The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

It’s Tuesday, August 16, 2022.

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

Part I

An Assault on Creation, Moral Order, and Common Sense: Boston Children’s Hospital’s' Gender-Affirming' Surgery Program for Adolescents

We’re going to talk about some hard issues today because the headlines hard. We’re going to be talking about the assault upon Creation, the assault upon moral order, the assault upon the categories of mail and female, and for that matter, just the entire sense of moral reality that is now being turned on its head.

The two big issues we’re going to look at today both represent head-on collisions that are now appearing in the headlines, a head-one collision between reality, Creation, order, God’ design, and the modern moral revolution, what’s going on right now, which is a massive attempt on the part of our society at large to reject reality, God’s authority, and for that matter, all common sense. Just lean into that last category for a moment, all common sense.

See if you understand what I’m talking about when I turn first to Boston, where in Boston, the venerable hospital now known as Boston Children’s Hospital is becoming very well-known for its gender-affirming procedures, which in a series of videos and by other means, it is now making very clear it is routinely carrying out for adolescents. Now, the controversy emerged in recent days because of headlines, largely in some conservative circles, indicating that Boston Children’s Hospital was carrying out this kind of “gender-affirming surgery,” and we’ll get into that just a little bit, trust me, you’ll be glad , just a little bit.

As we think about this, conservative news sources have been talking about these procedures being carried out on children, PolitiFact and others came to the hospital’s defense in order to say, “No, that’s not actually happening. It’s absolutely dishonest to use the word “children.” We’re talking about adolescents here. We’re talking about teenagers.” Now, remember, that’s another symptom of our times.

I’ll simply encourage all of you to watch what happens when you’re talking about someone, say, like a 17- or 18-year-old. You will notice that on the left, that person is not responsible enough to be entrusted with many things, including, by the way, the use of a firearm. When it comes to the ability to demand surgery that would radically modify the body, that would end reproductive capacity, that would put actually many medical complications on the line and are frankly so radical they’re difficult to discuss in this format, all of a sudden that person becomes a responsible adult able to make these decisions. If they don’t legally define the individual as an adult, then they define consent down, which is the very thing they’re arguing the opposite of in other circles.

Now, I think there are arguments to be made about all kinds of contexts in which age is taken into consideration. The first thing we need to say is that age in this case is simply the alarm to something more fundamentally wrong, which is to say Christians are opposed to this kind of so-called “surgery” and to the very notion of gender-affirming surgical procedures regardless of age. The problem is just exacerbated. It’s made abundantly even more radically clear when you are talking about younger persons.

Some of the news articles, by the way, are quite positive towards the hospital. For example, Alec Schemmel, reporting for The National Desk at CBS, tells us, “Boston Children’s Hospital, a nationally renown hospital ranked number one in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, was the first major pediatric hospital in the country dedicated to providing life-altering surgical procedures for gender-dysphoric youth.” Well, again, are we talking about children or not? Well, it all depends upon the politics of the word.

This is a children’s hospital. It was established, by the way, in 1869 as the field of pediatrics was really coming into its own with the professionalism of medicine, that taking place back in the 19th century. The name was changed in more recent years to Boston Children’s Hospital. Where would we get the idea this is about children? Well, maybe in the name of the hospital, which again, brags about being ranked number one as the first major pediatric hospital in the country dedicated “to providing life-altering surgical procedures for gender-dysphoric youth.”

Now, this news report, I just remind you, is offered as basically a positive piece about this particularly hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, and the CBS report tells us, “Among the gender-affirming surgeries offered at the hospital are gender-affirming hysterectomies, which involve the removal of the cervix, or the lower, narrower end of the uterus that forums a canal between the uterus and the,” I’ll just say external genitalia, “as well as the fallopian tubes.” The next sentence, “Hysterectomies, which are irreversible, are commonly used for cancer patients and a litany of other gynecological health problems.”

Now, one of the nation’s leading hospitals wants to remove healthy cervixes and fallopian tubes, which would permanently prevent a patient from being able to bear children. According to at least one version of what the hospital put on its own website, the hospital said, “We pride ourselves in providing the answers you seek in simple language that children, teens, and parents can understand from addressing common concerns.”

