The World and Everything in It — May 8, 2020

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Good morning!

A new report shows U.S. marriage rates have reached an all time low. We’ll talk with John Stonestreet about what’s driving the plunge and how we can start reversing it.

NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Culture Friday.

Also a popular HBO movie contains an important lesson for modern media. But it comes with serious drawbacks.

And Myrna Brown talks to Christian recording artists putting a stay-at-home spin on their summer concert tours.

BASHAM: It’s Friday, May 8th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.

EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!

BASHAM: Up next, Kent Covington has the news.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Justice Department drops criminal case against Michael Flynn » The Department of Justice is dropping its criminal case against Michael Flynn, President Trump’s first national security adviser. 

The DOJ cited newly “discovered information” revealing wrongdoing within the FBI. Officials filed a motion to dismiss the case on Thursday stating Flynn’s interview with the FBI in January 2017 was—quote—“conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.” 

President Trump reacted hours later, saying Flynn was an “innocent man” and blasting those behind the investigation. 

TRUMP: And I hope a lot of people are going to pay a big price because they’re dishonest, crooked people. They’re scum.

Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to one count of lying to federal agents about his contact with Russian officials. He later moved to withdraw his guilty plea. 

Newly uncovered documents that suggest FBI agents on the case may have planned ahead of the interview to entrap Flynn. Documents also showed that the bureau’s former counterespionage chief, Peter Strzok, pushed to keep the Flynn probe open after the investigating agent planned to close it because he found no wrongdoing. 

Documents also suggest Strzok heavily edited notes from Flynn’s FBI interview. Strzok was later removed from the Russia probe after anti-Trump messages came to light, which he exchanged with his mistress, who was then an FBI lawyer.

On Thursday, the U.S. attorney reviewing the Flynn case, Jeff Jensen, said after reviewing the case, he recommended dropping charges and Attorney General William Bar agreed. 

Trump vetoes Iran war powers resolution » President Trump this week vetoed a resolution that stated he must get the nod from Congress before taking any further military action against Iran. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports.  

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Lawmakers in the House introduced the resolution after the U.S. airstrike that killed the leader of Iran’s proxy wars, General Qassem Soleimani. Some on Capitol Hill worried that an all-out conflict might follow … and a handful of Republicans in both chambers backed the resolution.

The Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war.  But President Trump said that doesn’t mean the president has to get permission from Congress to greenlight all military operations. 

Trump said—quote—“We live in a hostile world of evolving threats and the Constitution recognizes that the president must be able to anticipate our adversaries’ next moves and take swift and decisive action in response. That’s what I did!”

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Unemployment claims high but slowing » The number of U.S. workers filing jobless claims is slowly dropping. Last week, 3.2 million workers applied for unemployment benefits. That number, while still extremely high, could suggest the grimmest period of coronavirus layoffs has passed.

And on Wall Street, the Dow, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq all closed higher on Thursday. 

Johns Hopkins researcher warns states aren’t ready to reopen » As states begin their push to slowly reopen for business, one expert is warning they simply aren’t ready. 

Last month, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security crafted guidelines for governors on reopening. It includes a four part criteria: 

A decline in new cases for 14 days, enough testing capacity, sufficient healthcare capacity, and the ability to conduct thorough contact tracing. 

A researcher at the Center for Health Security, Dr. Caitlin Rivers, testified on Capitol Hill this week that not a single state meets all four criteria. 

Rivers’ colleague, Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist, said as states reopen Americans must take responsibility for their own safety.

ADALJA: Especially if you’re a vulnerable population, because the virus has not dissipated. It’s still going to pose a risk. And now this has to be something that you incorporate into your daily life routine, trying to minimize your risk of becoming infected. 

But not all states have adopted the Johns Hopkins criteria. And governors beginning the process of jumpstarting their economies say they’re doing so slowly and responsibly, incorporating the advice of medical experts.

