Friday, March 1, 2024

Friday, March 1st, 2024. 

It’s Friday, March 1st, 2024. 

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


Part I

Mothers Endangering Their Daughters? Front Page Report from The New York Times Reveals Dangers of Predators on Social Media

Oftentimes when we’re thinking about some of the big challenges of the digital age, we think about technology and its effect on our lives, we understand new areas of vulnerability and we especially understand that there are particular dangers for the youngest among us, but it’s also important to recognize that sometimes these issues unfold in ways that are shocking. For example, this past Sunday, the New York Times had a front page news story, above the fold by the way, that’s a lot of prominence. Here’s the headline, “Predators Lear as Moms Put Girls on Instagram.”

This is a team reporting story for the New York Times and it turns out to be a really, really big story, and frankly, for reasons that go far beyond the interest of the reporters or the editors of the New York Times because our concern as Christians is to look at the deepest level of concern here, and quite frankly, the deepest level of concern is not social media, and it is not girls being put on Instagram as supposed cultural influencers. It’s about a lot more than that.

The story is telling us here that there is a burgeoning market which is attracting an awful lot of adolescent girls and young women in being social media influencers because there is money to be made, there is celebrity to be made, and there’s just a lot of cultural attention that is paid to these girls and young women who are very present on social media, and to put this matter as bluntly as I can put it, are increasingly exposed, and evidently, in a multiplicity of ways, very sadly.

You heard the headline, “Predators Lear as Moms Put Girls on Instagram.” So instantly, there’s a strange juxtaposition. You have predators. I think we understand who those predators are. Those are pedophiles and others who have an inordinate interest, a prurient interest, a horribly corrupt interest in girls and in young women. But the girls on Instagram, the headline tells us because moms are putting them on Instagram. Now, I’m not going to go into any of the details of the article, other than to say it turns out there are an awful lot of predators out there on the internet. No great surprise there. You are looking at a very dark place where an awful lot of people with very dark impulses, seize the opportunity in terms of the exposure of many of these girls and young women on social media, particularly on Instagram. But we understand the moral issue just takes on a radical increase when it’s the moms who are putting their daughters on Instagram.

Now, there are a couple of facts behind this that turn out to be important. For one thing, some of these girls are so young they can’t legally be on Instagram by themselves, or as themselves. It actually takes a mom, it takes an adult to have the legal authority to create the account and thus to function as an influencer.

Second fact, there’s evidently a lot of money to be made here and I think for a lot of listeners to The Briefing, that’s going to be something of a newfound realization. There is a lot of money to be made and there’s also a lot of celebrity to be made, and that’s where some pretty dark things show up, not just with the predators, but frankly, with the moms. Now, as we’re looking at this, it is a particularly urgent issue when we consider the fact that there is a particular vulnerability both to young women, because they are women, and because they’re young, and that just becomes infinitely greater when it turns to much younger girls, and the sexualization of those young girls is a scandal unto itself. Now, as Christians think about this, we really are thrown back in a sense of shock as to how this kind of story develops.

And as I said, I’m not going to go into a lot of detail. The headline tells us just about everything we need to know, “Predators Lear as Moms Put Girls on Instagram.” But I think we know there’s some big issues that are behind this, some of which we have frankly known were there all along. Just to give you another example, just a few years ago a major fashion company put out an advertisement and the commercial featured a mother and a teenage daughter, and the teenage daughter was getting ready to go out of the house and the mother said something like, “You don’t think I’m going to let you go out looking like that, do you?” And the young girl then waited and the mom came over and actually made the clothing more suggestive.

Now, the shock in that is that of course that’s the opposite of what a mom protecting your daughter should do. But there are a couple of things going on here that are frankly very, very important. For one thing, when you are looking at female adolescents and you’re looking at the social status of young women, it has a lot to do with how they see themselves, the picture they have of themselves and the picture they have of their friends and others having of themselves. That turns out to be very, very important. Now, as you’re looking at say, adolescent girls and adolescent boys, there are situations that are common to both and there are situations that are unique to males and females. In this kind of situation, let’s just put it this way, there is no particular headline that cries out, “Predators Lear as Dads Put Sons on Instagram.” That is not a pattern. The pattern is found on the female side of the equation.

