Friday, May 24, 2024

It’s Friday, May 24, 2024. 

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

Part I

‘I’m 72 and Don’t Have Kids. I Don’t Regret It.’: A Regrettable Argument Shows Up Discrediting the Goods of Having Children and Grandchildren

Well, sometimes you see something happen in the media and you all of a sudden think, you know, this needs to be considered. It’s something that just comes by as a headline and then you reflect upon the fact, no, there’s more to it here than just a headline. I want to make reference to an article that recently appeared at the site of Business Insider. And it’s one of those things that caught my attention because the headline came to mind and I just thought, maybe we better go there. Here’s the headline, “I’m 72 and Don’t Have Any Biological Kids. I Don’t Regret it.” Well, all right, let’s look at this a little bit further. Louisa Rogers has written the piece. She tells us, “Back in 1978, when my husband and I got married, he was 36, I was 27. At the time,” she writes, “I thought I might want to have kids, and Barry thought he probably didn’t. He already had eight-year-old twin daughters and thought that might be enough for him, but neither of us was sure.” She says, the next 10 years, “I rarely thought about it.” But she then goes on to say that there were hints that, “Becoming a mom wasn’t in my future.” She says, “In childhood I fantasized about being a writer and about visiting my family from exotic places, both of which came to pass, but never about being a mother. During college, I told my mother that I worried that I wouldn’t make a good parent because I didn’t enjoy children much. Other than babysitting, I never hung out with kids or gravitated to them. I was not what you’d call a natural mother.” Alright, she’s convinced me of that. She writes about enjoying marrying her husband and living together and then learning to love the two girls she identifies as her stepdaughters.

But she goes on to say, “But as fun as it was hanging out with them, it still didn’t translate into thinking about having children of my own.” Now, I won’t read you the rest of the article, but as it turns out, she never has children and yet she concludes the article with this. “Occasionally I’m asked if I worry about growing old without adult children to look after me. I don’t. Since Barry is nine years older, I’ll probably outlive him. Rather than moving near where our daughters live, I’ll probably live my final years in Mexico, where Barry and I own a home. Since I have many peers who like me, don’t have biological children, I don’t feel alone. However old I am, I’m sure I’ll enjoy walking, riding, painting, and hanging out with people of all ages just as I do now.”

Now I guess my first response to that is just honestly, well, good luck with that. Because moving to Mexico, living with other people who are also aged and with children and grandchildren, just out of the picture, then number one, what are you really living for? And by the way, most people will not until the very last day of their lives enjoy walking, writing, painting and hanging out with people of all ages. But the point here is that we are looking at a fall off in the birth rate, and we now know that even as it has reached a crisis point at present, it’s been a change in lifestyle liberalism going all the way back to the early 1970s. It’s just now arriving with full force, and by the way, you can do the math. The decisions made about how many 20 year olds there are right now were made, something like 20 or 21 years ago.

Similarly, you can do the math. A society that is in big demographic trouble–as ours is–not the worst in the world, but we are in big trouble, you can’t produce 18 to 20 year olds, not unless you’ve got 19 or 21 years to play with. We don’t have that kind of time. But the bigger issue here is just looking at the moral issues that are at stake here. It’s just important for us to recognize that in creation order, God not only created human beings as the only creatures made in his image, he made us male and female and the first thing he said is “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” Now, that does not mean–and the New Testament makes this clear–that every single adult believer is called to be a parent. But that also means that not every human believer is called to be a husband or a wife.

Indeed, Paul speaks about the gift of celibacy and the deployment of persons who’ve been given that gift for missions, and particular ministry. But it’s also clear in the New Testament, as much as in the old, that the expectation is that creation order will be replicated in the church. And you’re going to have young people marry. Young men and young women marry and they’re going to create households and they’re going to start families. And where you find a healthy church with a healthy theology, you find a healthy nursery. But you look at an article like this and I guess there are a couple of things that come to mind from a Christian worldview, and then there’s something that kind of sneaks up on you at the end. So let’s just talk about what comes to us just at first face, just when we first see an article like this, what’s coming at us?

