Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Tuesday, January 31, 2024.

It’s Tuesday, January 31st, 2024.

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

Part I

The Liberal Pope Meets Opposition: African Bishops Give Major Pushback over New Vatican Policy on Blessing of Same-Sex Couples

We often talk about worldview conflicts, but sometimes we’re looking at a conflict that is so conflicted we simply can’t ignore it. That’s what’s going on right now in conflict, for example, this is just a microcosm, between African Catholics and the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church over his command concerning same-sex blessings, and command is actually the right word. He has set this down as a matter of papal authority, and is to be true in all places, everywhere, recognized by every bishop. But there are some bishops in Africa who are saying they’re not going to perform nor allow to be performed a single same-sex blessing regardless of what the Pope says. This has the attention of Religion News Service, headline news story, “Catholic clergy in Uganda accuse the West of a new colonialism through LGBTQ activism.”

Now, I’ve been looking for this argument to emerge, and it did in this case, and it did in exactly this way. And this is exactly the argument that we should have seen coming. You have African Catholic leaders, in this case, but it’s not just Catholics; Catholics are on the front line because of the circumstances. But it is Christian clergy ministries there in Uganda, and Africa in general, who are saying we’re not going to go along with the LGBTQ activism that is coming from western sources, and in particular from western religious denominations of a liberal nature, and increasingly from western governments, including under the Biden administration, the government of the United States of America, putting explicit pressure on Third World countries, African nations, in particular, to liberalize their LGBTQ laws and furthermore, to undo and certainly not to pass laws that would restrict LGBTQ behaviors and all the rest.

Although, as we have discussed on The Briefing, several African nations have done just that. But it is the papal document authorizing, and as I said, it’s more than authorizing, it’s basically commanding the blessing of same-sex couples, and it’s, again, technically a matter of blessing the individuals, but there can be no doubt that in the context it’s a same-sex blessing. And that’s exactly what folks in Africa fully recognize. And by the way, the left and the right both recognize exactly what’s going on here, but the Pope and the Vatican are being dishonest about this policy, and conservatives are calling it out for exactly what it is. Well, Tonny Onyulo, writing for Religion News Service, here in the United States, tells us about a man who “Sat in a white plastic chair at his home in Wakiso,” a suburb of Uganda’s capital Kampala “contemplating two photos of a young gay female couple kissing and another of a male gay couple kissing at their wedding ceremony.”

“These images make me think the world is coming to an end. There are things you can’t imagine happening and people blindly support them.” RNS then goes on to say the 55-year-old father of six, who owns a food kiosk in Wakiso, blamed the West, that means western nations for invading his culture and destroying its values. “He believes foreign governments are sponsoring LGBTQ people and their activities in the country.” Well, that’s actually a great lead. The RNS story is fascinating, and it’s from a reporter right there on the ground in Africa. And here you have a man identified as a father of six, who runs a food kiosk, who sees western nations trying to colonize, his nation, and other African nations, for the moral progressivism of the LGBTQ revolution. And of course, they’re using political pressure, they’re using financial incentives and pressure, and now they’re using theological pressure.And this is a representation of the pushback coming from Africa, and I’m glad to say there is a lot of pushback. 

I think the most interesting section of this article includes a statement that comes from a man known as a catechist, that’s a doctrinal teacher in the Roman Catholic system. He’s known as Charles Kiwuwa. He’s from the Archdiocese of Tororo, which is in eastern Uganda. In an interview with Religion News Service, known as RNS, he said “As Africans, we should be very careful and not accept everything white people tell us. They have told us that polygamy is a sin because they know most Africans embrace it, and that homosexuality is righteous because we disagree.” Just imagine how much there is to unpack in that. And it raises the issue of polygamy–or having multiple wives–as compared to homosexuality in the entire reign known as LGBTQ.