I’m not even going to say what follows there, but I am going to say, once again, the hospital on its own website uses the word “children,” and in our society we’re talking about adolescents and teenagers as a latter stage of childhood. Even some of the people here who don’t want to use the word “child” and say it’s irresponsible to use the word “child” when talking about teenagers here and even early adolescents, the fact is they use the same language. Why? It’s true and it makes sense and, in other contexts, it’s unavoidable, and even in this one, it’s unavoidably true.

The article later tells us that according to the eligibility requirements for the hospital’s “gender surgery program,” again, I quote, “Minors as young as 15 can receive breast augmentation and double mastectomies with parental consent, but phalloplasty and the related surgery requires patients to be 18, while 17-year-olds can access,” well, I’m not going to use that term, either. Let’s just say it is the artificial reproduction of external genitalia associated with the male and the female. It means removing the natural genitalia and all of its external appearance and trying cosmetically, but we note not reproductively, to exchange the one for the other. This hospital makes clear it does the surgery both ways, but the age is a little higher for those who are seeking to transition away from being male.

I mention the supposed fact-checkers that came out defending the hospital against what I can only say is the hospital’s own claim about the procedures as carrying out. PolitiFact comes out and says that, “It is false to say,” indeed, they put up a meter that reads, “entirely false to say that children are involved here.” At one point, the PolitiFact article says, “Nowhere in the 33-second video did the physician suggest that the procedure is offered to children. The notion, however, seemed to rely upon the hospital having children in its name.” Well, oddly enough, the hospital does have children in its name, and strategically so, and it turns out that at least some of these procedures come at very early ages, and all of the patients described here would be included in the teenage years at the oldest.

Without going into any further anatomical detail, let me just tell you, and this is necessary, we have to have these kinds of conversations. These are issues we must talk about. We have to figure out the way that Christians can talk about these things in a way that’s not salacious and, frankly, can be talked about by a family. We’re clearly talking here about removing healthy, operational external organs and internal organs that are assigned by Creation as male or female and replacing them with non-reproductive, non-operational when it comes to reproductive capacity external body parts that are supposed to cosmetically look like what a male or a female would look like.

Frankly, if you go to the hospital’s website and, if you dare, you will find an entire series of videos put up involving personnel representing the hospital, including doctors, and in the information they convey is, frankly, absolutely stomach-churning detail about what these procedures actually involve. At one point in the supposed fact-check article, by the way, we are told that the hospital’s defense comes down to this, “To qualify for a gender-affirming hysterectomy at Boston Children’s Hospital, patients must be 18 or older and must have a letter from a medical doctor stating they have ‘persistent, well-documented gender dysphoria.'”

Here you have at least 18, but again, we’re talking about teenagers, and we’re talking about the entire set of issues here being associated by intention and design by choice at the Boston Children’s Hospital. We’re also talking about the fact that when it comes to less-invasive surgery and when it comes to hormone treatments and when it comes to many other of the medical alternatives that are presented here, you are talking about children who are much younger, and indeed, I say much younger than the older teenagers, for whom the more radical surgeries here are directed.

Part II

‘They Don’t Have to Let You Change Your Pronouns or Call Yourself a Girl’s Name’: Britain Moves Away from the U.S. (and Towards Sanity) on Issues Related to Transgenderism, Children, and Youth

But related to this, we need to understand that the United States is increasingly an outlier on this issue, the United States, not just the Boston Children’s Hospital, but the United States and medical associations in the United States, pediatric associations in the United States. They are increasingly out of step. We are as a country out of step in allowing so many of these procedures to be undertaken on very young people. The Economist, and as you know this, one of the most important periodicals published in Europe, in this case, published in Great Britain, it recently ran a report in the very last days of July raising the issue that America’s approach to transgender healthcare must seriously be questioned.

The article in The Economist goes to a pediatrician in the United States, a woman named Dr. Clark. She refers to herself, according to The Economist, as, “A typical West Coast liberal.” She was all for the LGBTQ revolution until it came for her 15-year-old daughter. When the daughter registered some interest or determination to have such, and this is Orwellian in its own sense, “gender-affirming surgery,” which we know was extremely radical and should be in any generation and in any place unthinkable. Nonetheless, in the United States, this pediatrician was surprised to discover that the pediatric establishment was actually arguing that the child should have the right to undertake this kind of surgery and to demand it.