Well, number one, this woman is 72 years old. She says that she doesn’t have any biological kids. “I don’t regret it.” Well, using the word regret brings up the moral issue almost immediately. And so you look at this and you recognize, well, you may say you don’t have any regret, but you can’t extend your logic to the rest of humanity without abject disaster. Even someone trying to create a secular ethic such as the Philosopher Immanuel Kant came up with the idea of the categorical imperative, which means it can’t be right if you universalize it and it leads to human disaster. So it can’t be right to say that not having children is morally superior to having children because if everyone followed that moral teaching, the human race would absolutely come to an end. Now, we do know that there are ecological extremists who actually have taken on an Antinatalist perspective saying that human beings should not reproduce, and that human species should come to an end. But let’s just say there’s anything that’s antithetical to Scripture, it certainly is that.

The second thing I thought of when I looked at this article is, well, how liberal middle class is this? You have someone writing an American who grew up at the very height of America’s economic power. You have someone here who’s probably without question a baby boomer at age 72. And reflecting all of the lifestyle liberalism of the baby boomers is like, “this is my lifestyle choice and I don’t regret it.” I’m going to suggest that the most morally important category here is not whether she regrets it or not, it’s whether what she did is right or wrong, judged biblically. But before I leave this, I want to raise one last issue, and this is the point that kind of snuck up on me as I was thinking about this article. Because at face value you have someone writing an article with the headline, “I’m 72 and Don’t Have any Biological Kids, I Don’t Regret it.”

Well, at least at first glance you say, I’m going to take that at face value. But then you need to pause a moment and ask the question, why in the world would you write this article? Why would you write the article, “I’m 72 and Don’t Have any Biological Kids, I Don’t Regret it?” And so at one level, I’m not saying she’s dishonest, I’m just saying, I have to wonder if she really means it, if she’s really being honest when she says she doesn’t regret it. Because this raises the whole question of why she wrote the article in the first place. If this is the new normal and this is just a valid lifestyle choice, then why would you need to write the article at all? Now, I’m not trying just to point to this woman and ask whether when she says she doesn’t regret it, she means it.

I think this is just a good moral reminder to all of us that we better be careful in saying, “I did this or I didn’t do that and I regret it.” If you’re speaking about it in certain terms, you have to wonder why you’re saying it and if you mean it. And I’ll just end on this point with this consideration, if you live in obedience to God’s command, and if you live in faithfulness to the order of creation, I will tell you this: about those things on the day of judgment, you will have no regrets.

Part II

I’m an Atheist Listener. I Disagree With Your Assertion That Atheists Have No Ground for Viewing Human Beings as Special in Creation. — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Okay, now we’re going to turn to questions and as always, I’m just amazed by the questions that come. And I want to start with the questions sent in by a listener, a man in New York, and he says this, I think it’s very interesting. He says, “I am likely one of your few atheist listeners.” And he says he listens every morning to the briefing, and so thank you for listening. I really appreciate that and I appreciate the fact that you reached out to me and that gives us the opportunity for at least something like a conversation here. You sent me the email, I deeply appreciate it. You forwarded me an article and you’re responding to a statement in which I said, “Atheists can’t answer the question of why humans are special.” And you sent me an argument in which at least there is some argument coming from the atheist side that human beings are special. 

So let me be really clear and I always appreciate an opportunity for clarity. So I want to thank this atheist listener for writing in and giving me the opportunity to maybe achieve a little greater clarity on this issue. If you do not begin with the Christian perspective of human beings being created by the omnipotent divine Creator and made in his image. And thus that apart from creation in terms of both status and in function, then you have to look for human dignity and what would set human beings apart from other creatures somewhere else, obviously than in the image of God.

And so there have been attempts made to make that argument. They basically come down to two forms. One is structural and the other is functionalist. And so I really appreciate questions. 

It’s a good opportunity to say the structuralist does tell us something, that in the structure of human consciousness there is something very different than what you find with other creatures. Now the problem is that other creatures tend increasingly to show up, the longer we get to know them and the more study we make of them, to show up with something like at least some of the same structures. So even as you’re thinking about the ability to communicate. National Public Radio just in the course of the last several days made the argument that researchers have been able to document audible communication, some form of language between elephants. The report went on to say even at one point, this is how elephants evidently say hello.

