Friday, September 30, 2022
It's Friday, September 30, 2022.
I'm Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
Amendment 2 Brings an Urgent Vote for Life to Kentucky Ballots — We are About to Find Out How Serious Kentuckians are About the Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life
We're going to get to your questions in just a moment, but first I want to look at an urgent issue and this particular urgency has to do with the sanctity of human life and a proposed constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot in Kentucky come Election Day in just a matter of a few weeks.
It is known as Amendment 2, and the issues in this amendment pertain not only to Kentucky, but frankly to how Christians in the United States and elsewhere think about how to address constitutions, issues of legislation, judicial decisions in order to uphold the sanctity of human life, and also to understand what is at stake in a single individual vote, whether it is in various cases, for a candidate or for a legislative proposal, for a ballot initiative, or for a constitutional amendment, as is the case here in Kentucky.
Amendment 2. What's it all about? Well, number one, it is exceedingly clear and it is graciously brief, "To protect human life, nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion." Just a matter of a few words. Now, this gets to something, when you are amending a constitution, you had better be very careful and very economic with your words because constitutions have to summarize principles and the language becomes absolutely determinative.
Now, why would Amendment 2 be important in the commonwealth of Kentucky? Why would this kind of amendment be necessary? After all, it doesn't state what the constitution says, rather it simply by amendment says that even in the text of the constitution, this particular amendment is going to be clear about what isn't in the Kentucky constitution. Now, what is the key argument? The key argument is this. What is not in the Kentucky constitution is a so-called woman's right to abortion.
It is not in the constitution, and thus the language is that nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion. Now, that doesn't mean by the way that the Kentucky General Assembly could not legislate on abortion. It does mean that no judge at any level could use the Kentucky State constitution in order to supposedly find some kind of invisible but embedded right for a woman to demand an abortion within the state of Kentucky.
Some people ask, "Why is this necessary?" Well, think about it for just a moment. We just went through almost 50 years of necessary hard labor in order to reach the point that the Supreme Court of the United States reversed the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, something like 49 and a half years. Now, as we have said, that didn't settle the issue, but it was a necessary step for us to be able to defend human life in all 50 states.
How did Roe v. Wade happen? It happened not because of legislative action. It happened not because of action undertaken even by the president of the United States and the executive branch. It happened because the Supreme Court of the United States simply invented and declared to be present in the United States Constitution, a so-called right to abortion. That's how we got into this trouble, and so we could only have wished that the constitution of the United States had had language in which it was clearly stated, "Nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion."
Had that kind of language been in the United States Constitution, we would never have had a Roe v. Wade decision in the first place, but it wasn't in the U.S. Constitution, and it's not in the constitution of the United States right now. But the scene of activity, the most urgent activity right now on the front of human life is not the Supreme Court of the United States. It is instead the 50 states. In the state of Kentucky, what you have on the ground is basically a pro-life state.
That means that right now abortion is illegal in the state of Kentucky but all that could change if a judge in the state simply declares there is a so-called woman's right to abortion in the state constitution. You'll notice there was another provision here, and this one is also necessary. This particular proposal known as Amendment 2 to the Kentucky constitution says, "Not only that nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion." It also includes the final words, "Or require the funding of abortion."
That's absolutely crucial, but it's also very important for us to recognize as we listen to the public debate about something like Amendment 2 in Kentucky, what we really hear are far larger issues both explicit and implicit in this conversation. For example, consider how the mainstream media in so many cases deal with this kind of story. Deborah Yetter writing for the local paper here, the Louisville Courier-Journal, which is also a part of the USA TODAY network, began her recent report on Amendment 2 with these words, "One of the hottest items on Kentucky's November 8 general election ballot this year could be constitutional Amendment 2, to eliminate the right to abortion in the commonwealth."
Well, let's just think about that for a moment. That is not an accurate statement. For example, again, let me just read the words, "To protect human life, nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion." Now, just notice, that doesn't eliminate abortion in Kentucky. It eliminates any claim that might be made that there is a right to abortion in the Kentucky constitution.
Those two things are not the same, but nonetheless, you can see how effective it is or at least politically potent it is to tell people, "Look, this amendment would outlaw," or in this case, the language was eliminate "the right to abortion in the commonwealth." The other issue is that the usual use of the word eliminate is to eradicate something that already exists, to cancel something that currently exists. But guess what doesn't exist in Kentucky right now? That is a woman's right to abortion.
