Mother and son talking by senior man sitting on jetty by lake at backyard

Friday, February 16, 2024

Friday, February 16, 2024.

It’s Friday, February 16, 2024. I’m Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

Good News: Young Adults Are Close to Their Parents. Bad News: Those Same Young Adults Are Way Behind in Getting Married and Having Children of Their Own

As we get ready to go into the weekend, we tend to look at some things that we think are culturally important and perhaps hit fairly close to home for Christians and listeners of The Briefing. Here’s a headline article in the New York Times. It’s just important that it happened. Just days ago, “Yes, Parents Are More Involved, and Kids are Just Fine With it.” The reporter is Claire Cain Miller. The bottom line of the article is that, given social media and given changes in parenting, you have older teenagers, college students, and even young adults whose parents are far more involved in their lives day by day, sometimes several times a day, than would’ve been the case in the past.

Now, let me just say that part of this is simply due to technology, but there is a bigger issue than technology at work here. Let’s just talk about the technology. I went to college in the late 1970s. I said goodbye to my parents and family. I got into my Mustang, and I drove several hundred miles to go to a college far, far away. I did not really have the opportunity to stop and call. I really did not have the opportunity to stay in touch. No one had my GPS. No one could use Find My Phone. I didn’t have a phone for anyone to find. I did have a CB radio, which at least in theory was going to allow me to call for help if I got into any trouble, and a friendly trucker might come along and be of assistance.

But quite frankly, I got into my Mustang, I headed out, went to college, and one of the big issues was, and I had such a close relationship with my parents, but one of the big issues was that we had a weekly phone call. Back then, the rates went down on Sunday night, and so guess when we had the phone calls? After church on Sunday night, I would call my parents. We had a wonderful phone conversation when the rates were low, and then it was another week before we had a conversation unless something major happened. As I remember my college experience, I don’t remember anything major happening that required a phone call other than on Sunday night. You just saved everything up, hoped to remember it at that time. But that also meant that I was left with making a whole lot of decisions on my own.

It meant that I really wasn’t in a position to ask my parents what they thought about any given issue hour by hour during the day. There was no technology to allow that. Quite frankly, it would’ve been horribly out of step. With the culture of the time, they just assumed that when a kid goes off to college, especially out of state, a long way away, that young person’s going to make an awful lot of decisions, and well frankly, grow up pretty fast. And I think that’s pretty much the way it worked. 

But now, technology really has changed all of that, but the technology is not the only part of the picture. The technology’s changed such that if you had the find my feature on, you can track your loved ones just about all of the time. Not a bad idea by the way, when it comes to married couples and others, all kinds of good things that that could actually represent.

But when it comes to tracking college students or young adults, who are already graduated from college and some who are already married, it’s just a little different. But it’s also a lot different when parents and their offspring are talking several times a day, and when young people seem to be unable to make just basic decisions without consulting home base. So, this does put us in an interesting position, doesn’t it? Because as Christians, we want strong families. We want active involvement between parents and children. Yes, we actually do want that, but here’s the other thing. We also want children to grow up to be adults. That’s the other part of the equation. Right now, that is a huge part of the problem, because young people are not growing up in a lot of ways.

This article simply tells us, that even well outside the Christian world, the fact is that middle-class parents are now just much more involved in communication. By the way, it’s uneven. It is admittedly uneven. Mom gets a lot more calls than dad. Young men over time tend to make fewer calls than young women, but the fact is, those parental strings are still very, very much attached far later into, say, 20s than had been the case in the past. But there is one absolutely explosive paragraph to which I want to draw attention in this New York Times article because it ends with a, “But this” That turns out to tell us a very great deal. Here’s the paragraph, “These close relationships [that means between parents and their young adult offspring, these relationships] don’t seem to be holding back young people from reaching certain milestones of independence. Compared with their parents as young adults in the early 1990s, they’re much more likely to be in college or have a college degree.” That is to say the Pew Research Center found, “They are somewhat more likely to have a full-time job, and their inflation adjusted incomes are higher,” but then, in parenthesis, this telling line, “(They’re much less likely though to be married or have children.)” Boom. that’s just buried at the end of this paragraph in a parenthetical statement as if, “Oh yeah, this is not so important, but it’s just thrown in here at the end, because it’s in the report,” “They’re much less likely though to be married or have children.” One thing that Christians often don’t think about is the fact that when you are looking at the structures of creation, and you’re looking at major creational issues, they’re all interconnected.

