Monday, March 4, 2024

The Briefing.

Monday, March 4, 2024.

It’s Monday, March 4, 2024. I’m Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

France Moves to Enshrine Abortion in Its Constitution: Deadly, Dark News Coming from France, Citing Dobbs Decision

When you have a constitution, you have an entire constitutional tradition, a constitutional form of government, and that in itself is a sign of the modern age, and in particular, the emergence of nations such as the United States of America as a constitutional republic. But when you change a constitution, you’re making a major statement, and a major statement is being made right now by France. The French Parliament is meeting even today in order to consider the final process of amending the French Constitution to put abortion rights in the French Constitution.

Now, here’s the amazing thing. They’re actually citing the Dobbs decision by the United States’ Supreme Court as a rationale for why France is going to put abortion rights in the French Constitution. It’s already passed both houses in the French Parliament. It has the active support of French President Emmanuel Macron, and it represents a next step. It also represents an urgent warning to the pro-life movement in the United States of America. Because even as the Dobbs decision in 2022 reversed the Roe v. Wade decision, the atrocity of 1973, in which a majority of the Supreme Court just invented a woman’s right to abortion, grounding it in an invented right, they called a right to privacy, the fact is that what France is about to do is what the pro-abortion movement in the United States will insist must be done. You need to understand the dark logic of this. The dark French logic is that if there’s any question about whether or not the French Constitution includes a right to an abortion, let’s just go ahead and explicitly put it in the Constitution.

Now, a couple of things that are important to know. There is no real risk to abortion rights in France. The fact that this constitutional amendment is passing overwhelmingly in both houses of Parliament with the support of the French president just shows this is a made up crisis, but it’s a very telling crisis because this also tells us that what France is doing is to enshrine abortion as a central right.

Now, as a part of the French parliamentary debate, there was the question of language. Is this to be referred to as a woman’s freedom to have an abortion or a right to have an abortion? There’s a lot of loaded importance in those words. Eventually, the French Senate has decided on the language of abortion rights being a “guaranteed freedom,” put that in quotation marks, a “guaranteed freedom.” In other words, they’re saying it’s absolutely basic. So if you put something in the Constitution, you’re saying that this is a fundamental right upon which the Republic is established. That is very clear when it comes to the Constitution of the United States of America. The things explicitly mentioned in the Constitution we consider to be constitutive of the United States of America. Now, what we see in France is the fact that the pro-abortion movement has moved to a next stage of logic, and that next stage of deadly, dark logic is to say, “We’re going to put this right in the Constitution as if it is constitutive of the very existence of the French Republic.”

Now, there’s a lot for us to consider here. It did pass overwhelmingly in both houses of Parliament, and the situation is considered so important. Remember, there is no emergency if you’re pro-abortion in France. To the contrary, there’s very little risk to abortion rights as enshrined in French law. But this is a publicity stunt in one sense, but it’s not just that. It’s far more than that. This is indeed the elevation of abortion to a fundamental right in France. Senator Mélanie Vogel, one of the main backers of the bill in the Senate said, quote, “It’s no longer a fight. Now it’s a victory. It’s an extraordinary message that France has just sent.”

Now, that tells you a whole lot. In other words, this is a political act. It’s being taken as a political act in order to send a signal, and the signal is that the way to enshrine abortion rights and to take the next step in the formalization of abortion as celebrated in the culture is to go ahead and put it in the Constitution and then announce it’s so basic it is constitutive of the Republic. As I say, with the big warning to pro-life Christians in the United States of America is that you can count on this being proposed here. Now, it’s a more complicated process to amend the US Constitution, but quite frankly, the pro-abortion movement now sees this as a winning struggle. Not only a struggle they’re going to win, but a struggle they win by fighting. You have the Democratic Party in the United States that is increasingly vocal about the fact that it sees abortion rights as a major winning issue at the state, and the local, and the national level, especially focusing on the 2024 presidential election.

So you look at this and you recognize here you have a very dark logic. The pro-life movement in the United States worked for almost a half century to reverse the Roe v. Wade decision. That happened, constitutionally, by action of the United States Supreme Court in an important and necessary decision, the Dobbs decision, handed down in June of 2022. Now we understand we are in the fight of our lives for the sake of the unborn. We’re in the fight of our lives against the logic of abortion.

In the United States, the division is now largely actually between states. You have red states and blue states. You have the more liberal states that are actually becoming ever more liberal on the issue of abortion. More on that in just a moment. You also have pro-life states that are becoming, in many ways, more consistently pro-life in legislation. Here’s where Christians understand, that the logic of abortion, and the logic of life, eventually do compel you towards the next step and the next step and the next step. So we’ll be tracing that as it unfolds in the United States, but we do need to recognize what just happened in France is a thunderclap. It is absolutely massive. The French are proud of it. They’ve even called a special assembly at Versailles. How is that for symbolism? But this is a thunderclap they intend to send, and it’s one we had better understand as we take full account of the scale of the challenge that is before us now.