Now, I don’t know if they are right about that or not, but we already know that at least forms of language or what you might call proto-language are found among animals such as porpoises and some others. And again, I’m not arguing that’s the same as what we find among human beings. Indeed, I will emphatically say the opposite, but if you do take a structuralist kind of perspective, then the point is that you’re going to find at least something like some of those structures or something that is only qualitatively different and quantitatively different than those structures. You’re going to have a hard time saying there’s an absolute dignity here. And there’s more to it than that. The structuralist argument sometimes comes down to an argument about the development of the cerebral cortex and the development of certain kinds of IQ, etc. Complex analytical reasoning as well as language and language processing. But again, if that’s all there is to human beings, we better hope we don’t discover some species of animal who comes close to us on those scores. 

The other argument is often functionalist and is just saying that human beings function in such a way that we are set apart and it’s a more sophisticated argument than that. There are functions that human beings can fulfill. This means not only in terms of the operation of intelligence, but say social function as well. But I want to say to this listener who identifies as atheist, I really am thankful you’re listening and I’m thankful you find this interesting. And I’m honored that you would write me the question, but I want to say I believe I’m speaking to you as one image bearer to another image bearer. And I want to say that I believe our lives, that means your life and my life and the life of every single human being is set apart indeed–even sacred–because we are created.

I want to thank you for sending the article and I want to tell you I will give it even more attention as I look to its argument in the future. But I just wanted to start out saying you have raised one of the most important questions, and eventually it’s a question every single one of us, regardless of worldview, must ask and answer. Hope we’ve made some progress in that today.

Part III

Does Running for Political Office Contradict the Virtue of Humility in the Christian Worldview? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Okay, another man wrote in from the state of Florida. Matthew asked about the seeming contradiction of wanting to hold to a certain kind of Christian humility and then thinking about someone who’d be running for office. And running for office means you have to draw attention to yourself. It means you have to project yourself. It means you have to put your name and picture on signs. How does all this fit within the Christian worldview?

Well, I want to say to this listener, number one, you raise another very good issue. But I also want to say having many friends who have run for public office that yes, it could be an egotistical exercise. On the other hand, it could be the opposite of that. And that is to say that yes, if you’re going to run in a political campaign, in a fallen world, one of the ways that’s going to take shape is through a certain kind of political branding. It is inevitable. If people don’t know your name, they can’t vote for you. That means there has to be some level of notoriety. And in the Christian worldview, we do have the understanding that there are people who will be better known than others. Just to mention, I guess for one, the Apostle Paul, more well-known than other Christians in his own age, but the Apostle Paul didn’t create a cult of celebrity.

On the other hand, he fully expected that people would say, “Well, Paul said.” Now I want to say to Matthew, hey, you’re right to know that the political process comes with endless seductions, so does banking. In other words, there isn’t any arena of human life that’s free from those issues. But I also want to admit, politics does tend to concentrate them. You’re absolutely right about that, and that’s why I would hope that any Christian who’s considering running for office would do so while surrounded by other Christians, particularly in a local church where there’s true accountability and quite frankly where they know you so well, you couldn’t possibly get by with presenting yourself falsely.

Part IV

What Advice Would You Give to a Christian Considering Political Office? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Alright, next question from another man. This man is 22 years old in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Really appreciate that and I’m also glad to say he’s a graduate of Boyce College. Makes me even more proud. And so Dixon, thanks for sending in the question and greetings to you.

And Dixon’s asking about a career in politics, and he asked, “What are the three points you would give to a believer getting into conservative politics? How can someone in my position have the utmost impact for the kingdom of God? And he was just recently elected to his county board of Supervisors. He’s thinking about office, even higher office in the future.” I just want to say that’s a very encouraging thing, very proud to see this. And I also have to say the first thing that I believe we should say, is that the biblical worldview dignifies the political process. The biblical worldview dignifies government as a proper authority actually instituted by God. And thus it is an honorable thing to be involved in politics and in government. 

