The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Thursday, October 13, 2022

It’s Thursday, October 13th, 2022.

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

Part I

‘The Power of the World Spirit’: Mexico State Joins the Global Momentum to Recognize Same-Sex Marriage

Yet another government has voted to legalize same-sex marriage. In this case, it is a state in Mexico known as the State of Mexico. It is one of the most populous states in the entire nation of Mexico. Its population is 17 million inhabitants. That means the population of this one state in Mexico is nearly five times the population of the entire nation of Uruguay. We are told that the vote to legalize same-sex marriage in this highly populated State of Mexico was overwhelming, and it now becomes the 29th out of Mexico’s 32 states to legalize and recognize same-sex marriage.

Now, what are we looking at here? Why is this a big story? After all, you are looking at this being the 29th of Mexico’s 32 states to legalize same-sex marriage. It’s not just Mexico, it’s the United States, it’s Canada, it’s other nations. Not all the nations, by the way, and Central and Latin America seem to be moving towards the legalization of same-sex marriage. But you understand the trend. The trend is, that advance with it, contemporary nations, they are moving in the direction of legalizing and recognizing same-sex marriage.

Those who have been pushing the sexual revolution and the vast revolution in the entire moral landscape, they have been predicting and they have been orchestrating this massive change in morality so that the exceptions are no longer the nations or governments that recognize same-sex marriage, but rather those that do not. Now, as you’re thinking about moral change, that turns out to be a hugely important issue. Because one of the sad realities of human moral reasoning is that human beings tend to follow something of a herd mentality and they want to be found in the majority.

Human beings are also bound in time, we’re historical creatures with an historical and temporal consciousness, we think about past, present, and future. Here are some foibles and fallacies of human thinking and they play right into the progressivist agenda. Number one, people want to be seen as part of the majority. By the way, let me give you a little verification of that. As you look at studies in social science, there is a very well-known pattern of people answering questions, are you in favor of this or are you opposed to it, of people wanting to know what the majority of people previous to themselves have answered. Now, that tells you that they want to be found in the majority. There’s a comfort and it is to be found in this kind of herd mentality.

The other thing is that as temporal creatures, we want to be found holding the views that are seen as forward focused rather than focused on the past. You see the predicament of the Christian church in this. You have a secular society that is pushing so hard into a new future in which you have redefined marriage and you have non-binary sexualities and gender identities, and you have human autonomy now expressed to the extent that you could decide who you are and demand your own personal pronouns and all the rest, then biblical Christianity looks so essentially backwards.

Of course, in one sense, Christianity is always backward referenced. Why? It is because Christianity points back to the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Christianity points back to the atonement accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ in space, in time and history. The authority for Christianity is an inspired, inerrant book that is after all in its newest parts about 1,900 years old, if not more. So here’s a word I want to give to Christians. If you are intimidated in any sense by being told that you represent the past, well, then you’re not going to be a very faithful Christian.

If you are going to be a faithful Christian, you have to understand that without embarrassment and without hesitation, we have to say yes, I actually have the great ambition of believing exactly what the disciples who followed Christ believed. I have exactly the ambition of agreeing with the apostles in the Christian faith in all of its doctrines, major and minor. Yes, I have the ambition to be found in agreement with biblical Christianity insofar as it has been biblical and faithful throughout the 20 centuries of the history of the Christian church.

The argument that somehow the faith is to be endlessly transformed over time, that’s the argument that essentially comes down to liberalism. That’s an argument that means the abandonment of the gospel, not just the abandonment of what the secular society says is an outdated sexuality. No, it would be what the secular society would say would be an outdated dependence upon the idea of a self-existing personal God or a God who would restrict human sexual behavior or a God who has any such right to command what we are to do and are not to do when it comes to our sex lives.

So Christians just understand, you’re going to have to get over the intimidation of believing that somehow you have to stand with the majority or you have to stand with a forward trajectory in time. But there’s something else going on here. We’re talking about one state in Mexico, a very big state, joining what that state sees as the inevitable momentum towards the acceptance of legalization of, recognition of same-sex marriage. Now, where did they get that idea? Well, there are some huge worldview dimensions for us to think about.

For one thing, how do you look at history in terms of past and present and future? Do you see the past as that which simply has to be overcome? Do you see the present as just the contemporary moment that’s about to be eclipsed by the future? Or do you see the flow of history in very different terms? Who would argue that you’re supposed to look at the timeline as something primitive and backward in the past and something inevitably better always in the future?