When one part of the picture is injured, it has ramifications elsewhere. So, as you look at this, you recognize that if you see the assignment given to human beings, say in Genesis one and Genesis two, and we’re told here, In parentheses, as if this really isn’t all that important, but it’s being thrown in because oh yes, they’re in the report too, that young people though reaching other milestones aren’t getting married and having children. Well, the culture looks at that and goes, “Well, that’s their lifestyle choice.” Christians have to look at that and say, “This is a disaster. This is an absolute disaster from a biblical viewpoint.” If you have people who are delaying marriage and children, even as they’re reaching other milestones, and the society says, “We’re absolutely great with that,” that’s a massive problem.

By the way, it’s a massive problem for the entire society. Just bracket the Christian worldview for a moment. You don’t have enough babies. You don’t have enough people. You have a population implosion. You have a disaster following birth rates. Guess what? Those are the other headlines in the same newspaper. But here’s something else that Christians just need to articulate pretty clearly, okay? So, let’s just say this, God did not make young people this age not to be in a relationship, specifically in marriage. Now, the truth is there are some who are called to celibacy, but the vast majority are called to marriage. You know what? Puberty doesn’t wait for there to be an orchestrated time, and all of a sudden the switch is flipped, and now you got someone ready to be a husband or a wife.

No, we know that the opposite is actually taking place largely because of human health, and that is puberty is not coming later. It’s coming earlier. That means you have sexual maturity. But guess what you don’t have? You don’t have marriage on the horizon for a very, very long time. The fact that it’s not even there for a very, very long time, that is to say not only marriage but children, what do you have? You have a sentence put to the end of the paragraph in parentheses as if to say, “This is probably not very important, but it’s in the report, so we got to cite it.” So, you look at this article, and you see, well, quite frankly, the relationships between parents and young adults. It makes you want to think, “There’s something really positive here to note. I don’t want to fail to note the positive,” very strong relationships between many parents and their teenage college student and young adult offspring.

That is very good. The attachment issues, well, you got to admit they’re attached to it. The failure of some people, young people to be able to reach, say, a good maturity, even in professional terms, that’s a thing, but this article does tell us that’s less of a thing now than it used to be in the past. These milestones are actually being reached by the majority of these young adults. That were studied in terms of this research, but when it comes to not being married and not having children, that doesn’t deserve to be in a parenthesis. And for Christians looking at this development, it turns out that that parenthesis turns out to be the most important sentence of all.

Part II

What About Neurodiversity? — Dr. Mohler Responds to a Letter from Listeners of The Briefing

Well, next, we’re going to turn to questions. And once again, I just have to begin by saying I’m grateful for such good questions from listeners to The Briefing. I want to start out with a question sent in by a mom for her son, who’s a freshman in high school. What I’m told here is that this mom, Joy, has a son who wants to write a science research paper on neurodiversity. Then she asked, “Can you give us a Christian insight into learning or understanding neurodiversity?” By the way, not only Joy, but Matt, thanks for listening. Great idea for a research paper. Here are just some thoughts I would put out there. Number one, a term like neurodiversity is not without ideological commitments, or it is not without a certain agenda.

The agenda here is to suggest that many things that might be described in positive or negative terms should be taken out of a positive or negative context, and simply put into the context of diversity. So, there’s a moral statement that’s being made here. Okay, so is that right, or is that wrong? Well, insofar as it relates to trying to help persons who might be–well diverse on a spectrum, or something like this–I think that’s a very positive thing. So, I just think love of neighbor means that part of it is a very positive thing, and especially as it is truly neurological or tied to, frankly, any aspect of what they call neurodiversity. Well, that kind of kindness is a very good thing, and I think it can even be grounded in an affirmation of human dignity, imago dei.

