February 3, 2016
This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
It’s Wednesday, February 3, 2016. I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
US looks to register women for the draft, comes face-to-face with egalitarian implications
One of the biggest questions facing the American society is whether or not the American people have actually bought into the sexual and moral revolution taking place around us. There are millions of Americans who believe they have signed on to this. The question is, have they really? That’s a question that is going to be answered on multiple fronts, and one of them is the focus of the most important news story to break in the last 24 hours. Dan Lamothe at the Washington Post reports with a story headlined,
“Army and Marine Corps chiefs: It’s time for women to register for the draft.”Show Full Transcript
As Lamothe writes,
“The top officers in the Army and Marine Corps testified on Tuesday that they believe it is time for women to register for future military drafts, following the Pentagon’s recent decision to open all jobs in combat units to female service members.”
He went on to report,
“Gen. Mark A. Milley, chief of staff of the Army, and Gen. Robert B. Neller, the Marine Corps commandant, both said they were in favor of the change during an occasionally contentious Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the full integration of women in the military.”
Now this is a huge story, and it’s an inevitable story. We discussed on The Briefing that the decision announced just weeks ago by the armed services to open all combat positions to women was a decision inevitably also to require women to register for the draft. The argument behind what took place in the military in the opening of all these combat positions, at least theoretically to women, the argument was one of equality. But this is where the revolution really hits home. Does equality of obligation come with equality of opportunity? Logically, there is no way to separate the one from the other. The opening of all these combat positions to women was premised upon the argument that women deserve an equal opportunity to serve in these positions. But we need to note that with that equality of opportunity comes an equality of obligation. This was acknowledged at least by some intellectually honest people when the Defense Department made that announcement just in recent weeks. But most Americans evidently preferred not to think about it. That is no longer an option.
Here you have the heads of two of our branches of the armed services, the Chief of Staff of the Army and the Marine Corps Commandant, both saying that now is the time not only to allow, but to require all young women, as well as young men, to register for a potential draft. Now at this point in American history there is no draft, but the keeping of this registration is there so that the government has the list from which it can draw if indeed there were to be a reinstitution of the draft. The big question here is of course not the draft; the big question is the service of women in the military. But what we need to note is that this worldview has indeed landed right at home. Do Americans really understand that now we have the heads of two of the branches of the United States armed services saying that our daughters, your daughters, must be registered for the draft in an event there could be a need for the conscription of armed soldiers? And this would include now young men as well as young women.
The Obama Administration championed this announcement from the Secretary of Defense as being a sign of the full integration of women in society, something to which we were obligated if American women were to achieve equality in terms of this very secular definition. But what we now see is that Americans are going to have to wake up to the reality that not only is there the theoretical issue of women in combat, not only now is there the official policy of the Defense Department in which all combat positions are to be equally open to men and women by qualification, but there is now the open statement before the United States Congress that women, young women, should be signed up for the draft just as young men. This raises a huge question. Are we the kind of society ready to draft young women equally with young men for combat positions in the event of such a national need? Asked about the question, General Milley told Senators,
“It is my personal view that based on the lifting of restrictions; every American who is physically qualified should register for the draft.”
He went on to say,
“Senator, I think that all eligible and qualified men and women should register for the draft.”
Now many Americans may sit back and say there is no draft at present; this isn’t really a clear and present danger to their own daughters or to their own convictions. But in reality, all that is hypothetical. It’s only a matter of time. The Commandant of the Marine Corps said that under the new situation in which women are no longer exempted from certain combat roles—they shouldn’t be exempted from the draft either.
Now there’s something else we have to note here. Once you have equal conscription for the draft, you have the equal opportunity for young men and young women to be called up for active military service in the event of a national defense need. But there’s more, and this was made clear by many in the armed services immediately after the Secretary of Defense made that announcement about the openness of all combat positions to women.
The majority of men right now serving in combat positions include those who are not doing so voluntarily. They signed up for the armed services, but they did not sign up for combat. But they have no choice but to serve in combat because, having entered the armed services, they have to do as they are commanded. They go where they are assigned. So there have been tens of thousands of men in recent American history, and there have been hundreds of thousands of men, indeed, millions of American men, who have found themselves in combat without joining that voluntarily in past United States wars. The reality is now that there is nothing to prevent young women once they are registered for the draft from having the very same experience.
