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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Thursday, February 15, 2024.

It’s Thursday, February 15, 2024.

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

Part I

Let’s Talk About Polyamory: The Moral Revolution Presses on to Normalize Polyamorous Relationships

As we seek to work through cultural issues, and understand them from the lens of a Christian worldview, we have to keep in mind that almost always there are at least two dimensions to everything we talk about. The first has to do with the thing in itself. What is the issue? How should Christians understand this issue? Is it right or wrong? What does this tell us? The second dimension has to do with the national, the cultural conversation. Here is what the conversation about this issue tells us about where we stand and about how our culture is thinking.

Now, we talked yesterday on The Briefing, Valentine’s Day, then, about arguments that seem to erupt into the public square almost daily now, having to do with the fact that, for example, marriage is unnecessarily privileged and you should redefine marriage, or redefine at least the culturally acceptable and, say, tax-break-supported financially incentivized arrangements that human beings might come up with. And this is what you see in an age of moral rebellion. You have rebellion against the structures of creation. You have a continued rebellion against marriage. And the argument we looked at yesterday, that was, after all, published in The Washington Post, actually called for single people, who are single by choice, basically, to be recognized as having the same rights as a married couple. That’s absolute nonsense, but that also tells us something. We’re living in the age of absolute nonsense.

Now, that proposal is not likely to be translated into law anytime soon, but it did appear in the Washington Post. And as we understand how cultural change happens, arguments like this that appear absolutely ridiculous are somewhere out there these days on the internet. They end up on a newsletter, and then they become the fodder for sensationalistic reporting about what happens in the culture, on the borderland, in the fringe, but then all of a sudden they end up in the Washington Post. Now, not everything that ends up like this in the Washington Post ends up in the Washington Capitol Building. But we do understand there’s a process at work here. There is a trajectory that we can watch, and that’s why we come today to talk about the word polyamory.

Now, the word itself has not been around for a very long time. The emergence of the word, is itself a part of the story. As you think about poly and you think about human relationships, the first thing that is likely to come to your mind is polygamy. But polygamy is kind of old-school. And for that matter, it is rejected in the modern age because of its patriarchalism. That is to say it’s generally one man with multiple wives. And in the name of equality, there are those who call for something quite different. Polyamory is also different than polygamy in the sense that polyamory doesn’t require a marriage agreement. It could just be an assemblage of people. But polyamory is basically put together intentionally, to suggest some kind of ethical structure for people to have multiple romantic and sexual relationships, so long as it’s all in the open, in terms of all the people involved in the relationship complex, and there is some kind of fidelity. But that fidelity, generally in polyamory, means it’s fidelity within explicit infidelity.

Now, as we’re looking at the trajectory of the sexual revolution, we have seen for a long time that this is where things are headed. Because if you can actually as a result of the LGBTQ activist movement, quite successful, if you can redefine marriage and make it the union of a man and a man and a woman and a woman, you can certainly redefine it in terms of number because, at least in human history, that’s a much easier issue, than the idea that you could have a man married to a man. But at the same time, it turns out that cultures have a very hard time organizing polygamy or polyamory, and polyamorous promises often fail to be realized. And that’s a part of the story we need to consider, because for Christians, that actually tells us a very great deal.

So, just in the last few days and weeks, New York Magazine front page cover story on polyamory and how this is supposedly the new thing coming, and it also had to introduce all kinds of new vocabulary words, which I’m just going to relieve you, we won’t be getting into in today’s edition of The Briefing. But it basically is all the different arrangements that you can have in the name of polyamory. Not just polygamy, not just one man with multiple wives or women. It could be a woman with multiple male partners. It could be a quartet. It could be, well, you don’t even need an even number. Because as you look at this, the very existence of this movement defies all boundaries upon human romantic and sexual relationships. At least, the only boundary might be consent.

Now, because of this development in the culture and because of where these things are headed, years ago in a book entitled, We Cannot Be Silent, I pointed out how this happens. How polygamy, polyamory, whatever you want to call it, is going to show up and it’s going to demand rights. It’s going to demand legal recognition. You’re going to have Hollywood celebrities that are going to show up identifying in this way. You’re going to have people go to court suing against the privileging, they will say, of marriage limited to two people. You’re going to have all kinds of things like this develop. And as I said, in the dimension of watching what’s happening in the culture, it’s not an accident that in the course of just the last few weeks, there have been numerous cover stories, and headline news articles, and opinion pieces, and feature articles written pushing this agenda.

