizing that's going on here. The moralizing that's found in this New York Times sports article in which we are told that if you believe there's anything sinful about any kind of sexual behavior covered by LGBTQIA, you're a bad person holding to bad religion.
This is indeed what we are up against. It's important that we recognize it. We've got a lot of work to do, but one of the first tasks we have to apply ourselves to is thinking these issues through before we have to face them, helping other Christians to live faithfully in the midst of these challenges and also understanding that there will be loss. There is going to be loss. People are going to lose their jobs. They already are. People are going to lose educational opportunities. They already are. Most of us, as Christians, are going to be losing social standing. We already are. And for that matter, you just might lose the ability to be a pitcher for a Major League Baseball team. And it's not going to be about how good a pitcher you are; it's about whether or not you're willing to pitch the message, contrary to Christian Scripture, of the moral revolution.
‘The Worst Are Those With Religious Connections’: Campus Pride Blacklists Christian Universities for Christian Conviction
But as we're thinking about these issues and Pride Month and taking up space and time and trying to simply change the moral terrain, so successfully by the way in the United States, another story appeared. This one, USA Today. USA Today, by the way, is an interesting case because in the mainstream media, it's like the most insanely, constantly, even awkwardly pro-LGBTQ. The paper tends to find an LGBTQ angle in almost anything. This particular article's by Chris Quintana. The headline, "Completely different from high school: How colleges are making space for LGBTQ students." Again, notice this, "Colleges making space.' That's the new language for accommodating, for doing everything to accommodate the institution to LGBTQ students.
The article really does get interesting because we're told about one person who identifies as transgender, in this case identifies as a transgender male. We are told that this individual's "situation will be familiar to many LGBTQ students starting their college experiences this fall semester. They're excited to be on campus and to find and express identities of their own for the first time, but they still may have fear about how they'll be received by their peers or instructors." The next sentence, "There are hundreds of colleges in the United States, and it may be difficult for some students and their families to tell what kind of experience they may have on campus."
Well, just first of all, let's just stipulate the obvious. There are a few places on planet earth as liberal and generally given over to this moral revolution than the average college or university campus, period. But there's another agenda behind this. The organization known as Campus Pride is mentioned here. It rates different schools, supposedly the best when it comes to LGBTQ issues and the worst. The worst schools, by the way, tend to be those who hold to a Christian biblical understanding of human sexuality. And so, there's a real agenda behind this. It's the same agenda as bad person, bad religion we saw in the sports article from The New York Times.
Shane Windmeyer, identified as a co-founder of Campus Pride, said, "Colleges aren't liberal bastions of progress, and not all of them are safe havens." Now, that's sort of like saying the Soviet Union, after all, wasn't that seriously Soviet, that its communism wasn't actually communism. To say that colleges aren't liberal bastions of progress, well, let me put it this way: they are liberal bastions. That's for sure. Notice the bad person, bad religion theme. It really does show up here. And I quote, "Campus Pride highlights the colleges that best serve these students, but also those doing the absolute worst. Most on that list have religious connections. Some have even requested exemptions from the federal government's rules around sex discrimination that allow them to punish students or employees in a same-sex relationship." Now, just think about that for a moment. Just think about it. Christian institutions being Christian, operating on the basis of Christian truth. For Christian families and Christian students, we are told that they should not be allowed to do so, and that what they are doing simply amounts to what should be illegal and unconstitutional sex discrimination.
But sometimes in an article like this, you see something that's a tell. It's all of a sudden an indication of just how stupid and illogical this argument is. So, let me read to you just one section that also cites Windmeyer, that is the head of Campus Pride, the co-founder. "What we know about LGBTQ young people, based on the limited research that we have, is that they're at high risk of substance abuse and depression. If we knew that about any other population, we'd be taking responsibility and creating institutional measures to make sure they graduate in four to five years." Notice the shift there. It goes from, "Oh, there are all kinds of pathologies that are inflicted upon these people," to, "Hey, they might not be graduating on time."
