SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR - FEBRUARY 04: Nayib Bukele president of El Salvador speaks alongside his wife Gabriela Rodriguez de Bukele after the presidential election on February 04, 2024 in San Salvador, El Salvador. Salvadorans head to polls to vote for president as incumbent Nayib Bukele seeks for reelection despite a constitutional ban.
Photo by Alex Peña/Getty Images

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

The Briefing.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024.

It’s Tuesday, February 6, 2024.

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

Part I

Which is More Basic, Order or Liberty? What the Election of Nayib Bukele in El Salvador Reveals About Human Needs

A presidential election in El Salvador is not always front page news in the United States, but the election that took place over the weekend should be. And in terms of worldview issues, this is absolutely massive. We’re talking about a very small Central American country, and we’re talking about an election in which it was pretty well known long before the first ballot was cast who was going to win. It is the incumbent president who, at least according to the historic constitution of El Salvador, would not be qualified to run for a second term. His name is Nayib Bukele, and he has been in office for a period of time. It was enough that he gained political power, enough that he persuaded the nation’s Supreme Court to allow him to run for re-election, even an apparent violation of the Constitution, and the people of El Salvador, in a true election went to the ballot place, and elected him overwhelmingly, massively. We’re talking about what is not only a landslide, but in effect he was returned to office with what can only be described as the overwhelming support of the people.

Now, you could look at that and say that El Salvador is in danger of becoming a one-party state, that it wasn’t particularly fair that the El Salvadoran President had the unlimited platform he had, other candidates did not have, but the bottom line is there is no doubt that the people of El Salvador really wanted President Bukele to be re-elected. And that raises a couple of huge issues. I guess the most practical question is why? Why would the people of El Salvador want someone that many people in the West, and including many people in El Salvador, see as a dictator about to happen? What they see is increasing one-party rule. What they see is an eclipse of democracy. So why did voters, when they had the opportunity to exercise the Democratic principle, why did they so overwhelmingly vote for a man that is seen as a threat to democracy as their president for a second term?

And the answer is, the streets of El Salvador are safe for the first time in a generation, or two, or three generations. Their murder rate, which has been one of the worst in the world, is now one of the lowest in the world. The three criminal gangs that have been largely in charge of the nation, its politics, its culture, and more importantly and threateningly, its streets, they have been effectively nullified. President Bukele was elected on an agenda of restoring order to El Salvador, and he has done that, and he has done it to the great appreciation of the people of El Salvador. And that appreciation is translated into this landslide vote.

What could be the downside? Well, the downside, according to people inside and outside the nation, is that there are about 75,000 people, in that relatively small nation, that have been put into prison on the suspicion of being involved in criminal activity. So due process, the protections that we just take for granted, many of those are simply lacking. And you also have the Bukele government that basically admits that it is overwhelmed with the number of people who are now in custody. And it’s going to take some time, probably a very long time for a lot of these cases to be sorted out, if they are ever sorted out. But, once again, the bottom line is this, the people of El Salvador overwhelmingly returned this president to office. What were they saying?

Here’s where the Christian worldview comes in and reminds us that when you are looking at a situation like this, it raises one of the long-standing questions in the Western political tradition. It’s one of the most basic questions that makes us as Christians have to do some biblical theology, some very serious scriptural and theological thinking to figure out. The key question, which has been considered by political theorists going all the way back to the ancient Greeks, is this, which is primary, order or liberty? Which has to come first before the second can happen?

Now, if you look at that, you recognize this is a debate that separated Aristotle and Plato in Ancient Greece, where Aristotle was very certain that order was the first prerequisite before you could have liberty. And Plato in his own way using different words, basically argued, at least in part, the opposite. But you also have this in the history of Western political thought, and that includes massive Christian influence during those centuries. And the assumption is that order, this is the mainstream assumption, is that order must proceed liberty. That indeed, as the founders of the United States said in the Declaration of Independence, we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. Unalienable, inalienable, rights that cannot be alienated from us.

