The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Friday, September 2, 2022

It’s Friday, September 2nd, 2022.

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

Part I

Don’t Ask Caesar to Set Your Salary: California Seeks Even More Government Overreach—This Time on Restaurant Wages

We’ll get to questions in a moment, but first, I just want us to think about some recent developments in the state of California. California, as you know, is a very blue state, a very liberal state, a state that basically represents a one-party government, and that would be the Democratic Party. Increasingly, it’s the more leftist, progressivist wing of the Democratic Party that’s in control.

A torrent of recent headlines have come, and this includes stories such as the fact that California says it’s going to outlaw gasoline-fueled automobiles beginning in the year 2035. You say, “It’s 2022. What’s the problem there?” Well, the closer you get to 2035, you’re going to see the problem. By the way, right now, there is good evidence that the entire process from mining minerals all the way to getting rid of batteries makes battery-powered cars even more damaging in many climate respects than gasoline-powered cars. But nonetheless, California not only intends to see the future, it intends to make the future by government coercion.

I’ll simply make another prediction, by the way. My guess is that California is going to have to adjust the timeline in that legislation. Otherwise, the state will face disaster. But nonetheless, the state courts disaster. This is a state that has had so many people leaving the state because of its high taxation, its liberal culture, and it’s increasingly on-the-present regulatory state, but we’re also looking at the fact that businesses are leaving California. Some of them going to states like Texas. But boy, does that get interesting in worldview perspective because a state like Texas, which is predictably red, it has some blue urban areas, but the state itself is red on an issue like abortion. You have liberal companies announcing that they are moving to red Texas, but you’ll see the problem. Their employees are saying, “Hey, we have very strong pro-abortion expectations. What are you going to do about it?” Well, at least in the case of some of those companies, they said, “Hey, we’ll basically fly you back home for an abortion.”

It’s an insidious circle, but you understand the worldview issues are just always there, and increasingly, they’re not under the surface there. They’re right on the surface, and there’s no surface that makes that more clear than the state of California. So it’s not just saying that they’re going to eliminate gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035, it’s also the fact that they’re increasingly telling companies how they’re going to have to do business. Detailed instructions, limitations and restrictions on how corporations and businesses, small and large, must operate in California, but it’s not just that. You actually have California, at least some California legislators and regulators saying, “If you’re going to do business in California, even if your company is located in terms of its headquarters outside of California, then your entire operation is going to have to come under California law.”

You’re really looking at a big story coming out of California right now having to do with the wages of employees in fast food restaurants and restaurant chains. Now, you might be thinking that doesn’t sound like an issue with vast worldview consequences, but I’m going to argue it actually is such a story. This actually is such a development because in one sense, if the state of California can tell you as a business owner exactly how much you must pay, even an entry-level, fast food employee, and here, we’re not talking about minimum wage. We’re talking about the government and government administrators basically taking on the role of union organizers.

Now, this particular bill is already through the California General Assembly, and it is going to California Governor Gavin Newsom for his signature, but the pushback coming from businesses is pretty fast and furious. As The Wall Street Journal reports, “Restaurant operators and business advocates mobilize to try to convince California’s governor to veto a bill that would set wages for fast food workers, which they said could increase costs and set a precedent other states and cities might follow.”

Now, let’s just consider that opening paragraph for a moment because it really has a couple, maybe even three, but two particularly strong arguments. One is the fact that these businesses are saying, “Look, now you’re not only trying to run the state of California. You’re trying to run our business.” Now, all Americans should see a problem with that, but the second thing is they go on to say that that California precedent could “set a precedent other states and cities might follow.”

Now, that’s to say that… Let’s say California by this measure says, “Okay. If you have employees at a fast food restaurant, particularly at fast food chains, you’re going to have to pay them at least $22 an hour.” Now, just remember. They’re going to have to increase the prices of Whoppers, and Big Macs, and… well, whatever else they’re selling in these chains in order to pay those wages, but that’s the state of California. What if the mayor of New York City says, “You know what? If California can do $22, we can do $23.” It’s almost like you could have a wage auctioneer in the background. “I have $22 here in California. Could I hear $23 from New York? Who will pay $24, $25, $26?” You understand the problem here.

We also understand that money does not grow on trees, and unlike some government officials, we don’t actually believe that money can enduringly be produced by a government printing press. There has to be value behind it. There has to be monetary value behind it, real value behind it. Now, if you’re a fast food worker, let me just say you should try to get paid as much as you can get paid. You should do the work. You should find the job. You should take the advantage. You should persuade your employer. Do whatever it takes, everything within appropriate bounds to try to earn more money. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s a basic part of taking dominion and of exercising your own agency as an employee. But on the other hand, don’t go to Caesar to ask Caesar to set your salary. But the state of California, again, I said earlier, is basically a one-party state. It has become a laboratory for so many leftist ideas.