Michigan Legislature sues governor over stay-home order » Michigan is not among the states taking steps to reopen and that has set up a clash between Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Republican-led legislature. 

House Speaker Lee Chatfield called the governor’s approach heavy handed.

CHATFIELD: Now, we believe you can prioritize public health, yet be reasonable in your approach to fighting COVID. 

And this week, the legislature sued the governor after she extended emergency stay-at-home orders by executive order until May 28th. 

Chatfield said by state law, only the legislature can extend a state of emergency and Whitmer’s order was unconstitutional.  

Justice Ginsburg discharged from hospital » Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is back at home today after being discharged from a Baltimore hospital.

The 87-year-old received nonsurgical treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital for an infection caused by a gallstone. She participated in oral arguments by telephone from her hospital room Wednesday.

Father, son arrested in fatal shooting of Georgia man » The Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced last night agents have arrested a father and son in the fatal shooting of an African-American man in February. 

The GBI said Gregory and Travis McMichael have been arrested for the murder of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery in the coastal town of Brunswick. 

A video released this week showed two white males in a truck pursuing Arbery before shooting him. The men told police said they believed Arbery matched the description of a burglary suspect. And Travis McMichael claimed he fired in self defense. 

A grand jury is expected to hear evidence in the case next month.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: the consequences of America’s declining marriage rate.

Plus, Christian musicians find new ways to share their music while stuck at home.

This is The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: It’s Friday the 8th of May, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Nick Eicher.

MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. 

Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report showing that the U.S. marriage rate has tumbled to an all-time low. And it is a plunge. Marriage rates dropped 6 percent in 2018 alone. 

Several factors may have contributed to the drop.

One, removing the stigma from pre-marital sex and living together has taken some of the pain out of delaying wedlock. Two, young women may be unwilling to commit to young men who increasingly have less education and poorer career prospects than they do. Three, studies show that most Americans no longer view marriage as intrinsically good for society.

EICHER: It’s Culture Friday and time to welcome John Stonestreet, the president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Good morning!


EICHER: So John, that Pew study Megan just referenced is pretty stark. We see that half of respondents agree with this sentence, “Society is just as well off if people have priorities other than marriage and children.”

Of course we know, purely factually, that that is just not true. 

We know that marriage researchers have been loudly sounding the alarm about our declining marriage rate and how it’s an objectively bad thing. We know that married people, for example, are more financially stable. We know they’re healthier. We know their children experience much, much better emotional and educational outcomes.

But let me zero in on this: Kids of married parents are 80 percent less likely to live in poverty.

So, John, I want to get your take on how we got here and how can we encourage more people to get married?

STONESTREET: Well, I think this would be the greatest tragedy if this COVID-19 pandemic closed Christian colleges. If you want more young people to get married, send them to Christian colleges. I’m serious. I’m not saying that’s the only reason to send them there, but it’s a significant reason to send them there.

Look, there’s a lot behind this. This isn’t a new trend. This is a longtime decline. This is clearly associated with two things: a growth in a more secular worldview across culture. For example, we’ve seen that throughout Europe where marriage rates and childbearing rates have been in steady decline. Not only that, but with the growth of the sexual revolution. And both of those things are directly connected. I often say when I speak to students, I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is the divorce rate is going down. The bad news is it’s because, and they all know, fewer people are getting married. 

The thing behind it, though, ideologically, is essentially that marriage itself has lost its distinctive. I got a private message on Facebook from a lesbian pastor, I guess, in the United Church of Christ denomination the other day chiding me on my views on traditional marriage. And she made the statement that marriage is basically nothing more than a loving relationship between two humans. And when you reduce it down to that, then marriage is no more distinct than, you know, if you have strong feelings of camaraderie with your tennis partner or your neighbor or your siblings or anything else.

