Thursday, May 30, 2024

It’s Thursday, May 30th, 2024. 

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

Part I

Younger Americans Have Never Known a Time That Is Telling the Truth About Marriage: The Law as Teacher and Its Generational Effect on Society

We just recently discussed the fact that the first legal same-sex marriages in the United States took place just about 20 years ago, thus on the pro-same-sex marriage side, they’re talking about the 20th anniversary of legal same-sex marriage in the United States. But even as we think about this, I want us to think for a moment about what this means in generational terms, because it’s really helpful that USA Today put out an article, the headline, “Millennials Reflect on 20 Years of Same-Sex Marriage.” This is speaking of the generation now of young adults. And the point is this, for most of them, certainly for many of them, they’ve never known a time other than a time of legalized same-sex marriage. And here’s where Christians need to understand that this is underlining something very basic and that is the fact that the law is a teacher.

And so, this is a generation that has been taught from the moment they’ve understood what marriage is, that marriage is not exclusively the monogamous union of a man and a woman, but can be the union of a man and a man or a woman and a woman. Now, unsurprisingly, here’s the thing to note, the vast majority of the young adults in this generation say that they are positive when it comes to same-sex marriage. They’re pro-same-sex marriage.

Here’s where Christians need to understand exactly what God spoke to Israel in terms of the importance of the law. The law is not just a restraining force, the law is not just God’s moral command put into propositional form, the law is a teacher. And regardless of what the law is in any society, that law is teaching something. Under a communist regime, the regime, the law taught communism. In a situation in which you have a society put together at least on the pillars of a Christian worldview, such as in Western Civilization, the law has been a teacher for centuries, teaching the definition of marriage, teaching the importance of the family, teaching, for that matter, something as basic as the 10 Commandments.

Just recently controversy again in this case in the state of Louisiana over posting the 10 Commandments in the public schools. Let’s just note that for a matter of centuries, indeed for over a millennium, that would’ve been something of basically no controversy at all. It’s because the law of God was assumed to be at the very center of civil law and the law is a teacher. Thus, you post the 10 Commandments in order to say these commandments teach. Martin Luther, the famed reformer in his catechism for children starts out by reminding children the necessity of learning the law of God. The law is a teacher.

But that’s true for civil law and in the United States, the distortion of marriage means that the civil law in the United States right now is misteaching about marriage, it is lying about marriage, and that comes with consequences because we have a generation of young adults who now are produced by the very culture of affirming same-sex marriage. This tells us a lot about our apologetic challenge to be honest, because the longer the law teaches wrongly about marriage, the more Americans–younger and younger Americans–are going to be mistaught about marriage. And frankly, the more distant we get from a biblical Christian understanding of marriage in the law, the more marriage is going to be turned into something not just somewhat different, but utterly different from what the law of God would teach.

One of the young Millennials cited in the article said, and I quote, “As someone born in 1996, it’s not even something I think about as it’s been legal most of my life.” Well, indeed it has. And that becomes a very important issue because that also means that younger and younger Americans have never known a time when the society was actually telling the truth about marriage. For the Christian Church and for Christian parents, this is a wake-up call reminding us that the world is going to lie about marriage and the world is even going to lie about marriage in the law, as powerful as the law is.

And so, to push back against that, Christian parents and Christian churches, Christian schools, Christian colleges are going to have to be consistent not only in rightly defining marriage, but honestly in providing an apologetic for why we believe this to be marriage exclusively as God intended it. This generational analysis reminds us that there are continuities in human historical experience, but there are also unique challenges in every generation. And if you are helping to raise the next generation, you need to understand the situation is going to be even more challenging because the law has had a longer period to lie about marriage.

And one of the things you need to note is that the society around the law begins to conform to the law. This has to do with hiring, it has to do with Hollywood, it has to do with school admissions, it has to do with, well, just about everything because marriage is so basic to human civilization, God intended it to be so. So, that points to the larger issue of the fact that younger and younger Americans are actually being lied to and have been lied to virtually their entire lives about any number of things. And that includes not just marriage. It now includes even the reality of what it means to be male and female.

And thus, so many of the controversies about transgender, non-binary, all the gender controversies, these are issues in which the basic question is what is the society going to teach? What is the law going to teach about this? Because everyone knows, both sides of the controversy know what that message is, is going to be the default in the coming generation. You have same-sex marriage legalized. 20 years later, the coming generation rising into adulthood just assumes that’s absolutely normal. Who would have a problem with that? Did anyone ever have a problem with that? This millennial challenge, which of course is going to be ratcheted down to even younger generations, also points to the fact that as we are looking at the transgender non-binary issue, we are really deciding in one sense what the civilization, say, 80 years from now is going to think of these things or just, say, 20 years from now.

