An activist holds a poster as hundreds of activists, allies, and members of the transgender community gather at Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Park in Old Strathcona, protesting Premier Danielle Smith's proposed LGBTQ2S+ legislation and opposing legislation affecting transgender and non-binary youth, on February 03, 2024, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Protests ignited after Premier Smith's recent announcement to restrict vital procedures for transgender youth, sparked by a social media video mandating parental notification and consent.
Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

It’s Wednesday, March 13, 2024.

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


Part I

The Moral Case for Letting Kids Change Their Bodies? Trans Activist Presents Radical Argument, Directed at Our Children

Well, it’s happened. This week a cover story appeared in New York Magazine and here are the words on the cover: Freedom of Sex. Then the smaller words: The moral case for letting trans kids change their bodies. The author of the cover story is a transgender writer named Andrea Long Chu, but this kind of article doesn’t come out of a vacuum. We need to understand that. We’re going to look at the article. We’re going to look at the argument. We’re going to look at what this means in terms of our cultural moment and the response from a Christian worldview. But when I say we did see this coming, I mean frankly we did see this coming. We’ve all known that this question is pressing upon us. It’s pressing upon the courts, it’s pressing upon the schools. It is pressing upon the medical profession, and it’s also pressing on American parents and on the church.

Well, when we saw it coming, we knew that the background of this is the relentless energy of the sexual and moral revolutionaries who’ve been bulldozing through the culture. And let’s face it, they have broken down one moral barrier after another, and all in the name of moral liberation, sexual liberation. Their entire theme is liberation. Let’s remind ourselves how it happened.

First of all, you had the normalization of premarital sex, and then after that of extramarital sex. Adultery became just an affair and an entire system of sexual morality cracked. But after it cracked, it broke. Divorce law was also a part of this in terms of the liberalization of divorce and the weakening of marriage, but within a matter of mere decades, marriage was redefined. Humanity’s most basic institution was, well you know their words, expanded to include same-sex couples.

Meanwhile, it’s important to remember that simultaneously there were efforts to normalize homosexual behavior. I’m using that word very carefully because that’s exactly how it was presented. The presenting issue was not only classified as homosexuality, but it was overwhelmingly identified with male homosexuality, and the calls were for normalizing first of all, or decriminalizing homosexual behavior among consenting men. Then it led to, of course, what became the LGBTQ movement and a demand not only for decriminalization but for legal recognition. Eventually that meant same-sex marriage. You had marriage redefined so that it could include a man and a man or a woman and a woman.

So as I say, the sexual morality didn’t just crack, it broke, but the revolutionaries also went for broke. And so even as they gained same-sex marriage and they were gaining so much ground on virtually all these issues, even as the LGBTQ+ movement advanced and expanded, there was a very clear understanding that the gender binary could simply be undone in society. That the transgender movement would press forward inevitably, and that it would lead to other forms of what were described as liberation, and that would include polyamory. But hold that thought. Let’s go back for a moment. Something happened on the way to the transgender victory. Americans began to rethink that question.

Now, for biblically minded Christians, this is a very interesting question, it is one we need to understand. Why is it that when you think of the LGBTQ movement, it’s the T that has become the big issue of cultural resistance? We’re living in a time in which quite frankly most Americans seem to have just accepted to some degree the L, the G, the B, but increasingly not the T. There is a complete rethinking the revolution when it comes to the transgender movement was advancing exactly like the LGBTQ movement demanded, but then it slowed down and now arguably, at least in some dimensions it has reversed.

Now even thinking about the transgender issue, I think something very interesting with vast worldview implications has appeared. I think Americans are now making a pretty clear distinction between say, a 35-year-old or a 60-year-old showing up and claiming transgender identity, and a 12-year-old or a 17-year-old. I think most Americans understand, those are two radically different situations.

You know on the first, it is simply a matter of observation to note that Americans seem to have adopted something like a libertarian view on the larger transgender movement when it comes to adults. But I want to state even there, I don’t believe most Americans, even most secular Americans have really bought into the transgender ideology, but they bought into the idea that they have to look like they bought into the ideology. And so I would argue that even though they are not proponents of any kind of legal limitation, they still raise their eyebrows and kind of shrug when they are face to face with a very clear, if rather surprising transgender claim.

