The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

It’s Wednesday, August 31st, 2022.

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

Part I

One of the 20th Century’s Most Influential Lives in World Politics Comes to An End: Mikhail Gorbachev Dies at 91 — And We Await Russia’s Response

Yesterday. Russian state news agencies announced the death of Mikhail Gorbachev. He had been the last president of the USSR, and also the last General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. By any measure, he lived one of the most important lives in the 20th century, as we think about world affairs. It was Mikhail Gorbachev who was at the helm of the Soviet Union when it eventually dissipated and dissolved. An unexpected development, just in terms of the Cold War and the flow of world history. Even as the Soviet Union was about to collapse, it was difficult to believe that it might be so. But, Mikhail Gorbachev is also one of the most debated personalities of the 20th century. His historical legacy is debated, because on both sides of the equation, on both sides of the Cold War. In the free nations, the United States and its allies, and in the former Soviet union. And that includes most importantly, Russia and its allies.

The big question is, who exactly was Mikhail Gorbachev? And was he a traitor to the Soviet Union, or was he a liberator in the name of freedom? Well, we’re going to be looking more closely at this tomorrow, because one of the other big issues we need to consider and to which we need to pay attention, is the response to the announcement of Mikhail Gorbachev’s death. The most interesting response to watch for, will be response coming from what used to be the Soviet Union, or the heart of this Soviet Union. The capital of the Soviet Union, Moscow. What is going to come from Vladimir Putin’s Russia? And one of the things to remember as you think about this, is that as a young member of the KGB, of the Soviet Intelligence, very feared Soviet Intelligence Service.

As a young member of the KGB, Vladimir Putin came to a conclusion that the collapse of the Soviet Union was one of the greatest calamities in all of world history. One thing that you can keep in perspective is that the current Russian president, acting now as an autocrat, is trying to put back together what he believes Mikhail Gorbachev and others in a form of treason, had torn asunder.

Now, I want to tell you in advance that there are multiple fascinating worldview dimensions of the life, and of the contested legacy of Mikhail Gorbachev. He did indeed, by any measure, live one of the most important lives, in terms of world politics, of the 20th century. And with ramifications still being felt all over the world right now, but particularly in relations between Russia and the United States. But we’re going to wait until tomorrow, because we are looking for that crucial information as to how Russians in particular, and by that, I mean, most importantly, Russian leaders respond to the news of Gorbachev’s death. Because as you’re thinking about a battle over say, just one man’s legacy, remember we’re talking about a battle over history. And a battle over history is a battle over identity, and a battle for the future.

So again, we’re going to be turning to a major consideration of Mikhail Gorbachev’s legacy, and what it means for us now in a worldview analysis tomorrow.

Part II

EuroPride Festival Brought to Screeching Halt in Serbia — Where You Find Historic, Orthodox Christianity, You Find a Society That Knows God’s Intention for Gender, Sexuality, and Family

But right now we’re going to be looking at some other headline news and big issues that confront us with worldview dimensions. And one of them is coming from what used to be a part of the orbit of the former Soviet Union. That would be the nation of Serbia, where the big headline news is not so much what did happen, but what didn’t happen. And what didn’t happen was a big LGBTQ activist celebration event known as Euro Pride. It was going to be held in Serbia, and even the Serbian government insisted that it was going to go ahead and allow the event, until all of a sudden it didn’t. The event didn’t happen. But actually what did happen was, that there were thousands of people who turned out into the street against the event, which didn’t happen.

Now, there are huge dimensions we need to consider here. For one thing, we need to consider Serbia. Why are we talking about an event in Serbia? Well, we have to look at some history here, and this will lead right into our consideration tomorrow about the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the legacy of Mikhail Gorbachev. Serbia is actually a rather ancient civilization. And you could look back to the fact that there was a Kingdom of Serbia, as early as the 13th century, declared in 1217. But the contested history of that part of the world gets very, very hot. For one thing, it is territory that you’re going to cross, going one way or the other, between the east and the west. That’s why so many of these nations, so much of this territory has actually been colored one color or the other, several different times, a part of this empire, then a part of that empire, in the contested powers between the east and the west. And in one sense, between Christianity and Islam.

And of course, all this does eventually factor into the Cold War, and even more recent world politics. One of the big things to consider right now is that by any cultural or political analysis, it would be bizarre that in Serbia, you would have a major international pro-LGBTQ event. And I say that simply because of the history, and the religious identity of Serbia. But before we turn to the religious composition, which I’m going to argue has a lot to do with this, let’s just go back to the history for a moment. 1217, the Kingdom of Serbia is declared. By the 15th century in 1459, the Muslim Ottoman Empire has conquered virtually all of this territory. Serbia becomes a part of the Ottoman Empire. It had been very closely identified with Christianity, but in the territorial expansion of Islam, this became at least, a part of the Ottoman Empire.

