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WORLD Opinions

“No, I don’t think men can get pregnant”

by R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

The Briefing

Monday, August 1, 2022

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Transcript

It's Monday, August 1st, 2022.

I'm Albert Mohler, and welcome to the new season of The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part

Will Republicans Join the Revolution on Same-Sex Marriage? 47 Republicans in House Voted Yes. Now, Watch the Senate. How Did This Happen?

Well, it's only been 30 days since the last season ended, and what a 30 days it has been, just one month. This points to something we have to see over and over again these days, and that is the increase in what is known as cultural acceleration, or a cultural velocity. It's the change that comes so fast now in society, not just at the surface level, but at the deep moral level. This is something that truly is unprecedented in human history. Moral change has often taken centuries, sometimes multiple centuries, certainly decades to take place, but right now moral change seems to happen almost as if it's an explosion. It's this high velocity, high energy event that just changes everything, so much so that what was an old world, way back there in the past, can be something as recent as just a few years ago.

If you have an eight year old in your house, that child is older than the Supreme Court's decision legalizing same-sex marriage, but you wouldn't know that as you look at today's cultural terrain. It would seem that it has always been that way. Of course it hasn't, and as a matter of fact, as you look at the reality of same-sex marriage, legal in all 50 states precisely because of the Supreme Court, what you see is a reversal of millennia of human experience. In virtually all places, in all times, among all peoples, in all cultures, marriage has been defined as a heterosexual institution. Classically, most importantly, as a union of a man and a woman. But as we're going to see, the United States Senate is now set to take up legislation that would codify the Obergefell decision, as it was known, and would legislate same sex marriage, or at least the recognition of same sex marriage, in all 50 states. Now here's the stunning thing, that legislation has already passed in the United States House.

But we're going to turn to that in just a moment. As we're thinking about this period of cultural change, just a month of July, which, by the way, in terms of American culture historically has been the month of the fewest headlines. It has been the quiet month. Most Americans and American families tend to take at least some vacation time or time down during July or August, or for that matter, in some families, both, but the reality is July has been the lowest news intensity month. Not true, however, for July of 2022. Just consider this, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assassinated. The current Prime Minister of Great Britain, Boris Johnson, resigned. Just consider the changes that have taken place in the foreign policy context since, for example, U.S. President Joe Biden went to the Middle East, most importantly Israel, and most controversially Saudi Arabia, and also think of the twists and turns in the war in Ukraine. Much more to talk about as we think of those issues in days to come.

But right now we're going to look at three huge developments that took place during the month of July and are central to the kinds of issues that Christians ought to be watching very, very closely. The first of these has to do with that legislation concerning the codification of the Obergefell decision, or the Supreme Court's decision legalizing same-sex marriage. Now the legislation that passed in the house passed overwhelmingly, and here's the stunning thing, it passed with 47 Republican votes. That's the huge headline. Politically it's very interesting to know that the Democrats were hoping to make some margin on this bill to try to create distance from Republicans in order to demonstrate that Republicans are out of step with American culture, but contrary to the democratic expectation, 47 Republicans in the House signed on. Now, I see that as a tragedy, because it just shows you how moral change takes place so fast, it would've been unimaginable just a matter of a year ago, perhaps, that 47 Republicans would sign on to that bill. But this is exactly what happened during the month of July in the House of Representatives.

In order to understand why this is so important, as we think about the pace of moral change, we need to go back to the year 1996. That's just a little more than 25 years ago. In 1996, Congress passed legislation known as the Defense of Marriage Act. That act codified marriage as exclusively, in the view of the federal government, the union of a man and a woman. The Defense of Marriage Act became known as DOMA, in terms of the acronym, but it was also passed by vast bipartisan majorities. And President Bill Clinton, who had earlier said that he would not support such legislation, finally bowed to political reality back in 1996, he signed the bill precisely because so many of the members of his own party in the House in the Senate had signed it. It was Clinton who was in danger of appearing out of step. In a typical Clintonian move, he was for it after he was against it, but furthermore, he became against it after he was out of office and safely beyond the reach of voters.