Now, there’s some other things going on here. For one thing, this article and similar articles to it make very clear that there’s a particular pattern, whereby some moms seem to live through the popularity of their daughters and the social status of their daughters turns out to be their own personal parental project. Now, again, I think we can understand that all moms are concerned with their daughters, and would want their daughters to be affirmed, their daughters, just to use a common word, would want their daughters to be popular, wants them to have genuine friendships and deepened, sustained relationships. But then when you add the reality of social media, you are adding a vastly increased vulnerability in just about every way because here’s something we know about social media. We know for example, that there are unique personal vulnerabilities on social media where for instance, we know there’s a correlation. The more young people and especially young girls are involved in social media, the greater is the likelihood they’ll also report experiences of depression and emotional turmoil.

I think we can understand that. Frankly, social media is dangerous enough for adults because the reality is an awful lot of mean people come out to play, an awful lot of mean games are played in social media. Now, you could say, “Well, that was true in the hallway of the middle school.” Yes, it was true, but it wasn’t broadcast to the entire world in real time with everyone able to see it and the vulnerabilities made frankly global. Something else is going on here, is the fact that there is an enormous capitalist impulse that is reflected in this influencer category. And of course, we can be very thankful for all the goods that a free market brings and frankly, capitalism is superior to every other economic system. But we also understand as Christians that the opportunity to sell things through our children is a very dangerous stewardship for parents to think about very, very seriously.

We think about our children as consumers, but frankly, this article makes very clear, some of our children are turning themselves into products. That’s a new level of moral exposure and of moral danger. But of course, Christians look at this also recognize the world plays these games and it’s important for Christians to step back and say, “Sometimes we have to look at the world playing this kind of game, recognize the danger that it represents and just be reassured once again that this is the kind of game we can’t play.”

In one sense, the very category of social media influencer, whether male or female, young or old, well, the more we think about it, that’s a pretty dangerous category in and of itself. You’re turning yourself into a brand, you’re turning yourself into a product. And quite frankly, how does anyone know how you’re relating to them in personal terms if everything turns out to be either an actual or a potential influencer category with money to be made? But Christians understand that the problem, as big as it is, in our view is actually bigger.

And so let’s just step back and remind ourselves that a part of our responsibility as Christians is to encourage Christian parents to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. And that means to understand that one of the primary responsibilities of parents is to protect children from harm and turning our children into commercial products, much less sexually enticing commercial products, this is something that just on every aspect, on every turn of the question should raise all kinds of moral concerns among Christians.

But it’s also important to recognize that the entire world around us wants to turn every single one of us male, female, young or old, into a personal brand. This is one of the saddest aspects of our contemporary moment. Social media and the larger technological revolution, the digital revolution threatens to turn all of us into nothing more than personal brands. And you know how brands work, brands rise, brands fall. Some brands are famous today, they’re gone tomorrow. Some brands, they’re basically known now by signs you can find only on the wall in Cracker Barrel.

The reality is branding is a very, very dangerous business, if indeed you’re talking about something you care about deeply. And when we talk about our children, let’s be honest, we’re talking about those that we should care about most deeply and protect most fervently. But there’s also the larger issue of social media, which quite frankly, simply reminds Christian parents of how much is at stake with overexposure, even if it has nothing to do with sexualization, even if the danger is not a predator out there. There’s a danger just in having too much access to and time spent on social media. And frankly, that’s true regardless of age, but it is particularly true in the younger cohort of the population because as it turns out, there is a correlation between social media exposure and emotional harm, and even what teenagers are reporting as their own sense of depression.

So all that to say Christians really do know what our responsibility is. Christian parents understand that we have the responsibility to guard our children. Sometimes an article like this, a report like this which, let’s remind ourselves, the secular world of the liberal New York Times thought was important enough to put on the front page of its most valuable weekly journalistic real estate. If the secular world, even a very liberal world, knows this is a problem, conservative evangelical Christians know the problem is vastly larger than the editors and reporters of the New York Times understand. So as you tuck your children in tonight, pray with them and kiss them goodnight, and don’t post it on social media.