Again, just consider the economic consequences, and so you can have someone who says, “Oh, you know, that makes perfect sense. I don’t think fast food workers are paid enough.” Well, that raises an interesting question. What is enough? Now, there’s no easy way to answer that question. There actually isn’t. Let’s say you’re a government bureaucrat and you have been given sole universal authority to set fast food workers’ wages in your state. Well, “How much is enough?” comes down to asking which question? How much does it take for a person to live on, say, as a wage, or how much would it take for a family of four, if this is the wage for the entire family, or would you say, “What does it take actually in investment by the company to produce enough hamburgers to keep the business going, and how does that work within the economy of scale? It’s hamburgers here. It’s milkshakes there. It’s chicken strips over there. How do we sell enough of those things?”

Furthermore, it just comes down also to the cost factor because those restaurants are going to have to raise their prices. Then, the question comes, just how much will a family of four that was over here saying, “We need this much in wages,” how much are they actually going to pay in relative terms for that hamburger, or those french fries, or that milkshake, or the taco, or whatever you’re getting at your fast food chain?

Fast food chains and their organizations are crying foul here, and The Wall Street Journal explains the situation this way. We are told that the bill is actually known as the Fast Act as in Fast Food Act. How clever is that? It was passed by California’s legislature in recent days. “It was backed by labor unions, which believe a state council setting minimum wages for fast food workers could create a new model to ensure fair wages and other protections for hourly workers in an industry where unions have struggled to organize workers.”

Fascinating here. Remember that if unions have struggled to organize workers, it means that an insufficient number of workers have been willing to sign on to the union representation. Now, you see what’s really going on here. What the unions could not gain in credibility with workers, they are now asking to be given to them by administrators for the state government. They will turn to the regulatory state even as efforts to unionize the workers failed.

Mary Kay Henry, International President of the Service Employees International Union say, “We want California to be the first in the nation as it is on so many fronts and to be able to spread this to other states.” Well, there you have it, the acknowledgement that the union see a great opportunity in California, but their goal is not really just California. It’s just they know that what happens in California tends to ricochet around the country. I want to remind us of at least part of the reason that’s true, and it’s because of the size of California. It’s because of the influence of California. It’s because of the economy of California. If you can push through regulatory standards or rules in California, well, then eventually, companies have to, here’s the word that’s used, rationalize the policies.

It’s really impractical to have a series of prices and policies in California and to have something different right across, say, the state line in Nevada. But then, again, on a number of issues, that’s actually how this story is going to turn out. You would think the state of California would by now have hit some kind of natural limitation on how much nonsense citizens will put up with, how high rate of taxation citizens will put up with, how much regulation per citizens that the citizens will put up with. But thus far, in California, though there is a significant exodus from the state, the natural assets of the state mean that there’s so many people who want to live there that at least at this point, no natural limitation on these issues has yet been found or exceeded. Will there be some limitation on the patients and the willingness of Californians to go along with this?

Well, as is true in so many other situations, time will tell, but it’s at least good to remind ourselves that all these policies come with consequences. Yeah. Over here, you can say, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we just guaranteed a minimum wage of X, or Y, or Z for these workers in this sector?” But just understand it won’t stay there, and if government has the right and the authority, if government has the responsibility rightfully to set wages in the fast food industry, just understand that logic will not stay in the fast food industry, and I’ll simply ask you to look around the world and see which system has led to greater human happiness, greater human wealth, greater economic innovation, greater technological progress. You look at all this and say, “Where has that happened?” It has happened where the economy is set by consumers, and by employers, and by businesses, not by the regulators for a state or a government at any level.

There are actually very few people in the United States who say, “There should be absolutely no regulation,” but we can at least hope there will be more people in the United States who will say, “There is way too much regulation, and if no stop is put to it, pretty soon, the state of California will be determining everything in the details of our lives from the water capacity of our toilets to the price of the local cheeseburger.” Freedom does come with a cost, but unfreedom comes with a higher cost.

Part II

France Seeks Tax on Private Jet Use — Does Anyone Believe that Hollywood is Going to Ride in Coach?

Next, let’s shift from California to France. That’s a similar story. It’s interesting to us because in France… It’s a Good Friday story. The government is actually considering taxing the use of private jets to the extent that it will make the use of those jets just pretty impractical. The Wall Street Journal tells us that “France is exploring ways to reign in private jet flights amid a growing backlash over the wealthiest use of high-emitting planes to travel the distance of a car or train journey.”

Now, again, this is not just a stupid issue. The use of private jets is very climate expensive. If you’re going to be counting all these costs, well, the use of private jets is inordinately costly when it comes to pumping all kinds of emissions into the atmosphere, and if that is one of your main concerns, it ought to concern everybody to some extent.