The article in The Economist makes clear that this is not the case in many other countries, including other countries that are considered even more socially liberal than the United States. In the United States, it is our pediatric establishment, our medical establishment that has basically sold itself to the transgender revolutionaries to the point that it is now pushing this kind of procedure on children, and we are talking about children, even when we’re talking about teenagers of a certain age. Furthermore, as I say, the inconsistency here is that the people who say if you’re talking about even an 18-year-old, yes, that person is a legal adult, but still, it’s a developing adolescent mind and shouldn’t be entrusted and empowered of making certain decisions.

Then, they say, “Oh, but when it comes to changing one’s gender identity and demanding surgery that would end reproductive capacity, bring all kinds of medical complications, and undertake a formal rejection of the body assigned at birth,” yes, that’s the term, “and the invention of a new body, no, this person is absolutely competent to demand that kind of medical treatment.” There are other medical organizations complicit in this, of course.

The Economist report tells us other medical organizations such as The Endocrine Society and The World Professional Association for Transgender Health, and by the way, that’s an activist group. It’s identified here as a medical organization, but let’s be clear about what it is. We are told that these groups, “Also have pro-affirmation guidance.” We are told that the standards of care released by one of these organizations, “Suggests lowering the age of eligibility for cross-sex hormones to 14, for surgical removal of breasts to 15, and of testicles to 17.” All in the name of medical progress.

The most crucial section in the report from The Economist makes clear the contrast between the United States and other nations. “The American situation contrasts with Europe, where some medical groups are moving in the opposite direction.” The Economist then tells us, “In 2022, Sweden said it will not give blockers or hormones to anyone under 18, with a few strict exceptions. Finland discourages medicalization for those under 25. Now, both prioritize therapy. Britain has launched a review of child services by Hilary Cass, a former head of The College of Pediatrics. Her interim report this year appeared to distance itself from the affirmative model that originated in the USA.” Indeed it did.

By the way, it is very interesting that even more secular Britain is compared to the United States appears to be recovering some sense of sanity on this issue when the United States seems to be determined to move in the opposite direction. Nardeem Badshah, reporting for The Guardian, remember, that’s a left wing newspaper in Great Britain, reports, even if they lament to report, that Britain’s Attorney General says that schools there do not have to accommodate children’s gender wishes. Again, this is a recent statement from the British government.

As The Guardian reports, “The Attorney General, Suella Braverman, has said schools do not have to accommodate children who want to change gender under current legislation.” The government, we are told, is drawing up formal guidance, but in an interview with The Times of London, the Attorney General there in Great Britain said the law stated that, “Under 18s could not legally change their sex, enabling schools to treat all of their pupils by the sex of their birth.” The statement and the policy would apply, by the way, not only to England, but also to Wales.

One member of Parliament explaining the policy said that in the context of schools, “A male child who says in a school that they are a trans girl, that they want to be female, is legally still a boy or a male, and schools have a right to treat them as such under the law.” Explicitly in The Guardian is the statement, “They don’t have to say, ‘Okay, we’re going to let you change your pronoun or let you wear a skirt or call yourself a girl’s name.'”

Now, again, so many people in the United States say, “Wow, we have got to catch up with liberal Europe on so many of these issues.” So many of the activists in the LGBTQ community and elsewhere argue that the United States is hopelessly behind. Meanwhile, even The Economist and people in Britain and throughout Europe are recognizing it’s the United States that is actually the outlier here, and I have to say with embarrassment, tragically so, outrageously so.

Now, one of the issues from a Christian worldview perspective we need to consider here would be the limitations of technology and the fact that technology can, on the one hand, enhance life. On the other hand, it can destroy life. It can insult life. It can minimize life. We’re also looking at the fact that technology simply can’t save us. Technology can offer marginal improvements in our lives. We are thankful for so many technologies that have done so. They may even extend our lives through innovations, including surgery, but at the end of the day, technology is always a two-edged sword.

The Christian worldview reminds us that in a fallen world, even the best technology, just like the best science or the best art or the best music, it can testify to the truth, or it can testify to the lie. It can be used for human good. It can be used for human evil, and that’s true of the medical procedures that are described here. It’s also true of modern reproductive technologies.