The distinctive of marriage is its inherent connection with procreation. The fundamental divorce of the sexual revolution has been to divorce procreation from marriage. And when you do that, then you redefine marriage. That’s why extending marriage to same-sex couples is a redefinition, it’s not just an expansion. That’s also why the idea that marriage can be easily replaced by cohabitation, which is a much bigger problem, by the way, than same-sex marriage in my view just because it’s much more pervasive. 

And that leads to another finding that a Pew study found several years ago which I think really gets to the heart of this where for the first time in history a majority of Americans thought marriage to be irrelevant. And that’s different than even seeing it as good or bad. That’s different than saying it needs to change so that it’s not an instrument of, you know, patriarchy. That’s saying that it actually doesn’t play a role in the world, assuming that it’s a social construct rather than as much a part of the created world as, say, gravity.

BASHAM: You know, John, I read a great piece about all this from Andrew Walker titled, “Undoing the Genesis Mandate.”

I mention it because I’ve seen a number of think pieces in Christian publications recently saying: hey everyone, let’s stop overvaluing marriage and family. Now they may have a point in the abstract—we don’t want to make idols of our spouses or children or diminish those who aren’t married or parents. But every time I see an article like that I do kind of wonder, what culture are they talking to?

Because from where I sit, and from where the research sits, we have a lot of people, including young Christians, overvaluing singleness. Not as God’s rare calling for a few, but as a casual and increasingly popular option. 

It reminds me of old “affectionate uncle” Screwtape’s advice to young Wormwood: “Direct the fashionable outcry of each generation against those vices of which it is least in danger…have them running about with fire extinguishers whenever there is a flood.”

So what do you think John, has the church been bringing fire extinguishers to a flood? Or maybe better for this situation, are we bringing diet books to a famine?

STONESTREET: Well, I’ve kind of had the same feeling whenever I hear that. It’s kind of like one time when someone said, you know, I think the problem with youth groups is that they’re too intellectual. And I’m like, please take me to the youth group that is spending too much time on apologetics. But, anyway, it’s similar to that but I think it might actually be a little different. I don’t buy the “we worship marriage and family,” but I get where it’s coming from. It’s coming from the fact that we have not elevated our calling as human beings at every stage of life in a cultural context in which people are getting married later and later and later. So you have kind of the lost generation of, you know, you’re out of youth group, you’re supposed to go to big boy church, and what’s in it for me? Singles are not treated as adults because largely so many churches have bought into the perpetual adolescence of our cultural norms, which is really a damaging thing, and basically put them on the shelf unless they, of course, have gone outside of the traditional church context to something like YWAM or something like that where they’re immediately mobilized to go kind of live out their 20s on mission. But there’s not a value of the work and that sort of thing. So I know where it’s coming from. I really do. It basically means there’s not enough programs or not enough emphasis on the calling of singleness in that time period of life, particularly for young women. 

But I don’t think what’s true is that we worship marriage and family. I think the much more accurate description of what’s gone wrong is that we’ve fundamentally misunderstood marriage and family as a society, and that fundamental misunderstanding has come into the church. So, what you hear is, for example, marriage talked about in all kinds of functional, practical ways. We have marriage seminars on how to have marriage, how to do marriage, how to do marriage better, how to love your spouse, how to have better finances and a better sex life and everything else. And what’s been missing is a fundamental teaching, a catechism on what marriage itself is. So, the culture has been defining marriage, so most evangelical people in the pews often will then think of marriage in the same way that the culture does. That it’s an institution of adult happiness. That it’s completely untethered from anything like procreation, so that’s why premarital counseling essentially never deals with that topic other than to say, “Now, do you guys want to have kids or not?” And, “Do you agree?” Well, look, the idea of an intentionally childless marriage until the last maybe 50 years in Christian denominations would have been unthinkable. It would have been unheard of because there was a fundamental understanding that marriage itself is a creation ordinance. And because we’ve lost that sort of understanding, I think that’s led to far more problems. So, you know, Andrew’s piece that marriage is connected to the Genesis Mandate is exactly right. I share some of this skepticism on the worship of marriage.