The reality is that that requires order even to produce what was the Declaration of Independence. It requires a political structure. It requires a civilizational structure. It requires the systems of a functioning civilization, and it requires, say, just in terms of electoral politics, a situation in which people know that they can cast their vote without losing their lives. And furthermore, it also just gets down to what makes civilization possible.

Now, as we, thinking as Christians, try to sort this out, we do need to recognize that the scripture begins by telling us that it’s God who created the cosmos and filled it with his glory. And he filled the cosmos with the things that would bring him glory, and ultimately with the beings who would bring him greatest glory, which would be human beings. And thus, we are told that human beings alone in all creation are made in God’s image. But, human beings were born into an orderly creation. It was already a functioning creation. The system of night and day, the passage of the hours, the ordinalness of creation. The structures of creation, is what theologians have called them, they were all in place. Adam and Eve were placed in the garden, and it was a garden of order.

Now, Adam and Eve were also moral agents, and as you know, Genesis 3 tells us that they sinned against the Creator. They sinned against his order, his structure as a matter of fact. And so, yes, they exercised what some people would call a liberty, but they did so to the devastation of the very order they had rebelled against. The divine verdict is clear in Genesis 3 when they were cast out of the garden and into effectively the wilderness. The wilderness is a metaphor. It’s a reality too, of course, but it’s also a metaphor. It’s a reminder of the lack of order. That’s what makes the wilderness the wilderness. The difference between the wilderness and the garden is that the garden represents order. The wilderness represents disorder, a lack of order.

Now, in order perhaps to make this tangible, it’s important for us to fast-forward throughout Western political history to, say, the formation of the United States of America. The Declaration of Independence makes very, very clear, as I’ve cited that language, that the founders of this country who acted in the name of liberty, they asserted the fact that liberty exists only within this pre-existing order. Liberty requires order. Out of liberty, you do not get order. Rather, out of order, you might get liberty.

And so as you look at the founding fathers, for one thing, they were very, very clear that there was an existing moral universe, and it was in the context of that existing moral universe that they made their claims about the rightness of the American Revolution. And then they went about creating a structure, which in terms of the Christian and Western political traditions, was a way of saying, “Okay, in a fallen world, we need to put together these particular structures,” in what became known as the American constitutional order. Again, that word order is right there. In order to seek to foster as much good as possible, limit as much evil as possible. So even as the original motivating motto of the American Revolution might be expressed as, “Give me liberty,” or, “give me death,” the reality is that that only makes sense within an existing order.

And also keep in mind that the revolutionaries, as they are known in American history, those who led the American Revolution, they were not seeking to overturn order. They were overturning a monarch they saw as a threat to that order, and to establish in this country on these shores a new order for the ages. That’s exactly what they said. But it was based upon classical order. And that’s one of the reasons why you had someone like George Washington who styled himself as an Ancient Roman. He clearly identified with the Ancient Roman figure Cincinnatus, who having won the war went back to his farm. It’s exactly what George Washington did. But this is also the reason why he wanted Washington, D.C. to be a city of classical architecture, to evoke Greece and Rome. It was a way of saying we are associating this new nation with a continuation of that order. And out of that order, we can make the claims of liberty. It doesn’t work the other way around.

Now, one point I just want to make for Christians to think about here is that those founding fathers, well, they weren’t all believing Christians, but they all operated within a Christian understanding of the universe. And that Christian understanding of the universe made very clear that order precedes liberty. So, is that where most people are today? The reality is most people aren’t thinking about this. And there’s a danger in that. But there’s another danger in the fact that you had modern secular liberalism that has asserted that liberty might be prior to order, and that that’s very closely associated with a professor for many, many years at Harvard known as John Rawls. And this Rawlsian, as it’s styled, understanding of justice, well, it is explicitly based upon the claim that liberty is the most basic of these needs, and everything else has to follow. So in other words, liberty is to be exercised in order for order to be achieved.

