PRODUCTION - 17 January 2024, Berlin: A four-cell organism can be seen on a screen in the cell laboratory at the Fertility Center Berlin. It is a fertilized egg cell that developed normally on the second day.
Photo by Jens Kalaene/picture alliance via Getty Images

Monday, February 26, 2024

The Briefing.

Monday, February 26, 2024. 

It’s Monday, February 26th, 2024.

Part I

A ‘Hopeful Blob’ or an Image Bearer? The Clash of Worldviews over Definition of Life on Display in Aftermath of Response to Alabama Supreme Court Decision

The unfolding story coming out of the state of Alabama after that state’s Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos destroyed in a laboratory, in what was declared to be an accident, do represent a civil liability. It doesn’t matter where a human embryo is, it is a human embryo.

And Alabama law, the high court reminded the rest of the state and thus the nation, has for a very long time, in terms of the common law, but also in terms more recently, the Alabama Constitution, it makes very clear that unborn children are children.

Now remember, this is a case about civil liability. So, destroying embryonic children, the children outside the womb, it still comes with legal consequence, because it really doesn’t matter where the embryos are found, according to this logic. Wherever they are found, they’re human embryos and thus are to be recognized and protected as such.

Now, the reality is that, that’s an invincible argument. It’s an invincible logic. If you accept that a human being becomes a human being at the moment of fertilization, when God says, “Let there be life,” then you are responsible for all of the consequences and entailments of that conviction.

I just want to point out, that’s what Pro-Life Christians have been saying for decades. We have been saying out loud that, “Our belief, based upon scripture and biblical theology, and based upon the logic of creation itself, we believe that every single human being is made in God’s image, and that human life begins when God says, ‘Let there be life.'”

And we have understood the slippery slope of arguing that there could be some arbitrary point at which you say, “Okay, this now shifts from, maybe life, to potential life, to human life, to personhood, to protection.” That’s the very logic that got us into the horror of abortion in the first place.

That’s the very logic of Nazi Germany, Lebensunwertes Leben, life unworthy of life. But ideas have consequences, and so almost immediately you had the political consequence of people beginning to say, “Well, we don’t want this to interfere with IVF or in vitro fertilization, modern-assisted reproductive technologies.” Immediately people said, “You know, we don’t want to interfere with people being able to have babies. That’s a good thing.”

Of course, we as Christians recognize that’s a very good thing. But we as Christians also understand that morally, we are responsible for the means as well as the ends. Now when this story first broke, I spoke in support of the logic of the Alabama Supreme Court and frankly, I spoke about the consequences that will be then entailed.

We need to recognize that we can’t just insist that a human being is a human being when that human being is convenient for us. That’s the very point of the Pro-Life Movement is to say, this is an objective reality. If it’s an objective reality, then we don’t get to wish it away when that reality is inconvenient, or we have some other priority that comes into play.

Now, the issue of IVF is quite complicated. I’ve been writing about it in terms of moral theology for decades now. There are ways to increase the risk, the moral risk of IVF, and there are ways to decrease it, but there’s no way to eliminate that moral risk.

The very same technology that we could speak of as allowing a husband and a wife to have a genetic child by means of assisted human reproductive technology. It’s the very same technology that is now used by two women or two men. You add to this, surrogate parenting and all the rest, to where now the phrase, have a child is taking on a rather consumerist context far outside the conjugal union of a man and a woman in marriage.

Of course, you have the problem, and it’s just an honest problem. We have to acknowledge, we have what is now acknowledged to be millions of frozen human embryos that are just destined for destruction. So, the very same Pro-Life Movement that’s been saying now for decades that, “Every single life is precious to God from the moment of conception,” well, we’re about to find out if we believe what we’ve been saying.

No one said this was going to be easy, but there’s some interesting political developments in the aftermath of this Supreme Court decision in Alabama. Most importantly, you have former President Donald Trump and others prominent in the Republican Party who had been identified as Pro-Life coming out clearly saying, “Yes, but we don’t want this to interfere with IVF services. We don’t want this to interfere with modern assisted reproductive technologies.”