Now, fast forward again. Go to 1878. Serbia declares its independence. Didn’t last long. A Kingdom of Serbia was declared in 1882, but then you have to move to one of the tragic and horrifying events of the 20th century, and that would be World War I. At the end of World War I, which by the way, also included the fall of the Ottoman Empire, you had nations such as Serbia consolidated into what became known as Yugoslavia. Now this was something of a Pan Slavia. That is to say, it involved several different nations or several different historic kingdoms that had shared a basically Slavic heritage. Yugoslavia became the collective, the political unit. But anyone who knows the history of that part of the world knows, it was never fundamentally stable in terms of ethnic and religious identity.

And, it was held together during much of the 20th century by the personal leadership, and by the force of the man known as Marshall Tito. It was he who became very well known, especially during World War II. And he was also the leader of Yugoslavia at the time it became absorbed after World War II, into the Soviet orbit. But it was also Marshall Tito who pushed back against an absolute domination of Yugoslavia by the Communist party in Moscow. But nonetheless, it was very much a part of the Soviet orbit. But with the breakup of the Soviet Union, that’ll be a big part of our conversation tomorrow, Yugoslavia eventually broke up itself. The big picture was of the Soviet Union, including far too many cultures to be naturally held together. But frankly, the same thing was true of Yugoslavia. Serbia became one of the parts of Yugoslavia, that became once again, independent. Its independence was declared in 2006, and yet Serbia is different from some of the other component parts of what had been Yugoslavia, on not only cultural and linguistic, and ethnic, but also religious terms.

So, just consider that one of the contested areas there, that had been a part of Yugoslavia is known as Kosovo. Now, Kosovo is overwhelmingly Muslim. More than 97% of the residents there in Kosovo, identify as Muslim. That’s a part of the legacy of the Ottoman revolution, and the Ottoman occupation and absorption of this area, going back to the 15th century. But Serbia itself is a very Christian culture, in terms of identifying with historic Christianity. But then you’re alert to the fact, it’s not just Christianity in some generalized historic sense. It is Orthodox. It is Eastern Christianity. Just remember that by the 11th century, you had a division between Eastern and Western Christianity. Eastern Christianity followed the tradition that became known as Orthodoxy with a capital O, and it included a different theological tradition, and a very different understanding of church and state.

In the Eastern churches, you have the affirmation of what amounts to a fusion of church and state, with the church in the position of supremacy. It’s sometimes referred to as Caesaropapism. It’s also referred to as a form of fusionism. It’s very different than what you see in Western civilization. Eastern Orthodoxy is culturally thicker than Western Christianity, and that would include even Catholicism, which is a far thicker culture than Protestantism or especially evangelicalism, which is to say it has a very strong, very historic, very thick cultural identity. And that cultural identity in Serbia includes the fact that, not only would 90 plus percent of Serbians identify with some form of Christianity, 84.6% of Serbians identify with the Serbian Orthodox Church. And let’s be clear, that church has very clear, traditionally Christian understandings of questions of marriage and sex, and what in the West is increasingly called gender.

And by the way, even as there are certainly those who are more and less secular in their worldview, when it comes to religious identification, it’s really, really clear. Only 1.1%, according to some studies, only 1.1% of Serbian citizens identify as having no religion. Compare that to the West, where we are now told that something between 20 and 30% identify as a none. That is having none of the above, when it comes to religious identity.

Now there are some Muslims there in Serbia, but only about 3% of the population. The point is, it is overwhelmingly Orthodox in terms of the Serbian Orthodox Church. That’s a church that is very clear, both in terms of theology and tradition, about the biblical Christian tradition when it comes to understanding sexuality, and marriage and gender, and thus it was a conflict you could see coming on the horizon, inevitably. If Serbia was to be the host of what was known as this Euro Pride event, it was going to lead to a response. Indeed, even when the event was canceled, because it was so unrepresentative of the Serbian people, and especially of the moral intuitions of the Serbian Orthodox, the Serbian Orthodox went to the streets by the thousands, even when the event was not held.