Part II

Walgreens and CVS Join the Culture of Death: Two Giant Chains Announce They Will Carry Mifepristone

Meanwhile, we come back to the United States, big headline news where two major pharmacy firms with massive cultural and commercial reach have both announced they are going to carry mifepristone, the so-called abortion pill, in order to make abortion more readily accessible. The New York Times broke the story just as the nation went into the weekend telling us that Walgreens and CVS are now, as chains, both going to cooperate in complicity with the culture of death by making the abortion pill as accessible as possible.

This was made possible by federal change, but now it’s going to be represented in these two giant commercial chains. That means they think this is in their best interest. In this case, it’s really interesting that both of these companies say they don’t expect this to be a big financial issue. So that tells you what they’re doing is making a statement about their business model in moral terms. They’re basically telling us, that if they’re not going to make a bunch of money out of it, then they’re trying to get a lot of cultural capital out of this announcement. You can understand, given the pressure coming from the left, from the pro-abortion movement, and from big states, like New York, New Jersey, California, Illinois with massive pro-abortion governments, you can imagine this is probably what they see as being in their corporate best interest. It’s a very dark development here in the United States.

Now, at the same time, you also have as I said, you have the more conservative states, more pro-life states on the one hand, more liberal states, more pro-abortion states on the other hand. Does this mean that CVS and Walgreens are going to be selling the abortion pill in contravention of, say, the law of the state of Texas or in violation of the law of the state of Alabama? No, they say they are not going to do that, nor will they cooperate with making these pharmaceuticals, the abortion pill, the pill of death for the unborn, making it available in those states by some form of subterfuge.

But here’s a very clear worldview principle that is at stake. When you have a development like this and people say, “We’re going this far and no further,” it’s often breathtakingly a short amount of time until they do exactly what they say they’re not going to do. So even as both CVS and Walgreens have said, “We’re going to basically work not to violate the law in these pro-life states with the legal restrictions,” the fact is you can almost count on the fact that will not last.

Also, just in terms of biblical analysis, let’s consider how insidious this announcement really turns out to be. Because when you think about a pill that leads to the abortion of a human baby in the womb, when you look at that, it basically is the creation of what you might call, in another context, a human pesticide. When you think about the meaning of that, the moral shock of it should wash over us because we as Christians, just in terms of our biblical commitment, we need to name things for what they are. We need to understand what this really represents. This is a death pill for the unborn.

Now, another very interesting development has come in recent days on this question. The New York Times, no surprise here, and just remember, the interesting historical note that at the end of the 19th century, the early 20th century, the New York Times built its subscription in a war against abortion. It got over that. Now it is, of course, representing the abortion Left in the United States, and that shows up in its news coverage. How’s this for a headline story? “Telemedicine abortion services are as safe as visiting a clinic, study finds.” Okay, a worldview analysis, journalistic even analysis, we need to think about this, when someone says, “Experts say…” you need to develop the instinct to ask, “What experts? What makes them experts? What’s the worldview represented by these supposed experts?”

You also have the other symptom, and it shows up in this headline, “Telemedicine abortion services are as safe as visiting a clinic, study says.” Well, what study? It turns out that many of these studies are actually undertaken by organizations that are very ideologically committed. You trace back and you’ll discover that this is a study that’s actually undertaken by, say, the Alan Guttmacher Institute, very pro-abortion. It’s not to say that everything they say is false and every study they release is tilted. It isn’t always, but you do know where they’re coming from. Or even more crassly you’ll sometimes find, well, it’s basically Planned Parenthood or another very abortion-involved, pro-abortion organization that’s behind this study. Or it is a group of academics or a think tank in complicity with the pro-abortion movement.

But in this case, I want you to note, I want to draw attention not so much to what’s in the article, but what isn’t in the article. Pam Belluck is the reporter in the article, and this is how it begins. Quote, “Taking abortion pills prescribed through telemedicine and received by mail, a method used by growing numbers of abortion patients, is as safe and effective as when the pills are obtained by visiting a doctor, a large new study found. The method was about 98% effective and was safe for over 99% of patients, the study reported.” Well, I’m not here to argue with the numbers or about how they defined safety in this case for the women. It’s clear that this is in the service of the pro-abortion movement. What I do want to point out is the use of the word safe. “Telemedicine abortion services are as safe as visiting a clinic, study finds.” Safe for whom? I’ll tell you who it’s not safe for. It’s not safe for the unborn child. It is not safe for the inhabitant of the womb.

