Thursday, August 11, 2022
It's Thursday, August 11th, 2022.
I'm Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
From ‘The Birds and the Bees’ to ‘Comprehensive Sex Education’: How Gender Theorists and Sexual Ideologues are Taking Aim at Parental Rights and Your Children in Public Schools
What is it that we need as the answer to just about every problem? Well, according to some people, the answer to the question what do we need now, is almost always sex education. Now that's a controversial issue. Always has been a controversial issue, precisely because you put those two words together, and as we're going to see, you add a third word and you add it to an explosive situation.
And the reason for that is quite simple. As you're talking about sex education for children and for teenagers, for young people these days, you're not just talking about what used to be summarized as the birds and the bees, basically the facts about human reproduction. No, now it is, and here's the third word, comprehensive. In so many cases it's comprehensive sex education, which means a deep ideological indoctrination into the mentality, the sexual progressives, and the LGBTQ revolution.
And it's absolutely certain that the T is right now the most controversial part, but all of it should be controversial to parents. The issue of sex education began to be really transformed in the seventies and eighties, but particularly in the eighties, an orchestrated movement came along to redefined sex education in terms of comprehensive sex education. And that meant not just biology, not just male and female reproduction, birds and bees, how you get babies, but rather how sexuality is supposed to be a part of an individual's life.
And not only that, in most situations what is billed as comprehensive sex education, CSE, it is actually by definition what is defined as sex positive by those who bring it forward, and that means it is positive about sex outside of marriage. And thus one of the things we need to recognize is that you can't talk about sex education without talking about some morality that is represented by that sexual education approach, that curriculum, that class, that teacher. There is no such thing as sex education in this sense, without deep moral involvement.
Why are we talking about this today? The answer is easy. It is because increasingly after the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, one of the issues the left is focusing on is the fact that there must be more sex education. There must be a lot more sex education. And make no mistake, the sex education they want in response to this situation is what's defined as comprehensive sex education. Now, two authors made this very clear when they made an appeal to the public through an opinion piece of the New York Times just days ago.
Eva Goldfarb and Lisa Lieberman are identified as professors of public health at Montclair State University in New Jersey, and the authors of here's the book, Three Decades of Research: The Case for Comprehensive Sex Education. CSE. There it is comprehensive sex education. So you know where they're coming from. And by the way, they are professors of public health. We don't want to demonize an entire discipline, but understand, public health is heavily laden with ideology, with sociology, and in many cases with what can only be described is not only a progressivist approach, but in some cases, basically a Marxist praxis.
But nonetheless, let's look at the argument made here. These two public health professors say, "Religious right political groups that have spent decades dismantling abortion rights in much of the country, have been gunning for sex education for just as long." I'll just intervene here and say, in some sense, even longer. This would even go back before the Roe v. Wade decision, but nonetheless, continuing their argument. Speaking of those they identify as conservative Christians, the religious right, they say, "Their dangerous and cynical efforts now appear under the guise of parental rights," as put in quotation marks as somehow parental rights is an artificial thing that conservative Christians just keep on bringing up as a term of art.
And they also say it appear under the guise of parental rights and, "school transparency." Again, as if that's not a thing, "On the floors of state legislatures and at school board meetings." Now here's where the argument gets very, very revealing. "High quality, evidence informed sex education is critically important." Now wait just a minute. High quality. Who's going to argue against high quality? We're all for that. Liberals are for high quality, conservatives are for high quality, just about everyone wants high quality.
But the next part's where things get interesting. Evidence informed sex education. Well, what evidence? Who chooses the evidence? Who decides what the evidence is? Who decides what evidence informs sex education and what's defined as evidence? Well, they go on to say it's crucially important, effective, and supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans. Now you look at an argument like that and we just need to train ourselves to step back for a moment and say, "Well, is there evidence that the vast majority and overwhelming majority of Americans want their children taught the LGBTQ revolutionary ideology?"
No, of course, you're not going to find that. But this is the way so many surveys are done. People are asked the question. "Do you believe that young people, children, and teenagers should have access to accurate sex education?" Well, people will say, "Yes." Well, then if you can define accurate or evidence based according to your own definition, and you can then present it as comprehensive sex education, you can write an article like this and say, "Look, the vast majority of Americans, including American parents, they want to argue that children should receive comprehensive sex education."
That's not actually what the data demonstrated at all. It's like the questions on abortion. People are asked certain questions about abortion and they give an answer, but then they're presented as something else. For example, last several weeks, we've just received an avalanche of arguments, editorials, public comment about the fact that the vast majority of Americans, we are told, were opposed to the reversal of Roe v. Wade. They supported Roe v. Wade. They wanted Roe v. Wade to continue to be the operating legal precedent. And then you tell them something that's in Roe V Wade and they say, "No, we don't want that."
