Wednesday, April 3, 2024

It’s Wednesday, April 3rd, 2024.

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

Part I

A Big Win for Life in Florida, For Now: State Moves to Enact 6-Week Abortion Ban, But Will It Be Overturned by a Pro-Abortion Constitutional Amendment in November?

Well, let’s just give ourselves a heads-up about the coming election cycle because one of the things we will have to keep in mind is that stories tend to develop very quickly. So as we are going into successive months, things are just going to develop even more quickly and over time issues become ever more focused, and that’s exactly what’s taking place right now. It is very clear right now that the issue of abortion is going to be by intention front and center in the election cycle coming up and thus front and center in our daily conversation. As we’re trying to put all of this into perspective, what has happened that we have to talk about it today? Well, it is the action taken just a couple of days ago on Monday by the Supreme Court of the state of Florida in two different dimensions on this question.

Number one, the Supreme Court there in Florida came back and said there’s no constitutional barrier in the state constitution. Two, Florida’s ban restricting abortion after 15 weeks going into effect. Basically the Supreme Court said there is no right to privacy as the Supreme Court had claimed in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that pertains here. And so the Supreme Court allowed that ban after 15 weeks to go immediately back into effect. But here’s the bigger story. The legislature has already passed legislation that is now triggered so that 30 days from now, that limit is going to be six weeks, not 15 weeks. The Supreme Court has already made very clear it’s not going to stand in the way so that six week provision will be the law in Florida within 30 days. Huge story, huge win for the sanctity of human life. Huge win, by the way, for constitutional reasoning because it’s really clear that the majority in the Florida Supreme Court is absolutely right.

There is no way to read a so-called right to abortion in Florida’s Constitution any more than you could read it into the American, the U.S. Constitution. So just on that score alone, if that were all we had, Florida would’ve made big news. Its Supreme Court would’ve made big news on the abortion front, and yet there’s more to it and there’s actually a lot more to it because the Supreme Court also acted in a second case allowing a much more liberal proposal on abortion to go to voters on the ballot in November. This ballot measure is going to be similar to that which has been undertaken in other states, and it could move Florida almost immediately if it’s adopted by at least a plurality of 60%. So it’s not just a majority, it has to be an overwhelming majority there in the state of Florida, but if indeed that citizen initiative were to be passed by the requisite majority, then the Supreme Court would then have a new situation and have a new constitution to reckon with, and it’s a very pro-abortion statement.

The text of the proposed pro-abortion amendment to the state’s constitution says that abortion is to be available up until the moment of viability. That’s generally right now, arguably somewhere around half the way through the pregnancy. In other words, an extremely more liberal position, a much more deadly position for the unborn than what Florida has now, much less what will be in place 30 days from Monday when that six-week ban goes into effect. Now, there’s a lot going on here at the most important level that is the level of the sanctity of human life. You can score this a big win and a potential big loss, and frankly, the loss could nullify all of the win and it could do so in short order.

There’s a political calculation here, and that calculation is on the part of the Democrats that this is a winning issue for them and thus blatantly, the supporters of this proposed constitutional amendment, and remember it’s now going to be on the ballot in November, they said that they were doing so largely as a get out the vote effort, especially for those who would come out to vote for abortion rights.

And that also means, let’s understand, politically would be more likely to vote for the Democratic candidate in any number of races. By the way, all that is basically acknowledged in the press coverage. A lot of the headlines about these developments indicated that this is a potential boost for the Democrats. Of course, this is where we as Christians have to go back and say the big issue here is the sanctity of human life. We’re talking about real human lives on the line. Yes, it is in the midst of a political equation, but this is where we have to understand that the politics has to be secondary to the sanctity of human life. That’s the most basic Christian commitment here. But we can’t avoid the politics because in this case, if the politics goes the wrong way in terms of this proposed constitutional amendment, Florida is going to see a massive increase in the number of abortions.