But it might be important that we stop and define the word. Don’t worry, we’re not going to go into any awkward territory here. But the word polyamory is not something you will find in a dictionary from, say, 1972. It’s just not going to be there. And if you know classical languages, you know that what we have here is poly put together with amory. And so you borrow from the Greek for poly and you borrow from the Latin for amory and you put it together, it’s multiple love. Now, where did the word come from? Interesting story. And in order to understand this, we need to go back in American history to the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

In that sexual revolution, there was, demanded, the overthrow of all existing what was defined as repressive sexual morality. And so, sex outside a marriage, now quite legitimate, to be celebrated in the summer of love out, on the lawn of the campus. And you just go down the list. You had the arrival of no-fault divorce. You had the arrival of contraception, the availability of birth control, the demands that it be available to just about everyone. And then of course you had the LGBTQ revolutions. You had the arrival of categories such as safe sex. And, well, you just had all that happening, and there were those who were trying to declare, in the name of free love, and the freedom of sexual expression, they were trying to say we could have multiple groupings. And yet, the problem is as you look throughout human history, or frankly, if you just look at your neighborhood, it’s going to be really hard to pull that off. And so somehow, you got to figure out how this is going to work.

Now, footnote. In American history, polygamy came up in a big way because of Mormonism. And one of the requirements before Utah could be accepted into the union, was that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was going to have to deny polygamy. And that’s exactly what the Mormon Church did, and that was clearly a part of a political context. And of course, there are all kinds of theological issues here. We’re going to have to save those for another edition. The point is that polygamy, a man with multiple wives, was so unthinkable in the moral construct of America in the late 19th century that it became the decisive issue about whether or not Utah would be accepted as a state in the Federal Union. That was also the issue in a Supreme Court case. Once again, the Supreme Court knew exactly what marriage was. It seemed to know exactly what marriage was until just a few years ago. But the point is, polygamy, not going to be acceptable.

But if you’re going to overthrow all sexual restraints and you’re going to liberate all human sexual expressions and relationships, then you’re going to end up with people who at least claim that their inclination, orientation, whatever, is going to be multiple people. So as you go back in American history, this movement emerged in the 1960s. But you know what? It has a really complicated and weird background. For one thing, I think most Americans, and that includes American Christians, are probably unaware of how religious a lot of this was. So, for example, you have major historical works published by major university presses looking at polyamory as a movement, and one of the things those books document is how the early advocates for polygamy, often grounded it either in some kind of new-age mysticism or in ancient paganism.

As a matter of fact, at one point, that was the main rivalry between those who were in a Christian replacement new-age movement versus those who were trying to go back long before Christianity or even in places where Christianity had not emerged, in order to claim ancient pagan roots. And that means you really had a very explicit, very pagan, very anti-Christian agenda going on here. And just about everybody recognized it. And as you’re looking at this, you recognize you can’t have any vestige of a biblical worldview and polyamory. You can’t have it. But at that point, they didn’t even have the word. And the word really emerged far more recently than you might think as people were trying to do a cosmetic or advertising makeover of this idea of polygamy or related issues. And so polyamory, it came down to consensual polyamory as a way of saying, this is going to be done in the open so that everyone participating knows exactly what’s going on.

Well, you look at the press coverage right now, and it’s being presented as the new thing. For instance, Shadi Hamid, writing once again in this case for the Washington Post. Here it is again. The article has a headline, “Polyamory is changing the way we think about love.” And that’s quite a declaration. Polyamory is changing the way we think about love, because I will argue it’s done no such thing. And as a matter of fact, even as there are those who are saying this is a spreading thing, there is a lot of evidence that it’s not spreading too far. And for one thing, you have to say, “Well, does that mean there are limits on the sexual revolution?” Well, there might be. It could also mean, that if you’re actually going to have a sexual revolution, you don’t even need these rules.