But I think the problem is different. I don’t think we worshipped it or not worshipped it. I think we’ve just fundamentally misunderstood it, so we’re teaching it almost in an exclusively functional way. Including, by the way, in trying to prepare young people for marriage, the emphasis is on abstinence. And so often the sales pitch is if you play by God’s rules now, we’ll guarantee you a healthy and happy marriage and sex life later on, as if there’s some kind of sexual prosperity gospel. As if the point is our happiness, again. See, it starts with a fundamental misunderstanding of marriage to begin with. And I think it’s at the source of almost all of our problems. But the most important thing the church can do is backup—it’s kind of like Vince Lombardi in the Green Bay Packer locker room backing up and going, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” And we need to back up and say, “Gentlemen, this is marriage,” because that’s what we’ve forgotten.

EICHER: Well John Stonestreet is President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.  John, thanks for being with us.

STONESTREET: Thanks guys.

NICK EICHER: While many kids cooped up in the house have been passing the time by playing video games, a young man in Milan, Italy, had a different idea.

9-year-old Lupo Daturi made a video game. 

As he explains, the game takes place against the backdrop of stars and planets. 

He and his friends at the controls of virtual space ships—shooting lasers to try to destroy the enemy.

Which happens to be a menacing, red, round blob with protein spikes—yes, matches the description of a molecular COVID-19. But it’s bigger than the spacecraft, so a real challenge.

Young Lupo shares a passion for computer programming with his father. And he said he watched online tutorials to help him build the code.

The 4th grader said normally, he’s very active outside the house—skiing, swimming, practicing karate. But under lockdown orders, he needed to find something else to do!

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: Today is Friday, May 8th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: A true story with some big lessons for today’s media.

From All the President’s Men to Spotlight, real-life tales of intrepid journalists bringing down corrupt powers are entertainment staples. But HBO’s new made-for-cable movie, Bad Education, stands out. Not just because A-list lead Hugh Jackman turns in a big-screen-worthy performance. But because, in this case, the reporter who breaks the story is a teenage girl.

CLIP: Rach? Dinner. Okay. What’s all this? Research. These are invoices from the school district. The school district invoiced over a million dollars in lab equipment? And that’s just one supplier.

Young Rachel writes for her high school newspaper. The power she helps take down is the administration of her own school district. Which also happens to be one of the highest-ranked in the nation.

As New York Magazine reported in the article that inspired Bad Education, a “diploma from Roslyn High School is the closest you can get on Long Island to a ticket to Harvard.” So it’s no surprise that parents and school board members are happy to pretend they don’t see the idiosyncrasies in their superintendent’s personality. The expensive suits, the facelift, the fad diets. They’re also willing to overlook the discrepancies in his business manager’s accounting. Why rock the boat when the Ivy League keeps calling and the property values keep rising?

CLIP: As far as real estate, especially Long Island, a town is only as good as it’s public school system. After everything we’ve worked for. Years that it’s taken to get this far. These are our kids we’re talking about.

That’s not good enough for junior journo Rachel. When she’s assigned a story on a new sky bridge that will connect the junior high to the high school, she isn’t content to just print the promotional quotes school staff give her. Instead, she heads down to the administration building basement and starts digging through files. At first, she thinks she’s only unearthed some fishy construction spending. But as she follows the paper trail she discovers that beloved Superintendent Tassone’s entire life is a lie wrapped in propaganda, inside a con.

CLIP: I was just wondering, could I get the key to the basement again? I just want to look up a few more things. What’s this for, Rachel. Just for some stuff I wanted to verify. I can answer your questions. Uh, okay, well. I did the math and it looks like the Skywalk is going to end up costing around $8 million. Seven-five, sure. Right. It just seems like a lot of our resources to be spending on cosmetics. People love the sky walk. The Beacon loves the sky walk. There was that nice poll you guys did. Right but the ceilings at the high school are still leaking. I mean some of the classrooms had to get shutdown. Sounds like you should bring that up with your student government. There was also the pizza oven. What? I saw a line item in the expense reports for a pizza oven. But then I asked Paula in the cafeteria and she said she knew nothing about it. Just stop it! 