But in this case, he used the word homosexuality. And he points out that morally, many in the West are coming with the argument that polygamy is wrong, It’s sinful. Buteven as the Bible is very clear about the sinfulness of homosexuality. And this article includes several African authorities who made clear they know exactly what the Bible teaches. They’re calling for the liberalization against biblical commands on those issues. And this man is simply calling out that incredible contradiction. But it’s also interesting to know, and this is just important from a biblical and worldview perspective, we do believe that polygamy is sinful. We do. And Jesus made very clear that God’s plan was that marriage be the union of a man and a woman. But in the Old Testament, you clearly have polygamy, and certainly in the early chapters of the Old Testament you find a lot of polygamy.

And here’s where we need to understand a distinction made in scripture. Polygamy is never defined as being against nature. In other words, it is not against nature. You might say it’s emphatically with nature. It is just not God’s command, and intention. Now, you have to put a footnote in there because there were certain circumstances in the Old Testament where polygamy was apparently not sinful, but nonetheless, Jesus made very clear that for his people and now in this age we’re to understand that polygamy is not God’s plan. Thus, it is sinful. But it’s not against nature. In Romans chapter one describing male and female homosexuality, Paul describes them not only as being sinful but being against nature. And thus we do recognize–you know–this man in Africa making this point, he’s really onto something. Polygamy is not God’s plan, but it does not violate creation order, homosexuality does.

But you know the word colonization here or colonizing is very morally significant, because–you know–western liberals have been real clear to call out the sins of colonizing and the sins of the entire colonialization movement. And we can understand so many of the issues there and there are no doubt many sins that were involved in the entire colonizing process. But it is really interesting that you have these African authorities coming back and saying, “Well, the very people supposedly now say they’re against colonization, they’re the people who are colonizing us in terms of their western, liberal, progressive, secular, unbiblical morality.” One church leader cited in the article said this, “As a church, we have decided to fight homosexuality to save our children and the country from collapsing because the Bible teaches us that homosexuality is evil as read in Genesis chapters 18 and 19.” So you have to be proud of this believer for showing up not only with an argument but with clear citations of scripture.

The RNS article also cites a parish priest as saying, “We have started to sensitize children in schools and homes against the vice of homosexuality. We want to make children and parents aware that homosexuality is a sin, and pro-gay activists should never influence them to join LGBTQ groups because it’s evil and not accepted in the Bible.” Once again, we simply have to recognize moral clarity there. He didn’t call for action against homosexuals of any abusive nature. He simply said, parents need to teach their children. That’s another point that’s made actually repeatedly in this article, and priests and preachers need to uphold biblical teaching. Now, I just want to step back for a moment and say it’s rather refreshing and humbling to listen to these African brothers come out so clearly citing scripture in order to say, “Look, the Bible teaches and that’s what we have to believe. “If only we had more preachers in the United States who were that quick to turn immediately to scripture and say, “The issue is simply settled.”

Part II

Just Ideology? Pope Condescendingly Addresses Conservative Opposition over Same-Sex Blessings

But in order to understand what we are really dealing with here, we need to hear not only from this RNS report and these voices from Africa. Well, on this case, I guess we need to hear once again from the Pope, or at least in any event, we have heard again from the Pope. Reuters, which is one of the most respected international news agencies. It is based in the Netherlands. It offered a news story just in recent days with a headline, “Pope says Africans are a special case when it comes to LGBTQ blessings.” Now the word that we saw that was used against the West, western liberal nations and governments, was colonization, but now this word has to do with condescension.

We need to look at the condescension that the Pope is now showing even to Roman Catholics in Africa saying that Africa is a special case because it’s just so backward, but one day it will catch up with the west and evidently with the liberal Pope himself. The Reuters report says this, “Pope Francis said in an interview published on Monday that Africans were a special case in the opposition of bishops and many other people in the continent to homosexuality. He said he was confident that except for Africans, critics of his decision to allow blessings for same-sex couples, would eventually understand it.” The Reuters report goes on to say “Blessings were allowed last month in a document called Fiducia Supplicans, known as Supplicating Trust, which has caused widespread debate in the Catholic Church with particularly strong resistance coming from African bishops.”

