Thursday, June 6, 2024

It’s Thursday, June 6th, 2024. 

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

Part I

A Political Stunt But Also a Big Moral Issue: What’s Behind the Democrat’s Contraceptive Bill

Well, we really are living in interesting days. Yesterday, in the United States Senate, Democrats led by their party leader, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democratic Senator of New York, they pushed forward legislation that would legalize a protection for or a right to contraception or birth control. Now, those are not exactly the same thing, more on that in just a moment. Well, it was theater and what was that theater all about? Well, it was all about scoring political points. The same thing, by the way, is to be expected in the United States House of Representatives where you have Democrats working on what’s called a discharge petition to try to push a measure to the floor just in order to embarrass Republicans, that’s exactly what the Democrats are trying to do.

And the reason for that is that, as you look at the legislation, it was uniformly presented, especially in the mainstream media, as being about guaranteeing a right to birth control but, when you actually look at the text of the legislation, predictably, it went further than that and, in particular, it gets right up to the issue of abortion. And furthermore, it also would deny all of the conscience protections given to medical personnel at present. So, this really is a sinister bill. And even as it was debated on the floor of the Senate yesterday, you could see the clash of worldviews. But the New York Times had a headline, “GOP on Spot to Guarantee Birth Control.” Similar headlines appear just about everywhere because this was clearly a political ploy in the middle of an election year. And of course, one of the crucial questions in the 2024 general election is who’s going to control the United States Senate? Will it be the Democrats or will it be the Republicans?

The numbers at this point favor the Republicans simply because there are more Democratic seats at stake. By the way, if that is true one year, another year, it’s going to be the flip of that simply because of the math. But at least in 2024, the Democrats know they’re going to have to fight hard if they’re going to maintain any of these contested seats and so they’re going to be bringing up bill after bill like this in order to signal their base and in order, basically, to work a propaganda plan. It’s not the first time this has happened, it won’t be the last time this has happened. But on this issue, Christians need to understand there’s a lot more here than meets the eye.

Now, when we back up for a moment, we need to recognize that the headlines have said “birth control.” The New York Daily News coming, basically, from, say, a more conservative position used the words birth control. The New York Times, “GOP on Spot to Guarantee Birth Control.” Here’s where we need to recognize it, that’s not the wrong word. Sometimes you hear the word contraception but, in the case of many of the technologies or devices that are at stake here, we really are not talking about contraception, we are talking about birth control. And here’s where Christians seeking to hold to a consistent pro-life position are going to have to think very carefully, very fast and very faithfully.

So, what’s the difference between contraception and birth control? Well, birth control’s a far broader category. Contraception, by the very use of the vocabulary, means something that prevents, contra, ception. So, this is contraception. That means, in classic form, a contraceptive has to prevent the successful fertilization of the egg or, here’s a sleight of hand that’s been played by the medical community, some are using the word now to say the successful implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterine wall. If those two things don’t happen, you do not have a pregnancy. As a matter of fact, if those two things don’t happen, in almost all cases, you don’t even know there might have been a pregnancy. Contraception is an effort to try to prevent conception.

Now, we’re going to have to push back against the manipulation of that word, we’re going to have to push back against the effort to redefine conception away from fertilization that’s why we have to keep using the word fertilization and instead, doing what the more liberal side wants to do, which is to redefine it as the successful implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterine wall. Now, let’s just understand why the left wants to do that, why do pro-abortion forces want to do that, why does the medical establishment want to do that? It’s because that allows them or gives them cover to claim some birth control technologies as contraceptives when they’re not. They are birth control technologies, but they are not preventing conception. What Christians have to understand is that, once we’re talking about conception, accurately, honestly defined, we are talking about an unborn human being, period.