So I just want to say, as a Christian observing all of this and trying to think these issues through from the lens of a Christian worldview, the fact that polyamory now looks like, I think, quite frankly not the shape of the future, but kind of a quaint stupid idea of the past, is that you don’t need polyamory. If you’re going to be totally sexually liberated, then quite frankly you don’t need it. Furthermore, the documented history of the movement that became known as polyamory, well, it’s dotted with, as you would expect as a Christian, all kinds of human wreckage. And it also turns out that even as polyamory is attempting to replace the word polygamy in order to displace male privilege, you know what? It still plays a factor. And that’s where Christians understand that men and women do not have an equal exposure in these relationships. And that’s true physically, and it’s also true relationally.

The fact is, women have a lot more to lose in this kind of situation, and it is simply a matter of intellectual honesty. It doesn’t take someone being a Christian with deep Christian commitment and perception to recognize this doesn’t turn out well. Christians, however, understand, we know the foundational reason it doesn’t turn out well. Rebelling against God’s law, rebelling against the very structures of creation, will lead to disaster.

One of the recent news articles supposedly celebrating all of this, included a woman speaking to her 13-year-old son who was troubled by all of this. And of course, a 13-year-old son is going to be very troubled by all of this. And you just look at this, you recognize this is human carnage. This is, by the way, the old lie of sexual autonomy that is now just absolutely exposed. And I think what’s most important for us right now to recognize is, number one, the truth about the situation. And then secondly, the fact that people are working really overtime on this issue. They’re really putting a lot of emphasis, and they’re putting a lot of activity, and public relations into this because they’re trying to normalize something, that of course isn’t normal, but I think they’re also just way out of step, even with the left wing of their own sexual revolution.

I think, in reality, it’s moved far beyond polyamory. But I go back to the fact that I am absolutely convinced that this is going to show up in court pretty quickly. You’re going to have people making the argument that it’s unfair to limit the supported, socially sanctioned, legally protected, relationship between a husband and a wife, or, now that the courts have acted even to declare something like same-sex marriage, it’s going to be unfair to limit it to two. Very interesting point here, which we need to mention before we leave this issue and turn to something else. The 2015 Obergefell decision handed down by the Supreme Court that mandated the recognition of same-sex marriage in all 50 states. It did something very interesting, and it perhaps wasn’t clearly noted at the time by many.

The Supreme Court, in that decision, which was absolutely disastrous, absolutely contrary to the structures of creation, absolutely contrary to millennia of human experience, not to mention it was invented constitutional law. The other fact about it was less noted at the time, and that is that the court said, that two persons of the same sex should be able to enjoy the privileges and the legal sanction of marriage, which was, after all, two people. Historically, one a man and one a woman. That is biblical, that’s creational, that’s what’s right. But they said, that too can’t be limited to just a man and a woman. It could be a woman and a woman or a man and a man. That was manifest insanity. But written into that decision, over and over again, is the number two.

So it is very interesting that, at least at this point, even as you have New York Magazine, The Washington Post, you have The Wall Street Journal running an article with a headline, “Polyamory.” And I’m not going to read the rest of the headline, even. You get the point. It’s out there, it’s very loud. And even as this is going to end up in court, the Supreme Court is going to have to revisit this question, by going back to something as basic as the number two. But then again, when you think about moral rebellion, if you can mess up marriage as being exclusively the union of a man and a woman, you can almost assuredly mess up the math.

Part II

The Battle Against Creation Shows Up at the Bathroom Door: Utah’s New Bathroom Bill Re-ignites the Fight Over Regulating Restrooms

But next, we talked about Utah just moments ago, and I want to go back to Utah. In this case, it is because Utah has now adopted a law that “restricts access to bathrooms by trans people.” Colbi Edmonds is the reporter on the story for the New York Times, but the important thing is, what’s really going on here? By the way, a subhead simply says this, “Birth gender determines use,” that means bathroom use, “in majority of cases.”