Now strategically, it’s interesting to note that Florida had been functioning as something of a haven for abortion rights, when other states in the region there in the southeast were adopting more restrictive policies, and a part of that had to do with a judge’s decision that put Florida’s 15-week ban on hold. Of course, now given the action of Florida’s Supreme Court, the ban will extend not only to abortions after 15 weeks, but after the 30-day period to abortions after six weeks, a much earlier time. So there are a lot of people looking at this who are thinking about it in terms of abortion patterns, and they say a lot of the people that have been going to Florida now are going to have to go in a different direction, and some people are arguing they’re going to have to go as far as Virginia now going north or northeast in order to find a state that has more liberal abortion policies than what would be found in the south.

It also indicates something of the map, the moral map of this issue in the United States. If you look at the southeast right now, you are at a region of the country that is clearly far more conservative on the question of abortion than much if not most of the rest of the country. Again, you think of that basic distinction. The closer you get to a coast, it usually works out that it’s more liberal. But in the state of Florida right now, which after all is pretty much defined by a very long coastline, the reality is the moral issue has trumped the cultural pattern. This also comes as a reminder that regardless of where you live, to some extent, to some degree or another, abortion is going to be on the ballot. It might be on the ballot in terms of a local question. It might be on the ballot varying on where you live in terms of the statewide election.

As you think about the role of the governor, if the governor’s race is on the ballot or you look at your state’s legislature and its future, which is certainly on the ballot to some degree regardless of where you live and what state you claim. But it’s also true that in this election cycle, the entire Congress is going to have to be reelected in terms of the House of Representatives and a third of the United States Senate. And of course it’s a presidential election year, so it’s on the line. No one is able to escape the importance and urgency of the question of abortion as a worldview and moral question, no one’s able to avoid this regardless of where you live as we think about the November election. So get ready for it.

But there’s another angle on this. Patricia Mazzei writing at the New York Times yesterday makes this point, and that is this, the Democrats see that Florida might all of a sudden be in play, might be in play in the presidential election and in statewide races, there might be an opportunity here for a democratic senatorial candidate running against incumbent Republican Senator Rick Scott who is up for the election. It might be that there would be even a question of the Biden campaign making a gain in Florida, a very significant gain in Florida. Biden clearly intends to play that game and we need to recognize it is entirely, I say that again, it is entirely driven by what the Democrats want to seize upon as momentum they see attached to the question of abortion.

But just to understand what’s going on here and how important this is and how it became nationalized immediately recognize that the Biden campaign produced a brand new ad directed right at Florida in light of this development, and the President himself is the only person who appears in the ad. He looks at the camera and makes a criticism of President Trump on abortion wanting a far more restricted policy than Biden wants. And then he said this, “I’m running to make Roe v. Wade the law of the land again. So women have a federal guarantee to the right to choose. Donald Trump doesn’t trust women,” said the President, “I do. I’m Joe Biden and I approve this message.”

So it was hastily put together. It’s very brief, but it puts the President very much as if we didn’t know this already, on the pro-abortion side. Now, I’m not saying that he doesn’t want to put all of the abortion rights as they were called of Roe v. Wade back into effect. I’m saying that there is no way his administration would present something even as conservative, you might say, as Roe v. Wade was in the sense the restrictions of Roe.

There is no way today’s Democratic Party is going to allow any of those restrictions, and that’s made clear by many major Democrats who will come behind the President and clean it up in effect to say there’s virtually no restriction on abortion that they will accept or at least that they’ll put their reputation on at this point. It’s all or nothing. But we’ve talked about what this means for the President of the United States who often presents himself as a Catholic, and that’s why it was very important that the Cardinal Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church there in Washington was so clear about naming the game that the President is playing on the question of abortion. “He’s picking and choosing,” said the Cardinal Archbishop, “and in this case, what the President is choosing is abortion and what he is denying is the right to life.”

In political terms what’s so shocking is that the President has put his name on this and has entered the fray on this so quickly. There is now no doubt this is going to be a major democratic theme in the Fall. Now we knew that, but what we have here is a very clear affirmation of the direction the Democratic Party and the Biden campaign will be taking in weeks and months ahead.