But then listen to this, "The Campus Pride list doesn't include all universities. And colleges have to pay an annual membership fee of $225 to have their listing updated. That means smaller universities or those with fewer resources might not be on the list." That's the tell. That's what I wanted to point out. Yes, the cost of you, as an institution, having to pay to be on the good list is $225 a year. Now, that amounts to a shakedown, but it's a shakedown by people who have a very flimsy case because, after all, it's very little money. There is not... I'll simply state this very matter-of-factly. If a campus is not paying this, it's because they don't want to. $225, were told that that's the limit, that the list doesn't include all universities, and that there might be some smaller universities or those with fewer resources that might not be on the list? $225, folks. Any academic institution that can't afford for what it needs to serve its students a $225 fee, well, that's an institution that doesn't exist. But then again, most of this entire argument is based upon what's claimed to be moral truth that also doesn't exist.
Oh, and by the way, very recently, again, Campus Pride put The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on the bad list, which means, according to Scripture, we're on the good list.
Cobalt Blue Is ‘In’ But Is It Real?: Evaluating the Reality and Significance of Color
But finally we turn to color, as in the many colors of the pride flag. No, not seriously. Leave that behind. We're talking about one particular color, and it's very much in. This is not a moral issue; this is a worldview issue. What's the color that is now in: it's cobalt blue. And The New York Times and others are telling us that cobalt blue is now so popular, it is showing up in stoneware, it's showing up in clothing, even umbrellas and furniture. It's showing up everywhere because it's in.
Now, what does that tell us? Well, it tells us a couple things. Number one, cobalt blue is actually named for a natural substance, cobalt, which means it's a somewhat natural color. It's a beautiful color. Indeed.
What's also indicated here, and this is also good for us to know, is that even in matters of aesthetics, even in judgments of what's pretty, what's beautiful, it turns out we tend to think like other people around us. Now, maybe it's because we mutually discover, say, an incredibly pleasant color at the same time or it's because we see it on others and we go, "No, we really like that color. I think I'll make a dish or buy a dish made out of that color as well." In other words, the appreciation of beauty is not just individual; it is societal. It's communal. We do it together. That's a good thing for us to know.
But this also tells us something about the glory and the beauty of creation because, after all, what is color? And where does it come from? One scientific definition of color is this: it's the visual perceptual property, deriving from the spectrum of light, interacting with the photoreceptor cells of the eyes. And it also says, "Color categories and physical specifications of color are associated with objects or materials based upon their physical properties, such as light absorption, reflection or emission spectra. By defining a color space, colors can be identified numerically by their coordinates."
Now, what does that tell us? For one thing, it tells us that color's real. Color's not just an impression. It's not just some kind of illusion. Color's real because it's based upon actual properties. Cobalt blue is actually blue because cobalt actually exists and the color is grounded in the reality of cobalt. But it's also grounded in our perception because God made us as perceiving beings. He give us eyes with which to see. And the operation of the eyes allows, under normal, healthy operation, the perception of color. And here's the important thing. We might disagree on whether we like this color or that color or exactly how that color makes an impression upon us, but color is actually a scientific property, it turns out. It's not just a subjective experience.
Now, as we're thinking about that, I simply wanted to tell you that our government is on it. Don't worry about it. Not just the government, but business. How is business on it? Well, there is a company called Pantone. It was developed a long time ago, indeed, in the 1950s, as a commercial printing company, but it came up with a system for identifying all the colors and measuring them scientifically and assigning them numbers so that you can actually talk about a blue by a certain number, you can talk about a green by a certain number, both primary and secondary colors. Yes, you can get them by number. How many of them? Now, brace yourselves because this is going to be a big crayon box. As of 2019, Pantone has registered 2,161 colors. Where was that set of crayons when I was a kid? The impression or appreciation of color can have a great deal to do with light absorption, different visual conditions, and all the rest. But guess what? Color really is color.
But here's another interesting fact. Even as Pantone recognized, as of 2019, 2,161 colors, the United States government, our national government, officially, legally recognizes only 650 colors. Now, I'll leave it to you to figure out why our federal government actually needs 650 colors, but yes, it's bureaucratized and it is regulated.
That leads to the question with which I will leave you for today. In those 650 colors recognized by the federal government, will you find cobalt blue?
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 tomorrow for The Briefing.