But where the ground has shifted the most has to do with minors, which is to say with children and teenagers. And there has been some pretty immediate and urgent rethinking here, and that tells us something about what’s going on in the society. It tells us that, for example, even a society that basically signs on, pretty officially you might say in the courts, in the media elites, in the larger culture, on the campuses. Even where there has been largely an eager sign on to the total agenda, it begins to fall apart when you actually talk about interfering with the hormonal development of adolescents or tampering with the bodies of children or doing surgery on teenagers. That turns out to be a matter that Americans are not only rethinking, but others are as well.

In Britain, the National Health Service is shutting down its Tavistock clinic, which was officially for gender transition when it comes to adolescents there in Great Britain. And that decision came as the British medical establishment began to say, we’re rethinking this entire equation. We’re not sure we are helping these teenagers or if we are harming them. And so out of concern that there is harm. And of course, Christians would understand that’s exactly what you’re doing, even as the medical establishment is asking that question. And by the way, that question is going to fall on the American medical profession even as they are resisting it. I believe they’re going to be severely judged for their complicity in what amounts to an assault upon America’s children and young people.

Even in Scandinavian countries and in many more liberal European societies, there is a rethinking of the transgender agenda, particularly when it comes to children and teenagers. But that takes me back to that cover story in New York Magazine because it is a major development. And in that cover story, Andrea Long Chu acknowledges the problem. I’m going to cite the author’s words: “But a growing majority of Americans also believe gender is determined by sex at birth, and even more, almost 70% oppose puberty blockers for trans kids.”

Now, let’s be clear, Chu is against this belief. Chu is an avid proponent of the transgender movement. Chu is transgender. So Andrea Long Chu sees it as a problem that “a growing majority of Americans also believe gender is determined by sex at birth.” Now, I want to stop there for a moment and just look at those words, “a growing majority of Americans also believe gender is determined by sex at birth.”

I’ll go out on a limb here and say I don’t think there’s ever been a moment in which a majority of Americans didn’t believe that. Even as they may have answered differently to polls, it is clear, even to Andrea Long too, that a growing majority of Americans believe that gender is determined by sex at birth. By the way, that is not an unusual position. That is the position held by, let’s just say, billions upon billions of human beings from the beginning of time, beginning with Adam and Eve all the way up until very recent times. And even now, as this author says, a growing majority hold to that belief. And almost 70%, Chu says, are also opposed to using puberty blockers for trans kids. And of course that also includes children.

We’re looking at a massive issue here and we’re also looking at a very insidious argument. But before we turn to Chu’s own argument, the cover story in New York Magazine, I want to suggest that a reconsideration on these questions is happening not only in Britain but also in the United States. We’ve gone a long way from the Atlantic running a big story in 2018 with the headline: “When Children Say They’re Trans.” In more recent times, it’s interesting that two of the nation’s most influential newspapers, the New York Times and the Washington Post have both run major articles that quite frankly drew the ire of the transgender revolutionaries.

First of all, Pamela Paul writing at the New York Times offered an article with the headline: “As Kids, They Thought They Were Trans. They No Longer Do.” So Pamela Paul was talking about the pattern of detransitioning. That is to say you have young people saying, “I transitioned,” claiming to change from male to female or female to male, however, it didn’t work. And so as these young people got just a little bit older, they have rejected their transition and they have, here’s the new word, detransitioned.

Now, Pamela Paul’s point is quite clear. What is society’s complicity in this so-called transitioning if the very same young people in whose name for whose health it has claimed these transitions happened? When they say it was unhealthy and they’ve transitioned out or detransitioned, this raises huge issues. And obviously it does, but this is where Christians understand that biology is a really hard thing to overcome, and that’s because of the very order of creation. And as it turns out, there’s some people who seem to have the self-perception that they can hold over time that they are not their birth sex when it comes to adolescence, which is after all, we all know an identity crisis in and of itself.

When you have adolescents who are transitioning, we shouldn’t be surprised, even though we should be horrified that they were ever encouraged to transition in the first place. We shouldn’t be surprised that there are those who transition on the other side. Let me ask you who are post adolescent an honest question. How many of you are doing as a vocation exactly what you thought you would be doing at 14? You might be, then again you might not be. Indeed, I sort of doubt you are. And we’re talking about an issue there that is a lot more understandable in terms of change, let’s just say the least from a biblical worldview, than what we would call gender identity.

The second article that appeared again in the mainstream media was by Megan McArdle, and it appeared just a matter of days ago at the Washington Post. Again, the headline tells you a whole lot. Here’s the headline in the Washington Post article: “When treating transgender youth, how informed is informed consent?”