Part III

When a Human Baby is Rejected as a Consumer Defect: Gay Couple Sues Fertility Clinic Over the Birth of Baby Girl

And thus, we shift to another headline that demands our attention. I’ve been watching this for days, and much like in the Bible you hear about the little cloud that appeared on the horizon and then the flood that eventually came, well, we’ve been looking at this story as kind of a cloud on the horizon, the size of a man’s fist, and now, all of a sudden, it’s a much bigger story. It should be a much bigger story still, that is, this should be something that Americans know more about and more Americans know about, but as you hear the story, I think you’re going to understand why so many in the elite media and academia and among the powers that be don’t want to touch this at all.

In this case, the news story takes us to Pasadena, California, and to a couple. In this case, a man and a man, and according to the report, they are recording to the law in California legally wed. Albert and Anthony Saniger. Now, they are in news there in California because they are suing a fertility clinic, not because they didn’t get a baby, but because they got the wrong baby. In this case, the wrong baby they got was a girl baby rather than a boy baby.

Here you have a same-sex couple, legally married according to California, filing a lawsuit against a clinic known as HRC Fertility, and charging them with breach of contract, medical malpractice, negligence, and fraudulent concealment also. Just throw in a violation of The Unfair Competition Law and The Consumer Legal Remedies Act. Why? They would accept only a boy. They demanded a boy, and furthermore, they thought they had bought a boy, and they ended up with a girl, and thus, breach of contract.

Now, notice the fact that something really weird is going on here. Indeed, weird on top of weird. We’re talking about a medical, technological revolution. A revolution in human reproductive technologies that staggers the mind. I’ve been writing on this issue now for more than two decades, and at least at this point, there’s a little bit of progress among Christians in understanding what is at stake. I think more Christians probably now understand the inherent moral challenges of surrogate parenting, and more and more are understanding the inherent moral challenges with such things as test tube babies, as they are popularly known, or in-vitro fertilization procedures.

The reality is Americans tend to think technology is a good thing, technology liberates, we should support technology. Well, notice what that has now brought when it comes to human reproduction. Let’s just state the obvious facts. These two men, California may declare them to be legally married, but they cannot, no matter how hard they try, produce a baby, neither a girl nor a boy. They cannot produce a baby, so it takes multiple technologies for them to have a child the way they demanded here to have a child. It requires in-vitro fertilization technology. It also requires what is known as surrogacy. That means the hiring of, well, let’s just state the obvious, a woman capable of carrying a child.

You also need not only a womb, you also need an egg. That also requires a female and, thus, a new technological industry of assisted human reproduction has emerged in the United States and elsewhere. The medical toll is staggering. The moral toll is staggering. Consider here that it requires these two men, if they are going to accomplish what they want to accomplish, to hire a firm and also to hire a womb and to secure somehow purchasing an egg, and the process of creating a human embryo, actually multiple human embryos in the in-vitro fertilization context. Then, what they demanded in their contract was sorting the embryos in such a way that only male embryos would be implanted in the womb they had hired in order for the child they demanded and said they had paid for to be a boy and only a boy. That means explicitly not a girl, and yet when the baby was born, guess what? She’s a girl.

Now, one of the saddest aspects of this entire story is that these parents in all of the statements made about the child who was born, which is, after all, a girl, they do not refer to her as a girl. They don’t refer to her really as a person. It’s as if she’s a product and not the product they ordered. They’re charging the fertility clinic with negligently, recklessly, and/or intentionally transferring a female embryo to their “gestational carrier.” NBC in Los Angeles reports, “Throughout the process, the Sanigers were explicit with HRC that they wanted only male embryos transferred to their gestational carrier, and the defendants represented that the Sanigers would get to select the exact embryos which had an identified gender to be used in each transfer, that according to the suit.”

Thus, they say, that the firm and the doctor were negligent and reckless, and maybe even they were saboteurs. They intentionally transferred a female embryo against the express and contractual wishes of the two men who established the demand, who paid for the contract, and who ended up with a deficient product, a girl. A website known as LGBTQ Nation went on to say that the couple alleges, “They spent around $300,000 for several rounds of IBF and to the surrogate, and expect their costs to skyrocket,” notice these words, “because they still plan on having two boys in addition to their daughter.”