Now, every once in a while, it’s important that we look at this, and it isn’t even important at this point that we go into the details of this legislation. We’re going to just understand what’s going on here because this is huge. There are a couple of things we need to note. Number one, if you have bathrooms, you’re going to have to have some policy. How’s that for a human fact? If you’re going to have publicly accessible bathrooms, you’re going to have to have some kind of rules. And if you are going to have rules, well, the most basic rule is, who gets to go in that door and who doesn’t get to go in that door? All the other rules are really kind of derivative of that rule. And so you have these weirdo things now in light of the LGBTQ revolution. You’ve got all kinds of symbols on some doors as you go into a restaurant, or an airport, or somewhere, and quite frankly, that’s really an indication of the insanity of our times.

But here you have in Utah, this new law that “restricts access to bathrooms by trans people; birth gender determines use in majority of cases.” One of the questions in worldview analysis we should ask is, how recently in human history do you have to go, in order for this to even make sense, even to have the intellectual apparatus to know what in the world is being talked about here? And at this point, it’s important for us to recognize that this issue is newer than the smartphone. If you have an iPhone or something similar, this issue wasn’t understandable in these terms when that was even released as a new product. That’s how new this is.

But this is where Christians need to understand, if this issue is new in the sense that this issue is new, then something is fundamentally broken here. Because men and women have been able to figure out how to go to the bathroom for thousands of years, and ever since there have been the developments of, say, modern plumbing, and let’s thank God for that. If you have the invention of modern plumbing, and the accessibility of something like public bathrooms where you’re putting a sign on the door, throughout that entire process until very, very recently, everyone’s basically known who goes in which door. But the rebellion we now see against creation, against God’s law, against all moral order on this, it’s now reached the point of the bathroom door. And you look at this and you recognize, okay, so the first thing we understand here is that the moral revolutionaries aren’t going to be satisfied until every bathroom meets their specification, bends to what they see as the illusion of biological sex, and instead ends up exclusively with gender identity.

Okay. I don’t want to get too specific here, but I think it’s important. We’re all mature enough. We can do the math on this. You have plumbing that actually is a bit different in those two rooms in a public bathroom, or at least it’s potentially different. And by the way, that’s a matter of efficiency. Without going into other things, we’re thankful for the plumbing, but the fact is that it doesn’t work, it just doesn’t work, all across the board, to confuse this issue. So the first thing we need to note is that this is just absolute deliberate delusion. The second thing we need to note, and this is really important from a biblical worldview, is that the delusion isn’t working. So that’s also really important, because if the delusion was working really well, you wouldn’t have the headline about this law in Utah.

The fact is the delusion isn’t really working. That is to say, let’s just say that you’re the parents of a 12-year-old girl. Do you care who’s walking in that public bathroom while your daughter is in the room? Of course you do. And guess what? You don’t need to draw pictures. You know exactly who should have access to that room and who should not, regardless of their autonomous gender identity. The same thing’s true just across the board. And as you’re looking at this situation, a couple of things certainly come to the Christian mind here. Number one, you can reject biology only so far, because biology’s going to win eventually. And secondly, even as the sexual revolutionaries are quite certain that they can press this and that they’re going to win this, and it’s inevitable that their progressive victory is going to lead to ever more further progressive victories, and even as they say, the trajectory going in only one direction, that trajectory has hit a pretty hard obstacle when it comes to the bathroom door.

So even as you’re looking at this confusion, on the other hand, this is where Christians understand, there’s really more clarity here than many people want to admit. And that gets to another thing, hypocrisy. Absolute rank, undeniable hypocrisy, because there are so many progressives in the culture, so many people who want to be with it, who want to be considered absolutely at one with the direction in the culture. They say they have absolutely no problem with the idea of, say, redefining the bathrooms and allowing, say, a biological male in a women’s bathroom. They say they have absolutely no problem with that, but then they make the decision that they can afford membership in a private club, where they don’t have to face the question. Their kids don’t have to face the question. They can send their kids to a private school where they don’t have to face the issue, they don’t have to face the question.

This is one of the problems on the cultural left right now. You have many people who are absolutely enthusiastically for rules for everybody else. I sometimes think about how I would explain to, say, an evangelical of 50 years ago, why we’re talking about what we’re talking about today. That would actually be, of course, a great challenge, and of all things, particularly challenging when you get to talk about the bathroom.