That just shows you something else. It’s actually extremely important in a worldview analysis, and that is that the moment you bring the unborn child into the equation, you can’t write a headline like this. You can’t talk about abortion like this, as if the only person involved in abortion is the woman, in this case an abortion patient. The euphemism goes all the way back in the early modern age, even most classically demonstrated in Nazi Germany, where the extermination of peoples was justified with the phrase, Lebensunwertes Leben, life unworthy of life. So if you deem life unworthy of life, then it’s no longer even morally significant if you bring about the end of that life. That is the logic of the pro-abortion movement. It is the logic of the culture of death. When we see it, we need to name it and recognize it for what it is.

One final abortion story from here in the United States. It is also interesting to see that an increasing number of pro-abortion states are adopting what will be known as shield laws to protect providers in those states from any criminal prosecution in states where abortion is illegal and those medical professionals are complicit in abortions in those pro-life states. Again, you see what’s going on here. We talk about an alignment of one side and then the other side in this cultural battle. We hear the conversation, and it’s been very common in Christian conversation but even in secular conversation, about the Right and the Left for the last, say, 30 to 40 to 50 years about a culture war. But you really are looking at an alignment here. You’re looking at the pro-abortion states actually taking action related to trying to curb the decisions undertaken by pro-life states. Both sides do understand this is a fight to the finish. It’s a fight over ultimate issues.

Part III

The Sexual Revolution Hits Legislative Roadblocks: States are Pushing Back Against the ‘T’

But next I want to turn to another issue that is, of course, front and center here in the United States. When you look at the LGBTQ array, I think we all understand both sides in this controversy, in this culture war, understand that it is the T that is most complicated. As a matter of fact, the logic of L and G and B is actually a very different logic than T. It’s for political purposes that LGBT and Q and whatever follows are put together.

USA Today is a very interesting barometer of American popular culture. It’s not a very deep newspaper. It was, say, a generation ago, when it emerged, referred to as McPaper, like a McMuffin or a Big Mac. It’s kind of fast food media. But it does tell us a lot about the culture. So it’s not so important as a news unit as it is about a news barometer that tells you something about the culture. So here’s a front page article that recently appeared in USA Today. “Anti-trans legislation continues to flourish.” USA Today is very leftist on so many of these moral issues. They champion the LGBTQ cause even beyond or, I should say, at least with an obviousness and a blatant character that you don’t see in all the media all the time. In this case, the article on the front page of USA Today refers to any law that, for instance, would say, “Only males can use a men’s bathroom, and you can’t have a biological male on a girl’s swim team.” That’s now all dismissed. You understand the propaganda value of this. This is just now all dismissed as anti-trans legislation.

So one of the things to watch in analysis of the way the conversation goes on around us is that when people put anti in front of something, they are positioning that issue. In other words, the right position would be not anti-trans, but pro-trans. Anti-trans is an effort to put an argument against the logic of the transgender non-binary movement as the aberration or the wrong that needs to be righted. That’s, of course, the perspective behind this. The interesting thing about this is that, I think when the average American reads this kind of article, they are unpersuaded by the transgender logic.

This is one of the interesting things, and we’ve talked about this before, we’re going to have to trace this, at least for the foreseeable future, the LGBTQ revolution had been going along like a steamroller, like a steam engine, a railway. It had been gaining speed almost as if it were going up a mountain still gaining speed, much less when it was coming down a mountain. But the transgender issue is a significant speed bump for the LGBTQ movement. That’s because, even though you have a lot of people who want to be totally liberal, they want to be totally with it, they want to be totally progressive, they’re not ready for a boy in their daughter’s locker room. Even as they think themselves completely right-minded and entirely for everything cool, progressive and non-binary, they’re still not completely comfortable with a biological male in a woman’s swimsuit standing there taking the victory medal, and of course, when it comes to bathrooms and all the other things.

The most interesting thing is that, well, for instance, a news story recently came and the New York Times runs a headline, and this is on an internal page, so this is not the front page, but inside the newspaper, how’s this for a headline, “Long Island County bans trans-women athletes.” This is just in the last few days. “Long Island County bans trans-women athletes.” This is not Birmingham, folks. This is not Lubbock, Texas. This is Long Island. This is New York State. So in other words, the New York Times has to come to terms with the fact that this isn’t a bunch of yokels out in red state hinterlands. These are people on Long Island.

Indeed, the state government in New York says that it is going to oppose this restriction. Who knows, given the laws of New York and the politics of New York, exactly how this turns out. But it is very telling that now you have a county on Long Island in New York, which is, “Making more than 100 facilities off limits to athletic organizations that allow transgender girls and women to compete on teams that match their gender identity.” So in other words, only girls and women on girls and women’s teams on Long Island.