The second thing I want to say is that in a fallen world, it is also corrupted by sin just as every other arena of human endeavor. That doesn’t mean we pull back from it any more than we pull back from economic activity. We pull back from schools, we pull back from the community. No, it doesn’t mean however that we fully expect to find everything, a matter of temptation and some vestige and testimony to corruption as well. And thus we need to surround ourselves, thirdly, I’ll go back to what I said to the listener before. We have to go back to the third principle, which is we’re not up to this alone. We as Christians need never to engage these issues as lone rangers, as singular agents, but rather in the company of other Christians to whom we are accountable, with whom we are in fellowship and most importantly in the local church, where we are prevented from error and encouraged to righteousness and justice and all good things, including love of neighbor by a believing community, living out the gospel in faithfulness. Politics, just as an extension of that. One last thing I will say, Dixon, is that the Christian worldview also warns us against any hubris and understanding that ultimate problems will be solved by penultimate government.

At the same time, the Creator has also made clear that government is given to us for a good purpose and it has its own dignity. 

We need to lean into that dignity as much as we can.

Part V

How Does the New Age Movement Compare to the New Thought Movement? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Okay, next. I love this. It’s another graduate. He’s writing in and this graduate is writing in from Taiwan and he’s saying, “When I was doing the graduate work here at the seminary, I came across the New Age movement.” He says, “I’ve now come across the New Thought movement.” And he says, “I’d like to ask you if you can compare the two New Age and New Thought and give us some advice on how to teach people in church about it so that they may be vigilant not to fall into its traps.” Wow. Thank you so much for this question. And boy, is it interesting, I can tell you that.

So the best way I can put it is to say that New Thought is a particular variant, and you’re not wrong to say its pantheism or panentheism that emerged in American society, the end of the 19th century into the 20th century. And New Thought, for example, is very well represented by the movement known as Christian science, and it’s really a part of the larger New Thought movement which understood itself to be a rejection of Classical, Orthodox Christianity, and I can assure you that it is. And so you had various New Thought movements, you had all kinds of groups. The Unity School of Christianity was another one as it called itself. And so New Thought, by the way, a lot of it came with the understanding that the great promise was the transformation of the mind from one form of thinking to another. Now, the Christian worldview says that that’s a part of our sanctification. But that is not something we bring about just ourselves and nor is it something that we come to simply by gazing upon and concentrating upon certain mental processes.

Okay, so you asked the relationship between New Thought and New Age. Well, I will tell you that New Age is kind of New Thought on the cheap. It’s basically an even less serious form of thought in which New Age often what makes it a little bit different than at least a lot of New Thought going back to the 19th and 20th centuries is that it pretty much, and even in a consumerist commercial way, mixes some of the old elements of New Thought with Eastern religion and Eastern philosophies. And so it’s really just a mess of stuff that is packaged for Americans who quite frankly want a little bit of religion, but they don’t want anything of Orthodox Christianity. And so they’d rather have a New Age mysticism, which by the way is often something which has almost no content to it at all. That’s maybe the point. They would rather have that.

So I appreciate the question, and I would say the best thing you can do is make very clear how neither New Thought or New Age comes close to the new life in Christ. But I do want to point out, even as I speak to Michael, that something else is kind of reflected here, and that is the deep spiritual hunger that is found in every single human being because God has made us in his image. And just to quote the church Father, “Our hearts are restless until we find our rest in him.” And that restlessness is going to show up in many different ways. When it comes to New Thought and New Age, in one sense, kind of sadly, and revealingly, particularly American traditions responding to that hunger, and not with much of something, but with something approaching nothing at all. Now, I know sometimes I see a question and I think I’m going to take that on as a personal challenge to see if I can answer it succinctly.

Part VI

‘Work Hard. Fall in Love. Don’t Lose Your Sense of Humor.’ What Would You Add to This Commencement Advice? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Some of you long-time listeners to The Briefing, probably doubt that. But Graham, 18 years old, sent in a question, and I love it. He says he heard a commencement speaker say that the three best pieces of advice were work hard, fall in love and never lose your sense of humor. Well, I don’t think those are bad things as a matter of fact, but he then says, “Would you care to add to these or perhaps substitute your own biblical pieces of advice?” Okay, so I said I would be succinct. And so I thought of three things to say, which I’m going to say are far more important than work hard, fall in love and never lose your sense of humor. They are these three things found in Scripture. Number one, love God. Number two, keep his commandments. And number three, follow Christ. I’m going to see if I can live up to my aim and stop there because I don’t think I can improve on those.