Part II

Your Position on Abortion is Tied to Your Position on LBGTQ Issues — Just Take It from the Words of Planned Parenthood’s President and Commentators at CNN

So at this point, well, we will track this, but now I want to make reference to a very revealing conversation or exchange that took place in this case on CNN. And so as we’re watching these things develop, every once in a while there’s a crystallizing moment and you say, “Well, al right, everything got put on the table right there.” The program in this case was the Monday edition of the Situation Room on CNN. The host is Wolf Blitzer, who’s been at this quite a long time.

And as the afternoon unfolded, the Florida Supreme Court decision became known, and CNN naturally turned to a conversation about the impact of that decision. The first guest on was Alexis McGill Johnson, the President of Planned Parenthood, and you know exactly where that conversation went. One of the big points that McGill, again, avidly pro-abortion made was that getting the abortion issue on the ballot in the fall with this measure that would amend the Florida Constitution is a big political gain for the Democrats, and furthermore, might add a good deal of momentum, not only statewide, but even nationwide on this question as the logic of this question continues to become a matter of absolute distinction between the Republican and Democratic parties. Before I leave the statements made on this Monday edition of the CNN Program by Alexis McGill Johnson, The Planned Parenthood, I want to point to parting words in terms of her comments that reveal how all this is tied together.

This is just good for Christians to see how all of this is tied together, all these giant moral issues eventually they’re seen to be tied together and you’re wondering how could that happen? Well, just listen to these sentences in her closing statement on this. She spoke about limits on abortion and she said, that is unconscionable for Americans. She continued, “Like letting people understand that if you need access to abortion, that literally an entire region of the country has now been devastated by these abortion bans. One out of three women,” she said, “and more trans and non-binary folks are living in states with abortion bans, and this Florida ruling will impact that exponentially.” Now, wait just a minute, now she’s all of a sudden bringing in trans and non-binary folks into the issue of the controversy over abortion. Why did she do that? Well, it is because if you understand the logic of the Left, it is all tied together.

I think just about any person who understands, let’s just say basic human biology and understands the distinction between a mother and a father, male and female would understand that it’s very strange at this point. And as a matter of fact, the Democratic Party for years has been talking about a woman’s right to an abortion. But if you now aren’t certain who a woman is, I guess you’ve got to cloud the issue significantly. It takes more words. But then in the next hour, there were two CNN political commentators who spoke Alice Stewart and Kate Bedingfield. And this is where I want to point us in terms of the biggest issue of concern or interest here. So you had Wolf Blitzer ask Bedingfield, “What do you think, you expect this winning streak out of abortion rights where women will in fact continue?” And Kate Bedingfield basically said, “Yes, I think it will continue.”

She had more to say later, but then he turned to Alice Stewart, also a CNN political commentator. And Stewart said this, “Let’s just say first off, on today’s ruling by the Florida Supreme Court, from those in the pro-life community, this is a huge victory for unborn babies who have a heartbeat and can feel pain, and it’s important to protect the sanctity of life.” So a brave pro-life statement there, but she went on to say something very interesting. She made a turn, “But those in the pro-life community also recognize there’s a huge battle ahead as this issue now will be up before voters in the next election. And as we’ve said, when this is on the ballot, it does turn out voters and it’s important to shift the conversation from talking about abortion bans to abortion limits.” Now, at least two or three times in the comments on CNN, this person identified as a pro-life commentator basically says, “We need to stop talking about abortion bans and talk about abortion limits.”

That predictably is going to be the line that it will likely be taken by the former President Donald Trump as he runs as the Republican candidate in the Fall. Less conversation about abortion bans, more emphasis on some kind of abortion limits. But what we need to note is that the pro-abortion movement is going to be as against limits on abortion as they are against bans on abortion. And in this case, they understand the logic may be better than some people who claim to be pro-life understand that logic. 

Later, Stewart said, “So let’s about where we can put limits on abortions and do away with this language of bans. So we can most importantly protect unborn children but also mothers and make sure that we keep exceptions in place for rape, incest in life of the mother, because that is another issue that voters do agree on.”

