The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Thursday, March 16, 2023

It’s Thursday, March 16th, 2023.

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

Part I

How Do You Have a Woman’s College If You Do Not Know What a Woman Is?: Historic Seven Sisters Colleges Reckon with the ‘T’ of the LGBTQ Revolution

The American academic landscape includes many different kinds of institutions. You’ve got vast private universities, you’ve got the big state funded universities, you have land grant universities, you have small colleges, community colleges, private colleges. You also have the so-called Seven Sisters.

The Seven Sisters are a system of very elite women’s colleges in the United States. It’s actually a very interesting history, and what’s going on right now means that all seven of the Seven Sisters are really at the center of a massive controversy. Because the Seven Sisters are very liberal sisters as you think about these liberal arts colleges, and they’re doing their dead level best with very liberal faculty and probably even more exceedingly liberal students to keep up with the liberal movement, the wave of liberal or progressivism.

But when it comes to the LGBTQ revolution, well, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out, we had a head-on collision here. You can have a women’s college, but only if you know who a woman is. But of course, those are extremely liberal colleges. They have been for about a century now, and they are also intending to be, and they’re recruiting students who want to be on the leading edge of all this cultural change. And that means the sexual and gender revolution. And of course it means the LGBTQ revolution. But that leads to one of the most interesting questions of our modern time, and that is how do you have a women’s college if you really don’t know who a woman is? And that’s where the story gets a lot more interesting, and it does so really fast.

If you go back into about the middle point of the last decade. So we’re not going back a century, just going back the last decade. One of the interesting issues was that you already had this form of LGBTQ activism on these historic women’s college campuses, and the demand was made we got to find a way to be an enthusiastic champion for all of this, LGBTQ, and of course now IA plus mark and all the rest. But here’s the problem, you can understand how the L and the G and the B might work out with the idea of a women’s college. But what do you do at T, not just transgender, but the non-binary when it comes to gender and all the rest? What in the world do you do with this? And of course, you’re a school, you’ve got to make decisions. Who can and can’t apply to your school, who may and may not be admitted to your school. How does the campus culture work?

And just to point out the obvious, if you define yourself historically, and I don’t think it’s the wrong word to say here aggressively as a women’s college, then at the very least you have to define your student body by being women. Otherwise, you’re not a women’s college anymore. And trust me, they intend to be women’s colleges. As a matter of fact, as you look back to the 20th century, one of the issues in many of these colleges, especially the late part of the 20th century, was that there was the argument of gender feminism, not just the argument of say, first wave feminism about equality. You had the second wave feminist argument on these campuses, which was about creating special, safe place for women and indeed creating what was declared to be the necessity of a women only form of environment for education because the presence of men would be itself threatening.

So the idea of a woman’s college, particularly with the ideology of second wave feminism, was to privilege or protect the distinctively female or women, it was claimed ways of knowing, ways of teaching, ways of living on a campus. But at this point, if you want to know where the controversy’s headed, all you have to say is J. K. Rowling or say Martina Navratilova. Because what you have here is the inevitable collision between feminism, which after all is based upon knowing who a female is and the non-binary revolution. But if you’re on the left, you can’t say no to any aspect of the revolution. That’s the big insight of what happens when you watch the left. By definition, the left has no natural limit. So that is to say the argument is going to be going further and further and further. You say, well, the same thing’s true on the right. No, that’s not true.

The conservative argument in its essence is about conserving something real and that means objectively real. So at least in theory, the conservative argument should be pretty much the same argument throughout time. We need to conserve what God has created, what God has given us, the categories that God has created and has revealed to us, and the structures of existence that lead to human flourishing, human happiness, and good government, to state the very obvious minimum. But as you’re thinking about the left, the left says no boundaries. So there are no boundaries. There are no limitations upon where this is going to go. That’s why, as I’ve often said, the most scared person on the planet has to be a professor on one of these campuses because he or she can’t possibly keep up with the even more liberal students showing up on the campus, they become a part of the problem really, really quickly.