And so this is where you have to look below the surface, but nonetheless, the argument's very interesting. That's why we're looking at it. Now, these two public health professors go on to say, "Sadly sex education is on shaky ground in many parts of the United States. Florida's don't say gay law," I'm reading from the article here, "Which went into effect in July and denies students in younger grades the opportunity to learn about gender identity and sexual orientation was just one of many recent state bills seeking to restrict access to comprehensive sex education." Whoa, there they use the term, comprehensive sex education. There it is. It's not like we have to make it up.
They give it to us right here in the paragraph. Now remember, they put parental rights in quotation marks as if they're not even sure such things exist, but when it comes to comprehensive sex education, that's presented as if it's just as simple and easy to understand and obviously true as two plus two equals four. But you'll notice they also revealed a great deal more here, because they talk about Florida's, "Don't say gay law," by the way, that's not the name of the law, that's the name that opponents of the law gave it. They go on to say that it denies students in younger grades, we're talking about elementary school students here, we're talking about six year olds all the way through about 10 year olds, that it denies them, we are told, "The opportunity to learn about gender identity and sexual orientation."
Well, ladies and gentlemen, that is exactly what the legislators had in mind. That's exactly what Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, signed into law. And by the way, this is missing from many media reports, this is what many democratic members of the state legislature also voted to support, because they don't want to go back to parents and say, "Oh yeah, we actually thought you're five or six or seven year old ought to be indoctrinated into the LGBTQ revolution, new ideas of gender identity and sexual orientation."
Now here's something else we just need to watch. Christians need to be attentive to this. As we think about these issues in the public square, when someone complains about something that is missing or something that's been denied, something that's been made illegal, and they make the argument saying, "All we're asking for is this," pay close attention to what they define as all they're asking for. What these public health professors are asking for is basically unobstructed access to America's young people in public education and beyond in order to indoctrinate them into the ideologies of the gender revolutionaries, LGBTQ activists, and of course the progressivist experts, we are told, who are suggesting that the moral context comes down to nothing more than consent.
That what we need to teach young people is not the morality of say marriage, but rather suggesting that what they need to do is to learn how safely and healthfully, without the complication of something like a baby, they should negotiate whatever sexual behavior or sexual identity they may decide is right for them at any point. Something else, just in worldview analysis, you need to watch for when you see an argument like this being made, is what is actually the complaint? What are they saying shouldn't take place? Well, what they're saying shouldn't take place is that legislators and parents, governors and other state leaders, shouldn't have the ability to block states from moving forward with teaching children according to comprehensive sex education.
They define it as medically accurate. Again, who's going to argue against medically accurate? But as we see, and we'll see again in coming days, what's defined as medically accurate is often in terms of the revolution, as it's now defined in medical terms. And that means you have the transgender revolution now routinely showing up in medical practice. So, if you believe that your say 12 year old, shouldn't be able to "transition" from one gender to another, and that might require hormones, might eventually require surgery, then you're just opposing the experts. By the way, something else to watch is how numbers are thrown around here, because you would think that the argument here, and again the headline is, "After Roe sex education is even more vital," you would think that there are so many liberal states, California, New York, New Jersey on these issues, so many liberal states, you would think that most of them are at least offering the kind of sex education that these revolutionaries would demand.
No. Here's a sentence, "The challenge is that only 11 states mandate sex education that is medically accurate." Just consider that sentence for a moment. Let's just step back. Let's get all the governors in a room. Let's get all the state legislators in a room. Let's just ask the question. "Is it true that only 11 states out of the 50 states in the Federal Union mandate sex education that is medically accurate?" Now my guess is you're going to see a riotous response from the legislators and the governors if you could get them in such a room, but of course you don't. And the readers of the New York Times and others looking at this kind of article, and that includes those to whom this is directed, and that means Congress and political leaders and the thought class, they're being told, look, most Americans, they just said they support comprehensive sex education.
Well, evidently they don't. At least not when it's translated into what is taught to their own children. But I told you the morality, the moral argument, is very much in play here. Just listen to this part of their article, where they are going after conservative opponents, including parents, who are opposed to comprehensive sex education. "They also promote stigmatizing moral and religious beliefs, including terms like virginity." So virginity's put in quotation marks, "And chastity." Chastity's put in quotation marks.
"In an effort to push abstinence and teach that sexual activity outside heterosexual marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects." Yes. Now my guess is that if you're listening to The Briefing, here it goes, you're one of those people. The most important thing I want to convey is that they are coming for our children. They really are. And when you have a legislature, when you have a state government, you have a governor, like what happened in Florida, where you have a blocking on behalf of parents of this kind of agenda. Then you have this kind of howling going on from people who say, "Hey, you parents, get out of the way. State legislators, governors, what do you have to say about what is taught in the public schools? Local communities, this is not under your control. No, you are to turn this over to experts."
