Friday, January 12, 2024

It’s Friday, January 12, 2024.

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

Part I

South Korea Declares Fido is a Friend, Not Food: Major Shift Takes Place As Government Bans the Selling of Dog Meat

Well, it’s Friday. It’s time to look at one of those stories that might catch us a little bit by surprise. And one of them came in headlines from Seoul in South Korea, and that has to do with the fact that the South Korean legislature has just passed a law that will prevent the marketing of dog meat as food in that country after years of practice and of the cultural acceptance of eating dog meat as a part of South Korean culture. And so this is a major political development. It also represents what can only be described as a shift in morality there in South Korea where there have been a long tradition of eating dogs, and we’re talking here dogs by the hundreds of thousands. And yet at this point, the vast majority of South Koreans felt that it was time to bring an end to the industry. And thus the legislature has taken this action.

It made international headline news. And of course, it’s the kind of headline that catches a lot of people by surprise. It’s shocking to some people that anyone anywhere would ever eat dog, much less that it became an industrialized form of meat production. It would just be unthinkable that you would eat a dog as, say, opposed to a pig or a cow. But that raises some very, very interesting questions from a biblical worldview perspective. And perhaps on this Friday, it would be helpful for us to think some of these things through.

First, just the facts. Timothy W. Martin reporting for the Wall Street Journal tells us, “Dog meat will no longer be allowed in South Korea capping a decades-long campaign against a controversial practice many locals have come to view with unease.” Very interesting next sentence, “With no dissenting vote, lawmakers passed a bill on Tuesday that would phase out the farming slaughter and sale of dog meat by 2027. Violators will face a prison sentence of up to three years or a fine of roughly $23,000.”

Now, what makes that sentence so interesting? The phrase was, “With no dissenting vote.” Now, some people will say, “Well, then it was unanimous.” No, unanimous means everyone voted yes. Or for that matter, you could have unanimous no, everyone votes no. But that means everyone votes. When it says there were no dissenting votes, that doesn’t mean that everyone voted for the legislation. There could have been some who simply sat out the vote. But nonetheless, there was no one who voted against the legislation bringing an end to the trade in dog meat in South Korea by 2027.

So how in the world did we get here? Well, from a biblical perspective, where do we have the authorization even to eat meat? Well, that is found in the Book of Genesis chapter 9. It’s a part of what we know as the Noahic covenant. That is the covenant that God made with Noah. In chapter 9 verse 1, we read, “And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish to the sea. Into your hand, they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything’.”

Now that everything did not go without restrictions, because God said, “You shall not eat the blood of the animal with its flesh.” Later, there’s an entire category of animals, just to take one example, pork, that was taken off of the dietary list. That is, however, not for all of humanity, but that was in the covenant made with Israel. And so that was a distinctive of that covenant, and that’s why you have a kosher system in which there is no eating of pork. On the other hand, that is not understood as obligatory upon the church of the Lord Jesus Christ as the new covenant people.

But nonetheless, the big point here is that we have divine authorization for the eating of animal flesh. And it’s big business, it’s big industry. Just go to your local supermarket and you’ll have that point made graphically for you. You talk about hamburgers, you talk about chicken tenders, you talk about roast beef, you talk about a steak, you talk about fish, you talk about, well, just about anything. In terms of what Americans talk about with a major meal, just think about Thanksgiving and think about all those turkeys, you’re talking about the flesh of animals. And in particular, that included mammals. And so again, we mentioned a steak. And yet most of us would be repulsed by the very idea of eating a dog. Why is it? And what’s the worldview significance of that fact?

Well, let’s think for a moment about the history of human beings with dogs because it’s not an uncomplicated history. And if you’re an evolutionist, it’s interesting that the evolutionists argue that dogs as a species learned to develop a relationship with human beings in which there is a mutual give and take. And the dog offers to human beings certain goods or certain purposes such as say guarding and protecting, companionship, even becoming a part of the household in some situations. And in return, human beings take care of the dog. And so there was a reciprocity that developed, evolutionists say, in the relationship between human beings and dogs in a way that simply didn’t happen, say between human beings and bears.

Now there’s another reason for that. Bears are predators. And yet in general, dogs are not predators. That leads to another problem from an Old Testament perspective, and that is that dogs throughout most of human history have been considered scavengers. And if you know a dog, that’s pretty much what dogs do. They are scavengers. They will eat just about anything they find and they will sniff it out and actually sniff very disgusting things and they will eat very disgusting things.