And thus, the battle over the law is not just a battle over policy, it’s not just a matter of political controversy, it’s a matter of what the law is going to teach. And Christians understand, that is one of the most important questions central to any civilization. What the law teaches is what the civilization is going to become. There’s a wake-up call for us all.

But alright, now I want to step back and say in generational analysis, there’s another very weird angle of generational analysis that should have Christian attention because as you think about generations, you think about the sexual revolution, the gender revolution, all the political revolutions, at least in theory, you think that older generations are more conservative than younger generations. But in some ways, that doesn’t always prove to be true. So, let’s not get to a big moral issue first. Let’s think about a political issue first. When it comes to a lot of economic issues, it might be a surprise to know that some younger Americans are actually kind of instinctively more conservative than some older Americans.

And so, there are older Americans that, for example, are more intellectually comfortable with a big welfare state and with vast government spending than are some younger Americans, who are beginning to figure out, “If the government borrows that money, it’s going to come look to me to pay it.” So, that’s just one aspect. But going to the big moral issues, at least in theory, it has been very much expected that older generations are more conservative on sexual and moral issues than younger generations. For one thing, the older generation came formed as children, raised into adulthood with everyone knowing that marriage is and can only be the union of a man and a woman. So, are older Americans more liberal on something like same-sex marriage? No, it’s not the case. So, why are we talking about it? It is because of a couple of very interesting developments, not about younger Americans and big moral questions, but about older Americans and big moral questions.

So, one of those big moral questions has to do with sexual behavior and the big story here is that you have public health authorities who are increasingly worried about outbreaks of sexually-transmitted diseases or sexually-transmitted infections among older Americans who are, according to the Scripture, misbehaving sexually. Now, I think we can understand this in part, many of these boomers are the children of the 1960s. Many of them probably misbehaved and gave themselves to such things back in the 1960s, and in the 1970s. But it turns out it’s becoming even a public health concern. This is something of a wake-up call to us when all of a sudden you have senior adults who are showing up with diagnoses that in previous generations would’ve been, well, if not unimaginable, then quite unexpected.

But there’s something else that’s going on here. If that is indeed a problem, then you have a more basic problem with the abandonment of a marriage ethic. And this gets to something else that’s increasingly common found among many older Americans, some will even say it’s because of social security benefits, some will say it’s because of their children and grandchildren, some will say it’s because of other financial concerns. You have older Americans cohabitating without getting married in a way that would’ve been inconceivable a generation before. So, you’re looking at increased rates of senior adult cohabitation and increased rates reaching the attention to public health authorities of sexually-transmitted infections. 

But that’s not all, you also have increasing concerns about older Americans and weed. Now, it’s not just weed by the way, it’s also weed and alcohol abuse. And here’s something you need to keep in mind. The more a person is alone, the more one lives a more solitary lifestyle, the more likely there is a susceptibility to some of these substance abuse issues. That’s just a matter well-documented in the literature. And so, as you have more people who are unmarried because of divorce or even for other reasons, the fact is there’s a greater vulnerability here. But it’s not just that. It’s also moral liberalism. And once again, we’re kind of like back to the ’60s. It was countercultural back then to smoke marijuana. It was illegal to smoke marijuana. You could get kicked out of school and put into jail for smoking marijuana. These days you’ve got cities fighting over how they’re going to offer marijuana licenses.

But it turns out that a couple of things have happened between the time in the 1960s when the hippies were smoking weed and now granny’s out on the back porch smoking weed, two things have happened. Number one, something happened to granny, which is to say she’s older. The body processes these things differently. The second thing is the marijuana isn’t the same thing. Going back to the 1960s, the level of the powerful chemicals in marijuana and in particular chemicals like THC, they were much, much lower than they are now, which is to say if granny is out in the back porch smoking weed, not only is she older, that marijuana is almost assuredly much stronger.

I don’t mean just to limit this to a grandmother, it could be a grandfather as well. You get the point. You’re looking at older Americans who are beginning to revert to the lifestyle choices for which they were famous or infamous in the 1960s. It’s not a pretty picture. But for all of us, especially Christians, looking in on this situation, it does remind us that the law is a teacher, the society conforms to a certain teaching on these big moral issues. And right now, you see patterns among younger adults and even older adults. And it shows what happens when the law lies, when the society arranges itself around the wrong moral teachings. Just a reminder that thus the law matters, which means electing the persons who legislate the law matters. Giving attention to all these things all the time matters. And right now, raising our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord means teaching against what the society is teaching. We better understand what we’re up against and we better be faithful in teaching them right.