The biggest reason for that is the reversal of Roe v. Wade and the fact that Kentucky was one of the states with a so-called trigger law that outlawed abortion virtually as soon as the Supreme Court decision took effect. The other issue is that the pro-abortion side is putting out all kinds of scare language. This is predictable. No one should be surprised by this, suggesting to voters that this is some kind of extreme radical action or radical amendment to the Kentucky Constitution that right-minded persons should avoid and should oppose.
Just think about this. The statement is so clear, the language is so clean, "To protect human life, nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion." Here is something very, very important, in Kansas, in recent weeks, as you know, the pro-life movement suffered a very significant setback because of the failure of a similar kind of effort there in Kansas.
That effort was undertaken before anyone knew the Dobbs decision would come down as it did, but the pro-abortion movement in Kansas was able to confuse and to convince a significant number of people, quite sufficient it turned out, to defeat that measure that would've defended human life in Kansas. Now, one of the differences between Kansas and Kentucky on this particular measure is that the Kansas language was very confusing.
Now, that confusion can be due to any number of issues, but in Kansas it came down to the fact that voters weren't sure as they went into the voting booth, whether they were voting yes or no when it came to abortion as they looked at that particular language. It is because it was something of a positive statement for a negative or a negative statement for a positive. In any event, that always confuses voters. They weren't sure what they were voting on.
But the bigger issue is that the pro-abortion movement went on the war path and vast amounts of money came for the pro-abortion movement from that movement outside the state of Kansas. Something very similar is taking place here in the state of Kentucky. The first sentence of the story said that the constitutional amendment would "eliminate the right to abortion in the commonwealth." Just a matter of a couple of paragraphs later, we are told that, "If approved, the measure changes Kentucky's constitution to eliminate the right to abortion."
Again, the word eliminate there insinuates that there is a right to abortion that is being eliminated. Now, it's true, the word eliminate can be used in a different context, but let's be frank, the word eliminate here is intended to gain the attention of readers in such a way that they're supposed to say or are at least supposed to think they might say, "No, I don't want to write that I have eliminated." But on this issue, I just want to remind us all that this is where we're going to find out just how pro-life a state is.
Right now that means the state of Kentucky, we're going to find out whether the voters here are actually serious about defending unborn human life and whether they're serious about preventing some judge in the state of Kentucky from just inventing and declaring a woman's right to abortion, thus legalizing abortion to some extent or to virtually all extent within the state of Kentucky.
It is our responsibility as citizens to make certain that our constitution rightly reflects the important assignments given to the government of the state of Kentucky. In this commonwealth, one of those responsibilities is to defend human life, and that means also to defend unborn human life. Even as this becomes a hotly contested political issue, Christians have to keep in mind it is never merely a political issue.
It is an issue of life and death because we're the ones who must know and must always insist upon the fact that when we're talking about life and death, that means life and death, both inside and outside the womb as our responsibility. Next, I also want to say that one of the issues for us in trying to get this message out is that we need to be able to reach Kentucky voters. That's the reason why I'm going to be speaking at the Yes for Life celebration and rally, which is going to be held this Saturday, October the 1st at the Kentucky State Capital.
That rally's going to take place at 2:00 o'clock PM and the capital of course is pretty obvious. You'll know it when you see it, in the city of Frankfurt, Kentucky, but the address is 700 Capital Avenue. I'm going to be speaking about this amendment at this event there at the Kentucky State Capitol on Saturday, and I can only hope that there will be a lot of concerned Kentuckians there ready to defend unborn life.
The Warnings about Hurricane Ian were Justified and Horrifyingly Actualized: A Call to Prayer for Florida
Next, of course, we have been praying here in the United States in particular for those in the path of Hurricane Ian, and we now know far more about the course of this storm, especially in the state of Florida because it crossed the state. It came onshore there in Southwest Florida and made its way up in a diagonal path. Frankly, the storm slowed down and did even more damage than had been expected before exiting on the northeast coast of Florida, going out into the Atlantic as a tropical storm.