But some of you might be thinking, “Well, all right, that’s kind of interesting, sort of interesting. The history is very interesting. Understanding the religious and ethnic identity of the Serbians and their rejection of this kind of pro-LGBTQ movement, that’s interesting,” but let me tell you why it’s even more interesting. It is because Serbia right now is trying to join the European Union. It is trying to join the Union dominated by Western nations, and guess what, by an increasingly secular Western civilization. And to put it another way, one of the expectations and requirements of the European Union, for Serbia to be considered acceptable and to join the European Union, is to show that it is joining the moral revolution as well. That was the reason, that at least some in Serbia thought, it would be a good idea to have Euro Pride here. Look, we can point to that as we are trying to apply to the European Union and say, “Look, here’s how progressive we are.”

Well, at least we can point to the irony here. At least some in Serbia said, “Let’s host Euro Pride, because that will give us the opportunity to show the extent to which we are joining the West and the sexual revolution.” Now they’re going to have to explain why not only did that event not happen, but there were thousands of protestors in the street. And they were not protesting for same sex marriage, but against it. But there’s an even deeper reason I bring this up, because it’s a complex issue there, and not only in that part of the country, but internationally looking at these questions. But the point I want to make is this. The expectation in the Western world, especially among the elites of the Western world, is that everyone will inevitably, by some form of persuasion or by coercion, join the moral revolution. They see themselves as driving the inevitability of history.

And you know what? They’ve been stunningly successful, except for one thing. Where you meet pockets of historic Christian conviction, or for that matter, when you meet pockets of Muslim conviction, or for that matter, almost any form of serious theistic tradition, you see pushback. It is not an accident that it is conservative Protestants, it’s evangelicals, it’s conservative Roman Catholics. It’s the conservative impulse of Eastern Orthodoxy. It is the conservative believers of Islam. It is the conservative members of Orthodox Judaism, who actually insist that morality is not up for our constant negotiation. And, that God has established a definition of marriage, and an expectation and command about human sexuality, and an understanding of gender, that no civilization, no matter how progressive it declares itself to be, can actually change.

Another way of putting this is, that if you’re looking at say, the Muslim dominated world, and you’re looking at the world influence historically by Christianity, and where Christianity is still influential. And where you find say, evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics, and Muslims and Orthodox members of Judaism together, the one thing they agree upon is that we actually know what marriage is. We actually know what God’s intention is in human sexuality. That is to say, we actually know that marriage is a union of a man and a woman, and it can’t be a man and a man, and it can’t be a woman and a woman. And furthermore, we understand that marriage and the family are at the absolute center of civilization, and a civilization that would undo marriage and the family, and throw away all boundaries and all constraints upon human sexuality. They are actually headed, not towards some kind of progressive future, but towards some kind of societal suicide.

But in conclusion on this issue, just to remember once again, the affirmation here for the fact that theology matters. The explanation of why so many in Serbia are so resistant to the sexual revolution, is not due to some kind of influence of psychotherapy or some political ideology. It’s the inheritance of Christianity. Theology matters. And as we know, it always matters.

Part III

What Happens When Identity Politics Turns on the Sexual Revolution? Harry Styles Gets Accused of ‘Queerbaiting’

But next, in a related sense, I want us to look at a headline that recently arrived by USA Today. Now I pointed this out before. Over recent years, USA Today has just marched very fast to the left, and particularly on LGBTQ issues. It is actually now almost like a preachy daily newspaper, pushing the LGBTQ agenda in virtually every way, and in ways you almost couldn’t even imagine. So here’s a headline. Harry Styles accused of queer baiting. What is that, and why does it matter? Now I use that term, because it’s in the headline of the article, and it actually is now entered into mainstream conversation.

And just in case you wonder what it means, this term, queer baiting, I’m not going to use it again. It simply means this. It means acting sort of like you’re suggesting that you’re gay, or trans, or somewhere in the LGBTQ spectrum, when actually you’re not. You’re just using it as a marketing technique. Now, my point is, we really have reached a turning point in the moral revolution, when it becomes a marketing strategy to imply or to insinuate that you just might be gay when, as it turns out, you’re probably not. I mentioned entertainer Harry styles earlier, just a matter of fairly recent history. He became rather well known for dressing in a dress, as a cover photo for a major national news magazine. David Oliver reporting for USA Today, tells us the Harry Styles is “a man known for his well, style, a lace ballgown on the cover of Vogue. Ruby slippers for Harryween, a fluffy scarf at the Grammy’s.” Well, that looks rather suggestive of sexual transgression, somewhere in the LGBTQ identity. Doesn’t it? But hey, those who actually hold to that identity or pressing back saying, “He is marketing on their turf.”