Now, I’m going to interrupt this flow in order to say there are many conservative Roman Catholics here in the United States who are absolutely disgusted with this papal policy and statement. There are many conservative Roman Catholics in Europe and in other places, even in more liberal nations, who see through exactly what the Pope is doing here. They understand that in the name of a pastoral response, he’s violating the doctrinal teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, that says until this day, the homosexuality is a grave offense, that it is objectively disordered. That’s, by the way, an echo of the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter one. More importantly for evangelical Christians, the issue is the authority of scripture, which is abundantly clear on this issue. But the Pope is now, in his condescension, that is speaking down to Africans, saying Africans are a special case. He says, “Even those elsewhere that aren’t with his program will get there once they understand it better.” Now, again, condescension, you’re telling people who disagree with you, who frankly understand the issue far better than this Pope understands the issue.

And now that you have the Pope saying once they understand it, they’ll agree with him. Well, I don’t know how conservative Catholics can handle this. They’re going to have to make that decision, and that response will be theirs. But I can tell you as an evangelical Protestant looking at this, you see the absolute bankruptcy of this Vatican in dealing with these issues, but you also see the immoral condescension in which he’s now saying, Africa’s just a special case. Now, the Pope is really faced with a difficult political situation here. He has liberal Catholics in places like Germany pressing for outright acceptance of same-sex relationships, weddings and churches and the sacrament of marriage, all the rest. The Pope hasn’t gone that far yet. But you also have Catholics in Africa, and Africa is basically the fastest growth area for the Roman Catholic Church.

You also have bishops in Africa saying, this is simply not going to stand. This isn’t going to happen. And so you really do see massive tensions. It’s one thing to talk about red and blue America, you’re really looking at deep red and deep blue Catholicism here. Speaking of those who oppose his policy, the Pope said in this Reuters report, “Those who protest vehemently belong to a small ideological groups. A special case are Africans. For them, homosexuality is something ‘bad.’” Now, Reuters put in quotation marks the word bad, what are known editorially as scare quotes, as if the pope’s using the word bad as if it’s a term of art. Bad from a cultural point of view, they don’t tolerate it. I want you to notice something here. The Pope in his condescension is actually saying to Catholics, their response isn’t biblical. Their response isn’t theological. It’s a cultural point of view.

If I were a Roman Catholic in Africa and I am none of those words, I would be right up front to say this Pope is speaking to us as if we don’t even know what the doctrine of the church is. We know it, we stand on it, he knows it and he is violating it. Speaking of Africa, but presumably of others elsewhere who are not going along with his plan at this point, the Pope said that “When the blessings are given, priests should, and these are the pope’s actual words, “naturally take into account the context, the sensitivities, the places where one lives and the most appropriate ways to do it.” Now again, you have the problem of this liberal Pope and you have a pattern of liberalism that isn’t just found in Roman Catholicism and this Pope. It’s found among many who would even call themselves evangelicals who say sensitivity is the most important determinant. But that is not what you find in scripture, and it is not what you find in terms of the African response to this Pope.

I’ve got a lot of conservative Catholic friends who are saying out loud what they’ve never said before in terms of this Pope and this papacy, but I will not quote one of them, I’ll simply say that it is clear that the greatest danger right now to the Roman Catholic Church comes down to two words, and those two words are: Pope Francis.

Part III

The Death Culture Presses Its Deadly Agenda in Canada: Country Contemplates Euthanasia for the Mentally Ill

But next, as we’re looking at moral issues, we need to look across America’s northern border at Canada. And there’s simply a very big development, very ominous development in Canada, and quite frankly, even for those of us who follow these issues, the speed at which this particular progressivist agenda has advanced in Canada, it’s simply breathtaking. Headline in the New York Times “Assisted Death for Mentally Ill Divides Canada.” Vjosa Isai is the reporter in this article, and the report is this, “Canada already has one of the most liberal assisted death laws in the world offering the practice to terminally and chronically ill Canadians.”

