Wednesday, May 15, 2024

It’s Wednesday, May 15, 2024.

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

Part I

Same-Sex Marriage Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary: How the Revolutions Over Contraceptives and Divorce Led to the Sexual Revolution and the Attempted Redefinition of Marriage

Well, same-sex marriage has just celebrated a big milestone in the United States, what we might call its 20th anniversary. Molly Ball dates the onset of “same-sex marriage” in the United States to the first same-sex couple that was legally married in the United States, that would be in the state of Massachusetts on May the 17th of 2004. So you do the math. May 17 coming right up, go backwards 20 years, “same-sex marriage” is a new absolutely revolutionary thing. And even as I’m talking about this today on The Briefing, I have to, want to say, so-called same-sex marriage. But nonetheless, we are talking about what our society has legally defined as marriage and as of the decision made there in the state of Massachusetts, the Goodrich decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court, you had same-sex marriage declared to be a legal reality.

And still you go back 20 years in 2004, that appeared to be an absolutely revolutionary development that it was felt at the time might not settle in with the American people. But one of the things we notice on moral change takes place in the United States from 2004, you have to fast-forward 11 years to the Obergefell decision by the United States Supreme Court that established same-sex marriage as the law of the land, basically said that it is discriminatory in an unconstitutional way to prevent same-sex couples from having access to legal marriage. Now, there are all kinds of things we need to consider here, but even as we’re talking about this, let’s go to the term, let’s go to the definition. Let’s understand that according to the Christian Biblical worldview and according to almost every government on planet earth until the development of the revolution of “same-sex marriage,” marriage was the union of a man and a woman.

And not only that, it was the privileged to conjugal union that was to lead to children and the recognition that the children belong to these parents and are the responsibility of these parents and that society depends upon an adequate number of young people, young men and young women getting to the institution of marriage and getting to the reproduction and the raising of children as quickly as possible for the good of society. And one of the things that is simply irrefutable about the history of marriage is that the history of marriage has been absolutely resolutely heterosexual. That is to say it is the pairing of a man and a woman. Where there was confusion in the past it was about the number of wives in the main, but even that was a minority situation. And even then it was resolutely heterosexual. But by the time you get to, for example, Jesus declaring what marriage is, he said, did you not know that from the beginning God intended it to be the union of a man and a woman, harkening back to Genesis 1 and Genesis 2.

And as you look at the spread of civilization and what became western civilization, heterosexual, monogamous marriage was understood by all to be the foundation of every single successful civilization, period. The problem of course is the sexual and gender and legal revolution, the Cultural Revolution that took place in the second half of the 20th century when marriage was fundamentally redefined. Now, before we get to the disaster of “same-sex marriage,” let’s talk about the faults that came to marriage, the injury that came to marriage even before that. We’d have to go back to the first half of the 20th century when the Church of England revised its understanding of contraception and birth control. And that took place as early as 1920. And so you there have a distinction between the goods of marriage that lead to reproduction and the goods of marriage that do not. That was in itself a very significant weakening of marriage. And furthermore, it was a redefinition of marriage away from its Christian definition.

The second big revolution, however, came after second wave feminism and this one had to do with the divorce revolution. And in the divorce revolution you had the declaration that what is supposed to be a lifelong commitment is not necessarily lifelong. And the divorce revolution we need to note took quite a time to pass across the United States and it did so by fits and starts. But as was so often the case in the great moral revolutions of our times, it was pointing in one direction and eventually by the time you get to the mid 1970s, if every state did not yet have legal, no-fault divorce, it had the equivalent in terms of the practice of its courts. Now, that was a fundamental strike at the integrity of marriage because if marriage is now no longer a lifetime commitment that is upheld with the authority of the state, then by definition it’s something else.

It’s a temporary, voluntary relationship until one party decides to exit the marriage. And by the way, you might be interested to know that right now two thirds of all divorces are initiated by women. That’s just a legal fact. Two thirds are initiated by women who decided they want to get out of their marriage. Now, that’s not to put the blame simply on one side, it is to say however there’s something interesting about this pattern.