Part II

Is Transgenderism a Mental Illness? Controversy Over Medical Coding in Peru Reveals How Societal Pressures and the War with Biology Works

But then, this leads me to a different but very related issue because it is becoming clear that the Supreme Court of the United States doesn’t want a piece of the transgender issue. It’s also increasingly clear that the Supreme Court is going to have to take a very important case on the transgender question, and the Supreme Court’s going to have to eventually rule, and that’s going to be a huge issue because it’s going to have a lot to do, and we’ve talked about this, but it’s getting closer and closer all the time.

However the Supreme Court rules on one of these questions, it’s going to affect all 50 states. So, even as right now, you might have different policies state by state. Once the Supreme Court rules, it’s just like Roe V. Wade, or Dobbs for that matter, it’s just like Lawrence V. Texas or Obergefell. Once the Supreme Court rules, this becomes the law of the land in all 50 states, and thus both sides in this controversy understand there is a lot at stake here. And so, as we are looking at this, we just need to understand that even with this election cycle, there’s a lot more to this than just economics, even though most of the polling is indicating that the interest in the presidential election is overwhelmingly economic, and we can understand why economics would be powerful. As you look to the future of the culture, there are issues even more fundamental than economics which are going to be very much on the line, and we’ll be tracking those issues as they develop.

But the transgender issue is not just an issue of impending moral change here in the United States, as a part of this moral revolution. It’s also a matter of controversy and moral development elsewhere. The New York Times just yesterday ran an article with the headline, “Peru Angers Trans People with Decree on Disorder.” So, this turns out to be very interesting. We’re not talking about the United States, we’re not talking about a European nation. We’re talking about Peru. The article begins this way, “The bulletin appeared without much fanfare in an official government newspaper in Peru that publishes new laws and regulations. Peruvian health officials say they had no idea the response it would trigger. They say they wanted to expand access to privately-insured mental healthcare for transgender Peruvians. So, the government decree included language classifying transgender identity as ‘a mental health problem.'” Well, boom, the controversy immediately erupted. Cristian González Cabrera who works for Human Rights Watch in the area of LGBTQ rights in Latin America, said, “What they are doing is labeling an entire community as sick.”

Next paragraph, “But health officials said that the anger and backlash were the result of miscommunication and that they had not intended to offend trans people.” In response to the uproar, the government ministry came out and said that transgender identity, “gender and sexual diversity are not illnesses and that the government rejects discrimination.” Well, let’s just back up for a moment because there’s something here that’s really big, and that big thing has to do with what is and is not mental illness, which is another way of saying what is and is not normative for human beings. For Christians, this turns out to be a really big issue. Because when you jump from the law, for example, to psychiatric or psychological sectors of society, you’re still confronting very much something of the same pattern and that is to say, how mental health professionals as they call themselves, how the therapeutic empire, how it defines mental illness has a lot to do with taking sides in the great moral battles of the age.

That’s exactly what happened in 1972, 1973 with the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association very similarly, in about a two-year period, both of those organizations went from saying that homosexuality is mental illness to saying, “No, it’s not. Coping difficulties with homosexual identity are the mental illness.” Now, why do they state it that way? They want to get paid. They have to have a code. You don’t get paid by insurance for your bill from a psychiatrist or a psychologist unless there is some diagnosis, and the diagnosis is going to have to be a problem. Nobody is going to pay, no insurance company is going to cover you for going to talk to somebody about how happy you are, unless you’re troubled by how happy you are.

So, the coding becomes a symbol of the great moral transformation. Homosexuality is no longer a mental disorder, but having a problem with homosexuality, well, that’s now the mental disorder. That’s why what’s going on in Peru is actually so important to Christians everywhere. And it is because in Peru the mental health authorities, we are told, wanted to get paid for their work with transgender and gender non-binary people. So, the government entity came out and said that it classified transgender identity as a mental health problem, and if it’s a mental health problem, then it is covered by the insurance coverage. But if it’s not, it’s not going to be covered by the insurance.

And on the other hand, it is a big political blow. It’s a very clear moral signal, when you say that transgender identity is a form of a mental health problem. And as it turns out, the government’s now going to have to backtrack. And predictably, what’s going to happen is exactly what happened in the United States on the question of homosexuality. It’s going to be a complete reversal. And I just want to point out that that’s another way a society polices its moral judgments. It’s not just a matter of saying, “That’s legal. This is illegal. Okay, we’re going to switch that all of a sudden.”

It’s also saying, “This is mental illness. No, wait just a minute. The opposite’s mental illness.” And that’s going to be used against conservative Christians. I can just guarantee you that’s going to be used. And so, you see already, even as this took place on the question of homosexuality, now in Peru, it’s taking place over the transgender issue. Let me get to the bottom line. The entire society around this insurance companies, the psychotherapeutic community, psychologists, psychiatrists, the various associations of psychologists and psychiatrists and all the therapists, they’re going to consider either, transgender identity, or having a problem with transgender identity to be a mental illness, one or the other, guaranteed.