Part II

When Did God Build Heaven? — Dr. Mohler Responds to a Letter from a 3-Year-Old Listener of The Briefing

Alright, next, we’re going to turn to questions. Always thrilled by the thoughtful questions that are sent in by listeners to The Briefing. I wish I could get to all of them. And as you know, I do privilege questions coming in from children and young people. So how about this? A 3-year-old son asks his mother the question, “When did God build heaven?” And so, well, she passed it to her husband who passed it to me, and here’s what the dad said. “My initial thought is to answer, ‘God is still building it,’ based off of John 14. I would also add that heaven has always existed. Just wondering your thoughts.” Well, dad, I think you got it just about right. The Bible says that God is in heaven. Heaven is the abode of God. But it also tells us in John 14, you have the text exactly right, that Jesus said to his disciples that he is going to prepare a place for us. And then he went into detail about what heaven is like.

So there’s a sense in which the Bible says both things are true, first and most fundamentally, where is God? Where’s God the father right now? Where is Jesus the son with the Father right now? They are in heaven, which is the abode of God according to scripture. But Jesus did tell us he’s going to prepare a place for us. And thus, you also have in the Book of Revelation reference to a new heaven and a new earth. And so it is hard for us to put all that together in a timeline, but it is clear that God’s purpose from eternity past, before the creation of the world, was to redeem a people through the blood of his son who would be with him forever in his abode, which would be so perfect in the reign of Christ that it would be described as a new heaven and a new earth. And if it were complete in that sense, Jesus himself said, this is what he said, “If it weren’t so, I wouldn’t have told you so.” And so we’ll take Jesus at his word. Very, very good question coming in from a three-year-old.

Part III

If We Are So Sinful, Why Does God Love Us? — Dr. Mohler Responds to a Letter from an 8-Year-Old Listener of The Briefing

The next question comes from an eight-year-old who asks, “If we are so sinful, why does God love us?” And the answer to that is simply because God defines what love is and he tells us that despite our sin, he loves us as the Bible says, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” And so what a sweet question coming in from an 8-year-old, we are, every single one of us as human beings, unlovable, but God loves us anyway. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” It is not that we first loved God, but that he first loved us and thus we are saved.

But frankly, even earlier in biblical history, it is God’s love for us that explains why he did not destroy all of humanity even after the sin of Adam and Eve. And again, one of the most important things we find in scripture is not just the testimony that God is love, but the illustration after illustration that shows us what it means, text after text that, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” God loved us. “For God’s to love the world,” the most famous verse in the New Testament tells us, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whosoever believes in him might not perish but have everlasting life.” It doesn’t say because the world was so lovable. It says because God so loved the world.

Part IV

Am I Called to Celibacy? — Dr. Mohler Responds to a Letter from a 15-Year-Old Listener of The Briefing

Okay, we go from three to eight to age 15. And a 15-year-old boy, a 15-year-old young man wrote in an extremely honest question, and I am not going to read it in terms of its entirety. I’m simply going to summarize his question. He is a Christian, he is a student in a Christian school, in a worldview class thinking through many, many things and he just gives an honest admission. He thinks about sex a lot. He is newly aware of his interest in sex. And then he asks, he says, “If I am tempted in this way and fear the hurt I may be able to cause to myself and others in a marriage, does that mean God is calling me to celibacy? If God doesn’t call me to celibacy, how does one navigate…” Well, he goes on to ask the question. And simply, I want turn to this young man and say, everything you’ve told me thus far is all the evidence I need to tell me that God has not called you to celibacy. Okay? I just want to speak to you very candidly, man to man here.

I know enough from reading your email to know that I don’t believe there’s any biblical evidence that God has called you to celibacy. Let me tell you what God’s called you to. He’s called you to holiness. He’s called you to obedience. He has called you to fulfill his purpose in your life. And yes, a part of that is denied to you now, but promised to you in the future, in the goods of creation that God has given us in marriage. And I think again, the very fact that you are writing this question and struggling in this way is a very clear indication that God intends for you to be married, and to know all the responsibilities and the joys and the burden that comes with Christian marriage, and that everything has to come in right time. And let me just say that if God did not plant such an interest in a young man, he would never get married.