That is in the background, by the way, to the parable that Jesus told in Luke chapter 16, the Parable of the Rich Man in Lazarus. And you’ll recall that Lazarus, the poor man, is dying on the rich man’s doorstep. He is so weak and in such a debased condition that even the dogs come and lick his sores. Now, that’s just horrifying to the Jewish mind, not only because the dogs eat, say horrifyingly unclean things, but that when they come and lick someone, and by the way that was in preparation probably for scavenging his dead body as well, they bring all their uncleanness in their mouth and put it on this Jewish man Lazarus. It’s just a nightmare scenario. And that’s why in the Bible you do not see dogs as pets. You see dogs pretty much playing the role of vultures with four feet. And that’s basically how they are seen in Scripture. They’re not domesticated, they’re not a part of the household.

Now, there were changes to that. In places such as Egypt and in places such as China and then in places where for all kinds of say absolutely practical reasons, a symbiosis between dogs and human beings became very, very evident. And that includes where you had peoples that needed dogs to pull sleds, dogs to help herd animals. And then the dogs became partners of a sort. You also had dogs as ornaments, dogs as toys. Eventually, dogs became more and more human companions, and there is a unique relationship between dogs and human beings that simply can’t be denied. If you’re an evolutionist, you have to say somehow this developed over time in a symbiosis of needs. If you’re a Christian, you can say somehow to the glory of God, God created human beings and created dogs. And to human beings, he gave dogs. And that means as companions, as delight. I can just tell you that I’m speaking as one human being who has known many dogs as companions and delight.

Now, when you’re talking about food, you generally are talking about animals that are not understood to be companions and are not understood to be domesticated parts of that picture. Now, they may be domesticated as livestock, but that’s a very different thing. And all you have to do is go to, say a 4H Convention or a state fair, and you see these children and teenagers with the animals that they’re bringing and it’s clear they have a real friendship with that animal. But it’s also clear that animal might end up as a say set of pork chops fairly soon. That’s just a part of the agricultural context.

But dogs are in a different category, aren’t they? At least we think they are. Our relationship with dogs is very different. We do have seeing-eye dogs. We don’t have seeing-eye cows. And there’s an intelligence about dogs. There’s a companionship about dogs. So why would people eat dogs? Well, just to be blunt, it probably emerged as a practice of desperation. It probably emerged because it was absolutely necessary for human beings to survive. There was an availability of very little protein, and some of that may have been in the form of dogs. Which is to say that if human beings get hungry enough, human beings that eat lots of things that they say they would not eat. There’s nothing biblically categorically wrong with human beings eating dogs, but I’m not for it because we are not in that situation of desperation.

And here’s the other worldview thing we need to keep in mind, this new law passed in South Korea was passed when South Korea’s got lots of other options for meat and when there is no longer impoverishment and desperation such that people are just trying to eat whatever calories they can to survive, which leads to another worldview consideration which isn’t insignificant. When you have the development of pets in a household, the practice of having pets in a household, you find increased wealth. People who are hungry enough, who are living by subsistence, they see animals as threats to the very calories they need to eat, not as companions. So there has to be a rise in calorie intake that has to be a rise in lifestyle, a rise in habitation patterns for human beings to have pets in the household. And it tells you something about the wealth of our culture that pets have reached the preeminence they have frankly in many homes that leads to other worldview issues, where frankly people are having dogs as pets and calling them children, which they profoundly are not.

But just in other words, when you’re looking at this story coming from South Korea, this tells us that the tipping point that some legislators identified for the passage of this legislation wasn’t moral in the strictest sense, it is economic. South Korea is now wealthy enough not to need to eat dogs. It’s political. And so, being an outlier on the dog market trade, South Korea was looked down upon by other nations. It wants to end that, and thus not a single vote against this legislation. Does this mean that there will be prosecution of people for eating this meat in the future? The legislation doesn’t cover that. But the practice is likely to die out a bit more and a bit more with every passing year.

Just to indicate how moral change takes place, the current president of Korea who pressed for this legislation made it very clear that he has dogs in his house as pets.

Part II

Does Your Interpretation of the 14th Amendment Violate the Principle of Textualism? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Okay, now let’s turn to question from listeners. Kerry wrote in as a listener to The Briefing and saying that my Briefing of a few days ago about President Trump appealing the decisions made in Colorado and in Maine, that he was removed from the ballot on the basis of their reading of section 3, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, Kerry writes this, “The text of the 14th Amendment says nothing about conviction.” Now, I’d made the argument that I think the state of Colorado through its judiciary and the state of Maine through a bureaucrat made decisions, they were arbitrary simply because they called President Trump an insurrectionist. And they may even have come to the conclusion that he’s an insurrectionist. But when it comes to the role of the federal government, there’s been no declaration that he’s an insurrectionist. Now, that might happen in terms of some of the criminal prosecutions that are undertaken right now, but it’s unlikely even in those cases that this word will be used.