So, it is really, really interesting all of a sudden to recognize that as you’re looking here at an article about a controversy in Peru over medical coding, you need to understand you should be even more alert to the same kind of issues developing here in the United States. Once again, we see how a society works and how a society, absolutely now at war with God’s law and with creation order, absolutely at war with biology as a matter of fact, even down to the definition of boy and girl, whoever sets these policies is setting the moral direction. Not only saying this is positive, but saying that’s negative, with the negative being reflected in the psychotherapeutic literature and policy and diagnoses, as well as in the law. 

Once again, we have been warned.

Part III

Vatican Apologizes for Pope’s Use of Anti-Gay Slur: A Flimsy Apology from the Vatican and a Rare Moral Denoucement on Homosexuality from Pope Francis

But okay, I am going to take on a story. Many people have asked about it and it is so important we’re going to have to talk about it, but I’m going to have to talk about it a little bit in code. I’m talking about the pope getting into such hot water for having spoken to 250 bishops, and when he was talking about the problems in the seminaries, he made very clear there are too many homosexual priests, in training, in the seminaries. Yes, this is Pope Francis. And he used a term that’s described in the press as derogatory. I’m not going to use it. I’ll simply tell you it is derogatory. And yes, the pope used it. There’s some huge things here we need to think about. We’re going to have to do it quickly. We have a pope who has tried to present himself as so progressive on so many of these issues ,and who has actually confused so many questions, so intentionally, he now finds himself in a controversy, which by the way is rooted in statements he’s made in the past.

The pope has already discussed how concerned he is about persons with homosexual orientation and identity entering the priesthood. Now, obviously that should be a problem, that’s consistent with the catechism of the Roman Catholic Church. But this pope, he is the author of more confusion, and for that matter, more mixed signaling than just about any human being might be thought to be capable. But in this case, the pope is in hot water, not so much just because of his argument, but because of his language. And it is rather shocking the pope used this kind of language. It’s kind of like finding out how he talks in private, only it wasn’t in private. He was talking to 250 bishops, and evidently, one of them decided to tattle.

So, all of this of course, led to predictable international headlines. Frankly, it’s hard to find a major international news site that hasn’t paid this some kind of attention. I mean, it’s not every day you have the pope of the Roman Catholic Church using this kind of language. It’s not every day you have the Vatican apologizing. But I want to point to the fact this is a very, very weak apology. I’m going to read to you exactly what the Vatican spokesman put out as the supposed apology. Matteo Bruni, the press office director for the Vatican said on Tuesday, “Pope Francis is aware of articles that recently came out about a conversation behind closed doors.” The spokesman went on to say, “The pope never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms, and he extends his apologies to those who were offended by the use of a term reported by others.”

Now, not only is what the pope said kind of shocking for a pope, and in particular this pope, but that apology from the Vatican is about as empty and conditional and smarmy as any statement of apology might be. He didn’t say that what the pope did was just morally wrong, he said that the pope never intended it to be homophobic. Well, that’s actually very hard to believe. And the second thing is, he said that the apology was offered to those who were offended by the Pope’s statement.

Now, as has been noted many times in the past, politicians and others tend to say, “I apologize if this offended you.” Well, frankly, if what you did is just morally wrong, then it’s morally wrong. The wrong is not the offense. In other words, the wrong is what the pope did. Now, I think what’s really morally more important is the fact that the pope, accidentally, awkwardly said the right thing, although he used the wrong words. The pope’s absolutely right to be concerned about sexual immorality in the form of homosexual behavior in the Roman Catholic clergy. I mean, after all, the New York Times reported yesterday that some authorities are claiming that “gay men probably make up at least 30% to 40% of the Catholic clergy in the United States.” The next sentence, by the way, is interesting, “Like all Catholic priests, they take a vow of celibacy.” Wow, those are big numbers.

This pope has been receiving so much attention and frankly has been sending such mixed signals all along. It just points to the compound problem of the papacy itself, but even to an extent that frankly makes virtually all other confusing popes to look like rank amateurs. Francis has raised this to an art form. He says, “You can bless same-sex unions,” but then comes back to say, “No, it isn’t the unions. You can just bless the people who are in the unions.” He says, “Who am I to judge?” But when you look at the statement the pope just said, backing up something he said before, the attention’s to the language. But the reality is the pope just decided that when it comes to admissions to Catholic seminaries, he’s going to judge after all.

So, when he asks, “Who am I to judge?” It turns out, well, he actually thinks he’s the one to judge, at least when he wants to. I looked at this news story and just wondered to myself, “Do we have to go there again?” But then, you look at the story and you see the response, and you look at the language and you go, “Yep, we got to go there again.” 

I’ll simply end by saying, sorry if you’re offended by that.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing. 

For more information, go to 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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