Along with frequent language, Tassone’s secret long-term relationship with one man and short-term encounters with another merit the “Mature Audiences” rating. Several scenes show the men kissing.

That, understandably, might keep some Christian viewers away. But it is an accurate depiction of the real Tassone’s life. And it isn’t used to promote an agenda. Instead, the entire story offers a sharp illustration of the purpose of journalism.

Rachel’s real name is Rebekah Rombom, and she wasn’t quite the Nancy Drew portrayed in the film. But in both the true story and the film, this young reporter gets that the purpose of journalism isn’t advocacy. It doesn’t matter how much great work Dr. Tassone has done or how good the sky bridge project will be for her school.

CLIP: So, about yesterday. Yeah, uh, that was. What were you doing there? I’m not upset. But it is very important that you be honest. I was following up on the listed address for a school contractor. Why were you doing that? It’s public record. Anyone could take the time. I didn’t ask you if it was public record. I just asked you why. It’s for something I’m writing. I think you have real potential. Dr. Tassone. No, I’m serious. I read all your bylines. You’ve come such a long way since last September. Your confidence. Your strength of ability. Thank you. You know you have a tremendous future ahead of you. Rachel, you do. But you’re still young too. Which is why you need to know, and I mean this, if you go public with something you don’t fully understand it will come back on you. Hard.

There’s an old reporting adage credited to everyone from William Randolph Hearst to George Orwell: “News is what someone wants suppressed. Everything else is advertising.”

A little digging turns up the truth. We don’t know who really said it first, but it definitely wasn’t Hearst or Orwell. The earliest record of the saying comes from an anonymous sign that sat on the desk of a Chicago Herald editor in 1918. But knowing that some great luminary didn’t coin this phrase, doesn’t make it less relevant.

Rachel manages to scoop all the local papers and news stations in her area because she’s willing to shine a light on the things everyone else thinks should stay hidden for the good of the cause.

Turns out media powerhouses could learn a lot from a high school girl.

MEGAN BASHAM: Today is Friday, May 8th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. This time of year many Christian bands would be preparing for summer concerts in large auditoriums and outdoor amphitheaters. But weeks of social distancing have brought all that planning to a halt.

Many Christian artists were just beginning their national and international tours when the pandemic broke. Now they’re having to find new ways to share their music. Here’s WORLD reporter Myrna Brown.

MYRNA BROWN, REPORTER:  After nearly 30 years of leading worship, this might be a first for singer-songwriter Matthew West…

MATTHEW WEST SINGS TO EMILY WEST: Ladies and gentleman, the love of my life. My beautiful girl, my beautiful wife. 

…sharing the stage with Emily West, his wife of nearly 18 years.

WEST TO FACEBOOK FRIENDS: How you doing? Good to be with you all. Emily actually wanted me to sing this song…

When the coronavirus began to spread throughout the United States, West was in Trenton, New Jersey, in the middle of a multi-city tour. 

WEST: Everything just kind of came crashing down in our world and we received word that not only would our concert be postponed, but our entire tour was going to be postponed. 

Once back home in Nashville, West says his early morning routine changed. His  wife was the first to notice. 

WEST: My instinct was to wake up and first thing in the morning turn on the news. She’s like, look, maybe that’s not the best way to start our day. LIke you’re stressing yourself out and then you’re stressing the whole family out. You got to lead better than that. 

WEST SINGING: Turn your eyes upon Jesus

That’s when West began Quarantine Quiet Time. It’s a daily morning devotional recorded in his home studio, using Smartphones, a guitar, a Bible and his social media platforms.