But nonetheless, the important thing to notice, he did sign the legislation. That was not generations ago, that was 1996, just about a quarter of a century ago. But now you're looking at a reality in which it is very well known that the democratic party at the national level takes LGBTQ rights as a major partisan affirmation, and one of the distinctions between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans at least, even if they were not openly contesting the legalization of same sex marriage after the Supreme Court decision of 2015, they were on record as holding to a sane, rational understanding of marriage as rooted in culture and tradition, if not in the Bible, and in reality reflected in creation. But all of that is now very questionable. When 47 Republicans in the House of representatives vote for this bill, and when Democrats now are scrambling because they realize they might actually get 60 votes to bring this bill to a successful conclusion in the Senate, well, you understand that the tables really have turned.

Now at this point we do need to note that a majority of the Republicans in the House voted against it, but the big headlines are that 47 voted for it. But there's something else behind this, and this is how politics works in our national legislature, most importantly in the House, this bill was not whipped by the Republicans. That is to say, the Republican whip, the Republican leader responsible for arranging votes, did not make this particular issue a party line vote that is ultimately attributable to the Republican leader in the house, California Republican Kevin McCarthy. The bill was not whipped, that is to say, it was not made a party line issue, and thus party discipline was not involved, so we really found out where these Republicans are on this issue, or at least where they want Americans to think they are, and if anything, that's even more interesting.

But the single biggest issue here is the brute fact that this nation has experienced what can only be explained as a profound moral transformation on the issue of marriage. If you have all those Democrats, plus 47 Republicans in the House, voting to do what the American public said they did not support the Supreme Court doing in 2015, or at least in most of the states dominated by elected Republicans, the fact is we're looking at a sea change. Now same sex marriage wasn't the start of moral change when it comes to American sexuality, or even the definition of marriage, you'd have to put easy divorce at the front of that line, but then also the sexual revolution, the relaxation, we might say, or the rejection of a traditionally Christian sexual morality that forbade sex outside of marriage.

And so long before saying sex marriage became even imaginable you had the decrease in social sanction against sex before marriage, sex outside of marriage, sex in almost any other context, the LGBTQ revolution, known earlier as the gay rights revolution, was simply riding the energy of the larger sexual revolution. But it was something different because it was far more fundamental in terms of the moral revolution. To get to the legitimization, the legalization of homosexual behavior, and then to homosexual marriage, well that takes something that can only be described as the complete rejection of the moral tradition of millennia.

Something else we need to note is that that kind of cultural or moral acceleration, or velocity, it's also matched by the fact that in almost every case, after there has been a revolution in morality, there's a new realignment on the other side, and that realignment takes place across so many sectors of society that you can almost be forgiven for not remembering that it wasn't always that way, and that's certainly the case when it comes to same sex marriage. It's as if a cultural locomotive is now charging in one direction, having charged for thousands of years in the opposite direction.

But our political class, here's what we need to know, wants to get over this issue. The political class, and that includes Republicans as well as Democrats, they want to get past the issue of same sex marriage, because to Democrats it is simply a part of the landscape, a part of the orthodoxy that cannot even be questioned, and also a winning political issue with their constituency. For Republicans it is something like an anchor around the neck. It is now something that costs Republicans in so many areas of the country, where the Republican position, if it's going to be against same sex marriage, is simply going to cost the party too much, and it's a political calculation. But as we need to understand as Christians, that political calculation has vast moral importance, or to put it another way, it tells us something in moral terms when you have that number of Republicans figure out they need to be on the same sex marriage affirmation side of the issue if they're going to have a political future. That's telling.

