The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

It’s Wednesday, August 24, 2022.

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

Part I

A House Divided Against Itself: A New Collision of Worldviews Emerges in France Between Feminists on The Left and Transgender Revolutionaries

Well, here’s something to think about. If you are on the left and you are determined to be of the left, then you had better be in movement because these days the left is so detached from reality and it is in movement. Make no mistake, it’s an ideological movement. To stay on the left, you got to be, well, on a lefter left. You have to move further left. There is always a new left, and after that, an even newer left. And you see that right now in one of the major worldview collisions of our age. And in this case, it’s not really between the right and the left. It’s not between liberals and conservatives. It’s not between conservatives and secularists. It is a divide entirely on the left, but it is a very interesting divide.

It is the divide between traditional feminists, second wave feminists, ideological feminists, and the transgender ideologies. And you see this playing out big time. The most interesting front right now, well, just wait, it’s France. No big surprise there because as you think about those two movements, France has played an outsize role, perhaps even an advanced role. So let’s think about feminism, first of all. If you go back to the rise of second wave feminism, in the United States, you’re really talking about the ’60s. And in terms of a good deal of political momentum, you’re really talking about the ’60s and the ’70s. But as you think about ideological feminism in this force, it really goes back decades earlier in France. Just think of one of the most important, if dangerous, feminist philosophers of the 20th century, Simone de Beauvoir there in France. And of course she was the partner to another of the most dangerous minds of the 20th century, the existentialist philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre.

And as you’re looking at this, you recognize that the collision between ideological feminism and the transgender ideologues, it is inevitable. And for that matter, it’s insoluble. And now it’s in France. It’s in France in a way that simply defies the imagination, but demands our attention. It comes down to a social services agency known as Le planning familial, that is to say is obviously it’s about family planning. And we are told that this particular family planning association “has caused controversy with the campaign offering to help pregnant men.” That’s the lead in The Times of London. So all the way across the English channel, The Times of London has decided this is a big story. And they’re right, by the way, this is a big story. And we are told that the French National Planning Association has prompted this controversy by addressing itself to the needs of, and the need for assistance for pregnant men.

And that phrase is just used in just that way, in the French translated into English, “pregnant men.” Now here’s one thing we just need to remind ourselves of to maintain sanity. There are no pregnant men, not in France, not here, not anywhere. It’s a biological impossibility. It is also, we need to notice Christians, a moral impossibility. But nonetheless, of course, it is the outworking of the philosophies of personal autonomy and of sexual liberation, even gender liberation that have been in the driver’s seat on the left now for a very long time, until all of a sudden they’re driving into each other. They’re in a headline collision with one another. You can have feminism that says that the differences between male and female are essential. Indeed, essentialism has been a central argument of the feminist movement in the 20th century and into the 21st century. Men and women are different. Men discriminate against women. That’s been the argument.

The liberation of women defined biologically, culturally, morally, politically, the liberation of women is the cause of the Second Wave Feminist Movement. And thus, they do know what a woman is because otherwise there’s no point being a feminist. There is no fun being a feminist if it turns out that you’ve been fighting for the liberation of men who you think are the oppressors after all. Now there’s more to this story because as it turns out, this is a taxpayer funded association in France, and the controversy comes down to critics accusing the family planning of “trying to import British and American transgender ideologies that run counter to the French feminist tradition.” Now there’s something there that we do need to note. In France, it’s at least worthy of consideration to understand that feminism is older and it is probably even now more powerful than the transgender movement.

And there are reasons for that. There are cultural factors in play there, but that’s why this story is really interesting. Traditional second wave ideological feminism is still very big in France, a very big and explosive and powerful force. And what we’re looking at here nonetheless, is that the transgender ideology is there because by the way, France has also been known for the better part of the last, say 150 years for fostering or at least allowing a far more liberal view of human sexuality than is true in the English speaking world. So that’s historical background, big time investment in feminism and at least what’s been recognized as being a bit more sexually progressive than English speaking cultures. The French have often just looked down across the English channel, at the British and the Americans as being hopelessly sexually repressed. But when it comes to the “T” in LGBTQ, evidently the French have found an issue.

The slogan of this family planning organization in France is liberty, equality and sexuality. And we are pointed to an online poster for the campaign that was first debuted in the French overseas territory of reunion, but now we are told that it’s also appearing in France. And many in France don’t like it. Many liberals in France don’t like it. Many who would consider themselves on the left in France are incensed about this poster. And in this case, I just have to tell you, anyone who has the slightest hold upon reality will also find this a very problematic poster. Don’t worry, nothing here is pornographic. It’s graphic nonetheless. It shows two individuals sitting on a couch and one of them is pregnant. The one of them who is pregnant has a beard. But then again, the other person on the couch who evidently is the non-pregnant person in this couple also appears to have a beard, but long hair.