The same experts who are now just pushing the ideology of the sexual revolution, the gender revolution, the non-binary, you go down the list and then you have the editorial evidence in this article. I wish you could see it. Indeed you could pull it up. You can look at the link and see it for yourself. Just look at the text and look at the fact that comprehensive sex education is put forward as if everybody knows what that is. God created it. It was in the Garden of Eden. It's absolutely right. Meanwhile the terms that are put into scare quotes, and in this case, they actually are scare quotes.
The terms that are put into scare quotes are parental rights, school transparency, virginity, and chastity. And you see the moral impulse. And again, when I say moral impulse, I mean they are driven by their own sense of morality. In this case, a very liberal sense of morality. This is what they write, "In the post Roe era, we must fight state by state, district by district, to fend off attacks on sex education based on falsehoods and fear. "Community members," they write, "Must speak up for medically accurate sex education at the local level where curriculum decisions are often driven by who shows up at public meetings and who sits on the school board.
They then conclude with these words. "Many of those who have worked to deny access to critical reproductive healthcare for millions of Americans, are also determined to keep our young people ignorant, disempowered, and at even greater risk." So, "Those efforts are dangerous and must be stopped. Without high quality sex education, post Roe America will be even bleaker when it comes to sexual health." With a new school year begun or about to begin in most areas, I just want to encourage parents, don't let this happen. And you may be the last people on earth who know that parents, that's a word that doesn't have to be put in quotation marks, that goes back to the order of creation.
Parents actually are those who should have the say about what is taught to their children about something as fundamentally moral and fundamentally important as sex education, comprehensive or otherwise. I would say more to Christian parents, you may get some help from others in dealing with these issues and thinking about how to talk about these issues with your children, but it is your job. And, at the end of the day, you will answer to God for it. You're not going to answer to professors from the school of public health. You're not going to answer to the American Civil Liberties Union, you're not going to give an answer to the editorial board of the New York Times.
You will answer to God. And furthermore, you're going to see in the lives of your own children, the evidence of whether or not they think according to the wisdom of the world or the wisdom of God. No one said this was going to be easy. I draw this much attention to this article today just to tell us how difficult a task this is likely to be. And just to remind us once again, on an issue like this, the evidence is clear. We do have enemies.
In the Pronoun War, the Moral Revolutionaries Take No Prisoners — Even If the Offender is One of Their Own
Next, one of the things I point out is that the moral revolution currently pushing so far, so fast to the left, it consumes its own.
And one of those to feel the heat most recently is Fareed Zakaria. He's well known for his appearances on CNN. He's well known for his work, with Think Tanks. He's well known for his views on international affairs. He is also known for his articles that often appear in papers like the Washington Post. He's a columnist for the post, and recently he ran a piece and the Washington Post dared to put up the headline, "Forget pronouns, Democrats need to become the party of building things." Now Fareed Zakaria was making a serious argument. The argument is if the Democrats are going to avoid political annihilation when it comes to the midterm elections coming up, especially in the House of Representatives, then they're going to have to speak to voters who are the infamous swing voters.
They could vote Democrat, they could vote Republican. If they are to reach out to those less ultraliberal voters, then they're going to have to sound less ultraliberal. And so Fareed Zakaria was just saying, "Hey, just let up on the pronouns and talk about building things." Kind of like the old big democratic big government programs, build highways, build roads, build sewers, build airports, build something. Stop talking about pronouns. And again, the Washington Post ran the headline at first online, "Forget pronouns, Democrats need to become the party of building things." Zakaria concluded his article with these words, "This is not a perception problem. It is a reality problem. Democrats need to once more become the party that gets stuff done, builds things and makes government work for people."
He concluded, "That's a lot more important to most Americans than using the right pronouns." Now let me just say that at least in that last sentence, Fareed Zakaria is undoubtedly right? But guess what? That headline didn't exist for long. Fairly quickly after the online edition of the article went up, the articles headline got shortened from, "Forget pronouns, Democrats need to become the party of building things," to just, "Democrats need to become the party of building things." But for the Washington Post, it wasn't enough to take down the offending words from the headline. There had to be some groveling as well.
Or at least that was what was demanded, and in one case, demanded by someone, and this is new to American history, we would identify as the husband of the Secretary of Transportation of the United States. This is of course the husband, as it's legally defined now, of Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg. This man would be Chasten Buttigieg. And Chasten Buttigieg, outraged by the Washington Post headline, offered this on Twitter. "It is wildly inappropriate to instruct Democrats to toss aside an entire group of Americans in order to win."