I just want to point out, you can’t have it both ways. This is a matter that Christians need to think about convictionally. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say it matters when we want it to matter, and it doesn’t matter when we don’t want it to matter.

If the status of that unborn human being is human being, that status is true wherever that human embryo is found. But frankly, we understand that IVF is just, perhaps not the tip of the iceberg, but it is just the first line, of a long line of issues, that we’re going to confront in terms of a pro-life logic versus a pro-abortion logic.

That gets to something else. The Supreme Court in Alabama made this determination about human embryos that had been dropped carelessly by an intruder into this clinical setting, and it was the parents of those embryos, yes, they were identified as parents, not as owners of the embryos. They were identified as the parents of the embryos. They had parental rights that were recognized.

They filed suit against this clinic because of its carelessness. And the state of Alabama, the Supreme Court, validated that as a legitimate claim. By the way, it didn’t adjudicate the claim. It didn’t award any damages. It sent that back to a lower court for consideration, but it did say, “No, these were children.”

The press is making a lot of fun of this, “extrauterine children.” Well, guess what? Guess what? We’re in an extremely limited set of options here. Either that is true or it is false. The Pro-Life Movement’s logic has been from the very beginning to say, that’s exactly what the unborn child is. That’s exactly who the unborn child is.

But politically, this has put an awful lot of pressure in the Republican circles because the Democrats who are running, explicitly on abortion as an issue. President Joe Biden was in Northern California just in the beginning of the weekend, and he took the opportunity of this headline from Alabama, to speak to a fundraiser in Northern California just to say, “You’re going to know which party is absolutely for abortion rights, and you’re going to know which party is absolutely against abortion rights.”

My purpose in saying that, it’s not so much about the parties, although that’s inescapable. It’s just to say that you have a collision of worldviews here, and that’s going to show up in the election, on the issue of abortion. Both sides now acknowledge it’s going to be about more than just abortion.

Just a couple of things. The Washington Post, very liberal newspaper in the nation’s capital. The editorial board of The Washington Post decided to put out an editorial statement on this issue in the aftermath of the Alabama decision.

Here’s the headline. “Alabama might avert an IVF disaster, but the anti-abortion activists won’t stop there.” The headline by the editorial board of The Washington Post is, “You know, it may be that the legislature in Alabama comes up with a way that this doesn’t block IVF. But don’t make a mistake, the Pro-Life Movement is not going to be satisfied until it has its way, and the Pro-Life Movement is a great threat to the health and wellbeing of The United States of America.”

It’s just really interesting to notice that the capital city’s most influential newspaper has just put itself on the record to say, “You know, Alabama may even “avert” an IVF disaster. But don’t make any mistake, these pro-life extremists, they’re not just going to go away.” Very interesting stuff.

The editor said, “An overwhelming national consensus is rapidly making an impact. The episode is much less positive, however in what it demonstrates about the insistence of some on the religious right to roll back progress, technological, social, and legal on matters related to reproduction and reproductive freedom.”

Okay, I didn’t put all that together. They did. Now, in worldview analysis I would say, all those things belong together, but this didn’t come from a conservative Christian. This came from the liberal editorial board of The Washington Post.

They understand that all of these issues go together, and that’s why they say the picture’s less positive even if they fix this, according to the Washington Post, because again, it demonstrates the insistence of some on the religious right to roll back progress.

So, there you understand why the clash of worldviews comes down to very predictable patterns, because you have people on the left, who style themselves progressives, and they believe that history, inevitably points in the arc of a progressivist trajectory. That every once in a while, a group of people shows up and they just won’t go along, like conservative Christians, or as labeled here, the religious right.

Our agenda, according to the editorial board of the nation’s most influential paper in the capital, is to roll back progress. Notice the words they say after that, technological, social, and legal on matters related to reproduction and reproductive freedom.

So, they’re the ones who immediately say, “Okay, this is tied to abortion,” because they know it is, because our opposition to abortion is not based upon the fact that it is aesthetically distasteful. It is based upon the argument that it is the willful destruction of a human being made in the image of God.