And so my argument was then, and I stand by it, that these decisions are arbitrary and I think are going to be reversed simply because there is no formal finding that Donald Trump is an insurrectionist, and thus that he is disqualified under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

So all right, Kerry goes on to ask, “Doesn’t your interpretation of Section 3 have implications of how we are to interpret the Bible? Don’t we look to the literal words of the text, the grammar of the text, and the historical and cultural context in which the words were originally written to discern its meaning? It seems to me,” says Kerry, “that you are adding to the constitution meaning that is not in the text, which is an unwise precedent as we read historical text including the Holy Scriptures. Thank you for your consideration of my question.”

Well, I’m thankful for the question. And I think I am being consistent, and I think the consistency is actually affirmed by the statements made by this writer. “Don’t we look to the literal words of the text, the grammar of the text, and the historical and cultural context in which the words were originally written?” I think that’s exactly what we do, and I think that’s exactly what leads to my conclusion because the 14th Amendment was passed right after the Civil War and the context was the Civil War and the determination that those who were involved in the insurrection against the federal government in the Civil War were insurrectionists covered by this definition. What is not at all clear is how exactly an insurrectionist is to be defined now in a, well, over a hundred years after the Civil War. The insurrection that was defined in the context of the 14th Amendment was indeed eventually a civil war.

We’re now looking at a very different picture. Do I think that Donald Trump did very wrong things on January the 6th of 2021? Yes, I do. Would I want someone else as president of the United States as the Republican nominee in 2021? Yes, I do, and I’ve stated that. I think the president acted very wrongly on January the 6th. But is he an insurrectionist? Well, I honestly can’t say, first of all, because I do not have the authority to say so. There would have to be some kind of conviction, some kind of finding, I think, on behalf or undertaken by the federal government, which was explicit in the 14th Amendment. And so I think that’s where I stand on this.

So I really appreciate this letter writer and the writer’s concern for textualism, originalism, strict constructionism, and even more importantly, the faithful reading of Holy Scripture. I think the context is the big issue here because I think as you go back to the time when the 14th Amendment was passed, people knew who were and were not insurrectionists. I don’t think we have that knowledge now because we don’t have the background of the Civil War as the context. But even then, I would argue, there are two further complications that add to the context. One is that even this part of the text of the 14th Amendment was not evenly applied by the states or the federal government after the period of the Civil War and Reconstruction. And the next thing is, that even as you’re looking at this, you recognize that there could be questions of all kinds of political context in which allegations could be made of someone being an insurrectionist that could be a very convenient thing to be used by anyone for a political purpose. And I see that it’s quite dangerous.

So again, great question. Appreciate someone listening. I’m glad to be challenged on any of these issues. And as I said yesterday in dealing with the question about presidential immunity, none of these things are as easy as they look, which is why we have not only a text, but we have judges. And those judges bear that textual responsibility, but the text also requires judges, in a fallen world, to apply the text.

Part III

Will You Respond to the Argument That "Not Imputing Their Trespasses to Them" from 2 Corinthians 5:19 Means Universal Forgiveness? — Dr. Mohler Responds to a Letter from a 15-Year-Old Listener of The Briefing

All right, a very different question sent in by a young man named Luke who’s 15 years old. You got to love this. “I’m 15 years old, am homeschooled, love reading, studying history, American Civil War in particular, and theology.” And then he says, “I’ve also occasionally listened to The Briefing with my dad.” Hey, you know what, Luke? Maybe you need to do that more than occasionally. I say that tongue in cheek.

He says, “My family for the past several years has worked with a missionary organization here in the United States. And in our travels, we’ve come across multiple people who teach that not imputing their trespasses to them, that’s a citation from 2 Corinthians 5:19 means universal forgiveness for everyone in the whole world, even if they have not even heard of Christ.” He goes on to say, “Whereas they do not believe in universal reconciliation that all will be saved. They bifurcate between justification, reconciliation, redemption, and forgiveness of sins by saying that God is no longer sending people to hell for their sins, but will one day judge them for their lack of righteousness.” Luke then says, “I disagree with this idea, but I wanted to hear what you think about it. Thanks.”

Well, Luke, thanks for the question. I simply have to say it’s an amazing fact to me that a 15-year-old could and would write this question and send it to me. So I just want you to know, you encourage me. God bless you. But let’s get right to the question. Let me just point out that 2 Corinthians chapter 5 is a key text for our understanding of the gospel. And as a matter of fact, 2 Corinthians 5 verse 21 is one of the most important summaries of the gospel that we have in all of scripture. It became absolutely key to the Protestant Reformation, I think of a teacher like John MacArthur who’s described 2 Corinthians 5:21 as the gospel, in 15 words.