WEST: Just yesterday it was people watching from Brazil and Wisconsin and New Jersey and the Philippines.

But West says people watching through Facebook and Instagram want more than his music. 

EMILY WEST: Abigail’s going through a divorce…

One morning as many as 2,700 comments and prayer requests were posted on his Facebook page.

WEST: We all have an opportunity right now to not only find peace in this uncertain time in our personal lives, but to be peace for somebody else. 

TYLER SINGING: Teach me to be still, teach me to lay down. 

Singer-songwriter Micah Tyler knows peace can be found in stillness. But living out Psalm 46:10 doesn’t come easy for the Southeast, Texas husband and father of three. 

MICAH TYLER: Like, I’m the guy who’s constantly moving and doing things. So this whole shutting down thing, as much as I’m loving the rest of being able to spend time with my family, it kind of makes me feel like I don’t have enough value.  

In the middle of the pandemic, Tyler released a new album.


But it’s this song, written seven years ago that’s getting the buzz. 

MICAH: I went from playing in front of a thousand people on a tour to setting up my phone in my bathroom. And so, it’s definitely a different audience than what I was expecting.

Tyler says more than 7,500 people listened and responded to his spontaneous powder-room performance. He says the lockdown has sparked another rhythm in his life. 

MICAH: I don’t want to look back on this quarantine and feel like I lost months of my life. Last night we were about to go to bed and we just decided to move the furniture out of the way. And we had a Nerf war last night. 

ELLIE AND DREW HOLCOMB: Amazing grace how sweet the sound

Nights at the Holcomb household are for singing. 

ELLIE HOLCOMB: My husband was like, hey, we’re going to sing our way through this crisis and we’re going to do it in our kitchen after we put our kids to bed every night. And we’re going to call it “Kitchen Covers.”

Standing in front of the kitchen counter with a vase of freshly cut flowers, Drew Holcomb plays guitar and sings two-part harmony with singer/songwriter Ellie Holcomb. The married duo says they’re thankful technology keeps them connected to their 19,000 YouTube subscribers.

HOLCOMB: I know social media can be a mixed bag. It can bring a lot of comparison and darkness, but a lot of us are using it to bring a lot of connection and hope to people.

CODY CARNES: Hey friends, this is Cody and Kari. We’re so excited to be with you in your church today.

And because of technology, married couple Cody Carnes and Kari Jobe are leading worship in churches around the world.  

KARI JOBE: We started noticing that a lot of smaller churches are just not used to streaming. Not a lot of churches were set up for that.

Jobe says since making their living room-inspired worship sets available for free online, churches in 60 countries have responded.

JOBE: There were 1,800 registrations for downloading them. We saw a few in India, South Africa, and Australia.


Back in Nashville, Matthew West says the lockdown has changed Christian music’s platform, but not its purpose. 

WEST: My normal way of encouraging people is on a stage in a city somewhere and that’s been taken away. But that doesn’t mean that God can’t still use those who He’s given a voice to. And here’s the best part, He’s given a voice to all of us.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Myrna Brown.

NICK EICHER: It takes a lot of people to put this program together each week. Thanks so much to our team:

Maria Baer, Joel Belz, Myrna Brown, Paul Butler, Kent Covington, Kristen Flavin, Kim Henderson, Anna Johansen, Leigh Jones, Trillia Newbell, Onize Ohikere, Bonnie Pritchett, Mary Reichard, Sarah Schweinsberg, and Emily Whitten.

Production help this week from Tony Perkins and David Bahnsen.

MEGAN BASHAM: Our audio engineers are Johnny Franklin and Carl Peetz. Managing editor J.C. Derrick and editor-in-chief Marvin Olasky keep us all on track. 

And it’s you who make it all possible. You have our gratitude! 

Second Chronicles reminds us that the eyes of the Lord run throughout the earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him.

Have a great weekend.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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