But we have to fast-forward from the contraceptive and birth control revolution to the divorce revolution. You have the sexual revolution, that produced the demand for same-sex marriage, and that would’ve been an unimaginable demand even going back to, say, the 1970s or ’80s. It would’ve seemed implausible to the vast majority of Americans. Indeed, it would be a statistically insignificant minority who might have imagined there could be something like same-sex marriage. Even in 2004, that is the beginning point of this 20 year anniversary. You go back to 2004, most states didn’t have it, no state before it had had anything like an ongoing experiment in legal same-sex marriage, and most states were still very much opposed to it.

But all that did begin to change. And of course, as we’ve often commented, that change was pushed by the fiat of the United States Supreme Court in a way that I believe was without constitutional authority or precedent and quite frankly represented an intentional go-around of the democratic process. But here’s the other thing to note. As you are looking at this story in the Wall Street Journal with the headline “How 20 Years of Same-Sex marriage changed America,” Molly Ball makes the argument and it’s a big essay in the Wall Street Journal this week, that “same-sex marriage” has transformed America morally because the majority of Americans are now at peace with “same-sex marriage” and Molly Ball recognizes that’s a very big development in moral terms.

We have to come back and say from the Christian perspective, you bet that is a very big development in moral terms. But what seems to be celebrated in this article we recognize is something that has not yet been taken into account in terms of its damage to marriage as an institution and in terms of its effect upon society. Molly Ball says that going back to 2004, “Opponents warned that the consequences would be dire.” But the implication of her article is that none of those dire consequences have come to pass, “Two decades later, what was once the white-hot center of political debate,” she writes, “has receded to the background.” She goes on, “Polls show nearly three-quarters of Americans including 49% of Republicans and a majority of regular churchgoers support it. The Supreme Court,” she continues, “made same-sex marriage, a nationwide right in 2015 and Congress gave federal recognition to the practice on a broad bipartisan vote in 2022.”

Yes it did. We made note of that sadly enough at the time. But here’s what we need to note. This is an article saying that same-sex marriage happened and rather than producing a negative moral change, America just went on. There were no dire consequences. 

Americans just increasingly go along with the program.

Part II

How Did Our Culture Come to Affirm Same-Sex Marriage? The Moral, Social, and Political Activism That Led to Our Current Cultural Revolution and Moral Shift

Now I want to state that the moral change has taken place. I’m not going to debate with Molly Ball that the moral change can be documented. And I’ll tell you the way you can see the moral change fastest, it is in the period from say 2013 to 2018 when numerous national surveys on this question indicated that there was a flip, indeed a reversal. You go back to the early part of that period, 70% of Americans opposed same-sex marriage, roughly 30% supported it. You fast-forward five years, 70% support it, 30% say they’re against it.

Now if you’re looking at that short an amount of time, guess what? You are looking at some of the same people, at least demographically being included in that survey. So that means that it’s not just that new people entered the scene, but the people did change their mind. Here’s where Christians need to step back and say, well, public consensus doesn’t mean that this is morally right. We know that’s true, but we also understand that that moral consensus tells us something about some of our own neighbors, even some of our own extended family members who’ve kind of flipped on the question themselves. How did that happen?

Now, I think this 20th anniversary does and should prompt some really hard thinking on the part of Christians. How is it that so many Americans have become so accommodated to same-sex marriage? We are talking about the redefinition of society’s most fundamental institution. We are talking about something that at every level we believe defies biblical logic and actually defies the clear teachings of scripture. So how can it come, how can it happen, and now be celebrated in this front page article in the Wall Street Journal as if the society’s just moving along?