The article continues, “But under a law scheduled to take effect in March, assisted dying would also become accessible to people whose only medical condition is mental illness, making Canada one of about half a dozen countries to permit the procedure for that category of people.” Now, the article tells us that Canada’s divided over this issue, but let’s just consider what we’re looking at here, and let’s take into account a bit of the background. What we’re looking at here is euthanasia, a so-called good death. It is the movement whereby human beings would claim control and authority over death and decide who shall live and who shall die, and when we shall die. And rather than human life being understood as a stewardship that is given to us from God, it’s understood as a thing, a good, that we can end on our own terms. And assisted suicide is a form of euthanasia, so we need to recognize there are many forms.

You could have involuntary euthanasia or voluntary euthanasia. Now, the tissue between those two can become very cloudy, but you can have people who say, “I am volunteering to end my life,” and you have others who are saying “No, it’s going to be a choice made by governments on others.” The Third Reich certainly comes to mind there. One of the things we pointed out is that voluntary euthanasia really slides very quickly into involuntary euthanasia. For one thing, you have people who are being told “You’re burdens on the family, you’re burdens on society. You need to get out of the way. You’re taking up too much medical expense. You’re just no longer needed.” Heartbreaking as it is, those arguments are actually out there and they have been for some time. But you also have a distinction between assisted suicide and more active forms of euthanasia. And so, in Canada right now, you have legalized assisted suicide, and that means that the mechanism of death in the form of pills usually is given to a person by medical authorities with instructions as to how they may undertake this themselves and then they administer the drugs themselves.

That’s at least the theory of assisted suicide. But one of the things we need to note is that the moral slide when it comes to euthanasia means that you really do say, “Well, it’s only going to be this. It’s only going to cover these people, only under these circumstances,” and very quickly the argument comes back, “No, it needs to be expanded here and there.” We saw this in the Netherlands and Belgium, elsewhere in Europe, where you had originally just assisted suicide and then you had more active forms of euthanasia, the development even of death clinics. And it was extended only to those who were terminally ill, then chronically ill, and then those who had mental illness, only adults, and then inevitably teenagers and children as well. This is absolutely horrifying.

If the culture of death is represented in abortion, it’s also represented now at the other end of the life spectrum, at the time of death. And in this case, you have an embrace of death.The very term euthanasia, it’s using Greek words in order to call something a good death, but that’s a good death on human terms, and it is a good death that biblically is not good at all. As a matter of fact, it is a massive act of rebellion against the Creator who gave us the gift of life. 

But as we have now seen, this story coming from Canada is about extending assisted suicide to those whose only diagnosis is a psychiatric or psychological diagnosis. And that’s one of the most troubling developments we could consider. How did Canada get there? Well, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s basically forced to move in this direction with Canada’s Parliament because of a court decision from 2019. What was that court decision? Well, that tells us also something about how a death culture presses its way through the courts. In Canada’s case, you had people who went to court and said, “It is unjust if my category is not included in the approved grounds for assisted suicide.” As if this is a personal liberation movement, prejudice against other persons.

This is a very, very dark development, a sane society, based on sane and moral principles would have no physician assisted suicide and no euthanasia. And it would also have the sense to know that once you open that door, you can’t close it. That door’s going to be forced wider and wider. There are some amazing statements in this Time’s piece. For example, you have one psychiatrist in Barrie, Ontario, who “specializes in treating complex cases that often take years to improve.” This man said he was concerned that hopeless patients will opt for assisted death instead, this is what he said, “I’m trying to keep my patients alive. What does it mean for the role of the physician as healer, as bringer of hope to be offering death? And what does it mean in practice?” What it means in practice, and I’m just going to state this bluntly, is that Canada has a commercial interest in bringing about the death of people who are costing it money in terms of psychiatric treatment.

Now, you’re not going to see that documented as one of the causes here, but let’s face it, this is one of the major forces and energies behind the assisted suicide and euthanasia movement. We have people who are simply hanging around for too long, they’re taking up too many medical resources. Their problems are just, well, too problematic, they’re too complex. But we also have this cult of personal autonomy where we so worship personal autonomy that people can say, “I demand the right to end my life.” But you’ll notice, this is assisted suicide. This isn’t just suicide. Suicide, one of the most morally troubling issues we could consider, but assisted suicide means others are actually helping you. That’s the demand that is being made here. This is the demand that society come to terms with that personal autonomy to the extent that a person says, “I demand that society actively facilitate death on my own terms.” So we really are looking at a very dangerous and ominous development.