I’m not going to go into detail. I’ll simply say, this is a very ambiguous drawing about one of the figures, but not about the pregnant figure who we are told is a man, except of course, you and I both know a man can’t be pregnant. So this is someone presenting as a man and presented in this poster as having very male features, except for yes, the very pregnant abdomen. But the point here is not just the inherent weirdness of this picture. And yes, by the way, it is a picture. It is a poster. It is the fact that when you are looking at the left detached from any kind of obligation to objective truth, any kind of accountability to creation order, how exactly do you decide these issues? Why would you not go with this poster and all that’s implied in it? Why would you not say to the feminist: “Hey, you’re just going to have to deal with this. You’re going to have to get with the program”?

You see, that’s the problem. If you abandon creation order, if you abandon rationality and objective truth, if you abandon biology and moral sense, then you’re really hard pressed to say, you’re not going to take the next step, and then the next step, and then the next step. This tax supported organization has now come under criticism from those on the political right, including at least some members of the French Parliament, but the organization said that it might well sue these detractors according to The Times of London and were told that the association was accusing the politicians “of whipping up a hate campaign.” In an official statement, the organization said, “Sexual and reproductive rights must be taken together. We fight as much for abortion as for the sexual health of transgender people or for the young to have access to sexual education.”

So again, just notice, here you have an organization supposedly committed to family planning that says, look, we are going to have to be just as committed to the LGBTQ revolution, and that includes the “T,” so just deal with it. Deal with it or we will sue you if you criticize us. But in worldview terms, here’s where it gets really interesting. Again, Adam Sage is reporting this for The Times of London, “The debate has exposed divisions in French feminism. On one side are traditional feminists who see themselves as engaged in a universal struggle for women’s rights and reject trans activism. On the other are intersectional feminists who aim to combat discrimination based on gender, but also on class, sexuality and race.” Representing traditional feminists, but here we’re not talking about conservatives. We’re talking about ideological feminists, but they’re the ones who are offended here by the transgender argument, and we understand why.

Because after all, they’ve been fighting all their lives for an ideology having to do with women. If all of a sudden, men can be women and men can be pregnant, well, that kind of blasts away the entire point of being a feminist. Two prominent feminists there in France wrote to the prime minister of the nation to say that this family planning association was undermining women’s rights. So it’s not just that, say they’re making the argument. This is morally wrong or biologically impossible. Note, you’ll notice this as the left criticizing the even further left. So they’re not saying that this is a much morally wrong as it is from a feminist point of view, unacceptable. Here’s what they said to the prime minister. “Only women, that is to say adult female humans, can be pregnant. A man, that is to say a male, can never be. To say the contrary is a lie, scientifically speaking.”

Now let’s be clear. On that point, we are in agreement with these French feminists. At least they understand this much to say that a man can be pregnant “can never be.” And they’re right when they say to argue to the contrary is a lie, scientifically speaking. Of course, we understand it’s a lie, even beyond just the issue of science, but certainly including the science. Given the infamous French candor, the feminist went on to make arguments and terms that are far too explicit to be discussed on The Briefing, but let’s just say they’re talking about anatomy. But then again, those on this part of the feminist left in France are actually hopelessly at a date according to the new and the newer left, because they think anatomy matters. Summing this up for us today on The Briefing, let’s just consider the fact that we have to be aware.

Here’s an essential part of Christian faithful thinking that we’re looking at a vast clash of worldviews of irreconcilable contradictory worldviews in the world. And most commonly, what we look at is the conflict between a Christian creation based, Scripturally accountable worldview and the worldview of the secular left. That’s perhaps what is most important to us most days. But today what we’re looking at is not that divide. We’re looking at the divide on the left, where you have the feminist left and the intersectional transgender left. And the left eventually is going to have to decide which one of those two claims is going to gain supremacy. There is just no possibility that long term, the left can survive both of these arguments being made because they are absolutely contradictory.

And so it is likely, I’ll just predict, that the feminists are going to lose this. The feminists are going to lose this, even though on this point, they’re the ones who actually all of a sudden discover that anatomy and biology matters, but they’re going to lose because the transgender ideologues on both sides of the Atlantic have the upper hand. And once you accept critical theory, once you accept what has often been rightly called postmodern patterns of thought, once you deny objective reality, once you make all truth claims just a matter of political power plays and ideological games, guess what? You end up with someone with a beard sitting on a couch pregnant.

