Note: This essay first appeared in the
February 2006 Baptist Studies Bulletin. It was also reprinted in
the February 20, 2006 edition of
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 willful 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 ….
Willful barrenness and chosen childlessness must be named as moral
rebellion,” declares Mohler. 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
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, Kentucky. 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
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?