Christians need to be aware of the fact that this raises some very, very basic issues. In the larger society, operating from a secular worldview, there is likely to be a great discomfort with this announcement and with the inevitability of the fact that there is now no compelling argument against registering young women for the draft. But increasingly, denying that there is any basic difference between men and women, that secular worldview has forfeited any ability to say that this is wrong, only that there is some kind of cultural distaste for it.
The Christian worldview based in Scripture tells us that God made human beings for his glory, in his image, equally in his image, but with different roles for men and women, a pattern known as complementarity, even as God said he would make a helper, a complement fitting for Adam. And so in the Bible, we have a layout of the fact that beginning especially in the home and also in the church, there is a pattern of responsibilities, a complementarity of roles that combines men and women. But we need to note—and this is what is essential to the Christian worldview—that we should not interfere with anything that would tamper with or compromise a culture’s ability for women to fulfill what is made very clear in Scripture, and that is the primary responsibility in the home and clear patterns of responsibility in the church. And when you expand that to the larger culture, it doesn’t mean that a woman should never serve in a leadership position, should never be CEO of a company, should never be president or prime minister of a country, but it does mean that the primary role for women should be understood, even in the larger society, as being different from the primary role of men. And in particular, what we’re looking at in terms of the forced conscription of women, even the registration of women for the draft, is that this is a nation that is now going to be willing to compel its young women to serve in the front lines of combat; and we need to consider what that means in terms of who we are as a people.
Feminists look at every previous civilization and see a pattern of patriarchy, but one of the things we need to note is that that patriarchy has included a code of honor in which it is the responsibility of the entire society and of the men in society to protect women and children. In the confused age around us, one of the most interesting questions is whether or not it was right for instance in the sinking of the Titanic for the motto to be “Women and children first.” If the issue is that there is no distinction between men and women, then there should have been no distinction between men and women in the sinking of the Titanic. But most people still feel a residual sense of revulsion against the idea that there isn’t a distinction between men and women in the sinking of a ship and of priority of who gets in the lifeboat, and the reason for that, we should understand as biblical Christians, is that God not only made us in his image, but implanted in us a knowledge that we cannot not know; there is a basic knowledge that is revealed in that moral judgment. But if that makes a difference as to who should be on the lifeboat on the Titanic, it also makes a difference as to who should be in the front lines and in the foxholes.
It is really important that Christians think through these issues in terms of biblical anthropology and understanding of God’s intention in creation; but it is also very, very important that we observe what is going on around us, full evidence of the fact that a secular society, operating from a purely secular worldview, has lost even the ability to make arguments against registering young women on an equal basis with young men for the draft.
Recent pro-life victories in Kentucky made possible by election of pro-life governor
Next, shifting to Kentucky, further evidence of the fact that elections have consequences. Kentucky’s new governor elected in November, who took office just in December, Matt Bevin, yesterday signed into law what is known as an informed-consent law. It is a law similar to those adopted in many other states that would require a woman seeking an abortion to receive a briefing, to receive crucial information on what an abortion actually is before moving to actually have an abortion. It is the kind of common sense law that has been adopted in many states. It’s also the kind of law that the pro-abortion movement targets for legal challenge, and you can be sure that’s going to happen in Kentucky. But as I said, there is full evidence of why elections matter—sometimes it is a matter of life and death.
Yesterday afternoon, the Courier-Journal in Louisville reported,
“It was quick, albeit unorthodox, when Kentucky’s governor signed into law an abortion bill as soon as a delegation of lawmakers presented it to him.”
The reporter goes on to say,
“The first bill signed by Gov. Matt Bevin since taking office updates the state’s informed consent law requiring women seeking abortions be told of medical risks and benefits at least 24 hours beforehand.
“The bill gives patients and doctors the option of meetings in person or by video.”
What makes this story really interesting is that this is the very first law signed into law by Kentucky’s governor; and furthermore, he signed it immediately after a contingent of lawmakers brought the bill to his desk. As the report tells us,
“A group of lawmakers Tuesday accompanied the bill’s delivery to Bevin’s office.
“Bevin asked if they wanted him to sign it then or next week, when abortion opponents are planning a Capitol rally. The decision was to do it immediately, so the Republican governor signed it.”