But the word birth control, that’s actually a very wide category which could include deliberate efforts to try to prevent a birth. So, the difference between contraception and birth control is a matter of something like, you can do the math, up to nine months. Birth control is something that prevents a birth or controls birth and it came about in particular because of political and moral shifts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries but technologies that were only available by, say, the 1960s, certainly, in widespread form. Now, we need a moment of honest admission here and that admission is that conservative evangelical Christians were not ready for this debate when it arrived. And as a matter of fact, many evangelicals back in the 1960s into the 1970s were utterly confused about this issue, there was more serious moral consideration in other theological circles, that’s something that had to be remedied.

And so, by the time you get to the 1980s and the 1990s, but even before that, when you had the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion handed down in 1973, evangelicals had to think fast, conservative Protestants had to think with urgency. But we’re noticing something else as we look at this. Not only is there the great moral challenge that is represented by the confusion of the word contraception and the deliberate confusion of using the term birth control, you also have a very clear anti-natalist agenda going on here. So, what in the world is that? Natal means birth in this sense, anti-natalist means an effort to try to keep babies from being born. And you say, “Who would want to do that?”

Because on the other side, you have all these modern reproductive technologies that come with their own moral issues. People trying to have babies, couples trying to have babies. Of course, these days, you have same sex couples trying to have babies and single persons trying to have babies with those assisted reproductive technologies. That’s one of the moral complications, moral wrongs in the midst of all of that. But we need to note that the last half of the 20th century saw a sustained effort to try to lower the birth rate. And when I say sustained effort, that was undertaken, not only by cultural forces, but with the active and coercive power of governments.

Now, just in terms of the numbers, the reality is that the people who were pushing those birth control methods or anti-natalist agendas, they thought they were losing the effort, turned out they were actually winning. You look at the birth rate problems right now, that’s not having too many babies born, it’s having too few babies born. That’s a very sad commentary, the Christian worldview explains that too. Once you begin to defy God’s order, God’s command and creation order, you get used to it, your lifestyles adjust to that rebellion, that’s exactly what’s going on around us.

But the other big problem that many evangelicals just are reluctant to acknowledge is that some forms of what are called contraception aren’t actually contraceptives. They operate by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall, thus, ending the pregnancy. And you’re looking at technologies that, undoubtedly, at least part of the time, even if not most of the time, operate in that way and that’s conceded, sometimes even listed as a possible side effect, when you look at all the small print that comes with whatever the medical device or pill may be deployed.

But as I said, this Senate bill, and you can expect the democratic form of the bill in the House is going to do the same thing, it, like in so many other cases, such as what the Democrats would do in national abortion legislation. President Biden says he wants to legislate Roe, don’t believe that for a moment, there is no way. As horrifying as legislating Roe would be, there’s no way they would stop with that, there’s no way at all. And as you look at this bill, they say it’s about preventing the denial of birth control access in all 50 states. And by the way, a very smart thing was done yesterday on the floor of the Senate by Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana. He put up a map of all the states where birth control is limited by legislation, that would be no state. In no state is birth control denied, access to birth control denied.

Now, of course, there are other things that are involved here including what amounts to abortion pills. And you and I know that, but what you have in this democratic bill that came before the Senate yesterday, at least for what’s known as a cloture vote before it could go onto a vote on the legislation itself, even as you look at what was debated, as I say, the bill went far beyond just supposedly guaranteeing a right to birth control or access to birth control, it went on to deny conscience protections and that means religious liberty for medical personnel who, for ethical, moral and religious reasons, theological, doctrinal, Christian reasons, can’t participate in the dissemination of, or the distribution of, certain abortive facient or likely abortive facient medications or technologies.

I want to go back to the comments made on the floor of the Senate yesterday by Louisiana Republican Senator John Kennedy, he went on and identified three moral concerns with the legislation yesterday. Number one, that it would include a so-called right to what amounts to a chemical abortion. And then, number two, that it would compromise, as I said, the conscience rights of medical personnel. And then, number three, it would legislatively prioritize Planned Parenthood and this means, as Senator Kennedy said, this is not life affirming legislation. Well, of course it’s not life-affirming legislation, it was intended to be the opposite of life-affirming legislation. And it’s really interesting to look at the language used by those who are pushing this legislation, they are saying basically two things which is: women lost the right to an abortion in 2022, it’s a danger they’re going to lose the right to birth control.