As you know, one can be neurodivergent or identified as such. We just need to come back and say that individual, regardless of whatever condition, is made in God’s image and is to be loved and respected, as such. But at the same time, we need to recognize that when someone is described as neurodivergent, that means diverging from a norm. This is where Christians also understand that in a fallen world, frankly, I think you can make the argument that in theological terms, we’re all neurodivergent. In theological terms, sin corrupts the way we think. Sin affects every aspect of our lives, so there’s a sense in which biblically defined we’re all after Genesis three, neurodivergent. But, in the context of how the term is used today, it implies a norm and that there are those who deviate from the norm, but they are to be considered within the community of the neurodivergent.

So, there is progress here. Rather than using words that quite frankly are hurtful and harmful, there’s an affirmation here of the personhood of all persons. So, that’s a good thing. One of the problems with this is that when you look at the category of neurodiversity, again, I want to say I think it’s a very constructive development which can be fully consistent with a biblical worldview. We should be thankful for it. At the same time, there’s the problem that things that are not really about neurodiversity will be brought into this under the agenda, because that’s the way it happens with so many other things. So, it’s one thing to talk about, say, neurodiversity, and as you look at persons who might be on the spectrum so to speak, or you look at persons who might have a different form of neurological response to things or a hypersensitivity. I’m not a neurologist, so I’m not going to try to document all the cases that might apply here. 

But this is not a behavioral issue. That’s another problem is that at least in terms of the big questions of morality, let’s just say LGBTQ, you go down the list. So in other words, we can’t just assume that diversity in this context, and what might be described as neurodiversity just covers anything that people might assign to the category for whatever purpose. Matt, I’ve got another thought here. I just want to share from a biblical worldview, and that is that I just have to go back to creation and then the fall, creation and sin. The Bible tells us that God created us in his image, male and female, created he us and made us in his image. He gave us the assignment, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and take dominion.”

So, that’s really important. I think it’s important to recognize that in the Garden of Eden, in God’s perfect creation, there would’ve been no neurodiversity in terms of anything. You wouldn’t need any kind of clinical designations in the Garden of Eden. That means, we trace that diversity to the Fall. As I said already, there’s a sense of which given the doctrine of sin, every single one of us is on some spectrum, because every one of us has had our own neurological system and our own thinking very much affected by sin, but there are persons who, even according to a secular norm, have particular challenges, or particular sensitivities. I have a friend who has a child who has just extreme sensitivities to all kinds of things and including labels in the back of the shirt and anything. You recognize, “Okay, some of this is quite manageable.” There are other parts of it that’d be less manageable. That doesn’t make any individual, any less made in God’s image. So once again, I appreciate the question. Matt, you should share with me what you think as you write this paper.

Part III

Should Christians Watch Sports? — Dr. Mohler Responds to a Letter from Listeners of The Briefing

The next question comes from Timothy. He says, “I’m a young man living in Texas where football is the dominant religion.” He says, “Many of my Christian friends are very invested in watching sports, but I really don’t care for it. I feel like I’m missing this point of connection with many of the guys in my church, but I also feel like watching sports is kind of a waste of time.” He starts out by simply asking, “Should Christians watch sports?” Okay, fair question, Tim. I’m simply going to tell you I am with you in this. I don’t think anyone listening to The Briefing is shocked by the fact that I don’t know a great deal about sports. I’m not a great sports fan, so people close to me would be shaking their head thinking, “That’s not even fully honest.” So, let me just be fully honest. I’m kind of with you in this whole equation. 

But let me just think here as a Christian thinking through Christian history, thinking in biblical terms. Let me just point out that you take the New Testament. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul uses sports metaphors. The Apostle Paul speaks of running a race, and the background to this is the, of course, classical Olympic Games, and that’s well understood. It has to be informative to us at least, that certain forms of athletic competition are absolutely mentioned in Scripture as if they’re just normal, and a part of human endeavor, and a part of what Christians can be involved in without any taint of the world.