Here in Kentucky, the issue of abortion has mushroomed into a huge statewide controversy, not only because of this informed-consent bill, but also because of a conflict between the governor’s office and Planned Parenthood, especially as located here in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past several days the governor’s office has accused Planned Parenthood of illegally performing abortions at a Planned Parenthood site here in Louisville. News reports emerged here in Louisville that the Planned Parenthood facility was performing abortions. That news broke on January 18. On January 28, Kentucky’s governor Matt Bevin responded that Planned Parenthood was,
“Openly and knowingly operating an unlicensed abortion facility in clear violation of the law.”
The Governor went on to say, and I quote,
“We will use the full force of the Commonwealth to put a stop to this. There is no room in Kentucky for this kind of blatant disregard for proper legal procedure.”
Over the next several days Planned Parenthood officials in Louisville provided the media a set of correspondence with the outgoing administration of Democratic Governor Steve Beshear. That correspondence revealed that the Beshear administration suggested that the Planned Parenthood facility should go ahead and conduct abortions without a license, because the license could only be given if Planned Parenthood were to be visited by an unannounced visitor from the licensing authority to observe how abortions were taking place.
Sometimes, when you see a story like this, you just have to think of George Orwell in 1984. It is as if the moral world has been turned upside down. An abortion facility is told to violate the law by conducting abortions because it can’t be properly licensed until it is conducting abortions and those abortions are observed by medical authorities to make certain they meet the demands of the law.
Yesterday, Stephen Pitt, General Counsel for the Kentucky governor said,
“The policy of the Bevin administration is that the law will be followed,”
dismissing the arguments made by Planned Parenthood based on the correspondence with the previous administration. But what we’re looking at here has far deeper worldview implications. What we’re looking at here is the brazenness and boldness of Planned Parenthood and the language they use in defending their actions in Kentucky, not just about when the clinic began offering abortions, but the very business of killing unborn babies in the womb. The story of the controversy between Planned Parenthood and the Governor was on page 1, but on page 3 of yesterday’s edition of the Courier-Journal, Deborah Yetter had an article that began this way,
“As Planned Parenthood turns 100, officials with the regional branch met with reporters Monday to reaffirm their commitment to serving Kentucky and Indiana amid a controversy over its proposed abortion services.”
Betty Cockrum, identified as President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said,
“We’ve been here 80 years. We intend to be here another 80 years to serve the women, men and families of Kentucky with their reproductive and health care needs.”
Let’s look again closely at what we see here. We see the killing of unborn infants described as, let me just use her words again,
“…reproductive and healthcare needs.”
We’ve seen that in the national controversy over Planned Parenthood in the now-infamous videos showing Planned Parenthood’s senior medical officials acknowledging on video the fact that they were selectively and strategically aborting babies with the purpose of retrieving organs and tissues for use in medical experimentation. In that national controversy, as in this, we saw at the national level the same kind of argument. The defenders of Planned Parenthood and Planned Parenthood itself are at pains to describe everything they do in terms of health services. But it isn’t a health service for the unborn child. It is a death service. But the other thing we need to note here is the absolute upfront brazenness of Planned Parenthood and of their defenders in the larger culture. Deborah Yetter’s article in yesterday’s edition of the Courier-Journal included this statement,
“Planned Parenthood traces its origins to 1916 when Margaret Sanger, a pioneer in contraception, opened America’s first birth control clinic in Brooklyn, NY.”
What isn’t acknowledged there is the reality about Margaret Sanger. Margaret Sanger was one of the prime defenders of a worldview known as eugenics in the early decades of the 20th century. Eugenics comes down to the argument that there should be more babies born from the right people and fewer babies born from the wrong people. The motto popular at the time was, “More from the fit, less from the unfit.” The unfit in this category was described as being mentally deficient, and in many cases the clear implication was racial and ethnic. But with reference to the local Louisville branch of Planned Parenthood, Deborah Yetter’s article yesterday cited Kim Green, a lawyer in Louisville and President-elect of the Planned Parenthood organization for Indiana and Kentucky. According to Yetter, Green explained that adding abortion services in Kentucky has long been a goal of Planned Parenthood. In Yetter’s words,
“In order to offer a full complement of reproductive health care.”
So there you have it, a full complement of reproductive health care. What does that now include? It includes killing unborn children in the womb. Yesterday’s article in the Courier-Journal also indicates something of how in a fallen world, even bad publicity is good publicity for an organization like Planned Parenthood. This is how Deborah Yetter ends the article,
“While the current controversy has been difficult, Cockrum said it may have helped educate more people about the services Planned Parenthood offers.
“If more patients and potential patients in this region know of the services we provide, that’s a good thing.”