And you just look at that and you say, “Well, number one, again, what a ridiculous understanding of rights.” If a woman had a right to an abortion, when did that right come about? Clearly that means it’s not a natural right, it’s not a creation order right, no, it was a 1973 Supreme Court of the United States wrongly constructed right. But you see the logic of the left, once you invent a right, once the Supreme Court or some of the body declares this to be a right, even if no human civilization before had ever recognized such a right and there is no worldview foundation whatsoever for such a right, well, when you take it back, you are withdrawing a right.

And so, this is the scare tactic that’s being used and don’t miss for a moment this is all about the politics of the 2024 election. But in general terms, that points to the stakes in the presidential election but understand that those in the Senate yesterday are far more concerned with the elections in the Senate and, for some of them, it’s a matter of whether or not they will be there a matter of months from now.

Part II

An Epidemic of Gambling Among Young Men Shows Up Again in Sports: Tucupita Marcano Receives Lifetime Ban from Baseball for Violating Rule 21

But next, we need to shift to another issue of real moral concern in the United States and that is the spread of what I would call an epidemic of gambling and, in this case, we’re really talking about legalized gambling all across the United States. And one of the things that Christians need to understand is that gambling itself is something addressed in Scripture. It’s addressed in Scripture in such a way that you’re a fool if you cast lots and play the money games and the one who treats money that way is like the one who puts his money in a bag with holes in it. And so, in the wisdom literature, the Old Testament, and very clearly, the biblical worldview says that you don’t apologize for earnings but, when it comes to gambling, it’s just a ridiculous waste.

And of course, just in moral terms, you can see what happens when you have a society or just even take a town that gives itself over to gambling. And by the way, the thing you need to note is that, if you look at the centers of gambling when it comes to casinos and other things, it’s not just the sin of gambling that shows up in that context, it’s an assortment of other sins that tend to follow along the same money line. But let’s just consider the fact that the big news on gambling this week is the fact that a young man who had been considered a promising young player for the San Diego Padres, that will be infielder Tucupita Marcano, is now banned from baseball for life.

Now, this was the application of the infamous Rule 21 of Major League Baseball. The rules against Gambling by Major League Baseball rules have to be prominently posted in the clubhouse so that players have to see these rules over and over again and the most important of these rules is Rule 21. It has been applied most famously, I think, in baseball history, a matter of decades ago to Pete Rose who was a baseball manager after he was a player. And Rule 21 simply says that, if you engage in betting and baseball and your own team is involved, then you are eliminated from baseball forever, you can never play again in the entire universe of Major League baseball.

Now, when it comes to this young man, he is a very, very young man and he did have what would be considered a promising future. And by the way, he lost a lot of money in this bet because, even though the bet may have been for just a few dollars, he lost a salary of over $700,000 a year. And there are patterns that even the mainstream media are beginning to detect. One thing is that young men are more likely to have problems with gambling than any other portion, any other segment of the population. Now, such a gambling addiction would certainly apply to at least some women and, of course, to some older men. By the time Pete Rose was caught in the web of his gambling, he was no spring chicken.

But when you are talking about many of the players who have more recently been caught, and you’re looking at the problem, and you’re also looking at where the gambling industry knows it has to direct all of its advertising and efforts, it is not towards people across the age spectrum, it is not equally towards men and women, it is in particular towards men and specifically towards younger men. Considering how this particular compulsive behavior tends to be accentuated among younger men and, in particular, among younger professional athletes, Gabe Lacques of USA Today tells us, “according to the Responsible Gambling Council, people between the ages of 18 and 24 are at high risk of developing gambling problems thanks to a still developing brain and incomplete emotional and logical development.” But even in this article, goes on to say, this is speaking about young people but it’s really overwhelmingly, overwhelmingly young men.

