Monday, May 13, 2024

It’s Monday, May 13, 2024. 

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

Part I

A Preschooler Can See It, Why Not the Rest? The Redefined Family Collides with Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day tends to bring out the very best in our culture, and simultaneously, to bring out the very worst. And on this Monday after Mother’s Day, it’s important that we look back at the landscape a bit. And on that landscape there’s a not insignificant amount of wreckage. And with heavy hearts, we do need to take a look at what we’re dealing with here because this is really, really important. As a matter of fact, Christians understand that it’s far more important than the world understands.

There are some very deep issues at stake here, but I want to begin with the most troubling development I saw over the weekend. And on Mother’s Day, it’s kind of sad you have to talk about the most troubling development, but I think you’ll agree once you understand what we’re talking about. The Washington Post ran a piece going into Mother’s Day entitled, “Our daughter wanted a mommy, so she picked one of her dads.” Now, the article’s by Richard Just, I and think you can probably figure out already that it is an article about, in this case, a little girl. And she was then, according to the article, then aged three and a half, who has two daddies, according to the modern logic, but who wants a mommy. All the other children have a mommy.

As the writer tells us, “Sometime last fall, our oldest daughter, then three and a half years old, began telling us she wanted a mom. My husband and I, two men,” this is just how it’s written, “had known this moment might come. We had done everything we could to lay the groundwork for her and her little sister to feel pride in our non-traditional family. We’d stocked up on two dad children’s books and recounted many times the story of how they come into the world with the help of a generous egg donor and an amazing surrogate.” “But at least for our older daughter, none of these preventative measures had seemed to soften the blow of realizing that every other kid she knew had a mom.”

So, the two men identified in this case, as the two dads were concerned with how they were going to respond to this when the three and a half year old little girl simply declared that one of them was mom. And not only applied the mom logic to one of the two dads, but also, demanded that the pronouns align as well. And in this case, the dad who was not appointed by the daughter the mom, declared that, he had concerns about this, but the other dad who was declared the mom said that the best way to handle this was for him basically to align somewhat with that role, and right down to even classroom activities at the child’s school.

Now, as you look at this, you could imagine that it is written in anticipation of the fact that it is going to lead to further support for and empathy for “non-traditional families” as they are identified in this article. But I want us to look at that and recognize that something far deeper than even these two men recognize is at stake. Something far deeper than even the three and a half year old recognized a year ago, but at least the three and a half year old is onto something real, something really important. And that is, what we as Christians understand, is creation order. Now that child recognizes, what the author of the article is declaring, is that this is simply by seeing that all the other children in the classroom have a mom. What that child recognizes is that there is an order to the world, and her own home does not align with that order.

Now, let’s just back up for a moment and say that this has not been an unfamiliar experience throughout human history when it comes to the fact that you have children, who by death or some other circumstance, do not have both a mother and a father in the home. So, that part is not new, but as you are talking about the “non-traditional family,” put that in quotation marks as is identified in this article, you recognize this is new. This is on the other side of a massive moral, cultural and sexual, even gender revolution. In which case you now have the United States government, since 2015, by action of the United States Supreme Court declaring that two men can be married in all 50 states across the United States of America. And actually, forcing the word marriage to align in this country with the idea that it can be a woman and a woman or a man and a man, as well as a man and a woman.

Now, the problem with that is obvious to all of us of any age who understand creation order, but it is also really interesting that it seems to be rather obvious to a three and a half year old. Now, I think we can also understand the coping mechanism evidently invented by this preschooler as to how to handle this, and that would be by just declaring one of the two men who she knows as her “dads” to actually be a “mom.” But I think all of us understand that that fictive response is not going to last for long. And at some point, some new arrangement is going to have to be made in that child’s heart and head, if not in that child’s home.

And here we, as Christians, need to back up for a moment and say, what is missing from all this is not just a moral understanding. Yes, of course that is missing. It is not just a millennia of human experience when it comes to marriage. Yes, that is missing. It is not just an intentional rejection of, say, Christian sexual ethics and Western civilizations understanding a marriage. We have to understand as Christians, it’s a deeper issue than that. And this is where Christians sometimes, and in particular evangelical Christians, sometimes, don’t recognize that the problem here is actually a problem of ontology. That might not be a word you expected on Monday, but it’s a word we can’t avoid. Ontology means being. It’s a very significant word in theology as well as philosophy. It means that certain things are. There is real substance to them. They are real things. And the Christian worldview understands that the world God has made is a real world because God who is a real God and the real sovereign of all things created a real cosmos as the real theater of his very real eternal glory.