Part II

‘Will Future Canadians Owe the Disabled an Apology for Euthanasia?’: Dark Realities from Canada (And Beyond) as ‘Right to Die’ for the Disabled Becomes Clear

Next, the scene is going to shift to Canada, though this story applies far beyond Canada. But in this case, particularly to Canada, because as we’re thinking about euthanasia and assisted suicide laws, frankly, Canada is ground zero for some of the worst, the absolute worst, the most subversive of human dignity and of human life. It’s interesting that The Washington Post is onto this. This is not coming from a conservative media source. This is coming from The Washington Post, Charles Lane is writing. He asked the question, “Will future Canadians owe the disabled an apology for euthanasia?”

Now the historical background to the way he asked the question is the fact that just a matter of weeks ago, Pope Francis went to Canada and expressed regret, apology for the Roman Catholic church’s part, says The Washington Post, “in running notoriously abusive residential schools for indigenous children, which operated between 1880 and 1996.” Now the point Lane is raising here is that the pope in this case was articulating an apology for an historic wrong. And what you have in Charles Lane’s argument here is that Canadians as a whole are likely to have to do that over the issue of euthanasia and so-called assisted suicide, particularly when it comes to the disabled. Now we need to telescope out for just a moment and remind ourselves as Christians, that euthanasia is completely incompatible with a biblical worldview. The scripture makes very clear that it is God and that we ourselves who have the power of life and death, that we do not get to decide either when we’re born or when we shall die.

It is not given to us to declare that we would embrace death and demand death rather than life under certain circumstances. It is impossible to sustain a notion of human dignity that is sturdy and can stand if you actually say that human beings are so autonomous that we can decide that our lives are no longer worth living and that society either can facilitate that or even encourage that, even profit by it. In Canada, we are seeing some of the darkest aspects of what just a matter of a few decades ago appeared to be draconian warnings about what would happen if euthanasia ever were legalized. And what we had were arguments coming from the left concerning human autonomy and arguments coming from the proponents of euthanasia that conservative and pro-life arguments, historic Christian arguments against euthanasia or assisted suicide, that there were simply rooted in a domino theory that was a logical fallacy.

The argument they made is, look, just because we authorize euthanasia here doesn’t mean that euthanasia will be acceptable there, just because we establish these criteria, it doesn’t mean that inevitably the criteria will be broadened except in nearly every single case. And as a matter of fact, I think it probably is every single case. In virtually every single case where euthanasia has been legalized, the grounds for, the criteria for requesting or demanding euthanasia, even with or without state supported aid, they had been broadened, broadened considerably. In Europe, we see this in countries where there’s an entire business now of assisted suicide and basically what amount to death hostels, places where you can just go to die. And if euthanasia is not legal or if it’s not paid for perhaps in your country, then you can go to one of these other countries and demand it.

We’ve looked at Switzerland. And of course, we’ve also looked at the Netherlands. But here we’re talking about North America. We’re talking about Canada. Now, just in terms of worldview and social analysis, one of the things we need to note is that national history has a lot to do with how worldview exists and how worldviews change. So as you think of the United States and Canada, we have a lot of shared culture. We have a lot of shared history, but where we have a distinction in culture and where we have a distinction in history, it really matters. Now, arguably, if you go back about a century, church going in Canada is actually higher in terms of the national practice than in the United States. But nonetheless, Canada secularized very fast, especially in the last half of the 20th century. And what can only be described is something like a worldview of secular humanism, now is the dominant worldview, certainly in the political class, and furthermore, throughout most of the sectors of Canadian society.

There are Christians there to be sure. There are brave, wonderful, faithful, conservative, biblical Christians there to be sure, but they are vastly outnumbered in society by the cultural forces of the left, pushing in a hard secular direction. And Canada’s turn on euthanasia wasn’t just out of nowhere, but it did come faster than in many other nations. And again, what we have seen is that the criteria for euthanasia, for demanding a right to die, those criteria have been expanded. They often start out with the requirement that if someone’s going to demand euthanasia, it has to be because of a recognized diagnosis of an imminently terminal disease. But then you take out imminently, and then you take out terminal, and now in Canada, you can also take out disease. Charles Lane writing this article in The Washington Post says even before the pope’s visit, “there was evidence euthanasia has problems.”

He goes on between 2016 and 2021, Canadian medical personnel administered lethal doses to more than 31,000 people who were usually, but not always terminally ill. Since 2019, he reports, Canadian law has said that intolerable suffering due to incurable illness, which could include various chronic disabling conditions may be sufficient to qualify for a lethal injection. This article also reports on a 61-year-old man who requested and received euthanasia less than a month after he presented symptoms and complaints that were non-life threatening, including depression and hearing loss. But the argument Charles Lane is making is centered on the issue of the disabled, because the argument here is just really important, but I will say as a Christian, this can’t be limited to the disabled, but it is certainly graphically evident when it comes to the disabled. The argument comes that if there is a right to euthanasia, then maybe there is a duty to euthanasia.