So you could say at one point, maybe Alice Stewart is talking about what she defines as the politically possible, but I think we as Christians need to recognize that when we’re talking about the sanctity of human life, we’re talking about a categorical, which is to say, we believe that every single life deserves and demands protection from the moment life is given at fertilization until natural death. Anything less is an unacceptable permanent compromise. It might be a step along the way to a more comprehensive protection of human life, but we can never say, we must never say upfront that this is what will be morally right. This is where we can stop. This is where we can be satisfied. 

Now, at another point in this exchange, you had the more pro-life commentator say, “We need to talk about limits, not bans.” And the person on the other side, the woman on the other side simply came back and said, “The problem is women have different understandings of where they are on the abortion question. They’re in different situations.” In other words, no limit. And that’s the big point. By the time we get to November, that is really what the issue is going to be. It’s going to be one side, which I hope and pray is consistently pro-life, on the other side that at least reveals this deadly logic, no limits, no restrictions on abortion, whatsoever.

Part III

No, Adultery is Never a Laughing Matter: Massive Moral Shift Reveals Sad State of Marriage in Our Society

But now we’re going to shift to talk about a couple of other laws that reveal some basic moral realities, some basic moral truths we really do need to recognize. Over the course of the last several weeks, some legislators in the state of New York were reminded of the fact that guess what? The state of New York still says that adultery is a crime. Now, just as an object lesson and understanding how much moral change has taken place in the United States, just think about the fact that when the state of New York adopted legislation in this case, it’s a rather continuous legislative history, outlawing adultery, it was already under the most severe social sanction of the society at the time.

In this case, it was just made part of the criminal law in 1907, non-controversially, it was made a part of the law. Well, guess what? It hasn’t been repealed. So it still is a part of the law. And as it was rediscovered, also rediscovered was a legislative history and a political history in which you’ve had various efforts over the course of the last several decades by people in New York to get this particular legislation taken off the books. But thus far it has been unsuccessful. But so far as many legislators in New York are concerned, you know you really have to get rid of this law because having a sanction on adultery, having the law uphold the dignity and sanctity of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, it is just outdated. And frankly, to the cultural Left, it is embarrassing. Furthermore, it could come with legal complications because after all, if it’s on the books and it is a law, then someone can make it a matter of legal consequence.

And thus you have the more liberal side in New York state that simply says, “You know we’ve got to get past this.” Now, at this point, I just want to speak with a bit of honesty. When you look at these laws against adultery, they reflect what was a moral consensus shaped by the biblical worldview unquestionably in previous generations in the United States. The honest part is I want to acknowledge that millions and millions of Americans are no longer restrained at all by that worldview. I wish they were, but they are not. So if you were to just imagine that a legislative body would meet in 2024 in the state of New York, pretty liberal. If they were to meet and decide what should be their law concerning adultery, it would almost assuredly be no law. That tells you a lot about how moral change has taken place in just one state in just over a century.

But the other thing you need to note is that there is an odd phenomenon here, and it comes up by the way, with the Comstock Act, which also goes back to roughly the same era in American politics. And that was the law that made it illegal to send contraceptives by mail or to be involved in prostitution or another sex related activity. This is the federal law that said it was going to use the federal or interstate power in order to shut down vice crimes. And guess what? It too is still on the books. And it came up graphically in the oral arguments for the abortion pill case at the Supreme Court just a matter of days ago, and you ask, why is that law still in the books? Well, it is because even in the year 2024, the more liberal forces haven’t had enough momentum that they would put their names on a measure to repeal either the Comstock Act or now the law opposed to adultery in the state of New York.

Will they come up with adequate political momentum in 2024? Well, in the New York case, probably so. But something for us to note is that when it comes to the Comstock Act, when it comes to the federal government, all of a sudden you have pro-abortionists and others on the left who are crying out while we have a Democratic majority in the Senate and while we have a Democratic president in the White House, maybe we better push really hard to reverse or to repeal the Comstock Act. But you know what? That’s going to be more easily said than done. Why? Because even in 2024, the number of legislators who want their name on repealing such an act is, well, fewer than you might think.