Well, it’s not a good thing for unborn children, more of whom will die if Planned Parenthood does exactly what they’re telling us they intend to do.
While some religious liberty battles are inevitable, Bevin shows how others are avoidable
Before leaving Kentucky, National Review reported on Kentucky in another light in an article that ran in the January 25 edition of that magazine.
“Kentucky’s new Governor, Republican Matt Bevin did what his Democratic predecessor should’ve done, issue an executive order changing forms so that County clerks do not have to put their names on wedding licenses for same-sex couples.”
As National Review reported,
“As a result of this accommodation such couples can receive licenses without requiring clerks who object to same-sex marriage to violate their consciences.”
National Review then makes this observation,
“If this order had been in place a few months ago, Kim Davis would never have made the national news.”
“Sometimes [writes National Review] respecting the rights of conscience raises sticky issues, but many of the religious liberty controversies of our day are entirely needless.”
To that I simply have to say, yes, entirely needless, but perhaps sadly inevitable.
China detains Christian pastor, sends signal to those who would challenge the atheist regime
Next, staying on the issue of religious liberty, but shifting the scene to China, a stunning headline that comes from Time magazine this week,
“China Has Imprisoned the Pastor of Its Largest Official Church.”
One of the things that Americans and others have been watching is where China is going to land in terms of the modern world. China is still a communist nation run by the Communist Party. It is still a dictatorship of that party. But China has been trying to move into the modern economic world by functioning, at least to a degree, as a market economy. But one of the things we need to note—and the Christian worldview helps us to understand this—is that a free market requires freedom, the freedom of citizens to make free decisions about what they will make and where they will work and where they will live and yes, how they will worship, the most fundamental freedom of all. Time magazine’s Rishi Iyengar, reporting from China tells us that,
“Authorities in China have detained the pastor of the country’s largest official Protestant church, who publicly objected to a government drive to demolish crosses on church buildings, in what rights groups say is part of a larger crackdown on religious freedom in the communist nation.”
So here you have China trying to join the modern world in terms of its economy while still being an absolute outlaw and outlier when it comes to human rights and in particular, in this case, the most fundamental of all human rights: religious liberty. This is Time magazine giving us the absolutely astounding news that China in public before the watching world has arrested the pastor of its largest Protestant church and the pastor’s wife. In language that anyone knowing the Communist Party will find hauntingly familiar, the Chinese Communist Party said that the pastor and his wife have been placed under,
“…residential surveillance in a designated location”
This refers to what in the West are called “black jails”—that is undeclared prisons in China. Over the past year, several people in China have disappeared, including some of China’s most prominent businesspeople, and now it’s most prominent pastor. The pastor, known as Joseph Gu, according to Time,
“…was reportedly removed from his post by China’s Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), the Chinese Communist Party–sanctioned authority that regulates churches, 10 days prior to his detention.”
The importance of the story was underlined in Time magazine by Bob Fu; he is the president and founder of the group known as China Aid. He said that the pastor will be,
“…the highest-ranking national church leader arrested since the Cultural Revolution.”
Time tells us that the pastor’s imprisonment has caused a wave of alarm to cross China’s evangelical community. As Fu said,
“This is really quite an escalation. It sends a signal to silence any potential future dissenting voices from within the church. It tells everyone to shut up.”
A couple of things we need to note here, and this goes back to the sad tragic experience of the world with communism going back to the early 20th century. One of the things that becomes evident is that communist governments consider their greatest enemies to be Christian churches. That has been very evident from the beginning as communism itself is based upon Marxism, which is based fundamentally in an atheistic worldview. There is nothing so threatening to an atheistic worldview as theism, and in particular, as Christianity.
The other thing we need to note, sadly, is that what we see here is evidence of what a Communist Party does. This is how a Communist Party defends itself over against any rival influence, including the influence of evangelical Christianity. Bob Fu got it exactly right. The signal that was intended to be sent by the Chinese Communist Party in the arrest of this pastor of China’s largest church and the disappearance of his wife is this: It says to everyone, shut up. While we deal directly and honestly with the religious liberty challenges we face in this country, Christians here should be humbled to pray for Christians in other parts of the world dealing with far more significant and direct threats to religious liberty than we know here. We need to pray for Christians in other parts of the world where the threat to religious liberty is not just the question of acceptance or not acceptance, of privilege or loss of privilege, but a matter of jail or no jail—or even more hauntingly—a question of life or death.