But next, something very similar has happened in the state of Utah. Again, the New York Times’ headline, “New Utah law restricts access to bathrooms by trans-people,” the subhead, “Birth gender determines use in majority of cases.” Colbi Edmonds is the reporter. The article begins, “Utah will prohibit transgender people from using bathrooms in public schools and government-owned buildings that align with their gender identity after Governor Spencer Cox signed a bill on Tuesday imposing the restrictions. The bill, House Bill 257, which passed the legislature last week, set sweeping restrictions for transgender people.” The bill, by the way, was known as the Sex-based Designations for Privacy, Anti-bullying, and Women’s Opportunities Bill. Only the government could come up with that.

But here’s the point. Once again, you have a headline, and evidently the anticipated response to this headline is, “That’s horrible.” You have the headline, “Anti-trans legislation continues to flourish.” People are supposed to say, “That’s horrible.” It turns out there’s widespread support for this legislation even in unexpected places. The New York Times again runs a headline. “New Utah law restricts access to bathrooms by trans-people.” The anticipation on the part of the liberal media is that Americans will look at that and go, “That’s horrible. We’re not going to go along with that.” When actually, in this case, the people of Utah are pretty certain that’s exactly what they want. What really frustrates the left is that people, even in places like California and even on Long Island actually, have a pretty good idea of the distinction between boys and girls, men and women, and the fact that that actually does matter.

Now, one of the interesting things we see playing out in the society right now is that we have people on the left… You can have hypocrisy anywhere on the ideological spectrum, and we as Christians need to recognize that wherever it’s found, but we really do have a very interesting pattern right now. People on the Left say, “I am entirely for this,” then it turns out, meaning the LGBTQ revolution, then it turns out that they are paying extra money so that their daughter can actually play on a girls-only team, or they’re arranging their lives so that even as they support this kind of progressivist legislation, it’s not going to affect them. It turns out that even liberal parents are pretty certain, at least the vast majority of liberal parents, are still pretty certain about the distinction between boy and girl, and men and women.

So it’s just important to recognize that what’s going on here is an attempt to turn the universe morally upside down. In moral rebellion, human beings are capable of enormous denial of reality, an enormous embrace of the lie, an enormous expansion of confusion. But every once in a while, you see a rebellion that meets a kind of real limit, and I think that’s happening right now in the transgender question. I think the big question as you look to the future is whether or not the current, say, speed bump on the transgender revolution, if that leads to a rethinking of more fundamental issues or if it just leads to what will be seen in retrospect as a brief pause in the forward progress of the LGBTQ revolution.

That just reminds us of the fact that when you say LGBTQ, the not only politically correct, but I think morally correct way to conclude that is with that plus sign, because we all know it’s not going to stop with L and G and B and T and Q. Already in many campuses and in many situations in corporate America, you already have more letters that we’re not going to go into today that are listed in that sequence.

A society in moral rebellion just continues along one of two paths. It either moves into a deeper and deeper rebellion, or there is some means of correction. There is no sign right now of any true means of correction in terms of the moral confusion of our time. We as Christians have to keep on, not only living by the truth, but speaking in defense of the truth and teaching the truth and bearing public witness to the truth. At least at this point, it appears that the other side is winning all the big battles.

But a couple of things we need to keep in mind. Number one, In fact, I’ll say there are three things we need to keep in mind. Number one, it really is important that we are as persuasive and active and as effective as possible wherever the Lord has us because there is a distinction between Utah in this case and, say, Portland or Seattle. That’s not to say Christians in Portland and Seattle will stop talking about the truth. It’s just to say we understand the political cultural reality is different in some places.

The other thing is, we need to recognize that we need to speak into situations where just a word of honesty or clarity can be like the proverbial boy who says the emperor has no clothes, because all of a sudden someone just speaks the truth, and the truth just shines out in its obvious reality, in its obvious truthfulness. I think sometimes that happens when, say, the media puts up a picture and says, “This is real. This is normal. This is a girl,” and any honest person looking at that picture goes, “No, it’s not.”

The third thing is Christians are called to live the truth and to speak the truth, teach the truth, defend the truth, and also to seek, insofar as is possible, to influence a system of laws and government that will lead to human flourishing and respect for God’s order. But at the same time, we understand that this is in the Lord’s hands. The rebellion that we’re talking about here, it’s not just a rebellion against moral convention. It’s not just a rebellion against a political order. It’s a rebellion against creation, and ultimately, it is a rebellion against the Creator. And you know what? The Creator to his glory will vindicate his creation. That’s going to happen, maybe later rather than sooner, but Christians have to live in the sure and certain knowledge that that correction will happen.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing. 

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I’m speaking to you before a live audience tonight in Kingsburg, California, and I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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