Well, the answer is the primary influence here is a German philosopher by the name of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel’s understanding of progress and the unfolding of progress is based upon what he saw as the power of what he expressed as a world spirit, this unfolding energetic world spirit was propelling humanity towards the future. Even as history would have cycles, these cycles would be inevitably progressive, cycle after cycle, world spirit spilling itself out.

Now, as you’re looking at that, you recognize there had a huge impact upon modern society. Modern European society began to believe the history’s divided between the ancient past, maybe you could learn some lessons, but basically to be overcome, and then the medieval period, which they actually dismissed by calling that period the Dark Ages, and then the modern age, which was supposed to be the age of enlightenment and freedom and liberation and the unfolding of world spirit towards inevitable progress.

You can understand that a part of this spilled over certainly into the American idea and the American mind, but it also unfolds in terms of the fact that there’s so many people who now are conditioned to believe that whatever is the direction towards the future must be the right direction. I want you to understand how this argument is made and why it is so effective.

By the way, we’re going to see in just a moment that our own state department, the United States State Department and the current administration of President Joe Biden, they’ve been pressing on world nations the agenda of joining progress rather than regress, being a part of the future rather than being a part of the past, joining the civilized community of nations by embracing everything LGBTQ and everything diverse and supposedly marked by equity and inclusion and accessibility. More on that in just a moment.

As you’re thinking about this change in Mexico, well, you need to understand the idea of this inevitable progress that is going to sweep everything else out of its way. It has enormous power on the modern mind, and what we see here is that it has enormous power on the modern mind even in Mexico. But certainly as you think about Western civilization and as you think about North America, just think about the American college or university campus under the control of progressivism, the absolute doctrine is that everything in the past must be overcome because it was oppressive.

By the way, on the American college and university campus right now, the past that must be overcome, well, it’s probably last Wednesday. But there’s another dimension of the news from Mexico and it has to do with the fact that if you think about Mexico and you think about worldview religion, you think about history, you’re probably thinking about a nation that has been identified overwhelmingly as Roman Catholic. Just to state the obvious, the Roman Catholic Church does not approve of nor recognize same-sex marriage.

So how can you have a nation so historically identified with Christianity, and that’s now almost a half millennium of history, how can you have that and then end up with this one state becoming the 29th of 32 to legalize same-sex marriage? It is because of two things. Number one, even as you’re thinking about historic forms of traditional religion, you are often looking at something that is more about ritual and rights than about any deep cognitive, doctrinal or theological commitment. If indeed the Catholics there in Mexico had a deep level of doctrinal commitment to Catholicism, then this kind of vote would be impossible.

The second thing is is that when you look at the numbers of people who identify with a religion, any religion, it could be Catholicism, it could be Protestantism, it could be evangelical Protestantism, it could be Hinduism, it could be just about anything, the fact is that many people, and this is especially true when you’re talking about the majority religion, many people, the same way that they want to be seen as a part of the majority, they want to be seen as identifying with the majority identifier.

If that’s Catholicism, then they claim to be Catholic and maybe their family was Catholic and they have some tie to Catholicism. If someone asked them, “What are you?” They’ll say, “Catholic.” But the fact is they don’t think Catholic, they don’t believe Catholic, and clearly when it comes to this kind of vote, they don’t vote Catholic either. That explains not only Mexico, but it explains a situation here in the United States, for instance, recently in the state of Kansas. How can you have a state that has such an overwhelmingly Christian identification and in which you have so many Kansans who’ve expressed something of a pro-life sentiment, how can you have such a failure in pro-life conviction when it comes to the recent referendum there?

It just tells you that people want to be seen as a part of the majority and they will often make horrifying decisions in order to try to place themselves in that majority position.

Part II

The State Department’s Gender Agenda: Our Government's Agenda to Advance the Sexual Revolution on the World Stage

But next I want to shift to addressing a related issue here, and that is what about the American government? What kind of influence is the American government, and specifically through the United States State Department, what kind of influence, what kind of political pressure, what kind of moral direction is coming from the United States of America? Well, by now you probably figured out that under the leadership of President Biden and his chosen Secretary of State Antony Blinken, you are looking at an extremely activist government trying to pressure other governments in the world to follow the LGBTQ agenda.

There’s a lot of news on that coming out right now. For one thing, the State Department released a report just in the last few days in which it indicates that the State Department is going to move towards providing what’s defined as gender dysphoria and gender transition care for diplomats and their children stationed overseas. The report that features Secretary Blinken’s picture on the front is identified as diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, DEIA Strategic Plan 2022 to 2026. All I can say is at least as the opportunity to have some change come in 2024.