Where were we? Well, these historic women’s colleges were trying to say we’re pro-LGBTQ and yes, that means T and non-binary, and that requires a redefinition of our admissions policies and of our campus housing policies. You just go down the whole thing including the very identity of a women’s college. So you have to come up with all kinds of, let’s just say complicated definitions. For example. What are the possibilities here? Well, I’m going to use the language that is common to that environment.

The language is this. You have biological males identifying as male, biological males identifying as female, biological males identifying as non-binary. You have biological females identifying as women. You have biological females identifying as men. You have biological females identifying as non-binary. Now, there are all kinds of permutations you could come up with even beyond that. But the bottom line is there are at least six categories there. So two of them are recognizable throughout all of human history, biological males identifying as men and biological females identifying as women. But that’s so old school when it comes to these cutting edge colleges. And their commitment to feminism is now a commitment to the transgender revolution, but not without limitations.

So Wellesley College. Wellesley is one of the most famous of the Seven Sisters. It’s also one of the most wealthy. It includes among its alumni, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Madeline Albright. It has been on the front lines of many culture wars throughout the 20th century and beyond. Founded in 1870, Wellesley on the cutting edge represents a commitment to values, and this appears on its current website. The values are intellectual discovery and excellence, gender equality, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Listen to this, we affirm that diversity is essential to educational excellence and we are committed to being a community in which each member thrives. Empowerment and social change, connection and community integrity and academic freedom. Those are the listed values.

But here’s where you understand these values run into a direct conflict. If you’re talking about the word equity itself, a very controversial word these days because it generally is now an ideological replacement for equality, and that’s very much a part of the thinking of the left. If you’re going to talk about equity, the question is equity for whom, and the entire point of Wellesley College was that it was equity for women, but who exactly is a woman? If you go back about five years ago, most of the Seven Sisters, these most famous of American women’s colleges, very historic, very wealthy, very influential, excepting only women for the entirety of their history, they decided that they would accept just about anyone except a biological male identifying as a male or even a biological female identifying as a male.

In other words, they basically came to the consensus that you could be admitted to and a part of one of these historic women’s colleges, so long as you did not identify in any way as a male. So they have these two goals they have established, at least in theory, one of them is the old historic understandable goal of being a woman’s college. But the other is the very modern leftist progressivist goal of being on the cutting edge of the LGBTQ revolution.

Again, you can have one, you can’t have the other. It’s going to get complicated. But in these historic women’s colleges, as I say, by the time you get to the end of the last decade, it’s basically anyone can apply and be admitted and be a part of the campus so long as you are not either a biological male identifying as a male or a biological female identifying as a male. If you identify as a male right now, guess what? No admission, no acceptance, no being on the campus. But that is until this week.

Some of the other, among the colleges, these Seven Sisters were a bit ahead of Wellesley on this, but Wellesley’s the most influential and the student body at Wellesley was pushing for change further along the LGBTQ continuum. So in other words, if you just think about the old policy, you can be anything but a biological male identifying as a man or a biological female identifying as a man. The great sin there is identifying as a man. But it turns out that if you are going to be on the cutting edge of the sexual revolution, you may now be against anyone who is biologically male identifying as a man. But otherwise, you got to say yes to everything else. You have to say yes. Even now, if you’re going to follow the transgender revolution, you’re going to have to say yes to biological females identifying as a male.

So are you an historic women’s college? If you have a so-called man on campus, if you’re living by the fiction that this biological female is a male, here’s where you see all of this begin to fall apart and it falls apart in a way you would think would be humiliating and embarrassing to those who are pushing the LGBTQ revolution.

You would think that the sheer insanity of this would be so obvious that everyone would back up and say, “What in the world are we doing here? What are we trying to communicate? How is this a women’s college, if we’re saying that you can be anything but a man identifying as a man,” because even now, if you’re a woman identifying as a man, hey, you’re all in. We even go so far in our extreme commitment to the LGBTQ logic that we say you actually are a man, but there can’t be any men on campus. Well, except transgender men, I guess you’re welcome.