Here’s where it’s just a matter of the bottom line. It either is that or it is not. It’s one thing for the secular world to get confused about this. We can’t afford to get confused about this. Very same newspaper, opinion columnist, Alexandra Petri. She wrote a piece, very liberal.

Here’s the headline, “Congratulations. Alabama Court says that embryo is as good as a live child.” That is not what the court said in terms of, as good as, as if that’s even the right moral category. In other words, this is inflammatory. It’s written in such a way that it doesn’t clarify, it confuses. But she really does accidentally clarify.

As horrifying as it is, I want to note her clarification. Here’s what she says. She’s talking about conservative Christians, pro-lifers. “Another thing they never tell you is how deranging it is to try to argue against these absurdities.” Absurdities, like the sanctity of human life. “Someone points at a glass dish with a hopeful blob in it and says, ‘This is a human child,’ and you say, ‘No, actually that’s not a child. That is something significant whose loss will be devastating because it could be a child nine months from now if everything goes well, but ah.'”

Well, we see exactly where she’s going, but I want us to note the vocabulary. She’s the one who said, “Someone points at a glass dish with a hopeful blob in it.” So, here’s the issue. That human embryo is either a human being made in God’s image, or it is a hopeful blob. There really is no middle ground.

Whatever middle ground that might be claimed is artificial and it won’t last for long. But as chilling as it is, I thought it was important to come to this article, and see that language, and just understand that’s exactly what is being implied here. This is a hopeful blob, but a hopeful blob has no moral status unto itself.

If it is somehow lost, well, too bad. If it’s never implanted, or transferred into the womb, if it is simply discarded, if it is judged as genetically inferior and unusable, just discard it because it’s just a hopeful blob.

Well, alright. We’re going to be tracking this story because it’s going to continue to develop, and we’re about to find out, painfully enough how, many people really believed in the truth claims they made about the pro-life argument.

Part II

Of Course We Believe Our Rights Come from God: Journalist from the Left Surprised Christians Today Agree with 2,000 Years of Christian Doctrine

For this, I want to make reference to a POLITICO writer who has also made a recent appearance on MSNBC. Her name is Heidi Przybyla and she’s gained a good deal of controversy and notoriety in recent days because of what she said, trying to warn Americans about the danger and threat represented by the religious right, by conservative Christians.

You know, the left has been doing this pretty constantly. I’m old enough that I can remember, back in the 1970s they talked about the Christian right, the new Christian right, the radical Christian right. Now they tend to use the language of Christian nationalism or other things, but it’s a scare tactic by the left to the left and to the rest of the country.

But Heidi Przybyla has written an article, but what really has gained a lot of attention is the media appearance on MSNBC in which she was basically, talking about the article. She used language like this. This is what she said, “The thing that unites them as Christian nationalists,” not Christians because Christian nationalists are very different, “Is that they believe that our rights as Americans and as all human beings do not come from any earthly authority. They don’t come from Congress, from the Supreme Court, they come from God. The problem with that,” she said, “Is that they’re determining, men are determining what God is telling them.”

So here you have someone who, I think is writing honestly. I’m just going to assume she’s writing honestly, which means she’s writing with a certain kind of, well, breathtaking journalistic naivete and ignorance. Does she not know that this is exactly what historic Christianity has claimed for a millennia? Does she not know that the idea that rights come from God is actually something pretty central to the entire American Experiment and Ordered Liberty?

She thinks that the people who show up doing this are not just normal Christians, because normal Christians are normal Christians. They are Christian nationalists and they’re a threat. She said this. I love this, “I talked with a lot of experts on this, and I have seen it with my reporting, Michael.”

So, this is her response to the anchor. She’s talked to a lot of experts, and these experts have told her that the great threat coming from the religious right is that these conservative Christians, these newly mobilized conservative Christians who are now showing up on the political scene, they actually believe the human rights don’t come from any earthly authority. They don’t come from Congress. They don’t come from the Supreme Court. They come from God.

Now again, this is just the Christian worldview in a distilled summary sentence. Our understanding about human rights is that it is the role of government, not to grant them, not to construct them, not to invent them, but to defend them. The government itself is not the source of those rights.