So, you have an athlete. The one who is the athlete must compete according to the rules. Life itself and ministry is presented as a long race, and so   that’s used. At the same time, early Christians came to the determination that it was morally wrong to attend the games of the Coliseum and many of the games that were popular in the high watermark of the Roman Empire, which frankly were very carnal and ungodly, and in some cases absolutely immoral, and even murderous. So, you look at that, Christians said, “You can’t do that, but you can do this.” 

And God’s given us different interests and different abilities, and so you asked, “Should Christians watch sports?” I just want to say that’s the same that would be related to almost any other endeavor. Sports can bring out the best. They can bring out the worst.

I know many people who have said their participation in team sports was used by God absolutely to forge their character and their ability. That can’t be wrong in and of itself, just because it appears to be a part of human endeavor, and human activity that like so many other things, like business, is to be done by Christians according to Christian convictions and to the glory of God. We know what is the good, the bad and the ugly in this. But Tim, I guess the other thought I have is this. Sometimes you may be called upon to watch sports with some brothers in Christ. You’re not particularly interested in the sporting event, but you are interested in them, and you’re invested in each other’s lives. Sometimes, that commonality is just really important, because hopefully there’s more to it than just watching the game. My guess is you already know that.

The other side of it is, I think, this is where we as Christians really need the local church. We really need the local church, because if we are engaged in and faithful in all the assignments given us in life, everything will fall into a proper balance and proportion. I don’t think any one of us alone is able to figure that out, which is why we need brothers in Christ to help us to figure that out. Tim, I would just encourage you along those lines. I noticed you say that you live in, “Texas where football is the dominant religion.” Well, that’s a different issue, and it’s not just Texas. I will simply tell you, that throughout the history of the Christian Church, one of the biggest problems is that things that are good in themselves always, and this is not limited to sports, but sports becomes a graphic illustration. They’re always in danger of getting out of proportion, claiming more of us than they deserve to claim. Once again, it’s why we need the body of Christ to help us think these things through and be faithful.

Part IV

What is Virtue? — Dr. Mohler Responds to a Letter from Listeners of The Briefing

Okay, next, a question from Abigail. Abigail’s a sophomore in high school, and she writes she’s involved in classical Christian education. She said, “In seminar, we were recently assigned to ask a few people what their thoughts on virtue are, because we’ve been reading and practicing Socratic dialogue.” Then she says, “I would be really intrigued to learn how you would define virtue.” Well, first of all, thanks for listening. Let me just say that I would define virtue in terms of that which aligns with the character of God, with God’s law, God’s command, with holiness, righteousness, justice, all the moral criteria that are given to us in Scripture. Virtue is alignment in character and in behavior, in language and in demeanor, with those criteria.

I think the scripture reveals them. You have the Apostle Paul talking about if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. That is clearly calling us to a standard, not so much of cultural popularity but of godliness. These are the things that God declares to be virtue, and they are virtuous precisely, because they conform to God’s character and to God’s law. Now, in that sense, the opposite of virtue is vice, and vice is evil. It’s wrongdoing. It’s bad behavior. It is breaking the law of God. I think what’s really interesting, Abigail, and this is an interesting angle to take, you talk about Socratic dialogue. You’re being trained and homeschooled in classical Christian education. I would simply say, isn’t it something that the classical thinkers, the classical writers, classical philosophers, they had the notion of virtue, and they actually did a lot of good with it.

They don’t get to a Christian understanding, because without Christ and without revelation, they can’t get there, but it does tell us that God made us in his image as moral creatures. He also has embedded in the entirety of creation, all the signals of virtue and vice. Such that even the ancient philosophers, they were drawn to make the distinction between virtue and vice, and they were also drawn to praise virtue and to condemn vice. That is not an accident.

Part V

How Do We Think Biblically About Distractions During Worship Services? — Dr. Mohler Responds to a Letter from Listeners of The Briefing

Now, a question coming from a man, a really sensitive question, about the context of the local church and particularly the local church at worship. He writes asking, “How should we think biblically about distractions during worship services?” I appreciate the candor with which this question is asked. It has to do with disruptive children, with noise, with people getting up and down, people in movement during the service.