Part II

Proximate Sin, Proximate Confusion: Understanding the Scale (And Self-Delusion) of the Transgender Revolution Taking Over Our Culture

So how from a Christian worldview perspective do we look at this? Well, there’s one obvious way of looking at it, and that is this is nuts. So you come to understand the biblical worldview gives us the order of creation. God loves us so much that he doesn’t leave us on our own to figure these things out. He made us male and female, and thanks be to God. He told us he made us male and female. He made us obviously different even in terms of visible shape, and he made us very different in terms of role and also in terms of physiology. Let’s just say that’s an objective reality. No academic leftists can deny ultimately the biological reality.

But here’s where we get to an understanding of how this happens. How do you explain confusion over this? Well, the biblical worldview says that all confusion, all moral rebellion, all sin, it’s all traceable back to the fall. And this is where the Bible tells us you don’t have to try to track whose sin influenced human history in what way in every case, because the bottom line answer is always going to be Adam and Eve is going to go back to the beginning. But we do understand that the Christian worldview tells us there is proximate sin that leads to proximate confusion. This is to say it takes a certain level of the denial of the obvious to say certain things. In other words, you have to explain how people can look at something and then say, “It’s obviously not what it looks like. It is obviously something else.” Well, the point is it’s not. It’s obviously what it is. Male is male and female is female. That’s resolutely true.

Now, the Christian worldview says that this is thus demonstrated in a symmetry of creation. I hope you’re following with me. Confusion is traceable back to the fall. The symmetry is a part of the order of creation. That is to say the way it’s supposed to be. How does that symmetry work? Well, it works this way. It always works for a man to be a man. It always works for a woman to be a woman. It doesn’t work if you mess that up. Another way of looking at it is this, symmetry or alignment with the order of creation means that you get the goods of creation. And that would include if you put a man and a woman together. The Scripture says, “In the context of marriage, then one of the goods you get is babies.”

If you put together a man and a man or a woman and a woman, guess what? You don’t have? Well, first of all, you don’t have marriage according to the scripture and according to creation, you also don’t get babies. So there’s another principle, the Christian worldview, and we’re going deep today, and I know that because we have to in order to understand the scale of what we’re looking at here, and that has to do with abstraction. Now, what I mean by that is easy to understand. The further you abstract a situation from creation order, the more sin enters into the situation, the more confusion is baked into the cake, and the more self-delusion is necessary. The self-delusion is a part of that abstraction. In other words, it’s one step, and this is hard for Christians to think about, but I want you to think about this with me for just a moment.

The Bible says, for example, that all sin is sin. The Bible says that all sexual expression outside of marriage is sin. So you have, let’s just say fornication, which is sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman. That is sin. It’s identified very clearly in Scripture as sin. But you know what the scripture doesn’t say about that? It says it’s sin, but it doesn’t say that it’s against nature. Now, you add marriage to the equation, and this sin is just made more obviously sinful because now you have the breaking of a vow. You have the violation of a covenant, and so that just adds to what the old puritan’s called the exceeding sinfulness of sin. But then you get to some other levels of sin.

And when you’re talking about this abstraction from creation, this is exactly what the Apostle Paul talks about in Romans 1 when he talks about men exchanging the natural use of the woman and burning with passion, one for the other, doing unseemly things. And similarly, he describes female homosexuality and almost exactly the same terms. But what he says is that it is against nature. That is to say it’s not just sin in terms of breaking the law of God.

This is something so obvious that it seeks to defeat nature, but nature won’t be defeated. And this is where from a Christian perspective, I think we just need to understand that the transgender non-binary revolution, and we say this with full sympathy for people who are struggling with these self-conception and impulses, the reality is that this is an even deeper revolt against creation order. Now, you’re actually arguing that the categories of man and woman, male and female, are not fixed categories and are not tied to biology, when the very opening chapter of Scripture says explicitly that they are.