Part VII

What is a Martyr? Was Samson a Martyr? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Another interesting question, I really like questions that surprise me. It’s a two part question. Number one, what is a martyr? And then is Sampson–and here of course, speaking of Judges 16 in the Old Testament, is Samson a martyr? So great question. The word martyr actually is rooted in testimony. But those who’re referred to as the martyrs in the Christian tradition are those who gave the ultimate testimony of dying for their obedience to, and faithfulness to, Christ. And so it’s not just Christians who’ve died. It’s not just people who’ve died for something. It is a term related to Christians who have died because of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Their death then becomes a testimony to Christ and to what it means to be faithful to Christ to the end. And thus the church honors martyrdom in the New Testament, the martyrs are recognized and honored.

That’s a part of our Christian discipleship. And so that’s who a martyr is. And then you ask the question about Samson. Of course, here you’re talking about that character in the Old Testament, in the book of Judges chapter 16, who infamously was disobedient, and then in the moment of his opportunity, he became obedient even unto death. And so is he identified as a martyr? Well, in the New Testament sense, no. But in the larger biblical sense, yes. 

I’ve never heard the question asked that way. I’ve never been asked if Samson died as a martyr. In the truest sense of bearing witness, he did that.


What About Lex, Rex? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Finally, a question from another listener, this one in Denver, Colorado. I appreciate her writing in. And she asks how I would relate to Samuel Rutherford’s concept of Lex, Rex, the laws over the king in contrast to the historical issue of the divine right of kings.

And then she says, “How does that relate to what we’ve been discussing on presidential immunity?” She says, “Shouldn’t presidents be under the same constitutional law?” Wow. I want to end with that because I’m just amazed by so many listeners. I am thrilled to be sent a question about Samuel Rutherford and Lex, Rex. That’s one of the important legal texts in the Western legal tradition, particularly in the English-speaking legal tradition. And it comes deeply from reformed theology and makes a profound statement about the fact that the law is above the king, not the king above the law. That’s absolutely crucial by the way to our constitutional order. You then say, well, I think it’s fair to say you’re asking how can you hold to Samuel Rutherford’s conception there about the law being over the king rather than the king over the law? And by the way, he grounds that in theology, not in political science.

You say, well, how does that relate to the fact that, I’ve also made the argument that presidents of the United States in office should have some limited immunity from criminal prosecution. But the distinction I want to make here, and I so appreciate this listener writing in and her question is just really helpful I think. I don’t believe that anyone is above God’s judgment for the moral law. I think the big question here is not, for instance, whether it would be allowable for a President of the United States to shoplift or commit grand larceny. The issue here is that in the conducting of office in a state like the United States, a government like the United States, that requires the use of lethal force, would there be some court somewhere who would declare, say a President of the United States in the exercise of his duty, whether by the way he acts always in the ways that are absolutely right or if the President makes a mistake, if he’s to be criminally liable or even liable for civil action in some of these situations?

And I just think that operationally, the only way we can have a government is if the president of the United States has some limited but real immunity from criminal and civil prosecution insofar as the president acts within the constitutional bounds of the presidency. And insofar as the president is exercising his responsibilities assigned to him by the Constitution. So I am not arguing that a president of the United States should be allowed to get away with crimes. No, not at all. As a matter of fact, impeachment is for “high crimes and misdemeanors” is how exactly the constitutional language comes out. But I think we need to recognize the in a litigious and legally complicated society and in an increasingly dangerous international context, as we have seen just in the last several days. I don’t want a president of the United States being prosecuted for actions undertaken in line with his constitutional duty because someone somewhere says that’s a matter for criminal prosecution or civil action.

It’s obviously a complicated question, and one we’re going to have to continue to think about for some fairly obvious reasons, given events here in the United States. It’s also, I need to point out a matter that has been a bipartisan consensus and certainly is of now a bipartisan concern. 

Once again, I stand thankful for all of the listeners who listen and those who send in questions in particular, I’m going to get to as many of them as I can and how encouraging to get this particular set of questions for this particular Friday. I’m very encouraged by them. I hope you are as well.

Thanks for listening to the Briefing. 

For more information, go to my website at You can follow me at Twitter or on X by going to For information on the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to For information on Boyce College, just go to

Monday is Memorial Day in the United States. I hope you and your family have a wonderful day of observance and thankfulness. 

I’ll meet you again on Tuesday for the Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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