But God does that and the Bible is so clear and honest about that, but you are called right now to holiness. That’s just a matter of fact, and you know that. That’s implicit in what you’re writing here. So just know that God’s going to use the struggle in your life right now, if you use the ordinary means of grace, the preaching of the word. And as a believer, you grow in grace and you have all the structures of accountability in your life. I believe God’s going to use this in order to make you a wonderfully faithful Christian husband. And I’m going to pray that for you even as I answer this question. And I just want to assure you that there are thousands, indeed, millions of other young men out there struggling in the very same struggle and God has called them as believers into the very same holiness, and I’m going to claim that for you. God bless you. Thanks for asking.

Part V

Is It Wrong Not to Implant Frozen Embryos That Are Not Viable for Pregnancy? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Okay, next, a question coming from a Christian husband, and this has to do with in vitro fertilization or IVF. And we’ve had a lot to say about that of course in the aftermath of the Alabama Supreme Court decision and some related developments. And we’ve talked about the fact that the Christian logic is that life begins at fertilization and thus even an embryo outside the womb is a human person, is to be recognized as such. There is actually, I think no moral option in scripture, but this man writes in and says, “While listening to The Briefing, my wife who is a medical provider posed a question on how you would think about the disregarding of frozen human embryos that are clearly not viable for pregnancy as this is often what falls in the realm of deciding what is and is not acceptable?” “Obviously,” he says, “We disagree with the disposing of embryos as commodities, but would you view the destruction of frozen human embryo that is not viable for life in the womb, similar to your argument that an ectopic pregnancy is not an abortion or is there another way to think about that issue?”

Well, number one, thank you so much for sending in the question. It’s an informed question, but I think it’s actually an easy question in terms of the Christian worldview to answer. This is the problem with embryonic technology. This is the problem. Without the use of that technology, you would not be faced with the moral question of what to do with an embryo that is defined in this case as non-viable or defective. That would be in the hands of God. That would be in the context of the conjugal union between a husband and a wife. It would not be a laboratory question. I don’t think it ever should be a laboratory question.

Furthermore, and your wife is in a good position to speak about this in detail, I think the definition of viable, the definition of say, medically acceptable, I think that’s going to turn out to be very problematic in itself. And so actually, I think this question’s a good question because it throws the larger question into very clear sight, which is without the use of this kind of so-called modern reproductive technology, we wouldn’t be facing this question. No previous generation of human beings faced this kind of question as you look backwards in human history, and we can say for good reason. And this just reminds us again that many technological advances and many dimensions of scientific knowledge, are actually illicit at the very foundation. And this is another sign I think of the problem with the entire world of embryo research and the commodification of human embryos. I’ll just have to leave it at that.

Part VI

What Are Your Thoughts on Sperm Donation? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Okay, A related question came in and it seems we’re on kind of a similar theme. The questions actually came in this way in terms of the pattern this week. A man writes in asking about the donation of reproductive cells. And so without going into detail, we’re talking about sperm and eggs. And then he asked the question, especially about the male gamete, “What about that kind of donation?” And here’s where I want to come back and say the Christian worldview has been really clear about this. And so it’s only in modern times that this gets confused. And I want to go back to a category I used even in talking about the human embryo, and that’s commodification. We are not to turn human beings into factories of commodities. And that’s before you even talk about the type of cell. And that’s not to say that we shouldn’t allow donor organs, it’s not that, but we don’t allow a donor organ, say capitalist market. We don’t allow people to post classified ads offering organs for sale.

But when it comes to human reproductive cells, there is a big market for it right now. And by the way, that market is pretty predictable. You’re going to find it concentrated around areas of medical research and you’re going to find advertisements asking for persons to sell their reproductive products. You’re going to find that very close to American college and university campuses. And I think you can do the math and figure out why. But here’s the other thing people don’t want to recognize. There are now websites where you can go. There are now reproductive technology centers and you can go to their website and you can sort donors for these cells in ways that quite frankly, are the absolute extreme nightmare of commodification.