Now there's more to this issue than just, as if you could say just looking at the moral velocity and what's happened in terms of political change, we also need to recognize that this legislation represents a direct threat to religious liberty, to religious institutions, to the right of Christian schools, Christian churches, not so much in terms of preaching, but in terms of ministry, to organize our own work according to our biblical convictions. And understand that those who framed this legislation really did understand that, but also understand something else about the political gain, now when it goes to the Senate there's the very real possibility that there will be some kind of face saving effort on the part of at least some to say, look, we're at least going to say we're protecting religious liberty, but then that's going to give us cause to go ahead and say we're going to vote for this legislation. Once again, we just need to understand, all of this plays into the big game of moral revolt.

Notice how the political landscape has changed when evidence comes from Emily Brooks of The Hill, that's a major media source that watches Congress. Emily Brooks wrote that the Republicans had shown, "Political evolution with same-sex marriage vote." Political evolution, you'll notice that's a progressivist direction, in other words, there's an arrow pointing in history. In other words, the previous position held by those 47 Republicans was simply unacceptably antiquated, but now at least those Republicans are getting with the program and beginning to catch up, and the implication is there's hope for the other Republicans as well to get with the program.

Charles Moran, head of the group known as the Log Cabin Republicans, that's a pro LGBT group within the Republican party, said that Republican voters really don't mind the issue of same-sex marriage, they don't want the party to be against marriage equality as he defined them. Well, is he right? He's disastrously wrong on marriage and sex and the definition of marriage and sexual morality, but he's likely correct at least in part on the politics. Genuine conservatives understand that getting the definition of marriage right is fundamental to preserving society, and even the larger moral order. Marriage is an ontological reality, that is to say it's expressed in creation and being, it's expressed as a covenant union that demands legal recognition. It is the union of a man and a woman, which Jesus defined as God's purpose from the beginning. Any society that attempts to redefine marriage, even to include same sex couples, or explicitly to include same sex couples, denies the creation order basis of marriage and subverts the larger society.

But let's notice this, the political class has decided that same-sex marriage is a winning issue, or at the very least that opposition to same-sex marriage might be a losing issue. This shows us how the progressive orthodoxy of the left migrates over to those, first of all, who define themselves in the middle, and then eventually seeks to redefine those on the right. Now it's going to be crucial that Republicans in the United States Senate hold to the conservative principle of defining and protecting marriage, that's going to be absolutely essential. Will it happen or not? Time will tell.

Clearly there are some Republicans in the Senate who do not want to oppose this legalization of same sex marriage. There may be some who actively want to vote for it. Rob Portman, Republican Senator from Ohio, is one, and one of the things we're going to see, by the way, is that there's another form of moral relativism at work here, which has to do with relatives, in the case of Senator Portman, his son. The reality is that people change their minds on this issue for many different reasons, but Christians understand none of them are justifiable.

As I say, the scene now shifts to the United States Senate, and we're going to be watching the Senate very carefully. And by the way, over the course of the next several days we're going to be discussing other legislation that now moves to the Senate, and it's of similar, and perhaps even of equal importance. This has to do with a bill that would supposedly legalize contraception and birth control, as we shall see it goes far beyond that, it's far more radical than what either Democrats or Republicans, or at least some Republicans, have acknowledged this far.

And then of course there's a bill to codify Roe, and the House passed it, but actually it goes far beyond Roe, and now it goes to the Senate. It's unlikely that the abortion bill will gain traction enough to get the 60 votes necessary to be brought to the floor, but nonetheless, the House is coming back again and again, and that demonstrates just how important it is that the House be led by a speaker and by majority leadership that is willing to stand up and define marriage. This is a great opportunity for Republicans, the question is, will they seize the opportunity?

Part

Senator, Can a Man Be Pregnant? Two Worlds Collide as Berkeley Law Testifies Before Senate Committee

But next, speaking of opportunities, an opportunity to understand the looming moral disaster before us came in a hearing before a committee of the United States Senate.