So here’s where the water hits the wheel, so to speak. This is where the headline jumps out at us. If you’re going to be an historic woman’s college, but you don’t know who a woman is, guess what? Abstraction will kill you. You’re going to end up with a situation in which you’re going to eventually have people who think themselves men on your campus, because you have no intellectual defense left in order to say, “No, we’re a woman’s college.” If you don’t know who a woman is, guess what? Bingo, you’re no longer a woman’s college. So it’s really interesting along these lines to see some confirmation and acknowledgement of this coming from the president of the student body at Wellesley. Her name is Alexandra Brooks.

In an interview she gave to the New York Times before the student vote was taken, and then before the policy was changed, she said, “We’re just asking the administration to put on paper what’s already true with the student body. Trans men go to Wellesley, non-binary people go to Wellesley, and they always have.” I’m simply going to interject here. I really doubt that in any overt sense, they always have. There have been problems with all kinds of sexual issues on all kinds of campuses, but this is something new.

But as she continued, the student body president went on to say, and this is where you have willful self-delusion. “A new policy,” she said, “would not in any way change the culture of the school.” It won’t in any way change the culture of the school. You had an historic women’s college, but now you don’t even know who a woman is, nothing’s going to change. But then you have the next line, and the next line is the big tell.

The student body president went on and said, “It’s still,” speaking of Wellesley College, it’s still and always will be a school to educate people who are of marginalized genders.” Well, as I say, there’s the tell. Women disappears from the women’s college. Instead, it’s replaced with people who are of marginalized genders. Yeah, nothing’s going to change.

But the entire point of this article, and I guess it’s the point of the student body president, is that by now, at least on the ground and in the dorm, it’s already changed. But after you have this further abstraction from creation order, I’m going to end on this issue with this point. What you have is nothing more than an absolutely transparent exercise and self-delusion.

Part III

Alcoholics Anonymous in the Secular Crosshairs: New York Politicians Contend For ‘Nonreligious Rehabilitation’ Options

But next we’re going to shift to a different issue. In our radically secular age, the way we live right now, there are people who say, “Look, there are only two realities. There’s a religious reality, there’s a secular reality, and the society just has to be secular.” And here’s where you understand that, that just doesn’t work. It doesn’t work in any condition. And we as Christians understand why. It’s because God made human beings in his image, which means like it or not, he made us to use this word, religious creatures, and we cannot deny that for long without making fools out of ourselves.

And here’s what you see, an interesting argument that has come up in a controversy about rehab and the demand is there should be an option for absolutely non-religious rehab. Now, the problem behind this complaint is that so many of the rehab traditions in the United States, and this is primarily rehabilitation that relates to addictions and dependencies, just going all the way back to the formation of Alcoholics Anonymous and similar groups, there is no doubt that there was an explicitly Christian origin to Alcoholics Anonymous.

And furthermore, Alcoholics Anonymous, even in its current state of affairs here in the 21st century, it is not overtly secular. And I’m not saying it’s Christian, I’m just saying it’s not overtly secular because those who are a part of Alcoholics Anonymous in similar groups, they are supposed to acknowledge their dependence on a higher power.

Now, of course, going back to the middle point of the 20th century, Christians and in particular evangelical Christians were quite concerned about the theological well weakness of that statement about a higher power because there’s no designation here of Christ. There’s no designation of the God of the Bible, and so you just had this therapeutic stand in. But those who were putting together Alcoholics Anonymous and similar programs coming out of historic Christian churches, but they were largely liberal churches at the time, they brought a theological minimalism with them.

But the theological minimalism, minimal as it was, was still rather essential and still is to groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. This dependence upon a higher power, that’s not just a part of the old historic language of these groups. It’s a part of the actual logic of these groups.

But Maia Szalavitz, who is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times recently offered a guest essay with a headline, people have a right to non-religious rehab. She’s making a complaint directly against Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul of New York, who vetoed what’s described as a bipartisan bill that would’ve required judges to inform drug court participants of their right to choose non-religious rehabilitation.