And if you are a burden upon society by some kind of even economic or relational definition, then you have something like a duty to die. And thus, there are those in Canada who are now very concerned that the euthanasia laws being so liberal there, and we have to say, that’s just inevitable once you move in that direction, that they are particularly threatening to the disabled because it makes the disabled particularly vulnerable, both to the arguments and to social and financial pressure to seek euthanasia. This has even caught the attention of the United Nations. A disability rights official there we are told, “wrote to Trudeau,” that means Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, “advising him that legalizing euthanasia for the non-terminally ill creates an implied negative judgment on,” in the words of the UN unofficial, “the value or quality of life of persons with disabilities.”

But here, once again, even in this very dark corner, what we see is a debate on the left, in this case, a debate among euthanasia proponents about how all of this is to be considered. Once again, you have a contradiction. Once again, it is not Christian versus secular. This is entirely on the secular side, but listen to this. One of the leading death with dignity organizations in Canada, we are told, responded to the argument that this makes the disabled particularly vulnerable by arguing, and here I’ll quote The Post, “It’s discriminatory to deny qualifying disabled persons physician administered death upon request.” The group known as Dying With Dignity Canada went on to say, “Those with a disability must have the same right to autonomy and end of life choice.” Now from a Christian perspective, of course, we’re looking here at euthanasia as a very important moral issue.

A moral issue because we believe in the sanctity of human life and we believe in the Creator God of the universe as the Lord, the author, the giver of life and the sovereign God who alone has the right to say, “Here is life, and here is death. Here is when you shall be born. Here is how long you shall live.” As we read in the Bible before we are even born, God knows and has determined the length of our days. Taking our lives into our own hands in the sense is a profoundly unchristian act. It is a profoundly rebellious act. But something else we need to note is that behind all of this is a simply idolatrous notion of human autonomy, of human freedom. The idea that we are the Lords of our own lives, we will be the author and finisher of our own lives. And if we can’t actually claim the ability to be the author, we will claim the right to be the finisher.

It also means that we are claiming in our human autonomy two astounding claims, and one of them is that I actually have the right to be the Lord and master of my life in every way, right down to demanding someone help me to end my own life. The other thing is just to note that this depends upon a conception of a good life or an acceptable life that would actually mean that many of the lives lived, millions of lives lived in times past and in the present are here to be considered by many simply unworthy of life, unworthy of dignity, unworthy of respect. By the way, I think the moral point being made by Charles Lane in this piece in The Washington Post. And I’m thankful that it appeared. I think the moral point that he made is very cogent. I think he is actually right.

I think there will come a day, if the Lord carries, when a nation that adopts this kind of euthanasia policy is going to have to apologize, but what an empty apology would be at that point.

Part III

Walmart Takes a Stand Against the Sanctity of Human Life: Company Expands Support for Abortion Coverage for Employees

But finally, I have mentioned before that major American corporations are now increasingly behind the momentum of the moral revolution. They put themselves behind so many different policies and laws and they are continually virtue signaling over these issues.

One of the latest companies to do so in the issue of abortion is Walmart. And I’ll just argue that this is a particularly fraught issue or will be for Walmart because of the nature of their own business model throughout much of America, where they’re likely to alienate many American customers with this policy. They are expanding abortion coverage. The Associated Press reports that, “In a memo sent to employees, the company said its healthcare plans will now cover abortion for employees,” and I quote, “when there’s a health risk to the mother, rape or incest, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, or lack of fetal viability.”

Huge issue here, you might not have noted it, but it has to do with the fact that when you have a policy that says that abortion is justified or allowable when there is a health risk to the mother, just understand, that was broadened virtually immediately after the Roe v. Wade decision went out to mean not only physical health, but mental health. And that became a psychotherapeutic wide open door for basically any woman at any time to say that she would be suffering psychological or psychiatric distress if she were not allowed to terminate the life within her. So in other words, when for the reasons of the health of the mother as listed here, the implication is you’re thinking of physical health, but the actual truth is that this becomes a wide open door to legal abortion, basically upon demand.

But it’s also very morally significant that you’re talking about a nationwide company here, Walmart. And at least a part of the quandary was mentioned by Vanessa Burbano, who is a Professor at Columbia University’s business school. She said, “It’s much trickier than a lot of people initially think it is. It’s not like all their stockholders are of the same opinion on any of these issues, which is what makes it so challenging. They’re trying to figure out how to thread that needle.”

Well, I’ll simply point out that morally speaking with this communication to employees, Walmart is really not trying to thread a needle, it is taking a stand, and it is a stand for abortion, which means it is simultaneously a stand against the sanctity of human life.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

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I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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