We’re also told they planned ahead, “The Sanigers said they had decided on their kids’ names and even got Gmail addresses for them before they were married in 2013. They wanted two boys, and now they say that they will have to pay a lot to have their two boys because of the fertility clinic and the doctor,” again, there’s the language, “being negligent, reckless, or worse.” LGBTQ Nation, by the way, tells us that earlier this year, the tables were turned. “A lesbian couple in New York State sued a fertility clinic after they were assured that their baby was going to be a girl, but turned out to be a boy.” We’re then told that the two women went to a fertility clinic, “Where they were told that the clinic could determine the chromosomes of the embryos created with one partner’s eggs and donor sperm that the other partner would later carry.”

You following all of this complication? Are you following the rejection of the entire Divine plan for the perpetuation of the human species and human reproduction? Are you noticing the sinister shift in language about all of this? Parenthood is now coming down to something that, frankly, is just a sales purchase made about a commodity, which is supposedly a human embryo. You’ll notice that deficient embryos are simply not going to be accepted. I mean, you wouldn’t accept a deficient dishwasher, you wouldn’t accept a deficient vehicle. For crying out loud, you wouldn’t accept a deficient smartphone, so why would you accept a deficient human being, even if the deficiency, by the way, is simply that you ordered a boy and you got a girl?

The men claim that the financial impact on them is going to be staggering, that’s their word, as one report says by CBS, “Because they ultimately will be raising three children rather than the two sons for which they had planned.” By the way, the statement released by the fertility clinic said, “At HRC Fertility, our mission is to provide world-class care. We have helped thousands of people, including the couple involved in this lawsuit. The couple ideally desired a baby boy, but were blessed with a healthy girl. To their dissatisfaction, we have sought to address their concerns. Every child,” says the clinic, “has value and limitless potential, regardless of gender.”

That’s an interesting statement made in the public defense by this clinic. You’ll notice they say, “Every child has value and limitless potential, regardless of gender.” Well, we as Christians absolutely, fundamentally, non-negotiably agree with that, but it’s pretty hard to take as a moral message coming from a clinic that commodifies the entire process of human reproduction and, thus, seeks to redefine what it means to be human. You treat human beings like commodities, and guess what? People expect the commodity they pay for.

I decided to take a closer look at this story. It turns out that the two men, upon a little investigation, are involved in what’s known as a unified shopping wallet, and this is a consumer product, either an app or another kind of program. It’s known as nate, and the headline is that nate, again, that’s the brand, has announced, “nate True Colors campaign intended to raise funds for LGBTQIA+ organizations.” The press release tells us about one of the men, “As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, nate founder and CEO Albert Saniger has been active in furthering diversity in the tech space and creating opportunities for underrepresented members of the community.”

Another headline comes up, and it comes up from Great Britain, where Pink News, that’s very similar to LGBTQ News in the United States, you’re talking here about a movement website, as in LGBTQ movement. It found itself in a bit of controversy when it ran an article about the Sanigers in which included the statement from the Sanigers, again, identified as a married male couple, a same-sex couple, a homosexual couple. In other words, just exactly who you think Pink News would celebrate, but they included their statement about the unacceptability of a girl, and guess what? That has offended some others in the Pink News community.

Lest you think this just means that women were offended by two men who basically bought a baby and didn’t get the baby they wanted because the baby was a girl, no, it’s a lot more complex than that. We’ll simply end on this as evidence of where confusion leads. It always leads to greater confusion. This is where moral rebellion leads. It always leads to an even deeper rebellion. “Many social media users pointed out the hypocrisy of Pink News recognizing the infant in this case as female, while over the years consistently backing ‘the right of transgender women to assert their own identity and branding an acknowledgement that transgender women are members of the male sex as anti-trans and misgendering.”

No, the offense here is not what you thought it was. It wasn’t in dismissing basically and insulting the inherent dignity of a baby girl, it was saying, “Well, she hasn’t told us what she is yet.” Evidently, it’s wrong to say up front baby boy and baby girl. Folks, I just have to underline the basic fact, and that is that what we are witnessing around this is a rejection of creation. It is a rejection of God’s plan and, frankly, it’s the embrace of irrationality, but there are very real victims.

The victims of the transgender revolution and, now, the surgical procedures, which are being facilitated for very, very young people. We just have to name them for what they are, but also the fact that a little baby girl is now being told in court and throughout the media of the world that she was profoundly not wanted. She isn’t the baby the two men had ordered, demanded, and paid for. She’s an unacceptable product.

Understand something else. The people who are telling us that this is the truth are the people who are telling us with their own words that they are the moral progressives.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

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I’ll meet you tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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