The article in USA Today says, “Styles’ fashion choices are generally considered bold and gender bending. So much so that many have accused him of,” well, there’s that word again, “exploiting queer aesthetics”–that’s exactly how USA Today writes it–“for fame and fortune without identifying as a member of the community.” Now, that identifying as a member of the community reminds us of, what is in terms of ideology, underneath all of this. It’s identity politics. If we had not had the development of identity politics, none of this would matter, in the tribal way it matters now.

It’s identity politics. And not only that, it’s identity politics associated with this transgressive morality, such that LGBTQ now is not just what people do. It’s not even what they claim they are. It’s what they are together, they would claim, as a community that demands respect and has rights as a community. One of the rights the community has, is not to have people trying to use them for their own marketing gain, without being, here’s the term, members of the community.

David Oliver suggests that maybe there should be freedom, to just explore in the public eye. He says, “Is exploring one’s gender and sexuality and the public eye, really such a bad thing?” Well, let me just remind you that a part of being a celebrity is branding yourself. It is being famous. Daniel Boorstin, who served for many years as the Librarian of Congress, a major American historian, described a celebrity in this sense, as someone who’s famous for being famous. And I think that’s just about the perfect definition. If you’re famous for being famous, in other words, it’s not some great achievement. You’re just famous for being famous, then you’ve got to keep that fame coming. You’ve got to keep the brand building. And one of the ways you can do it these days, is to show up in a cover photograph as a man in a dress. That does imply something, right? Well, maybe the people who have gone further than wearing a dress, think you’re not really identifying with the community. You’re just trying to get some advantage from our brand.

Another thing we see in this article is the word expert used again, as if expert means anything, if you just throw it in a news article. We’re told, “Experts say celebrities can express themselves to their heterosexual hearts content, so long as they support LGBTQ rights and hear out the community in question.” I simply want to ask the logical question, who exactly would be an expert on that question? One person quoted in the article said that this new issue, “Is a strategy used by content creators and media producers, to attract queer audiences via homoeroticism, suggested marketing, and storylines and other symbolisms. And to insinuate,” I’ll just say, “LGBTQ identities and relationships between media characters and viewers.”

In worldview perspective, I hope you see the point here. We have reached the point where even though throughout most of human history, if someone had insinuated homosexual identity or homosexual behavior, that would have led to enormous moral outrage against homosexuality. But now we have reached the point in the moral revolution in our culture, where you have people who are claiming LGBTQ identity, saying that others are actually borrowing their transgressive sexual gender bending brand for their own commercial advantage. That is really a 180 degree turn, and one we had better notice.

Part IV

‘We’re a Part of the Abortion Movement Too’: Trans Men Meet Ontological Obstacles as They Demand Recognition from Abortion Movement

And as we bring all this to a conclusion today, I have to throw CNN within the mix, because CNN has run a story, and you recall the expression, jumping the shark? It goes back to the history of television. And that’s when a plot line or a series has basically just reached the end of any plausible story, and so they just start doing stupid stuff. Well, in this case, the media is doing stupid stuff, but it’s important that we recognize the stupid stuff they’re doing. Here’s the headline in CNN: “We’re a part of this movement, too. Transgender and non-binary people say they feel excluded from the abortion fight.”

So, right now you’ve noticed one of the biggest worldview, moral, cultural clashes of our age is over abortion. And with particular intensity, after the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs case, and the Supreme Court’s reversal of the Roe v. Wade decision, that took place back in June. And of course, we talked about the fact that in American politics, the Democratic Party is now running on that issue in so many crucial races, and even nationwide in terms of the party’s identity. That is to say, that if you’re a political activist group, you’re going to be finding some way to talk about abortion, because that’s what people are talking about.

And right now the LGBTQ groups are saying, “Oh, we need to talk about abortion, too. We’re a part of this conversation, too.” The other thing you do in our cultural moment right now is, say that you have been left out of the conversation. And this tells us a very great deal about where we are as a nation right now, when you have headline stories saying that transgender and non-binary people, again, go back 20 years, try to tell someone even what that means. They say they are now excluded, or feeling excluded from the abortion fight.

But this takes us to the insanity right now of so many in the media, in particular using the term pregnant people. The White House is using that terminology as well, but let’s just remind ourselves of a basic issue. And this is basic to the biblical worldview. People don’t have babies, women do. And if you have a womb and you are capable of carrying a baby, then guess what? You’re not a man. Indeed, you are a woman. And if you don’t think you are, it’s not because you’re being excluded. It’s because tragically enough, you are confused.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

For more information, go to my website at You can follow me on Twitter by going to For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to For information on Boyce College, just go to

I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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