Well, remember the word consent has become so huge. It is actually the only word that’s left in the moral vocabulary of a lot of people on the progressive Left. That is to say anything should be legitimate so long as there is legitimate consent given by all the parties. But even those on the Left have understood that’s a very flimsy argument. And so they’ve come back to say, well, consent doesn’t even fit certain situations, such as employer, employee. It doesn’t fit certain situations where there is a power differential. It doesn’t apply to minors just saying that these are consenting people. That that’s not going to cut it when it comes to the courts, to the police, and when it comes to moral consideration. But of course, Christians understand that consent, though important, can’t be the foundation of understanding what is right and wrong, legitimate and illegitimate in a world in which instead we are defined by the Creator and instructed, commanded by Scripture.

But Megan McArdle’s piece is important because she really does raise, even that headline is so crystallizing, when you’re talking about informed consent, when you’re talking about this hormonal treatment, much less surgery, just how much consent is a 16-year-old able to give? Because even as McArdle recognizes, they’re an awful lot of people who at that age think things they’re going to unthink rather quickly. And then the question is, under what conditions was any kind of legitimate consent given? And again, I think it’s really important for us to recognize that a 16-year-old can’t consent to a tonsillectomy in this country, but supposedly according to the LGBTQ movement can consent to gender reassignment surgery. Let’s just say to one another the truth. That’s insanity.


Part II

The Trajectory of the Transgender Movement: After Public Setbacks When it Comes to Kids, the Trans Movement Goes for Broke

But then that takes us to the cover story at New York Magazine. Very bright orange cover. The glaring words, “Freedom of Sex. The moral case for letting trans kids change their bodies.” Andrea Long Chu is arguing that there’s basically no good reason for limiting, much less denying a young person having, well, the power to “change their bodies.” And does that mean hormonal or surgical or both? Well, the moral case would have to extend to both. It is a very radical argument, and as I said, Andrea Long Chu is a transgender writer, also a winner of a Pulitzer Prize. Very influential, and let’s just say this author has written some very colorful pieces in the past, but we have to deal with this piece, this cover story, New York Magazine. The moral case for letting trans kids change their bodies.

The foundation of the moral argument that Chu is making is that self-perception is reality, and a self-perceived identity is the most important reality of all. And so if you follow that worldview, it would apply to teenagers as much as to say 80-year-olds. But we do understand that the arguments are different. Even this author acknowledges that the political situation, even the polling is different. Americans think of this very differently than this author thinks of it. But Chu is writing this piece to convince, this author is trying to move the moral meter in this country. And that’s the point. And this article really isn’t directed at, let’s just say a suburban evangelical family in Birmingham, Alabama. It is directed towards the medical establishment, the cultural elites, the kind of people who live in New York City and read New York Magazine. But if you are in suburban Birmingham and you think you’re safe from all of this, recognize that it’s in places like that that the policies are made that are going to be imposed upon Birmingham, Alabama.

Also recognize that those places are the places who are educating the people, who are say, running the hospitals, the medical center, the folks at UAB there in Birmingham. Their primary point of reference when it comes to academia is not south of the mountain in the suburbs of Birmingham. It is on the most prestigious university campuses in the United States. That’s how this worldview gets transferred and transplanted and coerced from one place to another.

Now, at one level, I want to say that Chu really doesn’t make much of an argument in terms of sophistication. Instead, the author makes the argument that comes down to this. And I quote, “We will never be able to defend the rights of transgender kids until we understand them purely on their own terms as full members of society who would like to change their sex.” The author’s words in italics, “It does not matter where this desire comes from.” So that’s a radical statement, far more radical than you might’ve heard because what the author is saying is it’s like a young person has the right to demand a sex change for any reason, no reason, whatever reason. You don’t even get to question the reason. So the argument made in this article is indeed, as categorical as it sounds. There’s no moral reason to deny any kid “sex reassignment” or gender-affirming medical treatment ever.

But what about parents? Well, it becomes very clear that Andrea Long Chu sees parents as the problem. So let’s just say the problem is named. I’m going to quote the author’s words. “The trans kids access to care will in most cases be mediated by parents or legal guardians, is an inescapable fact of the way our society regards children rightly or not.” Well, clearly two things, not. The author continues, “For now, parents must learn to treat their kids as what they are; human beings capable of freedom.”