It came on Tuesday, July the 12th, and the witness in this case on a panel was Khiara M. Bridges. She teaches law at the law school at the University of California at Berkeley, and her testimony, and indeed it's probably not accurately described as testimony, but her statements, especially in an exchange with two United States senators, shows us just where we stand in terms of the liberal, conservative pro-life, pro-abortion divide in the United States.

Now, the first exchange we're going to look at was between Professor Bridges and Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri. This is the one that went viral, at least first. Senator Hawley was asking questions of Professor Bridges, and the most important thing to recognize, first of all, is that Professor Bridges had no intention of answering the senator's questions. After she had made her statement Senator Hawley asked her about a reference she had made to "people with the capacity for becoming pregnant." Senator Hawley asked, "Would that be women?" The law professor responded, "Many women, cisgender women, have the capacity for pregnancy. Many cis-women do not have the capacity for pregnancy. There are also trans men who are capable of pregnancy, as well as non-binary people who are capable of pregnancy."

Now the first thing I want to note here, before going any further, is the extent of the ideology revealed in the invented language here, and invented extremely recently, as we shall see, including not just the phrase, "People with the capacity for becoming pregnant," but also referring to women, or at least some women, or even the vast majority of women, as cis-women, meaning cisgender women, that as women who live like, act like, behave like women. More importantly, perhaps, in the language of identity politics, these are women who identify as women.

But after the law professor had told the Senator, and thus the Senate committee, that it's not just women who have the capacity for pregnancy, but some trans men, then Senator Hawley responded, "So this isn't really a women's rights issue?" Now that was clever because you can't have it both ways, it's either a women's rights issue, or it's something else, however you're going to define that something else, rights presumably held by people with a capacity for becoming pregnant. But of course those people would be women, and the vast majority of people actually understand that, but increasing numbers of them are scared to say it out loud.

In the most academically condescending manner, Professor Bridges responded that the issue impacts women, but that it also "impacts other groups." She went on to say, "These things are not mutually exclusive, Senator Hawley." Now, just a few seconds later, the law professor also laid her ideological cards on the table when she said to Senator Hawley, "I want to recognize that your line of questioning is transphobic, and it opens up trans people to violence by not recognizing them." Now Senator Hawley rejected the suggestion that an assertion of biological fact could lead to violence.

But then, breaking with protocol, but after all, if you're breaking with creation order, why not break with protocol? Professor Bridges turned to the Senator and asked him a question, she asked, "Do you believe that men can get pregnant?" Senator Hawley responded in the briefest of terms, "No, I don't think men can get pregnant." The professor then declared, "So you are denying that trans people exist?" Well, you get the point. There's more to the exchange, but that's the most important part. Here you have two different worlds colliding.

But in an article that I published just after this exchange I pointed out, it's not just the collision of two worlds, between Professor Bridges and Senator Hawley. No, if you go back just about 24 months it's a collision between Professor Bridges and Professor Bridges. It turns out that in her own academic writing as recently as 20 months ago or so, she was not speaking about persons with the capacity of pregnancy, or to get pregnant, she was talking about women, and she did so pervasively in her academic writing. And so was she then denying that trans people exist. Was she then putting trans people's lives at risk? You see how fast the moral revolution works. It works so fast that if you're a law professor at Berkeley, of all places, you can't keep up with yourself. The collision of the two worlds here was a collision between the world of biological and reproductive reality and another world, which is the world of the sexual and gender revolutionaries, the cultural Marxists, the critical theorists, their academic kin and political bedfellows.

Now wait just a minute, I used the term bedfellows, that must be out of date. Perhaps we need to update it with people with the capacity for being bed persons. Well, you see these two worlds, and they are contending for supremacy. The world of Professor Bridges is now firmly in control of all the institutions of elite higher education and the political left. There are pregnant men in that world, Professor Bridges insists. But the other world as represented not only by people like Senator Hawley, is the world of farms, homes, churches, playgrounds, schools, not to mention maternity wards, if you can still use that term anymore, where reality still matters and where human nature remains unchanged. Now that is the world all human beings inhabited until very recently, and I mean very recently. In reality it's the world all of us still inhabit whether we want to acknowledge it or not. The progressive woke left increasingly does not want to acknowledge the reality of that world, but you know what?