And inside that cosmos on Planet Earth where he made human beings in reality, in his image, he also created order for human beings. That begins even in the Book of Genesis, even in the first chapter and the first two chapters of Scripture as what we know to be the institution of marriage. And here’s where we understand that human beings did not develop marriage as some kind of sociological experiment. So, let’s just take a step back for a moment. When the secular mind looks at marriage, what do they think they’re seeing? They think they are seeing a culturally-approved, privileged sexual relationship. Relational context. They think they are seeing the product of anthropology or the product of sociology, the product of human trial and error, trying to figure out what the appropriate family structure should be for the perpetuation of the human species, and perhaps even the perpetuation of a human culture.

But we as Christians can’t fall into that trap. We can’t fall into the trap of thinking that marriage is something that we came up with. Now, we’ve come up with certain customs and we’ve come up with certain ceremonies, yes, that’s true. But marriage itself is a part of creation order. And the moment we forget that we do grave injustice to marriage as the central institution that frames human existence. And we also deny the creator the glory that is rightly his in the goodness of marriage as he has created it, for a man and a woman, and as the establishment of a household with the promise of children and progeny. And then, of course, an extended network of relations that goes out from the man and the woman, united in the conjugal relation of marriage in the covenant institution of marriage, and thus, the establishment of the family, to which are added children. And then, well, let’s just use an historic word, that it would be more extended kinship structures. And in some families, I can just say they can be very, very extended indeed.

So, I have to tell you, I think that a lot of people looking at this article in the Washington Post are going to think that they’re supposed to respond. And you know this is the way that culture is programmed for this, this is the way the editors intend this, this is why the writer wrote this piece. It is to seek to push a further alignment of human moral instincts away from ontology and onto the artificiality of this new world that the revolutionaries want to create and the new definition of marriage that they now, with court sanction and court force and government power, are trying to put into place everywhere. But you know what? Here’s something else Christians need to understand. Ontology will win. Just try to defy matter. Just try to defy reality. It doesn’t work well in the long run. But one of the most interesting, if heartbreaking, aspects of what we see in this article is that a three-and-a-half year old sees through it. A three-and-a-half year old longs for creation order.

Now, I also want to say from a Christian ethical perspective, we want that child cared for, we want that child fed and we should be glad that that child is cared for and fed, but we can’t be satisfied with saying that whatever arrangement is now caring for and feeding that child is a proper arrangement. And we understand that we’re thankful for orphanages, but we don’t want children to be raised in orphanages. We understand that there’s a brokenness that’s reflected in the fact that the child is in the orphanage. And so, we, as Christians, need to be clear. We want all children to be loved and cared for, and I have no doubt that these two little girls are very much loved and cared for, but that’s where we have to make certain that we are actually dependent upon two things in our Christian thinking.

Number one, God’s revelation in Scripture, which is absolutely clear. And then again, God’s revelation in the cosmos, ontology, which is also very, very clear. Clear enough that even those who have not heard the scripture have an innate knowledge of the fact that a child is to have a mother and a father. But I can’t leave this article without pointing out that the author in this case, one of the two men in this “same-sex marriage” as society defines it, actually wants to press the point even further. He goes on to say that in four years as a gay dad, he’s been “struck by how much unnecessary gendering still exists around families and parenting, even in our liberal East Coast community.”

He also complains about an email sent to him himself and to other class parents that started out by greeting class moms. He goes on, “I don’t stew about these things. There are never as far as I can tell any bad intentions involved, but I worry about the message regarding gender roles as being delivered to our kids and I wonder about the messages being sent to other parents of all types. What about non-binary parents who aren’t reflected in the mom-dad dichotomy? What about straight dads who seem to be getting implicit directive don’t function too much like a stereotypical mom?” So, just notice we went immediately from a same-sex couple identified as two men, the society declares to be married. We go from that to non-binary parents where the category of mom and dad supposedly don’t fit at all.

And with a broken heart, but with great moral emphatic force, I simply want to say, how in the world would you try to explain that to a three-and-a-half-year-old, who let’s point out, does know better? So, of course, even as we were celebrating motherhood and mothers, and we recognize that one of the problems that has long plagued Mother’s Day is the sheer cultural superficiality of it. But these days we kind of long for the return to that superficiality, where at least people know who a mom was. But the depth of the confusion in our day is not accidental. It is grounded in a revolt and a revolution against creation order, against the understanding of human sexuality, gender, marriage that has not just been central and essential to Western civilization and frankly to all surviving civilizations, but to the order of creation itself. And so, I think the saddest thing in all of this is a three-and-a-half-year-old whose knowledge exceeds that of so many who will read this article.