You want blue eyes, you want sports ability, you want propensity towards being right-handed rather than left-handed? There’s a sorting of all these things by donors. And in some situations there are even, if not the equivalent of photographs, there are very clear physical descriptions so that you can understand exactly where this goes. Now, here’s a Christian principle. Okay? This is a Christian principle, which let’s just say the fathers of the Christian Church would’ve recognized, a medieval theologian like Thomas Aquinas would’ve recognized, and I think you could just go fast-forward throughout successive centuries in the Christian Church. Everyone would’ve recognized this and that is that the only place, the only context in which such cells are to be exchanged is in the union of a husband and a wife. And so that’s it. And that according to the Christian worldview between a man and a woman who are married, there is nothing wrong with that ever. There’s everything right with that. No one has to explain how this cell got there or this pregnancy happened, or who’s the father of whom. It’s all clear within the objective context of marriage as defined in scripture.

And this is a Christian worldview principle. The more you subvert that model, the more you confuse that picture, the greater the moral risk you bring into any situation. And I think we understand that. That’s as old as the Bible in terms of even say a paternity suit or question. But when you’re looking at the sale of human reproductive cells, I think we’ve taken a new dark turn. And I think this is something that a lot of Christians haven’t thought about, or perhaps even more commonly, haven’t talked about because this is a rather awkward conversation, but perhaps especially for that reason, it’s a conversation we need to have. We can make it short, we can make it clear, we can make it fundamental. This should be reserved for marriage. Period.

Part VII

As a Wedding Photographer, What is the Moral Dimension Behind How I Choose Which Weddings to Shoot? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

But finally, for today, a question coming in from a wedding photographer who asks a question basically, “What is the moral dimension of the responsibility of someone who is offering a service like photography for a wedding?” And the writer of the letter very clearly understands that would exclude a same-sex wedding. And so that’s very clear. That’s where a lot of headlines have been made, religious liberty cases are being fought out, and I’m very assured that that’s not what this photographer’s asking about. But then let’s say a non “same-sex wedding,” which means a heterosexual wedding, is there a moral dimension to that?

Well, in one sense, I think the most important thing to recognize is that we as Christians understand that marriages are marriages. Now, again, “same-sex marriage”? No. But defined as the union of a man and a woman according to the law of the land, we recognize that it’s not only Christians who get married. Marriage is a common grace. It’s an institution which is given to all humanities, even a part of creation and creation order. And so the moral risk to a wedding photographer for what you know is actually a wedding and what’s actually a couple that is legally about to be married, I don’t think you have a lot of moral risk in serving as a photographer. Now, the moral risk may come if you’re asked to do something that’s inappropriate, in which case you would have to say no. But you don’t have to somehow theologically clear every wedding that you are about to photograph. You would have to say, “If it’s not a wedding, you can’t photograph it,” and that’s the same-sex problem.

So in any event, there’s a good principle for Christians to think about. The goods of creation are available not only to Christians, but also to non-Christians. The goods of the new covenant are available only to Christians as our inheritance in Christ. And in a fallen world, quite frankly, there are a lot of professionals who cannot qualify their clients confessionally, but nonetheless cannot act in ways that violate conscience. And so I cannot foresee every circumstance you may have to face as a wedding photographer. And quite frankly, some of them boggle the mind. But I can tell you this, it’s not your responsibility to take, say, moral charge of the wedding, so long as you know it’s an actual marriage that is going to be lawfully conducted. I hope that makes sense. What a good question. And an awful lot of Christians in other fields like medicine have to deal with questions like this all the time. And that’s been the wisdom of the Christian Church throughout the centuries. And if there is a violation of conscience, that’s where you can’t go. That’s another very important Christian principle.

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’m speaking to you before a live audience in Santa Clarita, California, and I’ll meet you again on Monday for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

I am always glad to hear from readers. Write me using the contact form. Follow regular updates on Twitter at @albertmohler.

Subscribe via email for daily Briefings and more (unsubscribe at any time).