The sperm and the egg still insist upon that reality.

Part

The Great Divide in the American Moral Landscape: Those Who Believe A Baby in the Womb Has Value and Those Who Do Not — Where Will You Stand?

But there's another exchange that I mentioned and it's equally important, it was an exchange between Professor Bridges and Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas.

Senator Cornyn asked the Berkeley professor, "Do you think that a baby that is delivered alive has value?" Professor Bridges says yes. Senator Cornyn then pressed the question, "Do you think that a baby that is not yet born has value?" Professor Bridges said, "I believe that a person with the capacity for pregnancy has value, they have intelligence, they have agency, they have dignity." Now notice what she did there, she didn't answer the question, but she basically, in affirming that the person with the capacity for being pregnant, to use her language, has intelligence, agency, dignity, she's explicitly saying she will not say that about the unborn baby.

Senator Cornyn pressed the case saying, "No, I'm talking about the baby." Professor Bridges note this said, "And I'm talking about the person with the capacity for pregnancy." Senator Cornyn, who after all is a United States Senator, and the professor had agreed to testify before the United States Senate, Senator Cornyn said, "You're not answering the question I'm asking." And then Professor Bridges said, "I'm answering a more interesting question to me." Now frankly I've not seen an exchange like that ever before the United States Senate, or a committee of the United States Senate, but that tells you what is now happening. It also tells you that Professor Bridges, as well as members of the Senate committee, it's known that they're looking for an opportunity to show Americans and their own constituents what they're thinking, she took this opportunity precisely because she knew that she could likely prompt something that would go viral, and it absolutely did.

Senator Cornyn went on to ask, "Do you think that a baby that is not yet born, let's say the day before this mother delivers, do you think that baby has value?" Professor Bridges said, "I think that the person with the capacity for pregnancy has value, and they should have the ability to control what happens to their lives." Senator Cornyn concluded, "I would just note you refused to answer the question." But Senator Cornyn was wrong in only one sense, a technical sense. She did not answer the question, but I would argue she did. When she is asked if a baby even a day before birth, but not yet born, has dignity, she said nothing, but she went on to say that she believed that the person with the capacity for pregnancy, "Has value," in other words the unborn baby she would never say has value, and they, meaning the mother, but she won't use the phrase mother either, should have the ability to control what happens to their lives. Now notice this logic, even if that means destroying the unborn life one day before birth in the womb.

This is where we stand right now in America, and all this revealed just in the month of July, when much more was revealed as well. But here's what we're looking at, when you look at Professor Bridges understand, she's not an outlier, she represents the elite world of law schools and higher education in the United States. What she said may have been a bit more graphic and a bit more candid and condescending than other professors might put it, but this is the world view that is now dominant in the American progressive academy, and you need to understand that, because if you send your young people to study with the likes of Professor Bridges, don't be surprised when they come home sounding like Professor Bridges.

As for pro-life Americans, and especially for Christians, trying to think through these issues in a biblical manner, looking at those two exchanges, with one professor and two United States senators in the Senate committee, you need to understand that what we're looking at there is a conversation that is almost sure to take place before long in the stands of a little league game, or at a PTA meeting, or in some other local context. This is not just an issue before a Senate committee, this is an issue of life and death before America.

But those exchanges were also clarifying in another way. You'll notice that there is no middle ground between those two positions, none at all, and it never actually existed.

And if nothing else, at least one achievement of all of this is to clarify the fact that you're either for life or you're for abortion.

There is no middle ground.

There is so much for us to talk about and think about in biblical terms as we move ahead.

Thank you for joining me for this new season, and thanks for listening to The Briefing.

For more information good on 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.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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