Now, the editors of the Washington Post, were calling upon Canada to rethink this risky expansion of euthanasia, and Canada’s Parliament did put this policy on hold on Monday, but it’s just a temporary hold. And there’s no doubt where the trajectory is headed. But that actually raises another point I want us to consider. The editors of the Washington Post make some very cogent arguments here. They point out that even as a handful of countries have authorized medically assisted dying, what they call it, they go on to say that they have supported “limited assisted dying programs of the kind found elsewhere.” So you have the editorial board saying, “Look, we have supported,” what they define as “limited assisted dying programs of this kind.” Now, you also notice that in the headline, the words were this risky expansion of euthanasia, so would there be a less risky expansion of euthanasia?That’s the implication here.

One of the things that becomes very clear, looking at this Washington Post editorial, as important as it is, and frankly as urgent as it is, and I’m even going to give the editorial board of the Washington Post potential credit for perhaps even having a role in Canada’s parliament putting a pause on here. But my point is that what you have even in the Washington Post editorial is the absence, the complete absence of moral absolutes. There’s a complete absence of the understanding that assisted suicide isn’t risky, it’s wrong, it’s evil, and that when you’re talking about it, whether it is expanded slowly or quickly, what you have is the expansion of something that is inherently, objectively evil. And here’s one of the big problems: In the secular left in this country right now, there are no moral absolutes, by policy. That is, by their worldview.

They just deny that there can be absolute truth in this sense. Now, they violate that by implying that on their chosen causes, there are basically absolutes. But I think it really shows in this, and again, I’m saying it with sympathy, I’m saying it with limited appreciation for the boldness of the editorial board and confronting this Canadian expansion. But I want to say that if you’re against euthanasia expanding quickly, that is not a morally sustainable argument. It’s just not. If you buy into the logic of euthanasia, and the editors told us they did. “We have supported limited assisted dying programs of this kind.” Well, if you support some form of assisted suicide, guess what? You’re going to eventually have to support them all. If you support euthanasia in one form, well guess what? Before long, you’re going to have to expand it because that’s going to be the logic, that’s going to be the demand.

You can say it’s only for adults here, but very quickly, why is 18 the arbitrary number? And if it’s this diagnosis, why could it not be some other diagnosis as well? The culture of death moves progressively inch by inch, but the big things happen yard by yard or mile by mile. And that’s what we’re actually seeing right here. The Washington Post said, “slow down,” and it’s clear to us, at least, that Canada’s parliament on Monday said, “we’re going to slow down a little bit,” but the very fact that they are not reversing the legislation, just putting it on pause, tells us we’re going to end up there one way or another. 

And it’ll also come. You can predict this. It’s going to come with government authorities saying, “We put some protections in.” Let’s understand this, protections on government assisted death. Just think of the illogic of that. Just think of the evil of that. But just think also of how quickly that slides off the lips of government officials and slides into the editorial logic of influential newspapers. By the way, before we end today, I want to point out that moral clarity is to be appreciated wherever it’s found, and in this Washington Post editorial, we are told that the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, opposes this policy. Now, I’m not surprised by that, but my point is this: the very people who are working their hardest to prevent suicide or the people who understand exactly what we’re talking about here. And this will put the government in the position of saying to those, at least some of those who have a kind of diagnosis, “Well, we’ll actually help you with that.” Oh, and by the way, people have pointed out, and the editorial board of the Washington Post pointed out that you also have diagnosis shopping going on here.

You have a medical doctor who says, “I don’t think you fit that category.” Well, you can go anywhere in Canada if this goes into policy and law and eventually find someone who will agree with the diagnosis. My diagnosis is: this is the culture of death and all morally sane people need to recognize it for what it is. It is evil.

And that’s objective truth, not just a matter of a sliding scale of moral analysis.

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, go to

Today, I’m in Atlanta, Georgia, and I’ll meet you again tomorrow for the Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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