We speak of constitutional rights as Christians, but that doesn’t mean that they’re invented in the Constitution. They are enumerated in the Constitution as reflecting what is objectively real, long before the Constitution was invented, long before the Constitution was written. Then she goes on to put a name on what she’s warning about, and she says, “This is the so-called natural law.”

Now, the moment she says that, and I don’t know which expert she consulted, but the moment she said that, whether or not she realizes it, she’s just invoked centuries of Christian moral conversation, centuries. This is not something that was invented in some conservative think tank, just a matter of 2024. This is not an idea that came half-baked out of some political campaign. This is one of the deepest traditions of Christian reasoning, and Christian doctrine, and our understanding of Christian ethics, natural law.

Now, we as Christians, particularly as Protestant Christians, we understand that the most important issue is the revelation of God in scripture, but we don’t deny there is a natural law. As a matter of fact, we insist upon it.

There’s a creation order. There’s a reason why every single civilization, whether or not it has the Bible, has come to a pretty clear understanding of male and female. That is because, even though the Bible is extremely clear about why God, to his glory made human beings male and female, you don’t actually need the Bible to understand there is a difference between male and female. Frankly, it doesn’t take a great deal of natural law of sophistication to figure out what it means and why it matters.

But it’s also important for us to recognize that in the long intellectual and political history of The United States of America, natural rights have been invoked from the beginning. As a matter of fact, long before there was a constitution, even long before there was a nation.

Just think of the Declaration of Independence, 1776, when the founders of the American Experiment spoke of those rights which were endowed by the creator. In other words, if that kind of language is Christian nationalism, then our entire political history is steeped in Christian nationalism.

But of course, what you have here is someone in the liberal media who, frankly is suffering from a kind of inexcusable naivete, in which she hears the claim made that rights come to us by the creator. She hears that as if, again, this came up in some extremist right-wing think tank in 2024.

It’s just another reminder of what we are up against, because this particular development, this story, it really combines what we face in the national media. One of the things I realize in dealing with the national media over and over again is that an awful lot of these reporters, and the people active in American journalism, and this includes those in the elite circles of American journalism, they tend to be very young, and they were trained in very leftist contexts, and they have been told things by professors that they just assume are true, or as this reporter said, she’s talked to experts.

So, they actually think what they say is true. That’s perhaps the most frightening thing here. I think this reporter, Heidi Przybyla, I think there’s every evidence, she thought what she said made sense. She thought what she said was true. But of course, it’s one of the most ridiculous mistakes, and it’s intellectually inexcusable, especially when you consider the stewardship given to people who are doing public commentary, speaking to these things, and making these outrageous claims.

But it all comes together, MSNBC, you got that. In our day of highly marketed news, it’s highly marketed to the left, and this is what makes sense on MSNBC. The controversy about these statements, so far as I know has not appeared at MSNBC. It’s appeared in places where that conversation was overheard, and now is being much remarked upon.

Just one big worldview reminder as we think about this issue, if rights don’t come from God and they come from some government, then the government that gives it can take it away. If our rights are not natural rights, if they’re not given to us by the endowment of our creator, then it really is up to some legislature or some court to try to figure out what those rights should be.

But then of course, you know that logic. It’s a logic of, “Okay, who should have them and who will not have them?” It’s a perverse logic. We just need to recognize, once again, what’s at stake? Getting this argument wrong is not a matter of, say a mistake in political science. It’s going to be a mistake that reverberates throughout the entire society.

Part III

They Will Be ‘Labeled as Bigots and Treated as Such’: Justice Samuel Alito’s Words on Persecution of Religious Right Were Prophetic

But finally for today, speaking about mistakes that reverberate through the entire society, one of those mistakes was the Supreme Court decision in 2015, known as Obergefell by which the Supreme Court of the United States, claimed to have invented a right for a man to marry a man or a woman to marry a woman.

At the time, one of the dissenters from that majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito warned that there would be an inevitable collision between religious liberty and this newly invented false right of same-sex marriage.