It's going to gain intensity again it is expected and then will turn back towards the continental United States, likely hitting landfalls somewhere in South Carolina, but affecting the states of Georgia and South Carolina and North Carolina, even as the storm is likely to continue dumping a lot of rain as it moves inland in the United States. Now, as we think about the storm, we have to recognize the scale of the damage and devastation was actually beyond what many, if not most people, had expected.
Now, this raises a very interesting and troubling question about humanity. We're often told by means of explicit warnings that something might happen or even that it's likely to happen, but once that warning comes and it doesn't happen, at least to the extremity of the dire prediction or warning that was issued, human beings begin to discount those warnings. That's the case when it comes to many of these storms.
There have been numerous storms, numerous hurricanes, not only that would affect Florida, but other coastal states as well, in which the warnings have come that this kind of tidal surge could cause this much damage, that the tidal surge combined with a tide could be this high inundating an entire community, that the winds could be this strong, that this much water could be dropped. When that doesn't happen, or looking backwards when it didn't happen, you had many people just begin to discount the warnings.
But when it came to Hurricane Ian, it turns out that the warnings were incredibly justified and horrifyingly actualized. Now, again, we have talked about the fact that the cyclonic nature of a hurricane, those circular winds with such deadly force bringing so much rain, so much power, we've talked about the fact that on one side of the storm, the winds blow in one direction and then the opposite side of the storm, the winds are blowing in the opposite direction.
As that turned out in Florida, it meant that the regions to the south of the eye of the storm had water at a higher tide coming inland, and that's why the massive tidal surge that affected that region in South Florida came with such devastating force. You look at Sanibel Island actually now cut off from the mainland. You look at devastation on the island and in other areas, particularly in the metropolitan region that includes the cities of Naples and Fort Myers.
The photographs and video evidence tell us of the power of the storm, but amazingly enough, on the north side of the storm, the winds weren't pushing the water onto the land, but away from the land leading to the amazing spectacle of the exposed bed of much of Tampa Bay being evident to citizens there in Tampa where the surge was not so much coming in as going out. But here's the problem. Before long, what was going out will come back in.
All this, of course, reminds us of the incredible power of these storms and Hurricane Ian, which is now Tropical Storm Ian and is likely to become Hurricane Ian again, is still a very dangerous storm. It is still packing more energy and more power than human beings can even imagine, and we must continue praying for the people in the affected areas. That includes not only the Southwest Coast, but also much of Central Florida and continuing on to the East Coast.
The biggest issue right now is likely the devastation brought by that tidal surge, particularly in Florida's southwest coast. The pictures, the videos, they are just horrifying. We must continue praying for, even as we seek by appropriate means to assist the people who are there and understand, and this is a particularly Christian concern, that there are Christian churches there whose ministries are very much at stake even as they are right now, more important on the ground in those regions than ever before.
We'll continue praying for those in Southwest Florida, even as the storm continues up the Atlantic Coast. Ian is not over yet.
Can You Explain the Schisms We See Between Conservatives Right Now? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing
Next we're going to turn to your questions, always a favorite time during the week when we look at questions sent in by listeners to The Briefing. I always begin by thanking you for the quality of the questions.
The first question for today comes from Justin, a college student in his last semester and he says he's trying to make sense of the current divide in the political landscape, but also he says particularly in the conservative movement.
He says that there are some in the conservative movement, he mentions some websites such as The Dispatch or The Bulwark, which, as he writes, "are deeply concerned with what they see as a rising authoritarianism in the Republican Party and particular concern with President Trump." Then he writes, "The other side of conservatism sees this as an overexaggerated concern and supports the Republican Party no matter what, perhaps because of the issue of abortion."
He goes on to say he's trying to figure this out, and he says, "I'm trying to make sense out of this schism in light of the historic literature of the conservative movement." He then asked, "Could you provide some insight?" Well, Justin, I'm going to try, but you may be the final judge of whether I provided any insight or not. I simply want to start out by saying I am a product of the classical conservative conversation.
That is, the literature and the tradition of classical conservatism in the English-speaking world. That conservatism has always understood that there is a combination of two different principles to conserve. One of them has to do with the norms of politics, which are moral norms, and the other has to do with the principles of politics and the policies of politics that are the product of the political process.