So let me just read to you. This is of course English translation from the ESV, “For our sake, He made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” So this is about the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to those who believe. Now remember that 2 Corinthians, like 1 Corinthians, is not written to the world, it’s written to the church. And in 2 Corinthians chapter 5, it’s all building up to verse 21, that declaration and summary of the work of Christ and the imputation that comes down to a double imputation by the mystery and the miracle of God’s grace. Our sin is imputed to Christ, his righteousness is imputed to us.

But here’s what’s crucial, both of those things have to happen. Our sin has to be imputed to Christ and His righteousness has to be imputed to us. And that’s why we read backwards, Luke, as we think about 2 Corinthians chapter 5. And so we go back to verse 19, and we understand that here the reference is to the redeemed. That is that in Christ, God is reconciling the world to himself. And that means us, the redeemed, not counting our trespasses against us and trusting to us the message of reconciliation. I think Paul really makes that clear in that last phrase with the reference to us. That’s all referencing the same people.

One of the things that can trip people up here is the reference to the world is similar to what you see in John 3:16. So we just need to be careful in terms of the context of how the word is being used here. The Bible is very clear that people are sent to hell for their sins, and that Christ judges the world in terms of sin and righteousness. So in both senses, by the way, a lack of righteousness is not a morally theologically neutral thing according to scripture. It’s not just the absence of righteousness. The absence of righteousness means the presence of depravity and unrighteousness.

So Luke, my encouragement to you is keep learning, keep reading, and I hope also keep listening to The Briefing. And I would look forward to meeting you one day. And by the way, you need to come enroll at Boyce College.

Part IV

Can a Christian Vote for a Party Candidate That Supports the Murder of Babies? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

The next question comes from Steve. It’s a short, straightforward, “How can a Christian vote for either Democrats or Republicans due to their position on the abortion of unborn babies? They both agreed that some babies can be killed legally, but just differ in how many.” He then asked, “Can a Christian vote for a party candidate that supports the murder of any babies?”

Why I would say no in the sense that if indeed it is the position of a political party that some babies can be aborted in elective abortion, that would be a huge problem. There is a clear difference in the United States between the Democratic Party that not only seems to want to justify any abortion, but also to demand taxpayer funding for any abortion, and the Republican Party that holds to a pro-life position. Now, that pro-life position may not be consistent among every Republican, and that’s the reason why we need to contend for more pro-life–and that means both in terms of number and comparison–we want those that are more pro-life, most pro-life to be the nominees of the party and thus to be on the ballot. We want them to be elected.

And so I’m not sure exactly what this questioner means by saying that they both agree that some babies can be killed legally, but just differ on how many. That is not exactly I think the right way to put it. Because the big issue here is elective abortion, which means election of choice to abort a baby for reasons of convenience or whatever. And I don’t think the two parties are just quantitatively different on this issue. I think they are in principle, in a very, very different place. Or to put it another way, someone who’s consistently pro-life can and does get nominated by the Republican Party. No one holds to any position, anything like that can come anything close to the national ticket of the Democratic Party. So there is a very real difference. That doesn’t mean that simply having a D or an R means everything, but in this political context, it certainly means something and it means something big.

Albert Mohler:

Okay, finally, a question from a four-year-old little girl named Eleanor who asked her mother if God is happy. What a great question. And the answer is yes, God is happy. He’s infinitely happy in being Himself. And it’s just a key issue of Christian Orthodox theology that God is totally satisfied in Himself. He is glorified in Himself, he is happy being Himself. And it’s sweet that a four-year-old would use the word happy because four-year-olds understand the difference between being happy and unhappy. I think the older we get, the more we understand the limitations of the word happy, and that’s why the stronger word is joyful and satisfied. But you know? The 4-year-old is not wrong in asking the question, “Is God happy?” And I’m absolutely certain we’re not wrong in saying yes, God is very happy. Why is He happy? It is because He is Himself. He is happy in Himself, and He is satisfied in Himself. I find that to be very, very reassuring biblically.

Now, this is to help us to understand ourselves because we are not satisfied in the same way in ourselves. We understand that we get hungry, we get thirsty, we sin, we are tempted, we do wrong things, we say wrong things, we feel the wrong way. God does none of those things. He never does any of those things. He has no reason to be anything other than absolutely happy in himself and satisfied in himself. So God is glorified when we praise Him, when we know Him. And you know what, sweet little Eleanor? God is glorified and God is happy when a four-year-old little girl asked the question, “Is God happy?” Yes, He’s very happy. And I’m also very certain He’s happy, Eleanor, that you ask the question.

I must say of even more personal importance, I hope and pray that God is happy about the way I answered the question.

Part V

Is God Happy? — Dr. Mohler Responds to a Letter from a 4-Year-Old Listener of The Briefing

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

For more information, go to my website at You can follow me on Twitter by going to

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I’m speaking to you from Davenport, Florida, and I’ll meet you again on Monday for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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