Well, just last week, in a statement in response to a petition that came before the court, Justice Alito unloaded. And even as he agreed with the majority, that the Supreme Court would not take this case on a technicality, and I greatly regret the technicality, but the technicality is real. Because of the rule of law, I’m going to acknowledge that I think the court acted rightly because of that technicality.

But nonetheless, it afforded Justice Alito the opportunity to jump out and say, “Look, what’s behind this is exactly what I warned about in the Obergefell dissent. What’s happening here is that you had someone who received a punitive action from the state.” In this case, it was the state of Missouri, and it was about impaneling a jury.

The jurors, potential jurors were asked about their religious convictions on homosexuality, and they were struck. Conservative Christians were struck from the jury pool based upon their answer to the question. That’s exactly, Justice Alito said, what he had been warning about.

The New York Times reported this way. “Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. renewed his criticisms of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision recognizing the right to same-sex marriage saying that people who oppose homosexuality risk being unfairly labeled as bigots and treated as such.”

That was Alito’s language back in 2015, “Labeled as bigots and treated as such.” But given this most current issue, the justice said, “Americans who do not hide their adherence to traditional religious beliefs about homosexual conduct will be labeled as bigots, and treated as such by the government.” He just went on to say, “That’s no longer just an implied threat. That is now a real and present danger.”

We just need to recognize that Justice Alito was right in 2015, and he’s right now. The collision between artificially constructed, judicially defined rights, because here’s the most important thing. We don’t believe the Supreme Court affirmed that right, a right that was pre-existent, and what we would call as theologians, ontologically real. We believe that the Supreme Court invented the rights. Thus, it’s a fake right.

But the problem is that the courts will use a newly invented, artificially constructed right, to violate the very real religious freedom and religious conscience of American citizens. Justice Alito and many others, on the Supreme Court in the minority, sad to say, in 2015, understood the threat.

I think it’s very important that Justice Alito said, “Look, we’re not going to let this technical matter before the court pass without recognizing, what we warned about is exactly what is at stake here.”

Part IV

Russia Makes Another Dissident Disappear: The Unsurprising Death of Maksim Kuzminov

But before leaving you today, I want to make mention of what happened in a rural Spanish village just in the last several days, where a former Russian helicopter pilot by the name of Maxim Kuzminov met a very untimely, very violent death.

This is just another example of how totalitarian governments act, how dictators act, how Vladimir Putin acts. It’s also a reminder that there’s a very old Russian pattern here, which is that the enemies of the state tend to disappear, sometimes in a relatively short amount of time.

So, just think of Alexander Navalny and think of some of the other things that have happened just over the last several years, Sergei Skripal. Also, Alexander Litvinenko and others. Think of all the poisons that have been used.

The enemies of a dictator tend to disappear. When you have a dictatorial regime like this, that seems to be clearing the decks, just think of Yevgeny Prigozhin just a few months ago. When a dictator clears the decks, guess what? He clears the decks.

But it’s also interesting to note that several of the victims of Russian assassination attempts, they have been assassinated, or the attempted assassination has been made with some kind of very rare nerve agent, which tends only to have emerged in a Russian military lab.

So, they’re not hiding this. But when it comes to Maxim Kuzminov, let’s just remind ourselves that he was the Russian helicopter pilot who took his helicopter and landed it in Ukraine, defecting from the Russian army in a very embarrassing incident for Russia. He was rewarded by the Ukrainians.

Against all advice, he left Ukraine and went to a Ukrainian community near the Mediterranean, in Spain, where they found him. When they found him, they riddled his body with bullets, and then they ran over him with his own car, and then stole his car in order to make the getaway.

We live in a fallen world. This is just another reminder of the fact that in this world, people who have the opportunity to gain this kind of power will do so. Once they are in power, they will do absolutely wretched things to keep that power. It’s not as if we’ve not been warned.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing. 

For more information, go to my website at You can find me on Twitter by going to For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to For information on Boyce College, just go to

Today’s episode of The Briefing was recorded before a live audience in Aliso Viejo, California. 

I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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