Part II

No, a Same-Sex Couple Does Not Have Fertility Issues: Gay Couple in New York Files Claim for Lack of ‘IVF Benefits’

But next, I want to shift to something that is related in a development that comes in New York City. In New York City, a man who was with the New York County District Attorney’s office for several years is now suing the government of New York, or at least signaling an intention to do so by filing a complaint with a federal agency. And the complaint comes down in a very similar way to the fact that the state of New York did not cover, has thus far refused to cover “infertility treatments” for this man and the one the state of New York declares to be his “husband.” Once again, we’re talking about the moral fiction, but the legal reality at this point of “same-sex marriage,” but we’re looking at the fact that its logic, once again, simply crashes against ontology, it crashes against the giant iceberg of reality.

Now, there’s a lot of complexity in this article and in the intended or expected lawsuit, certainly in the complaint filed with the government agency. The most important thing to recognize however, is the fact that when you are looking at two men and you’re looking at two men and only two men, the word that describes their inability to have a child is not infertility. Infertility means that you have an impaired function. In the case of two men, this is not a function. It is simply not an infertility problem. In the state of New York, at least to its weird bureaucratic credit, has at least until now recognized, even though the legislature there in New York of course is declaring that it’s going to go fix the problem, at least till this point, the state of New York has refused to pay for IVF and surrogacy.

And in this case, the key issue really is IVF, the in vitro fertilization technology, for two men united in a “marriage” in the state of New York according to the State’s own declaration. But the state’s not saying that the problem of applies to these two men. Indeed, they are saying and have said for the last few years that it does not apply, therefore, the insurance coverage does not apply. And as you probably have anticipated, this is expected to be something of a landmark case as it arrives as a lawsuit, and probably makes its way through the courts.

Now, that could be short-circuited if indeed the state of New York by legislation or some kind of definition that’s legally binding, takes the issue away and simply says, “Okay. Two men declared to be married by the state in New York can have IVF treatments covered by the state’s insurance coverage as well.” So, it could be taken off the table, but nonetheless, the issue is not going to go away. And once again, we crash up against the issue of ontology. Again, a man and a man are not going to have a baby. They’re not going to have a baby in any normal sense of having a baby. And I don’t think there is any serious debate about that.

So, what we’re really talking about is the society demanding that we now enter into an irrational imagination in which we act as if we don’t know that two men can’t have a baby, and thus, even as extended to insurance policies and insurance coverage, we will say, “Oh, if two men can’t have a baby, then that’s a problem that needs to be remedied by some kind of medical solution.” By the way, it is estimated that the costs intended for this couple could approach as much as $100,000 or $150,000. So, by the way, the rest of you who might be say married as a man and a woman, and thus you really are dealing with medical issues, the extension of this logic means you’re going to be paying for two men or paying for that matter for two women to have access to IVF, insofar as they’re covered by the state insurance there in New York. And again, look at the money you’re going to be paying for this.

So, this kind of insanity, by the way, we just need to note, this isn’t the most important thing, but it’s not an irrelevant thing, this kind of insanity doesn’t go cheap. Maham Javaid writing for the Washington Post tells us, “For gay men and their partners, IVF is the only feasible way to conceive a child,” that according to the filing. “IVF involves retrieving eggs from a patient’s ovaries, fertilizing them to create embryos and transferring embryos to the uterus.” Okay, now wait just a minute, wait just a minute. This article begins by talking about two men. Let’s just state the obvious. The body parts just mentioned aren’t there at all. But the article continues nonetheless, “The lawsuit alleges that the city’s policy should cover the egg retrieval and the creation of an embryo, benefits that can cost tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket, that it already offers to other employees for all couples including gay couples. It does not allege that the city should pay for surrogacy or provide benefits for surrogates.”

Well, now wait just a minute. Well, why not? Because you can see, well, that would be redefined in the same sense. So, just add a few more hundred thousand dollars to the bill. But as we as Christians understand, it’s adding the moral problem, which is far more significant. It’s just piling on the rebellion against creation order, just piling on the, well, the Apostle Paul talks about this in Romans 1 as “suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.” It is, “Surrounding a truth with a bodyguard,” as Churchill would say, “of lies.” You got to love the statement made by the attorney. For the two men, “It’s a real gut punch that so many of the gay men that work for the city, that they are the group that needs IVF the most and that they are the group that is excluded from it.” Well, I just go back to even the body parts mentioned earlier. Neither of those men has any of them.