Now, I am fairly certain that this author is not a parent. In fact, I have to say I hope this person is not a parent. But as you are thinking about children, here we’re told that parents must learn to treat their kids as what they are; human beings capable of freedom. And of course, the obvious question is what kind of freedom? Because I think all of us would say, yes, our children, they are to be respected as having freedom, but what kind of freedom? Well, they don’t have the freedom to set their own bedtime. But here, I’m not talking about bedtime or playground rules. We’re talking about freedom as asserted in this article to change one’s sex, and to do so for any reason beyond any scrutiny. That’s what this author’s vision of freedom means, and the author’s telling parents, let’s be clear, get with the program, get in line.

Alright, I’ve given this attention this much time because I honestly can’t think of a more morally explosive occurrence in our society in recent times than what we see in this article. And I just want us all to understand what’s going on here. This is not just an article, it’s not just an argument that is addressed to people with purple streaked hair living in a Manhattan artist den. That’s not all this is. This is the cover story of a major American magazine, unashamed to put this on the front cover, because it’s a major salvo and a great struggle over human sexuality, over gender identity, over the future of our society. But here’s where we had all better make an immediate moral recognition. At a far more fundamental level, this is a battle about the hearts, minds, and let’s be reminded here, the bodies of our children. So fellow Christians, we better know what we are up against.


Part III

President Biden’s Political Distortion Field: It’s Not Budget, It’s a Campaign Pamphlet — And Why Does the U.S. Have an Income Tax and Not a Wealth Tax?

But next, even as we think about things of ultimate importance dealing with our children, we also recognize that big decisions are being made about the future of our nation. And that includes big political arguments. And one of the arguments comes in the form of a proposed budget. In this case, the budget that is supposedly proposed by the current President of the United States, Joe Biden. The Wall Street Journal in its front page says, “Biden’s Budget Signals Campaign Priorities.” And that’s actually kind of a sideways criticism right there in the headline, because the budget is supposed to be a budget. But indeed this is a campaign operation, just like the President’s State of the Union Address was a campaign speech rather than a traditional State of the Union exercise of constitutional responsibility.

The New York Times front page article, the headline: “Biden’s Budget Meant to Draw Line versus Trump.” And the next words are really interesting, “Little Chance to Pass.” So when the New York Times, which is a liberal paper and definitely wants the Democratic candidate to win, when the New York Times puts this on the front page with that kind of sideways criticism, once again, that does truly tell us something. Alright, so what about the content? Well, what the president is calling for as the leader of the Democratic Party, and as its presumptive 2024 Democratic nominee, what he is calling for is more money for the voters taken away from other people. That’s basically it. Let’s confiscate money from other people and let’s redistribute it to you people, the people who will vote for me. And it’s put in the highfalutin language of class warfare. Let’s go after the people who have a lot of money.

Now, as some economists pointed out, even in the President’s State of the Union Address, he for instance said, “It’s just awful. Come on,” as he likes to say, “you have billionaires who don’t pay anything in income taxes.” Well, is that right or is that wrong? Clearly there are people who say, well, that’s absolutely wrong. And yet I’m going to tell you something that the president didn’t acknowledge. The president during the time that he was vice president, during the time that he was in the United States Senate, he helped to put in place some of the very policies that explained why some billionaires don’t pay anything in income tax.

Now, wait just a minute. Why would billionaires pay nothing? That is because what we have in the United States is not a tax on wealth, but a tax on income. That’s why it’s called an income tax. And an income tax is allowable according to the U.S. Constitution as amended, a wealth tax is not. A wealth tax would be absolutely devastating to society. You might look at it and say, “Well, it would just be right to tax wealth.” Well, the reason it’s not taxed is because you’re not even sure at any given moment what that wealth is.

So we call people billionaires because at least in terms of the current value of the stock market or the current value of petroleum shares or whatever, they may be classified as having equity in a company that might amount to a billion dollars, which is, let’s face it, an awful lot of money. But in reality, it is not income until it’s sold, until there’s a distinction, sometimes called capital gains, between the money you’ve invested in something and the money you get out of it. That is taxable. So oddly enough, there are billionaires who don’t have any qualified taxable income. It’s not because they’re not wealthy, it is because they don’t take money as income. And that raises another issue, and this includes the complicity of then Senator Joe Biden.