Now, as the writer goes on to say, “The governor didn’t dispute that New Yorkers are entitled to secular care when ordered a treatment.” Rather, the governor said, “She nixed the bill because disclosure requirements could become a burden for judges.” But then the writer goes on and says, “But the presence of religious addiction programs and the rarity of therapies that don’t preach reliance on God is a burden for people with addiction.” So there are two points I raise in talking about this particular controversy in New York.

The first point is this, we are made by God as religious creatures. Whether we like it or not, we are made in his image. And at least in part, that means the capacity to know him, and it means there’s also a limitation to how much we can honestly deny him at least a part of the logic of Alcoholics Anonymous was, “I got myself into this problem. It is bigger than I am. I can’t get myself out of this problem. I need some divine intervention and divine assistance.”

Now, again, the evangelical in me wants to say this is theological liberalism. It’s theological minimalism. This is just some God, some higher power that is not biblical Christianity. But you know what? It’s not otherwise, it’s also not atheism, and thus the secularists are quite upset, not that it’s theologically minimal, but that it’s theological at all.

Szalavitz gets to her point and her criticism of so-called religious rehab, when she says, “Delving into the context of the steps is required to understand how religious they are. The first three include admitting powerlessness over substance use and turning our will and our lives over to the care of a higher power to restore us to sanity.” She continues. “While some members argue that this power can be anything other than oneself, even a doorknob, it’s hard to see this is anything other than a stand in for a loving God.”

Well, I’m just going to say Szalavitz is onto a little bit of logic here. It really doesn’t make sense to credit the higher powers being a doorknob. But on the other hand, I think she’s up against not only a lot of political opposition, not only over against the history of these rehab programs, but she’s really fighting human nature in suggesting that there should be a secular rehab without any reference to a higher power.

And when I say she’s fighting human nature, I mean the imago Dei. Now, the way it works right now is that at least in many jurisdictions, if someone gets into trouble with substance abuse, one of the ways they can deal with this by court order is by attending and completing one of these rehabilitation programs.

And again, the article in this case in the New York Times is an editorial and opinion piece, arguing that the courts should not send people into these explicitly religious settings. Again, even with reference to a higher power. But you also have the situation here where you’ve got people in the secular world pushing back and saying, “Well, these programs actually have a better track record than other programs. There are reasons why the courts turn to these programs. It is because for multiple reasons, they at least in many situations offer some concrete help.”

But here’s where the author in this case points out. “Well, there are constitutional problems here because how in the world is it constitutional for secular courts in a secular state to point people who are in a big problem to something that requires articulation of belief and a higher power?”

Kate Cohen wrote a similar piece in the Washington Post in which she actually responding to the same veto, wrote, “In America, you have to opt out of religion and public life. That’s backward.” So in other words, she says there ought to be some argument about opting in, not opting out. She goes on to complain, and I mentioned this before, “But in our country, religion is the default and the burden of opting out, even the burden of knowing you have the right to falls on the non-believer.”

So in conclusion, and let me make it clear, I think what’s represented by Alcoholics Anonymous in similar groups is a theological minimalism that can’t be defined as any form of biblical Christianity. But I also want to say that when it comes to a higher power, well, you have open far more explicitly theological references in such American realities as the Pledge of Allegiance, and for that matter, even looking at our currency. But it just goes to show the inner secular age, the secular allergy to any form of religious expression is just really, really obvious as when even reference to a higher power is seen as an unconstitutional imposition of religious dogma.

I think there’s also something very telling in the fact that here, a major political leader who is more or less of the left, certainly not of the right vetoed that legislation, allowing courts to continue to operate in concert with these kinds of groups precisely because to one degree or another, this is a political acknowledgement that they work better than other groups.

I guess in the final analysis, what we need to recognize is that it’s not enough to acknowledge a higher power. It’s not enough, but it’s certainly not wrong.

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.

I am always glad to hear from readers. Write me using the contact form. Follow regular updates on Twitter at @albertmohler.

Subscribe via email for daily Briefings and more (unsubscribe at any time).