Conservatives are those who understand the need to conserve in both arenas. Now, liberalism or progressivism is the opposite of that. Progressives are trying to escape what conservatives believe must be conserved. Justin's right to say that there is a split. I'm not sure honestly if I would characterize it as a split among conservatives because I think some of the websites he mentioned and some of the forces that had been aligned with conservatism are now decreasingly conservative in any legitimate sense.
I don't know exactly what they are trying to conserve. But the other thing we need to note, and this I say with a sense of tragic loss, the other thing I note is that the political system and the political tradition that brought both modern liberalism and modern conservatism into being, was a political context in which the norms and the policies were more closely aligned.
You might say that throughout most of recent American history, recent being say the 20th century, the Democrats and the Republicans were operating out of the same manual of political norms. Both the Democratic and the Republican Party operated within certain principles, certain moral understandings, certain political customs that pretty much were shared and for at least a lot of that time were virtually unquestioned.
Now, those political norms began to break, and honestly, I think it's accurate to say that they broke first in the Democratic Party under the strains of a progressivist movement that was pushing the Democratic Party further to the left, particularly in the 1960s. I mean, the situation in the Democratic Party was so hot during that era that they could barely hold conventions without violence in the streets and the necessity of riot police.
Then you also had the fact that yes, in more recent years you've also had conservatives that have broken many of these norms, and you could also have a candidate such as Donald Trump who actually was very clear about the fact that he was intentionally violating many of those norms. The logic of President Trump, first candidate Trump, was that many of those norms were actually impediments to bringing about the change that he believed needed to take place.
Now, there are obviously some big issues of balance and big issues of political trade-offs here because the age in which you could have say the combination that you could assume would always be the case with a conservative personality as well as conservative political convictions, let's just say that that has not been generally available in the course of the last several elections cycles. The likelihood is that that is going to be the case for some time.
Now, it's not as if there is peace and tranquility on the left. As we often point out, the left is basically more threatened by the next left and then that by the next left, and that by the next left. That's the progressivist problem. You have this continual and increasingly radical push to the left that's known as today's Democratic Party.
In the Republican Party, the big question is how exactly modern conservatism is to be defined, or I would put it another way, the danger for the Republican Party is that it will become merely the party of the right rather than being a legitimately conservative party. This is where conservative voters in the United States are really in a quandary, because there is really only one major option when it comes to conservatives and political parties in the United States.
There are stresses and strains to be sure. Justin, you asked me, and I'm going to try to be honest here, I think that under the current prevailing political conditions, the two parties are so radically opposed to one another that the Republican Party becomes the only conservative option. Even as for liberals, the Democratic Party is the only conceivable option. As you're looking at liberals, their big concern is that the Democratic Party will simply become the party of the Left.
I think the big problem for conservatives is that the Republican Party could become merely the party of the right. I think it's important to point out that both political parties have basically abandoned the political norms that put them in the same political terrain as to the rules of politics about 50 years ago. Both parties have abandoned that. Both parties have abandoned those political norms.
At this point, I have to say as a conservative, it just isn't conceivable to me that it's conservative in any sense to vote for a party that in its very essence is trying to destroy the principles that I believe must be conserved, including by the way, most fundamentally the sanctity of human life. I wish I could look for the right combination of conservative norms and conservative policies in one candidate.
But as it comes to American politics these days, we generally, as voters, don't get to choose which candidates are going to run, or for that matter, even which candidates are going to get the political nomination of the two parties, but once those nominations are set, we do have a very clear choice. I think that was true 50 years ago. It's even more true now.
How Can I Be a Responsible Voter? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing
The next question comes from another young man, and this midterm election is going to be his first opportunity for a vote. He senses says, Caleb, "That this is a time of high tension." He says, "I've been wondering how to be a responsible voter. I'm in Texas, and I feel like there is a pull between the city and the country." That's fascinating in and of itself, and Caleb, you're onto something.
There is a political, moral, cultural, social divide in this country that is increasingly predictable as you compare metropolitan areas and more rural areas. Now, most people in the United States, because we're so focused on national elections, we're very focused on the presidency, we think of those red states and those blue states. Yes, the blue states tend to be in the coast and tend to be concentrated, especially in large metropolitan areas.
The red states tend to be more rural or at least less metropolitan or less urbanized, and they also tend, of course, to be more conservative. Caleb, you're onto something that's an accurate observation. But you ask about how to be a responsible voter. By asking the question, I'm pretty sure that you are one already. You're going to look at the most basic issues that confront voters in an election.