Part IV

More Evidence of a Society Losing Its Mind: Why Washington’s New Law Enacting Protections for Sex Workers is Doomed to Fail

But while we’re thinking about some of these very odd developments, the state of Washington, that is to say Washington State has enacted a new law that basically offers all kinds of on-the-job protections for, I’m just going to use the word that’s used in all the headlines, strippers. So we’re talking about the pornographic sex trade here, and we’re talking about the state of Washington, very progressive in this kind of issue, trying to step up and say, “We’re going to provide on the job protection.” What makes this story so important from a Christian worldview, and don’t worry, I’m not going to go into any of these details, but what makes this so important from a Christian worldview perspective is that the details in this law are absolutely, well, disgusting. What you have in this case is a liberal society trying to legislate something that is inherently immoral and to try to make what is immoral safe. Guess what? That’s not going to work. One of the factors behind this legislation is that the women in this trade are vulnerable. They can be abused, they can be hurt, they can be the objects of violence, and that’s exactly what this legislation is intended to prevent.

But when you look at the situation you recognize it’s a little late for the law to jump into a situation, I’ll just say, this messy and this explicit and try to say, “Oh, we can put in some common sense protections here.” I think the most interesting and revealing statement that comes out in the New York Times coverage of this story is the statement made by a law professor at the University of California, Veena Dubal. And we are told that even as she’s a law professor at the University of California at Irvine, and even as she specializes in labor law, she said that the new law was, “The result of the hard work of organizing done by these workers in a very, very dangerous industry.” Just think about this for a moment, a very, very dangerous industry. Why would that be? Just imagine the lie of a society saying, “We can regulate that. We can put in protections, we can put in rules.” By the time you get to the end of that article, quite frankly, it’s such a disgusting picture, but this is legislation that was actually adopted in the state of Washington as there were those there who said, “We just need to make this a respectable profession.” 

One final theological point, State Senator Rebecca Saldana of Seattle who had sponsored the legislation said, “It is crucial that we confront the stigma surrounding adult entertainment and recognize the humanity of those involved in the industry.” She mentioned the women involved. She said, “They’re workers and they should be given the same rights and protections as any other labor force.” But let’s just speak the honest truth, they’re not just like any other labor force. And furthermore, when she says that she wants to recognize the humanity of those who are involved in the industry, this is where Christians and those with moral sanity just need to respond, “You cannot grant them the protection and the respect that you are demanding here if you are insisting on promoting a so-called profession, which by its degrading status basically invites the very harm that you are saying you oppose.”

You look at an article like this and you recognize this is just further evidence of a society that is, no exaggeration to say, losing its mind. And one final thought as we’re thinking about the scale of moral change in the United States, let’s go back to New York and that ban on adultery and a comment that was made by one person very much involved in this situation as a lawyer, speaking of the current law still in the books in New York against adultery, this lawyer said, “It’s embarrassing that this is still in the books.” He went on to say, “Even in law school, everyone burst out laughing every time it came up.”

Just think about that. Here’s a lawyer saying, “Look, we just need to get rid of this thing because quite frankly, a law against adultery, well, it’s just embarrassing.” And then he spoke with the law students laughing when they heard about the law still on the books. So let’s just conclude by making a Christian statement. The moral point is clear. Adultery, whether it’s legal or not, in the state of New York in any calculation is no laughing matter.

I’m happy to tell you that Southern Seminary’s next preview day is coming up and it’s coming up fast. 

It’s coming on Friday, April the 12th. In our secular age, we see an increasing need for those who are called to ministry, and we see the need for them to be trained with the highest level of biblical and theological education for a lifetime of faithful service and faithful conviction.

That’s why Southern Seminary is committed to providing rigorous theological education that you and the church can trust. That preview day, April the 12th, you’ll tour our beautiful campus, meet our world-class faculty, and learn how God is using Southern Seminary to train faithful ministers of the gospel. Listeners to The Briefing, now get this, can register for free at by using the code, now you’ve already figured this out, TheBriefing. 

I look forward to seeing you there. 

Thanks for listening to The Briefing. 

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I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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