Well, there is just nothing going for that in terms of the biblical tradition and nothing going for that in terms of Western history. It just isn’t the way things work. And here’s one of the evidences of why we understand what’s taking place in El Salvador. The people of El Salvador said we are actually willing to put many of our liberties on hold, if we can walk safely on the streets of San Salvador. We are willing to put up with a suspension to the Constitution if we can exchange one of the highest homicide rates on the planet for one of the lowest. We will actually reward the man who is credited with restoring order out of horrifying disorder. That meant the kidnapping of children on the streets, and the murder of people in their homes, and the fact that you had the economy basically shutting down simply because people could not go out of their homes because of the fear of violence, and the fear of organized crime.

And thus, what just took place over the weekend in this rather interesting election in El Salvador, it’s a reminder to us that when human beings are faced with a choice, you can have order, or you can have liberty. Well, there’s an instinct among human beings to go for order rather than liberty. Let me give you two other examples. You say, “Well, it’s one thing to talk about El Salvador, but we’re in the United States.” Well, let me remind you of a couple of things. In American history, very similar lessons are also evident. Just to give you one example, World War II.

During World War II, the American government took on powers that were arguably unconstitutional, but they were also historically explicable. They were understandable, even justifiable to the American people because of the threat of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Americans allowed a reach of government during the period of World War II that they would never under other circumstances have allowed. All that just to say that an external threat can cause people to say we have to preserve this order even if it means for some period the conscription of our liberties. And by the way, those liberties would include the right not to be, for example, surveilled. And yet, when you look at high crime rates in American cities, or you look at a city like London, we’re leaving the United States, let’s go to London, which is, at least it is thought, one of the most camera-intensive spots on Earth. Well, the citizens of London seem to be willing to trade off their personal privacy for the order that is enhanced by the police able to see who exactly was where, when.

Let me offer a more contemporary example. And this is being played out right now, and it’s an issue that we’re going to have to take on its own again on The Briefing, and that has to do with the border crisis. Here’s something to note. You have people in the border states, who are apparently willing to see their governments get very, very aggressive, state by state, in terms of the border crisis. You have Liberal Democratic mayors and governors in places like New York and Chicago. These mayors and governors are crying out for relief simply because the overwhelming of the border has now led to a political crisis, even in places like Chicago and New York.

But you also have Democrats in Congress who’ve been very, very, very opposed to any kind of restriction in terms of the border crisis, who at least now must be public in their messaging about the fact that they understand that something has to be done. And so you have that political urgency. And so right now you have Democrats in the Senate and in the House who are saying things they would never have been imaginably saying just a matter of a few weeks ago. And it is because people in the United States, voters in the United States, recognize that there is an emergency. This represents disorder. What are they calling for? Restored order at the American border.

Now, it’s very questionable as to whether the specific legislation would actually accomplish that, and what the motivations actually are behind the increasing Democratic Party emphasis on this. But the fact is, all I’m trying to say in this particular instance is that this demonstrates the quest for order, and the fact that that quest for order means that even Americans will say, “I’m going to put something else on hold until you fix this situation and we have stability on our border.”

So all that to say, that as you look at this election over the weekend in El Salvador, there’s some of the most basic political questions faced by humanity through centuries, a millennia of time, that are revealed here, and some issues that have deep, deep biblical roots and theological consequence. I am not asserting that the voters in El Salvador were thinking deeply about this issue. I think they were operating basically on intuition. But that doesn’t undermine the point we’re seeking to make. It just emphasizes it. The intuition is there, the hunger is there. There is a necessity for order before we can move to the assertion of liberty.

Part II

This is How Moral Warfare in Our Country Happens: USA Today Publishes Abortion Propaganda Article Guised as Journalism

But next, looking at the United States, a couple of headline news stories that really do deserve our attention, if not demand our attention. You have an article in USA Today. Frankly, both of these that I’m going to cite appear in USA Today. And the first, an article that appeared last week with a headline, “Pregnancies After Rape May Top 60,000 in Sites With No Abortion.” Sub-head, “14 States Have Passed Near-Total Bans Since 2022.” Well, USA Today runs this piece, and it’s just one of these articles that appears in the mainstream media that grabs my attention, not just because of the subject matter, abortion in this case, but because of the very flimsy, flimsy story behind this.