And when it comes to recent athletes caught in the web, particularly of professional athletes in baseball who have been caught gambling and sanctions brought against them, one was identified as a 31-year-old who pitched for the athletics. It turns out that, even USA Today notes, he was the only one of these recent players who was, “old enough to rent a car in most states when he placed the bets that got him in trouble” As for the others, a 20-year-old, a 21-year-old, a 24-year-old and then Lacques writes, “all of them barely above the legal gambling age of 21 in most states but that legal age is only 18, as he says amazingly enough, in Kentucky, Rhode Island, Wyoming, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia.”

And so, the headlines and the mainstream media, they’re basically focusing most importantly on that young player, former player now, for the Padres who is banned for life from baseball. But, you also have at least a tacit admission of the fact that gambling is presenting insurmountable problems for professional sports. And one of the points I want to make is that that set of insurmountable problems is not going to stay at the level of professional sports, it is almost assuredly going to ensnare many in collegiate or university sports as well and we’ve already seen that. We’ve seen a major athletic coach, at an SEC university, who had to leave because of what was acknowledged as gambling.

And you’re looking at a massive problem, we understand we’re seeing only the tip of the iceberg. And by the way, even advocates for legalized gambling acknowledge that, at this point, we’re seeing only the tip of the iceberg. But what’s not acknowledged in all of this is what Christians have to think about which is that, when you create economic incentives for the wrong kind of behavior, you are buying what you’re going to get. You’re going to buy all kinds of moral pathologies, you’re going to buy all kinds of broken lives, you’re going to buy all kinds of institutional corruption, you’re going to buy all kinds of problems and these were not something that were inflicted upon you by an enemy, no, this is what you did to yourself.

Now, it’s really interesting to note that many of the big economic analyses offered when it comes to legalized gambling in sports says it was inevitable, because sports is big money and it was inevitable that they weren’t going to leave the big money of legalized gambling, say, on the table, they were going to have to go for it. And then the logic goes, well, if the professional teams are going to have to go for it, the professional leagues, the professional sports, then, well, the collegiate sports are going to have to do the same thing because, after all, how could they leave that money on the table. Before you know it, you’re going to have betting on your grandson’s little league game. And what will the rationale be? Hey, you can’t leave that money on the table.

And the thing we need to keep in mind is that even as there was initial conversation after the Supreme Court decision about what might happen when legalized gambling spread in this way, even as there was an initial conversation about the fact that this just might not be a good idea, well, the opportunity for mega millions, which are now mega billions, and one day will be trillions, it was simply a temptation too great for our society to deny itself. You just realize you haven’t only bought an entire system of legalized gambling, you have bought an entire set of comprehensive moral problems. And even as before, you had legalized gambling in the other states where it was just Atlantic City and Las Vegas, there were pockets of all kinds of bad behavior that were concentrated around those casinos, and there were evidences of all kinds of bad moral pathologies.

You had people who would go to town, they would get in trouble gambling and, the next thing you know, they sell the family car in order to cover their gambling debts. They went with a car, they come home to a family without one. How many paychecks during all those years were lost so that families went without? And that was before the spread of this commercialized gambling. And quite frankly, it was during a day in which, even as many adult men might be involved in this kind of activity, it was virtually impossible for college students and teenagers to do the same but, now, the apps are on the smartphone.

But finally for today, I just want to point to the fact that corruption won’t stay in one area of life. And so, you can easily understand how at least the logic and the mathematical model of gambling can work with athletic events, horse races, some competition in which there are multiple competitors, multiple teams in which there’s the dynamic of play, when this team plays that team, yeah, you can think that team’s going to win but then you’ve got all kinds of ways to bet from the point spread and just all kinds of things. But the point is, that once you get addicted to gambling, you’re gambling on things that make no sense whatsoever. And so, there are actually gambling systems based upon the stock market. I don’t mean the stock market’s a gambling system, I mean there are simply those who will bet on just about anything. And because you have stock statistics and those economic statistics released publicly, you have a basis for saying, “Hey, you won the bet and you lost.”