You're going to understand your own political principles that are based on even more bedrock, moral, and yes, even theological principles. You're going to understand that in an election you're making a choice between not only persons, but sets of policies, sets of political principles. There is a larger equation in which you also understand that because of the doctrine of sin, every single political party is at some point going to let you down, and every single politician may do so as well.
Caleb, the most important thing I can say is know what the issues are, understand the political process, and as a Christian, go into the voting booth, so to speak, prepared to vote your convictions and to vote as a Christian. That means you are never utopian, but it also means you're not irresponsible. Caleb, given your question, frankly, I don't know if in Texas you're in the city and the country, but in any event, whether in the city or the country, vote your Christian convictions.
What is our Soul? And How Do We Love God with All of Our Soul?— Dr. Mohler Responds to a Letter from a 5-Year-Old Listener of The Briefing
We've had an unusual number of young men write in, or at least questions from young men, but one of them is very young, and this is a five-year-old. Actually it is this boy's mother who wrote the question. It turns out that in their family devotions, this family is studying the Shema. That is the famous central verse of Israel, which is found in Deuteronomy 6:4, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength."
Now, it's called the Shema because that's the Hebrew first word in this verse, and it means hear, Shema, hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God, the Lord is one. This mom is writing in for her son that is five-year-old William, to ask, how is it that he and we are to love the Lord our God with our soul? What does that mean? Well, remember that verse and that's found in the Old Testament, in Deuteronomy 6:4, we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and strength.
Then as we look to the New Testament, for example, in the gospel of Mark, 12:30, Jesus repeats that command telling us that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind or strength. Now, the big issue there is frankly, it's easier for us to understand mind than to understand soul in this sense, but also the word heart is put in there and it is not really accurate or possible to try to use Hebrew or Greek to try to say, "Look, the heart means this and only this, the soul means this and only this."
Now, the heart is actually often referred to in the Old Testament as the seat of our reasoning. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. The heart actually is not just the emotion, the heart is also our cognition or our thinking. Now, let me remind myself, I'm talking to a five-year-old. The reality is that we are to love God with all that we are.
The very fact that we're able to love God points to the fact that we love God with our soul because the soul means at least this, that God made us in His image and the part God made in us whereby we can know God, that's our soul. When we are praying to God and honoring God, our soul is directly involved. Jesus is saying, "How much of our soul does God deserve? All of it." We are to love the Lord our God with everything that He made us to be.
So William, you ask such a good question, and it just means we're to love God with all that we are, with all that He has made us, and with all the strength that we can bring to that love. Of course, the Bible also tells us, William, that we love God because He first loved us. He loved us so much, He made us in His image. He made us able to know Him, William. That is the sweetest thing. Then Jesus, He loves us all the way to salvation and promises that He will love us forever.
William, this verse just reminds us that we are to love God with everything we have and everything we are. He made us for His glory. He made us to know Him. He made us to love Him even as He first loves us. William, in my house sometimes when we just want to say, "I love you so much. I don't know how to say it." We just say, "I love you so much." That's basically what this verse is saying. With everything you are, William, just love God so much and every day of your life so much more. Thanks for your questions week by week. We'll just try to get to as many as we can.
Finally, I just want to tell you that I'm just very thankful for what the Lord is doing at Boyce College. We've got a world-class faculty totally committed to preparing young men and women for gospel service and deeply invested and committed to the Christian worldview without compromise, without equivocation. We want to prepare young people for Christian service to the glory of God in both ministry and in marketplace settings.
If you or someone you know is looking for a distinctively Christian college education, and that means we believe in a distinctively Christian college education, I want to extend an invitation to the Boyce College Preview Day on October the 21st. Students and their families are going to spend time with the entire Boyce College family, and I look forward to spending time with you as you are able to come.
To register, visit www.boycecollege.com/preview. You can also use the code, The Briefing, to waive student registration fees. I would be very glad to meet you and for you to join us for the Boyce College Preview Day on October the 21st. It's coming up fast. I'll look forward to seeing you then.
Thanks for listening to The Briefing.
For more information, go to my website at albertmohler.com. You can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.com/albertmohler. For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to sbts.edu. For information on Boyce College, just go to boycecollege.com.
I'll meet you again on Monday for The Briefing.