Goal number three, and you’ll recall that the language of diversity, equity, and inclusion, DEI, is often used as one of the main drivers of the moral revolution we’re experiencing right now, the third goal or the third priority, it’s identified with the strategies that include “increased support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersects employees and family members.” So what exactly is the State Department thinking about? Well, it gets specific, or at least somewhat specific, “Develop a department-wide targeted plan to achieve equity in the advocacy plan to obtain the accreditation of same-sex spouses overseas, to assess resources for gender dysphoria and gender transition care at post for employees and their dependents.”

Now, notice this is ideologically laden language. First of all, when you’re talking about gender dysphoria, that is the essential language of the gender revolutionaries and it comes under the rubric of transgender or non-binary. The State Department uses this language as if it has totally adopted that ideology. Why does it do so? It is because it is attempting totally to adopt that ideology. Then you see that the big issue here is that, given the resources demanded for gender dysphoria and gender transition, the argument is that gender transition care should now be available to United States diplomats and their dependents, and that includes those who are posted overseas.

The next thing is something that at least is familiar to us these days, “Increased gender neutral restrooms and locker rooms and overseas facilities.” Yeah, that made its way into print in a report released to the entire world. Then this, “Evaluate and ensure inclusion and safety policies and procedures for LGTQI+ children at overseas schools in collaboration with the educational accreditation agencies and provide mechanisms for social-emotional support.” You add all that together, that means the full embrace of the transgender and non-binary revolution and the translation of all of this into the demand that the American taxpayer facilitate, demand and pay for what’s defined here as gender transition care.

Note, this is primarily addressed to Americans for the State Department posted overseas. When you’re talking about those foreign nations, you’re including an awful lot of those nations that do not recognize such care as in any way appropriate nor recognize these identities as in any way legitimate. Make no mistake, the American government is putting its power behind coercing those nations to change their understanding of morality to remain in good standing with the United States of America.

In response to the State Department’s study and self-report, a group of Republicans in Congress responded with the statement that included these words, “The state department’s memo is a form of radical gender imperialism that threatens our relationship with other nations and harms our standing in the world.” The effort “threatens the relationships the United States enjoys with countries in which, unlike parts of America and Western Europe, transgenderism does not enjoy government support.”

Now, when you’re looking at a statement like that coming from a party’s members of Congress, you might expect a little bit of overstatement. But in this case, I think these Republicans have understated the case. It’s an understatement to say that there are parts of the world, unlike America and Western Europe, where “transgenderism does not enjoy government support.” Now, again, that is an extreme understatement. It is not just that there are nations in which there is something of a lack of support for transgender identity, there are places in which such an identity would be absolutely unthinkable.

Let me just mention that the areas of the world in which such an identity would’ve been unthinkable would’ve included the United States of America until incredibly recently. In this sense, the policy and ambitions of the United States State Department are trying to affect change internationally that has only come in this nation very quickly, and by the way, not without significant opposition coming from those who are not buying this revolution, and that should include biblically committed Christians.

We also need to recognize that it is our responsibility to push back on these issues, not merely to see the headlines and say, “Oh, well, there goes our government again.” Our government represents us. We have the opportunity and the responsibility as Christian citizens in the United States to be very, very clear that this ambition by our government taken in our name is not right and is not something we can support. That means that when we look at members of Congress who are willing to put their names on a letter protesting this kind of development such as the Republicans here in this letter, we need to appreciate the fact that they are willing to push back. There’s going to be a lot of pushback that is required in days and months ahead.

All this reminds us, by the way, of a major article by Leor Sapir that appeared at City Journal back in August of this year. The headline was, “America, Exporter of the Gender Revolution.” I mentioned this article on The Briefing some months ago, but we come back to it in order to say this is exactly what we were being warned about. What we are seeing right here in this report from the State Department and what we are seeing even in tweets and social media messaging coming from officials with the United States government is exactly what has been warned about here, and that is that the United States, through our government, is indeed attempting to become an exporter of the gender revolution.

By the way, in a sad commentary on where this is headed and what now represents the official representation of the United States of America, well, it includes the fact that in social media, there have been postings such as postings that came after an event at the home of the French Ambassador in Washington. Two officials of the United States government posted on social media how pleased they were to be there, both of them men, but one of them identifying as a woman, that would be Assistant Health Secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, birth name Richard. We are told that the other is newly hired Department of Energy employee Sam Brinton, and this was a celebration concerning Bastille Day that was held in Washington at the French Ambassador’s residence.