Well, here are a couple things you need to keep in mind. Number one, Christians understand that big issues of this magnitude take a long time to work out in society. We’re not talking at this point about the effect upon marriage and the family when it comes to something like “same-sex marriage” with a long track record. We’re talking again about the 20th anniversary, the very first “same-sex marriage” in the United States. So we’re not talking about any adequate period of time. The second thing we need to note is that this kind of analysis doesn’t really acknowledge that we’re talking about it still. a very small proportion of the married population in the United States. Even as recognized in this article you’re talking about 1.3% of couples. I repeat, 1.3% of couples. And here’s another issue just in terms of the morality of that math. This means that American society, or at least in 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States was ready to redefine humanity’s most basic institution for evidently about 1.3% of the population at least is counted right now.

And of course other injuries have been coming to marriage, we’ve said that, and frankly the subversion of marriage is a far larger project of the Sexual and Cultural Revolution. But I think this kind of anniversary does demand that we go back and recognize that what God says can’t happen, well when a society defies that kind of principle. It is basically bringing injury upon itself that goes beyond what can be calculated in a twenty-year period in some kind of demographic survey.

But it also requires us to say this kind of thing didn’t come out of nowhere. It came after evidently the vast majority of Americans were already so distant from a biblical worldview that they were ready over a relatively brief amount of time to accommodate their religious convictions insofar as they had any to what was now the newly popular culturally declared institution of “same-sex marriage.”

Now, we understand as Christians that there were incredible social forces behind this, including Hollywood, the cultural elites, higher education, you just go down the list, and of course it was a big generational revolution and with every year younger people move more into the demographic center of the population count. So you should expect that those, and so frankly, you should recognize right now, an incredible number of millions of Americans have never known same-sex marriage to be a controversial issue. Frankly, an incredible number of millions have never known same-sex marriage to be anything but legal in the United States. And so there is for them no before and after comparison.

When asking the question, how could this tide have turned on a moral issue of this magnitude and significance, this historical stability, Molly Ball goes to Evan Wolfson who even as a law school student back in the 1980s had written a law school paper promoting same-sex marriage that was at Harvard Law School in 1983. And you know what? It was considered to be a fringe argument. It was considered to be frankly implausible. But now of course you go back to look at that paper, you look at that development from 1983 and Evan Wolfson actually was onto something and he was pushing what he knew to be a moral revolution by creating a revolution in the law. That’s another good tip off to Christians to remember that the law is a teacher, so if you change what the law teaches, you can push the law a long way to your advantage in terms of even changing the moral instincts of a people such as the population now in the United States of America.

Something else becomes very clear in this and that is especially on the political left, but as we’re going to concede not only on the political left, but especially on the political left, boy, the politicians got in line just in time. So in other words, there were very few politicians who were ready to get out front on the “same-sex marriage” issue that included President Bill Clinton who signed the Defensive Marriage Act when he was in office. Now he really didn’t want to. He did so because the vast majority of Americans wouldn’t have put up with the redefinition of marriage at the time, but he didn’t have a public signing ceremony and frankly, by the time his own wife was the Democratic nominee for the office of President of the United States in the 2016 election, well, both of them were all for it. Of course, the Obergefell decision to come a year earlier legalizing “same-sex marriage.” So it really wasn’t presented as a political option to the American people.

Then vice president, Joe Biden famously changed his mind on same-sex marriage and then at that time put his boss, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, in the position basically having to do the same. Whether that was all a setup from the start, we don’t know, but it is important to recognize that when Barack Obama ran for the presidency in 2008, he was opposed to “same-sex marriage.” When he ran for reelection in 2012, he was for it. I’ll just say that President Obama is perhaps the most graphic example of a very convenient change in mind, just in time. But as I said, this is if not equally a bipartisan issue, it’s not equal, but nonetheless, there are Republicans who have shown the very same Obama pattern. One of them is the current United States senator from Utah, Mitt Romney, who was the Republican nominee for President of the United States in 2012. In 2012, Romney was against same-sex marriage. By the time the issue rolled around with the vote in the Senate back in 2022, you know what? He was all for it.