And so, USA Today here has an agenda. That agenda is made very clear, and that is to suggest that bans on abortion lead to pregnancies that are involuntarily continued after rape. And there’s a specific number here, and that’s 60,000. As a matter of fact, the number in the article, 64,500. Let me quote to you the opening. “Researchers estimated there may have been more than 64,500 pregnancies resulting from rape in the 14 states that have enacted near-total abortion bans since Roe V. Wade was overturned in 2022 according to a research letter published in the journal, JAMA. [That’s the Journal of the American Medical Association, the specific journal is JAMA Internal Medicine.]”

All right, let’s give some serious worldview attention to this. Let’s do some media analysis. Let’s just look at the English language. This opening paragraph tells us that researchers have estimated, well, who’s a researcher? Well, evidently they’re qualified in some sense as a researcher, at least in the view of a prestigious American medical journal. But then we are told that they estimated. So that’s the second word in the article is estimated. So there is no absolute claim that there were 64,500 pregnancies due to rape in these states after the Dobbs decision. It’s an estimate. And that raises some huge questions, like, number one, why are you running a news story about an estimated number? And the answer is because there’s a very clear agenda at work, and it is to oppose bans on abortion. But the second thing is, why would you define it this way? And furthermore, what’s missing from this picture?

Well, let’s continue on in the article. “Other research has found the number of abortions fell to nearly zero in states with the strictest bans, which indicates people who were raped and became pregnant couldn’t access abortions in their home state even when there is an exception for rape, according to researchers from,” now get this, “Planned Parenthood of Montana, Hunter College of New York, Cambridge Health Alliance in Massachusetts, and the University of California, San Francisco.” Boom. So now we’re told that researchers estimated, and then we find out that the researchers are led by Planned Parenthood, which is one of the most pro-abortion organizations in the entire history of the human race. In this case, Planned Parenthood of Montana. And thus you have here an article that appeared in the mainstream media, which should basically be immediately discarded as nothing more than pro-abortion propaganda. But this is the kind of thing that’s picked up, and before you know it, here’s something else to watch in the media, it’s going to be cited as an article as if these numbers are absolutely true and trustworthy. 

But there’s something else evident here that we should think about. And this has to do with the fact that not only is this basically political propaganda, pro-abortion propaganda masquerading as news, not only is this a supposed research project, that turns out to be very suspicious all the way from the start, but it begs a huge question that is, how many of these women, if they truly exist, and no doubt there are some women who are pregnant as a result of rape in these states. There’s no question about that. But who says that they all would have wanted an abortion? Who says that their decision would have been to terminate the pregnancy?

The assumption here is that these bans on abortion are thwarting these women from getting the abortion that they would want. But these are hypothetical women, and that’s a hypothetical decision. And yet you’ll notice the way this entire thing is tilted. By the way, they had to say something about how they came up with this kind of estimate. “To generate this estimate, researchers combined several surveys and reports,” White said, one of the lead researchers, “including estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the frequency of rapes nationwide, the fraction of rape survivors of childbearing age from the Bureau of Justice statistics, and state-level data on the number of rapes from the FBI’s most serious uniform crime report.”

Well, there you have it, but of course most Americans are never going to read that far in the article. And if they hear anything about it, it’s going to be the headline. And what they’re going to get from that is that they should oppose bans on abortion. And that’s how so much of the moral warfare that takes place in our country actually happens.

