Albert Mohler continues to demonstrate that he is not content to let the Bible be the Bible.

In a December 2005 interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Mohler defended one of his more interesting authoritative pronouncements in recent years, a discourse on the “moral rebellion” of adult singleness and willing childlessness.

The problem, according to Mohler in an editorial piece published in the Louisville Courier-Journal, is that there is a “left-wing” “pattern of childlessness” (referring to trends of singleness and married couples choosing not to have children) in modern America.

Responding to a childless woman’s comment about choosing to “focus those motherly feelings elsewhere,” Mohler declared that the “worldview [of intentional childlessness] is sick…. Christians must recognize that this rebellion against parenthood represents nothing less than an absolute revolt against God’s design.”

Come again, Al?

“The church should insist that the biblical formula calls for adulthood to mean marriage and marriage to mean children,” Mohler declares. “Willful barrenness and chosen childlessness must be named as moral rebellion.”

He continues: “Marriage, sex and children are part of one package. To deny any part of this wholeness is to reject God’s intention in creation–and His mandate revealed in the Bible.”

This new revelation would certainly be a surprise to the Apostle Paul, who declared in no uncertain terms that celibacy is preferable to marriage and family in regards to focusing on serving God.  Obviously Paul was in “absolute revolt” and “moral rebellion” against God when in 1 Corinthians 7 he wrote, “he who does not marry does even better” than he who does marry.

Mohler seems truly convinced that without the added assistance of his self-appointed theological revelations that tell the Bible what it should say, the written Word of God is weak, wimpy, defenseless and vulnerable to the horrors of anyone (read, “liberals”) in the world reading it and daring to interpret it for himself or herself.
Mohler is certainly not the only religious fundamentalist who claims to know what the Bible should say, rather than what it actually does say.

However, what separates Dr. Albert Mohler from other fundamentalists is his position as president of Southern Baptists’ oldest seminary, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

For a theologian and academic of Mohler’s stature to issue a public and scathing edict on the “moral rebellion” of singleness and chosen childlessness within marriage, in direct opposition to the Apostle Paul’s teaching, is no small matter.

One would presume that Mohler’s bold stance indicates that he has the weight of biblical testimony on his side.  Oddly enough, however, he directly references only one scriptural passage (Psalm 127:3-5) in condemning adult singleness and willful childlessness.

Although I have yet to meet a Baptist who would deny that children are a blessing from God, as the Psalmist declares, I also know godly Baptist singles and couples, both young and old, who purposefully chose childlessness.

And whereas Paul argues that such persons are freer to serve God without additional family responsibilities, Mohler is adamant that in order to be found righteous in the sight of God, one must first marry and then procreate (although he is gracious enough to excuse infertile couples for not procreating).

Frankly, this new revelation sounds like thinly veiled Mormon theology, in which large families are a sign of godliness and child-bearing and raising are part of the salvation equation.

At the very least, Mohler’s revelation is in the tradition of the New Testament Pharisees who substituted their opinions in the place of Scripture and condemned anyone who disobeyed their proscriptions.

In the end, one cannot help but wonder: does Albert Mohler truly believe the Bible listens when he speaks?

Bruce Gourley is associate director of the Center for Baptist Studies at Mercer University.

This column also appears in the February 2006 “Baptist Studies Bulletin” and is used here with permission.

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