Back when he was the Republican nominee in 2012, Mitt Romney spoke very openly about the fact that he did not believe same-sex marriage should be made legal. But by the time he made the vote as a member of the United States Senate for same-sex marriage in 2022, he said that his vote “signals that Congress and I esteem and love all our fellow Americans equally.” Now, I just want to point out not only do I find that change absolutely reprehensible, but I also want to say that that language is absolutely self-serving. It’s the kind of language that Senator Romney doesn’t mean when he says it, when he extends his logic to “all of our fellow Americans equally.” Well, let’s just say that he’s a member of a religious organization popularly known as Mormonism, that at times has redefined marriage differently in terms of number.

Now, the Mormon Church has held to the position that that magic number is two now since the late 19th century. But it is interesting that Senator Romney has decided that he’s speaking of all of our fellow Americans who should be treated equally. Let’s just state that includes a whole lot more than same-sex marriage. But that’s the kind of reckless language that quite frankly fuels the revolution in the culture and in morality. But also talking about how culture works, I want to point out that the Wall Street Journal is about as establishment as you can get. The Wall Street Journal is more establishment than the New York Times. It’s more establishment than the Washington Post. The Wall Street Journal is more establishment because it represents the establishment of Wall Street and the investor community and all the rest. And let’s just say that in economic terms, that means that you can count on that group being at least slightly out of self-interest more conservative than some of the more metropolitan examples of say the New York Times or the Washington Post.

But even as you look at this, you recognize that this is an effort to try to say our society has changed. Move on with it. This is a way of sending the signal that 20 years ago, same-sex marriage became legal. Now we’re looking at almost 10 years ago the Obergefell decision was handed down, no disasters happened. The moral change is declared, so get with the program. This is a very clear signal that if you aren’t with the program, you don’t belong in mainstream culture. So this kind of article ought not to go without our attention because the magnitude of this piece is intended to be very significant. And in moral terms, I think we recognize that it is.

Part III

Target Tones Down Pride Month Displays: Don’t Be Fooled, This is About Marketing, Not Morality

But at this point, we’re going to shift to a different story. And this one also has to do with big business, by the way. The big business in this case is the discount big-box store, Target, which is known for all kinds of things, including the fact that it has led in so much of the self branded merchandise and created a very interesting position and posture in American retail. Middle America is what Target targets. But we’re also looking at the fact that when we talk about Target these days, we are thinking back to just about a year ago when in anticipation of Pride month in June, Target began targeting America, its own customers for widespread exposure to the LGBTQ pride argument that took the place of an enormous amount of publicity and of visibility in the stores with merchandise. Some of the merchandise, quite frankly, and remember we’re talking about Target here, supposedly directed toward the families of Middle America. There were things that were sold including swimsuits intended to make anatomy, I’ll just put it that way, indistinguishable. And you had blatant advertising, you had rainbows everywhere. You had pride stuff everywhere. You had Target all of a sudden become a matter of controversy.

And as a matter of fact, by the time you get to the end of May of last year, Target is having to retreat a bit in terms of the visibility that had been given in so many of its stores. And Target paid the price, at least in the short term. And I emphasize that at least in the short term, Target paid a price in its stock price, in its corporate value when many Americans are simply outraged by the in-your-face, absolutely glaring corporate moral posturing on behalf of the LGBTQ activist community that had been undertaken by Target. And by the way, again, it’s just important we remind ourselves it was really blatant, it was really radical, it was really in-your-face. And Target, at least according to the markets, did pay something of a price. It wasn’t just Target at the time. You’ll remember that Bud Light got into trouble in an advertising campaign from which frankly, the brand has not yet recovered. But as you’re looking at this, you recognize Target’s back, pride Month is coming once again. And the headline this time, for example in USA Today is this, Target Scales Back It’s Pride Month Collection in Stores.