Okay. Now, the other thing I want us to recognize today is that the moral revolution often moves through the structures of the professions. And in this case, you’re talking about the medical profession. Now, the lawsuit’s being filed by a lawyer, that’s a different profession, also moving in the same direction. But I want to go back to the doctors here, the medical profession. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, according to the Washington Post, and we’ve looked into this, they have updated the organization’s definition of infertility just last year. So, just remind yourself that’s 2023. According to the Washington Post, “Defining it as the need for medical intervention, including but not limited to the use of donor gametes or donor embryos in order to achieve a successful pregnancy, either as an individual or with a partner.” Now, that’s a massive moral redefinition.

There’s a moral revolution just in a definition. A couple disappears, marriage disappears. Now, it’s just an individual or with a partner. And that, supposedly, I guess, would cover just about every single human being. And you can see where the logic of this goes. And by the way, don’t miss the financial logic of this as well. The financial logic is that you’re going to have big money on the line and a lot more IVF if insurance coverage is going to cover not only every married couple as a union of a man and a woman, but a man and a man, a woman and a woman, or for that matter, just about anybody individually, that means everybody. Everybody deserves an embryo. And in a society that doesn’t recognize the morality any longer, you have to wonder if they would at least recognize the money. But then again, when you look at our society, they’ll sacrifice the money for the new artificial morality.

The New York Times, by the way, reports that for this couple, “The entire process, including the surrogates fee and multiple rounds of IVF could cost between $150,000 and $200,000.” But then again, here’s the issue for Christians. If you refuse to take into consideration the far more significant moral cost, you’ll find a way to get around the financial costs as well.

Part III

President Biden Threatens Israel’s Ability to Defend Itself: A Block on Arms is a Gift to Hamas

But alright as we come to an end for The Briefing today with a big week ahead, obviously, one of the big issues we’re going to have to track is what’s going on in Israel as Israel is continuing its fight against Hamas in Gaza. And frankly, the big issue right now, or at least one of the biggest issues certainly for Americans, has to do with the response of the Biden administration and even President Biden himself to Israel’s predicament. And we’re now talking about the President blocking certain armaments and weapons being sent to Israel. It’s a complicated situation, but there’s really a simple bottom line to it, which is that the president, largely driven, almost acknowledged by his own staff as by domestic political pressures, you are looking at the Biden administration now responding by basically changing the policy towards Israel in such a way that it is going to hamper Israel’s ability to defend itself against Hamas.

Now, that’s not to say there aren’t legitimate issues that can be raised about how Israel conducts this effort against Hamas there in Gaza, and this has been pretty much a part of international conversation. But at this point, you also have to raise the issue, which we’ll talk about later this week, as to whether or not those who are raising this concern also are trying to raise not only the political stakes, but frankly to make it even more difficult for Israel to defend itself and in a way that’s likely to lead to even greater suffering on the part of the people there in Gaza, potentially even greater death and destruction. Those who are playing with this as a political issue better recognize they are playing with fire.

It’s also interesting to note that President Biden’s advisors are pointing back to the 1980s when President Ronald Reagan also held back some deliveries of weaponry. In the case of President Reagan, it was F-16 fighters to Israel when you had President Reagan locked into a certain political conflict with then Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. But what the Biden folks aren’t acknowledging is that at that point, Israel’s existence was not on the line by the delivery of those F-16 fighters, that the F-16 was going to be a long-term investment for Israel. And President Reagan was using it for political leverage to force certain accommodations from the Israeli government. That’s quite a different thing than when Israel is fighting a war against Hamas that launched a massacre on the nation and a surprise attack back on October 7th. It is, in moral terms, a fundamentally different situation. Also, in defense terms, a fundamentally different situation. And it’s one that demands our attention and our moral concern as well.

But the situation in Israel also demands that we look at several other issues, and of course, what’s going on in America’s college campuses. And that means as we look to the week ahead and as we look at the, and especially the weekend behind us, we’re talking about what did happen on campuses, but the bigger story might be what didn’t happen, as in commencement ceremonies. It is becoming more and more apparent that much of the political context here in the United States has everything to do with the 2024 presidential election and far less to do with what’s going on there in Gaza or in the larger Middle East.

And we are looking at what could nonetheless be a fundamental change, not only in the relationship between the United States and Israel, that’s problematic enough, but in Israel’s relationship to its future and the ability of Israel to defend itself. And quite honestly, for a future, for the Palestinian people trapped there in Gaza, one of the big questions is how in the world is there going to be an adequate, peaceful reset in such a way that not only the Israelis can continue to live there in Israel, but you can also have the Palestinians have a quality of life that has been threatened by the leadership of the Palestinian movement for the course of the last several decades. Now, of course, there’s more to it than that, but there’s not less to it than that. And as we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, we need to recognize we have a moral responsibility to come to terms with what’s really going on there and why it matters. 

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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