Part III

The Biden Campaign At Odds with His Administration’s Policy: The Complications of TikTok and the Lure of Technology

But alright, finally for today. There was a day, the good old days when you talked about TikTok as the noise a clock made, but now we’re in a situation in which TikTok means something very different. And you may recall that there are huge concerns about TikTok as a platform. And for the government, the big concern is whether or not the Communist Party in China, because this is a company that has very long standing ties to China and is often described as a Chinese corporation or platform. And in a totalitarian state, that means that the Chinese government inevitably is a threat in terms of especially collecting data. And even as the company’s given all kinds of assurances that that data is not being collected, the reality is the United States government, and in this case, this means the Biden administration has said that TikTok may not be on any government computer. So that’s a pretty big statement. And that also applies to smartphones.

So if you are an employee, an agent, and you are using federal government property, either a computer or a smartphone, you can’t have TikTok on either one. So why are we talking about it? Well, we’re talking about it because you have a headline story in the Wall Street Journal this week, “Biden bids for a youth vote with TikTok clip.” So it turns out that the Biden campaign, is now very much visible on TikTok, while the Biden administration is supposedly very much opposed to it. So now the Biden campaign is advertising on a platform that the very same administration says is so dangerous that it can’t be put on a federal phone or a federal computer. Now, is this just a case of rank hypocrisy, or is this an acknowledgement of political necessity? Because some of the spokespeople for the Biden campaign said, “If you’re going to reach out to younger Americans, this is how you’re going to have to reach them.”

Okay. My point in raising this on The Briefing today is, frankly, not to talk about the Biden administration or the Biden campaign. It’s to talk about how complicated things get, in a highly technological age when you try to say, “This is what’s right and this is what’s wrong.” And then you meet the reality that, “Okay, so that may be wrong or wrong-ish, but if we’re not on there, then we’re nobody.” Or, “If we’re not on there, we can’t win a presidential campaign.” Or, “If we’re not on there, we can’t reach young people with this message or that.” I’m just going to point out there are a lot of Christians who are in the same position. A lot of Christian organizations who are in the same position. Grave, grave concerns about social media, and yet at the same time, they’re coming up with all kinds of plans to exploit it.

Now, I say this because, frankly, I’m president of an institution, of a seminary and of a college, and we’re not on TikTok. We are on other platforms of social media and, frankly, we try to do what’s right on those. But there are those who are saying, “Look, you’re losing out by not being on TikTok. You’re losing thousands, if not millions, of potential viewers. You’re not reaching people. You’re giving that up.” But I simply have to say, these are hard questions sometimes. But I think they’re particularly hard for Christians and particularly hard for Christian parents, because this is where so many people say, “If our kids don’t have access to these things, they’re simply going to be left out.” But then there are others who I think would counter, “Yeah, but there are a lot of arenas in which it’s rather important that our kids be left out.”

According to the report in The Wall Street Journal, more than 170 million Americans use TikTok. And you’ll love this part of the sentence, “And many of them are young.” Yeah, a lot of them are young. In fact, TikTok is very common among the young. Just ask school teachers, just ask parents, just ask others. And I am going to speak to parents here. This is one of those questions that Christian parents must ask themselves, and simply to recognize, there is no way to know exactly what is going into the minds, into the eyes, into the ears of your children, teenagers, and young people if they’re on a platform like TikTok. And there’s a sense in which that vulnerability is found on many other platforms as well. But it is absolutely certain that this is a platform that has basically built itself and designed itself so as to trap the eyes, the ears, and the minds of young people especially, for as long a period of time as possible. And as we know, this kind of technology is never worldview neutral. It just never is.

Back to the Biden thing. I think it’s really important to recognize that, at the very least, the Biden campaign showing up in a big way on TikTok, timed for maximum attention on TikTok among young people, and candidly presented very openly as an attempt to get the youth vote. I think this just points to the fact that it’s going to undercut the Biden administration’s effort to point to TikTok and say there’s a great risk there for the United States government. If it’s a risk for the United States government, for crying out loud, what about for young people? But in this case, the Biden administration has just been caught in a situation that, quite frankly, a lot of people are caught in. It’s just really important that we think these things through before a headline like this exposes the reality.

And just one final word. I think all of us need to recognize that time is slipping away for us to think these issues through, TikTok.

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.

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