Now, the point I want to make is that this new position on the part of Target isn’t about morality. It’s simply about marketing. And Christians need to see through this. We need to see through this kind of development and understand what it means. We are told that according to Target this year, “The Pride merchandise will be sold in half of Target’s nearly 2000 stores.” That originally reported by Bloomberg. “Usually Target sells the collection in all of its stores.” You also have Human Rights Campaign President, Kelley Robinson, complaining “Target’s decision is disappointing and alienates, LGBTQ plus individuals and allies at the risk of not only their bottom line but also their values.” Robinson went on to say that what Target is messing up here is the opportunity to provide “visible displays of allyship.” Well, it was those visible displays of “allyship” that got Target in so much hot water last year.

Now, here’s the marketing point of this. It’s not a moral point. Target is not making a moral correction. As a matter of fact, Target has done everything possible even when it was in trouble last year with so much outrage, Target has still been in your face about the fact that the corporation is as pro LGBTQ as ever. And Target, by the way, was a pioneer in this. It was a company early into this moral momentum. It intends to continue it. But you know what? It’s got to stay in business. And that just shows you how this works. The corporate logic is we want to continue to press this agenda. This is what you see in so many DEI programs. They rename them now in terms of inclusivity awareness, but it’s the same old ideology. It’s the same revolution being repackaged before our eyes.

Target hasn’t changed its moral messaging here. It’s just decided that to protect its own bottom line, it’s only going to put some of this merchandise, and some of these displays with some of this priority in about half of its stores. Just in case you missed the point, USA today received a statement from Target in which the corporation said that it remains committed to “supporting the LGBTQIA+ community during pride month and year round.” So when you see the headlines about the fact that there’s been a cutback or if you go to your local Target store and you don’t see the big display, it’s because of a marketing decision. It’s not because of any moral correction. It is because evidently you live in a place where Target does not see as playing to its corporate advantage to put all the pride material out front. But you go to another store, perhaps in another part of town, and you’re going to find it front and center and you’ll know which store is actually telling you the truth about the company.

Part IV

Moral Agenda Through Smoke and Mirrors: How Corporate America Pushes the Cultural Revolution

One other thought I want to mention here before I leave this is that Christians are often bought off with just a little camouflage. Christians are often bought off by corporate America with just a little bit of accommodation. And we need to recognize that what Target’s doing here is bulldozing through the moral code, not only of Western civilization, but the moral code that at least most Americans say they hold to when it comes to these issues. And it’s bulldozing through with only a concern for its bottom line. And if you go to the store and you don’t see the display, it’s about the bottom line. But it’s also about pushing this issue, which also means that I think store by store and community by community, every single passing year is going to see more stores with more of these displays.

And you know what? Once you transgress, here’s the other thing to note. When you’re pushing moral change, once you transgress a boundary, you take say two or three yards, you retreat a yard and then you press forward again, two or three yards, you retreat a yard, this is the way the moral revolutionaries press their agenda. And one of the reasons that conservatives, and in this case Christians often come out on the losing end of this kind of thing, is that we are not willing to pay the price that the ideologues of the other side are willing to pay in order to make the point. And by the way, one of the things they count on is that you have middle-class Christian families who are frankly more concerned with feeding their children and getting to little league practice and just doing the kinds of things families do, rather than holding a protest sign outside a Target store. When it comes to the other side, man, they know exactly how to press their point. And by the way, they generally don’t have the kids with the little league games to be a complication.

So in this case, I want to end The Briefing by targeting Target and simply saying, we know what we’re dealing with here. And by the way, that doesn’t mean that a lot of other companies don’t hold the same policy, perhaps just a little more quietly, which also tells you how moral revolutions take place. It’s because you have some companies that pay the price of being right out front, just ask Bud Light how that worked. But then you have other companies that are frankly pressing virtually the same agenda, if not as blatantly, and the Leftward movement just continues. The moral revolution just progresses. And Pride month, by the way, is going to be back not only just as loud, but certainly even louder than it was last year.

So to Christians, I say, remember your convictions and brace yourselves for the month ahead.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing. 

For more information, go my website at You can follow me on Twitter or X 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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