What about those distractions? He said, “Should I worry about those things? Should members approach those who regularly disrupt services, or is that the duty of the pastor, or shouldn’t we be happy the gospel is being preached, and bear with those things which may distract us?” Good question, sensitive question. Let me give an historical context here, which I think might be important. I think if you were to go to a church from, say, many decades past, go back to the 19th century, early 20th century. I think you’d be surprised by a couple of things. I think we all would be, and number one by how reverent it is, and then secondly, by how loud it is at the same time. It is because humans are actually noise makers, and the younger of us, the more noise we make. Throughout most of Christian history, you really haven’t had a nursery in which there are children.

You really haven’t even had side rooms. You’ve generally had a church room, a church building. I’ve traveled all over the Christian world, and I will tell you that the vast majority of Christian buildings that are built for worship are basically one room, or at least one central room structures. So, evidently, a lot of people were in there, and there were a lot of human bodies, some of them very little and wiggly, and they were making noise. My answer to this listener is I really don’t know. I really don’t know. There’s a balance between order for worship out of respect for the worship of the one true and living God, and there’s respect for the fact that an 18-month-old is 18 months old. And you know what, the 80-year-old that has to get up, that also is just a fact of nature right now.

Now, maybe people are irresponsible, and you get a lot of people together, it’s hard even to know exactly why some people are doing certain things. You might think some parents, you really need to take that child out. By the way, I think that in terms of Christian history have pretty good evidence of that, that happened from time to time, because you can reach a point in which it’s virtually impossible, especially in a small room for communication to take place as, say, the Word of God is being preached. But, the bottom line is I think that if we were to go back in Christian history at almost any previous time, we’d be surprised not by how quiet it is, but how loud it is. Now, I’m really going to go out on a limb here, and say to this listener something that I can’t say with a proof text.

I can simply say I really believe as an evangelical Christian, as a preacher, as a theologian, I really, really believe, that it is good that the little wiggly ones are in worship, that we do not separate them out. I believe so much in the power of the preached Word, that I believe that Word has an effect even on tiny little ears and on tiny little hearts. I believe that being raised in the context of learning how, yes, to sit and be quiet, yes, but to sit for the preaching of God’s word, and to sing the songs the Christians sing together, I will tell you as a grandfather, nothing can make me happier than to see a child on his or her own. And you see the child playing over there, and what you hear is a hymn, a Christian song coming out from the context of worship. There’s something so absolutely right about that.

I think I would say I will trade distractions for little children and those who may have other issues, bladder issues or anything else. I’ll trade those things, for the glory of hearing the preached word together. Yes, do we want to limit distractions as much as humanly possible? But the key word there, I think, is humanly. Alright, well, some absolutely outstanding questions, and a lot more we’ll try to get to in days and weeks to come. It’s just a sign of the times. It’s a part of what it means to live in this world, in between the times, knowing we’ve got a lot of really important questions to think about, and I’m indebted to listeners for sending them. You can send your questions simply by writing to

As we conclude, I want to remind you about Boyce College Preview Day coming up. It’s March 21st to 22nd. I’m incredibly thankful to God for what’s happening here at Boyce College. It’s just one of the happiest things I get to be involved with. Boyce College is one of the most faithful, outstanding educational options for Christian young people looking for a Christian worldview, undergraduate college experience. Every one of those words, really important. That Boyce preview event is March 21 through 22. You can register for the event. You, you can register as a student, a prospective student in your home. Students and parents will join hundreds of other students and their families for the Boyce preview event. You’ll have the chance to tour the campus, learn more about our academic programs, meet our world-class faculty.

I’m looking forward to meeting those who come, and I’ll have the opportunity to speak with you and to you. They’re going to have a special Ask Anything session, by the way, a private one just for those gathered here for this event, and that’s always interesting. You can register online at If you use the code, thebriefing, you can register for free. That’s all one word, by the way, thebriefing. Again, Boyce College Preview Day, March 21 through 22nd, it’s coming up fast. I hope to see you there. 

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 on Monday for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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