One report simply summarized that Sam Brinton is a non-binary drag queen, into kink with they, them pronouns. Now, the picture was posted on social media. This is a picture about two official government representatives of the United States of America. I could say more about this. I will not. I will simply say that as you’re thinking about moral change in the United States, there are few messages that are more powerful than this kind of photograph.

Trust me.

Part III

A Parent Reflects on Yet Another Private High School Gone Woke—But Why Send Your Kids There Anyway?

Finally, I want us to think for a moment about an opinion piece that ran at the Wall Street Journal. The headline is, “Girls Not Necessarily Woke.” Here’s a parent who is concerned about the school his daughter attended. This is an elite private high school. It’s known as St. Mary’s Academy, a Catholic school in Portland, Oregon. This is a man who identifies as Episcopalian, and evidently he and his wife who loved their daughter dearly, sent her to a Catholic girl school there in Portland because they wanted something better than was available in other private school options, not to mention in the public schools.

But it turns out that this Catholic girls school in Portland, even though it’s identified as Catholic, represented some pretty left-wing woke thinking as the author tells this, “Many students came from radical left-wing families with avowedly anti-Catholic views who forced the school to compromise on the issue of a non-political education. Like all Catholic schools, St. Mary’s was pressured during the past decade to get woke with equity teams, affinity groups, Black Lives Matter movements, Native American land acknowledgements, transgender affirmations, climate change hysteria, and all the rest.” He said, “I found myself counting the days until my daughter was out.”

Well, I just want to say, if this was about my daughter, she would be out. There’s a message here for schools. Don’t fool yourself. If a school claims to be a religious school, a Catholic school, a Protestant school, an evangelical school, and it recruits students from families that are left-wing and not committed to those doctrinal beliefs then shame on you, you will lose your school and there will be no question that you will lose it. You will bear responsibility for losing it.

The losing is your fault because you claimed at one in the same time to try to gain the advantage of a religious identity or specifically a Christian identity when you are basically undercutting your own message by selling your product and recruiting students from families that are avowedly opposed to your theology and morality. Who’s fooling whom here? The message to parents is this, if you are looking at a liberal school that you find to be unacceptable and you find to be woke, indoctrinating your children, here’s just a suggestion. Get them out.

Now, I appreciate the sentiment of this father who is quite concerned about the kind of education he was probably paying a very great deal for, and he expresses his frustration after his daughter graduated and he received a donor appeal addressed to alumni of the school. He tells us the school’s president define the mission of the school as “preparing girls to bridge equity gaps, explore careers in STEM, and advocate for change in every element in society.” The dad then writes, “Every element in society? This appeal for girls to become mindless agitators without any contemplation of the need, direction and consequences of change should scare the living daylights out of any parent.”

Yes, I want to be in full agreement with that statement, but if I’m scared to death about intellectual and ideological, moral and theological danger to my offspring, I’m going to get them out of this school. The writer who’s a professor at Portland State University and a board member of the National Association of Scholars, that’s a group of conservative scholars in the American Academy, he wrote, “To me the list looked rather circumscribed. I turned the letter over and scribbled down a dozen or so roles that were missing, loving mother, faithful witness of Christ, steward of a free society, corporate executive, patriot, advocate for parental rights, soldier, caregiver, civil servant, and so on.”

He then concludes, “In other words, I noted things girls are discouraged from being by today’s liberal mainstream.” Yes, absolutely. That’s an emphatically important point. Our girls are being messaged by mainstream society that they aren’t to aspire to be wives and mothers, caregivers, patriots, witnesses of Christ, advocates for parental rights, and so on, but that just points to the danger of the mainstream. Christians, I just want to remind us of the sobering reality that the mainstream is not us. Not when it comes to educational circles, and in particular the closer you get to elite higher education, the rules are being set by others, and those others are coming for our children.

I’m going to finish by saying this, I think there’s an inherent conflict these days between wanting our children to have an elite education and wanting them to remain conservative and Christian as our children. The reality is, I think Christian parents have better recognize between those two, they’re actually going to have to make a choice.

By almost any standard, the elites in control in our culture today are driving left, hard left, far left, and even farther left. We just need to know that and understand that.

If what we want for our children is entry into the ranks of the elite, we had better understand clearly what we say we are hoping for.

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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