If you make your way almost all the way to the bottom of the page. And let’s just be honest, very few readers are going to do that. That’s an understatement. You might read this. “The study does not estimate how many rape survivors are likely to seek an abortion.” And the researcher said, “There is not good data on how often this happens.” In other words, everything they just said is basically nullified by that admission. But USA Today runs with the story and the headlines there. And not only that, USA Today is a network with at least partial ownership of a lot of other local newspapers. And so, not by accident, I happened to pick up a paper in a southern state where the USA Today affiliate had broken down in that state what the supposed number might be. So that’s the way warfare over moral issues is fought in the liberal media and particularly in an outlet like USA Today. 

Part III

Get a Clue: Two Men Can’t Make a Baby and No Treatment for “Infertility” Can Change That

But I’m going to top that with the next one, also USA Today. This is yesterday’s edition of USA Today. Here’s the headline. “Infertility Treatments Are Tax-Deductible.” Well, that’s interesting. The sub-head, “But Only to Certain Couples, Experts Say.” Bailey Schulz is the reporter here for USA Today. And the bottom line is that infertility treatments, get this, are tax-deductible, so heterosexual couples who qualify might be able to write off some of their expenses for infertility treatments. But you know what? This article alleges that there is discrimination because some other couples, just use the word couples here, are not able to claim a similar deduction. In particular, gay men. Two gay men are not allowed to claim a deduction, even if they seek somehow to, well, I’ll just use the traditional language, “have a baby.”

Now, I’m not going to draw you any pictures here. You can imagine what we’re talking about. And that is, and human beings throughout all of human history would have understood this, so much so that it would not need to be said. If you have two men, what you do not get is a baby. Not by a long shot. You do not get a baby. It is not infertility. The fact that two men, two biological males are not able to produce a baby, are not able to achieve a pregnancy, this is not infertility. This is biology, this is nature. This is not a biological problem, it’s not a medical problem, it is a moral situation. But this is how far down the stream of moral insanity we’ve now gone, that you can have mainstream media talking about the fact that infertility treatments are tax-deductible, but not evenly so.

Let me just read to you a crucial paragraph from this article. “Medically fertile unmarried men, gay or straight, trying to deduct costs for assisted reproductive technology treatments are more likely to fail.” That is fail with the IRS in terms of deductibility. “Previous cases have ruled that they cannot deduct costs for IVF or egg donation because they do not suffer from,” this is put in scare quotes, “medical infertility.” Now, that’s just an obvious fact. Men do not have eggs. That is not a medical problem. That is biological reality, period. God’s plan. Genesis 1, Genesis 2, get a clue.

One authority cited in the article says this, and this is just filled with worldview significance. “The IRS,” that’s the Internal Revenue Service, “view gets more and more uncertain the further you depart from being a heterosexual married couple who has been trying to conceive.” Bingo. Yeah, things get more and more confusing the further you get from the question of a baby produced by a heterosexual married couple, a man and a woman. The moment you try to get outside that picture, guess what? You don’t have a baby, and you also don’t have infertility. What you don’t have is fertility, period.

Oh, and finally, you got to love the way the English language is just becoming loopy on a lot of this. And I realize this isn’t as important as some of the previous language, but the article cites Tessa Davis, a law professor at the University of South Carolina. And this law professor offered this sentence. “We do not have a great deal of clarity in this space.” Oh, in this space. That’s the cute terminology these days on this issue. And cultural space is what is being referred to here. It’s one of the ideas of modern cultural analysis that you have cultural space in which these things are being debated. And this law professor seems to be lamenting the fact that we don’t have a great deal of clarity in this space. But I want to argue that biology is still present in that space. And the biology, by the way, is speaking very clearly. And that’s the bottom line from The Briefing space.

Because of the current cultural challenges, pastors and parents are often asking how they can prepare young people to think critically, and more importantly, as Christians to remain faithful to Christ. At Boyce College, we offer a distinctively Christian college education based on an unapologetic Christian worldview. I am really looking forward to welcoming college students and parents, prospective college students, to the next Boyce College Preview Day. It’s going to be March 21 and 22. To find out more information and to register, visit at and use the promo code, The Briefing, in order to register for free. I would look forward to welcoming you if you and a young person you love can come and find out more about what makes Boyce College so special.

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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