One of the things you do in a tax code is to decide how you’re going to tax people. The other thing you do in a tax code is decide what parts of the economy you want to incentivize. So liberal Democrats have been quite clear in the last couple of decades, for example, offering tax incentives for very wealthy people and for corporations to invest in so-called green energy. It is absolute hypocrisy, not to mention economic insanity, to criticize people for doing what you legislated they should do because you want them to put money in these industries, so you incentivize it. The main way the United States government can incentivize that kind of investment is by saying, we will tax it differently or not tax it for a period of time.

And so yes, there are billionaires who pay no income tax because they take no income or because they invested their money exactly as then Senator Joe Biden suggested that they should. And by the way, there is no way Democrats in Congress are going to pass a budget resolution from any president that doesn’t include many of those preferences. And my guess is Joe Biden would turn right around, and if elected President of the United States demand what he just now condemned.

Now, investment income, by the way is taxed, and at least by most measures, the minimum tax is about 20%. And so it’s not true to say they pay no taxes. It’s just true to say they pay no income taxes. The fact is most of us pay income taxes because most of us live off of income. But nonetheless, that gets to a second issue, which is when it comes to measuring wealth, an awful lot of American families, at least on paper if you’re talking wealth, they’ve got a lot of wealth. What about the value of real estate, the value of a home? In the American middle class, an awful lot of people bought homes, and by the way, with the government’s encouragement. They bought homes and those homes have often skyrocketed, multiplied in value. That doesn’t mean you have any money from them until you sell them, but it does mean that if you’re going to tax wealth, well, guess what? That’s wealth.

The other thing is in terms of economics, when you are looking at say, big bad corporations and claiming that they don’t pay enough taxes or whatever. Well, that might be true because I think all of us recognize there’s some difficult questions and coming up with what will be the most just taxation system, the most just investment policies and laws, legal context and all the rest. There’s a good debate to be had there, but the point is that does take an honest debate. And in the honesty of that debate, you’d have to admit that when you’re talking about say, big bad rich corporations, you’re also talking about average Americans who are investors, especially when it comes to mutual funds that have vast holdings in these corporations. Where do you think the corporations get the money and how do you think Americans are investing?

As I often say, look, if you’re looking for the big bad investor against the little people, and so many of these businesses, it turns out to be organizations like CalPERS, which is after all the pension system for many California public employees. It turns out that in the case of many of these pension funds, it’s a bus driver in Oakland who’s actually the big bad investor. It’s absolute hypocrisy to say, we want people to be able to retire with money, and that money’s going to come from the proceeds from investments, and yet we want to turn around and tax those investments because they’re wrong. You can’t have it both ways.

Well, I think we can count on the fact that we’re going to have to look at economic issues quite a bit going forward, but at this point, it’s just really important to recognize that in the case of the budget just presented by the President of the United States, even his own party knows this isn’t going to pass. So why did he present it? It’s because this is right now all about a campaign, and by the way, it is right now pretty much in both parties. A warning to us all: Politics right now is in a vast distortion field where everything is now aimed at that Tuesday in November. So let’s acknowledge that fact and keep it honestly in mind.

I want to remind you, I’m going to be teaching a class I’m very excited about for both Southern Seminary and Boyce College. It’s coming up this next modular term. The class is entitled 10 Battles That Define the Gospel: 20 Centuries of Controversy that Shaped and Reshaped the Christian Church.

Through the last 2,000 years of the history of the Christian Church, we’ve had several, many indeed, theological battles. 10 of them I think are most important. Those are the 10 I’m going to consider. We’re going to start out with a battle for the gospel in the New Testament, in the very earliest church. We’re going to go through some of the early doctrinal battles in Christianity, such as over the person and work of Christ, over the doctrine of the Trinity. We’re going to go right through to the reformation and the great battles between Protestant and Catholic understandings of Christianity. We’re going to go into the challenges of the modern age, including the challenges eventually of theological liberalism. And by the time we get to the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century, we’re going to be looking at the big battle over human sexuality and gender within the Christian Church. So it’s going to be a very, very interesting class, and it’s going to be a class that will combine theology and church history, historical theology, and apologetics. It really is going to be interesting.

Now, the purpose of this class is not just to understand the past, but also to understand our responsibility for defending and teaching and perpetuating the Christian faith. Now, the course is going to start on March the 19th. It’s available to students online and on-campus, and this is new. It’s going to be available to those who want to audit the course. And to learn more, just go to That one word, mohlercourse, and it is going to be fun. We’re going to learn a lot together. 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 tomorrow for The Briefing.


R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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