Now let's just remember what was at stake here. The headline said, "Forget pronouns."And no one really would believe that Fareed Zakaria, who's with it on so many of these issues, would actually say he meant that as a permanent issue. He was talking about an electoral strategy. And you would think, at least maybe, that a man who is legally according to the American law, prevailing at the time, who's identified as the husband of the man who's the US Secretary of Transportation, might understand that elections just might be important. Pete Buttigieg, after all, is discussed by many Democrats as their dream democratic nominee for the 2024 election. That's a bit politically awkward by the way, since Pete Buttigieg didn't, as you think back, do all that well in the 2020 presidential primaries on the Democratic side.
And he now holds a position by the appointment of President Joe Biden, who did get the Democratic nomination. And he has indicated that, at least if you take him at his word, he's intending to run again. But nonetheless, as awkward as this situation might be, maybe it's not all that awkward after all for this couple, but here you have the person identified as the legal spouse, the legal husband of the US Secretary of Education, arguing that even if Democrats lose, that's in effect what he's saying, they need to lose with the pronouns right. Chasten Buttigieg, by the way, went on to say at Twitter, "Addressing someone by the name/pronoun they prefer, is free, easy, and kind. Using them builds community and belonging. Democrats can walk and chew gum."
I guess he means at the same time. "We can fix roads and build bridges while also making it a little easier to go about your life. That's called freedom." So, now we have the revolution in language that is now demanded of the revolutionaries on gender telling us that even as you look at a situation like this, well, you just have to define that as freedom. That's what freedom is these days. But let me just remind you of this, this is absolutely crucial. The war over pronouns, controversy over pronouns, is not really about grammar. It's destructive of grammar, but actually the intention is to change the reality as perceived by the entire society by forcing basically the annihilation of pronouns as having anything to do with male and female, and instead making the argument that there is nothing less than an entirely nearly infinite spectrum of identities and gender and sexuality, and it is now just a matter of whatever pronouns you demand you use, you use for others, you invent.
That's not just the annihilation of language. That's the annihilation of moral sense, and it's a direct assault upon creation order.
‘Friends’ Producer Apologizes for ‘Misgendering’ Trans TV Character 21 Years Ago — Back When She Was Yet Unenlightened
But as we're thinking about these things today, and just trying to understand what we are seeing in the society around us right now, and understanding how Christians should think about this and what this tells us about our mission field and about say even our neighbors and how people are processing all of this, well, I have one last thing to share with you, and that is an apology. And this was an apology offered by Marta Kauffman. If you don't know Marta Kauffman, you probably know of one of the programs that she co-created for television.
It was nearly iconic at the time, decades ago, it was known as Friends. Now, it seems a bit late to be offering an apology for Friends, after all we're talking about a 2001 episode that's at the epicenter of the controversy. 2001, just to do your math, that's 21 years ago. In 2001, the show offered an episode and the sin of that episode, according to some, is that the program, "Misgendered a trans woman character." Misgendered. Now that's another new term that means saying that someone should be identified by the biological sex rather than by whatever gender identity they claim. Now, remember that's 21 years ago. You go back 21 years, even the language of transgender is not yet stable. It's not yet common.
You look back to the ideology, the transgender revolution, there were some of those themes that you could find in certain places, but 21 years ago, no one was arguing about preferred pronouns. Now I'm less concerned here about adults, and frankly, whatever happens to a television producer over a 2001 episode, when you have the producer basically caving to the revolutionaries, no sympathy there for me either. No sympathy there for me either. The point is I'm very concerned about children. I'm concerned for all those who end up taking their moral cues from the entertainment culture, the popular culture, and all these signals being sent around us. This particular television co-creator, going back to 2001, having been confronted with evidence that the program had misgendered a trans woman character before anyone actually would've even known what that meant.
She responded with an abject apology saying, "Pronouns were not yet something that I understood." I just want to respond and say, my guess is that 21 years ago this television producer absolutely understood pronouns like just about everyone else. Absolutely understood pronouns. That was before the gender revolutionaries did their best, and are doing their best, to destroy pronouns. But this is the way moral revolutions work, and here's the point, for a program 21 years ago, this television program co-creator has now had to offer a public apology and to say, "I didn't understand pronouns back then, but boy, I sure do now."
But here we are in the year of our Lord, 2022, where Christians know that actually using the accurate pronouns, it's an act of cultural defiance, and frankly, it might not be too long until using the right pronouns is a crime.
Thanks for listening to The Briefing.
For more information, go to my website at albertmohler.com. You can call 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, where we get the pronouns right, just go to boycecollege.com.
I'll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.