But if you think it’s going to stop there, you are wrong. How long is it before there’s betting on which student gets the higher grade on the algebra exam? Don’t think that’s ludicrous.

Part III

Legalized Betting on U.S. Elections is a Terrible Idea — If This Law is Passed, We Might Never Know If We Can Trust Our Election Results Again

Consider this LA Times headline, “The Dangerous Push to Legalize Gambling on US elections.” The Los Angeles Times tells us, “free and fair elections, the foundation of our democracy face an unprecedented array of threats as the next one approaches. While some of these threats are well-known, others go largely unnoticed with potentially serious consequences among the latter is a dangerous attempt to persuade one of our financial regulators to essentially authorize gambling on election results.”

So, just ask yourself the question honestly, just ask it fast, what could go wrong? The answer is everything could go wrong. You have fixed games, you have fixed boxing matches, you have fixed horse races, what about a fixed presidential election in the United States of America, just imagine what the stakes of that would be. The LA Times gets right to the moral issue if, in simplistic terms, “first and foremost, the ability to win tens or hundreds of millions of dollars gambling on elections would create powerful new incentives for bad actors to influence voters and manipulate the results to favor their bets.” You think? Our elections are problematic enough, can you imagine adding the uncertainty of having untold amounts of money based on legal gambling when it comes to electoral results?

If that were to happen, in all honesty, we might never know if we had a fair election again, ever. In the real world, the power of politics is a sufficient seduction to explain why there are those who will cheat in elections, and will seek to apply corruption to the electoral process but then you turn it into a gambling enterprise? Again, I don’t think there’s anyone who could look at that fairly and call it anything other than morally insane and yet, this is a proposal that is going before the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. It is also expected to be argued in federal court.

By the way, there is hard evidence as to what happens when you have gambling on an election. In the United States, there was not legal gambling in the election of 2012, the presidential contest between incumbent President Barack Obama, and Republican Challenger Mitt Romney. And it turns out that, in Ireland where there was a gambling site, it was reported that the Republican challenger was favored to win. So, in other words, there were reports, they turned out to be erroneous reports, that the Republican challenger was going to win the election. Listen to this, “on closer examination, however, it turned out that a single better had waged large sums of money to falsely prop up Romney.”

Now, here is something you just have to ask yourself real quickly and it’s something you can’t know just from these bare facts, was the effort in this case, that is to say even switching survey and polling results in order to influence gambling, was that really about influencing gambling as the attempt or was it an attempt to influence the election itself? Either way, you look at it, it’s a disaster. If it’s an attempt to influence the outcome of the election itself, it is an unmitigated disaster and it is a disaster that will be a contagion that is only certainly to spread. But before you comfort yourself that this is a hypothetical problem, it turns out that, state by state, it already may be an actual problem and that’s because much of the legislation that would regulate gambling is a state issue and many states at this point have no laws against legalized betting on elections. It is an absolutely sure bet that that’s going to lead to problems.

Meanwhile, let me ask, are you driving to Indianapolis for next week’s meeting at the Southern Baptist Convention? I’d like to invite you if you are to visit Southern Seminary in Boyce College here in Louisville, Kentucky on your way or as you travel home. Visit our world-class bookstore, you’re going to love it, meet our faculty, see our newly renovated library, enjoy a drink in our coffee shop and just come and enjoy being on this beautiful campus and being thankful for what the Lord has done here. We want to thank Southern Baptist for your generous support, for your prayers and for your faithfulness to this institution. For details and we’ll also send you a free drink coupon, visit, that’s simply I hope to see you here.

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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