But if that’s one of your main concerns, then just understand this. How in the world do you explain all these people who are a part of the globalist cosmopolitan class, all of these Hollywood celebrities, and all the rest who say that their great passion in life is to do whatever it takes to reduce emissions and to stop climate change, and they just can’t wait to get on their own or somebody else’s private jet in order to fly all across the world or certainly, across the Atlantic in order to land to speak at a demonstration to make the point that government simply has to put an end to this, but it doesn’t mean an end to their private jets?

Now, to be honest, the issue here really is not the morality of the use of private jets. That would be largely contextual as a matter of fact, but it does come down to the posturing that is now represented by the government of France and by so many Hollywood celebrities and others, including business CEOs who can’t wait to get on their private jet in order to complain about carbon emissions.

But you do have to wonder if France has counted the cost on this because France is one of those destinations where the glitterati regularly gather for things like film festivals, all these Hollywood celebrities flying in on their private jets for these big events that define French identity. I’m just going to go out on a limb here and tell you I don’t think you’re ever going to get in line at LAX next to a long line of Hollywood celebrities forfeiting the use of their private jets in order to be just like the rest of us on the way to the film festival.

Part III

Why Was Satan Allowed to Torment Job? — Dr. Mohler Responds to a Letter from a Young Listener of The Briefing

Next, we turn to questions, and I just deeply appreciate these questions. So many good questions coming from listeners to The Briefing, and I always privilege questions coming from young people.

I’m going to start today with a question from an 11-year-old in Beaverton, Oregon named Esther. She says that her father listens to The Briefing. She hears it, and she goes on to say, “I had a question for you from the book of Job.” Now, just remember, this is an 11-year-old girl asking this question, “If ultimate evil can’t stand ultimate good, then why did Satan go to God for permission to torment Job? How could Satan stand before God?”

Well, Esther, what a brilliant question and sweetly expressed here. Let me just say that ultimately, evil cannot stand before God, but the word you used twice, by the way, in your question is “ultimate,” and that’s exactly the right word to use. So we simply have to say that in the in-between time from, say, creation until God brings human history to an end in the coming of Christ and in the final judgment when all things are made right, in the in-between time, we understand that some things are happening that will happen no more on the day of judgment and thereafter throughout eternity. So what am I talking about?

Well, for example, right now, Satan is, according to scripture, wandering to and for, seeking whom he may devour. That will not happen throughout eternity. That’s happening in this age right now. Ultimately, Christians must have the confidence that God in his sovereign, righteous purpose has a very important purpose for our good and for his glory in allowing Satan this limited time. You might think of Satan somehow as being kind of leased and unleashed until ultimately, he is judged and sentenced by God for an eternity of punishment, and remember that we are told in the Bible that Hell is being prepared for the devil and his angels.

So, Esther, I have to come again to something we have to say just over and over again, and that is that we really can’t question God on these things, and we don’t question God’s word. We just want to understand God’s word, and we’re going to believe whatever God tells us in his word. God tells us in the book of Job that he allowed Satan a limited ability to tempt Job to deny God. God had an ultimate purpose, by the way, that we also discover in the book of Job. By the time he come to the end of the book, Job has not cursed God. He has refused to curse God.

In the context of his trial, in the closing chapters of the book of Job, he actually gives the most beautiful testimony to the sovereignty, the righteousness, the justice, and the moral perfection of God.

So, Esther, thank you so much for your question. What a great Old Testament name for an 11-year-old girl in Oregon to have. You blessed us by asking that question. Ultimately, we trust God’s word because we trust God, and we trust God’s purposes because he is God, and we know that his purposes for us as for Job are good.

Part IV

Why Didn’t the Identity of Orthodox Christianity Prevent Serbia’s Atrocities in the Bosnian War? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Next, another question, this one from Matthew, and he’s asking about our coverage earlier this week of controversies in Serbia over a proposed LGBTQ activist march, and then a counter march that actually took place largely led by Orthodox Christian leaders there or at least many people identified with Orthodox Christianity there in Serbia. He asked the question, “Would you please comment on why this commitment to Christianity failed to prevent atrocities by Serbian-aligned forces during the Bosnian War?”

Well, Matthew, you’re right. There were many atrocities, many atrocities carried out by Serbian forces. I think the most important thing to say here is that what I was talking about, and the language here can trip us up a little bit, is the identity of Orthodox Christianity. These people identified as Orthodox Christians marching in the streets. I believe that they were certainly identifying with the historic Christian teaching about the nature of sexuality, the fact that God made us as male and female, the distinction between men and women, and they were outraged that there would be some kind of celebration of something contrary to God’s word in that respect, but I want to be very, very clear. We sometimes have to use the word “Christians” in two different senses, and it’s going to sound the same, and only the context will make very clear what it is that we intend to mean.

So when we speak about, for example, how many millions of Christians there are in the world, if you just talk about people who identify as Christian, that’s going to be a pretty high number. We, judging by gospel understanding, will see that there are fewer Christians than claimed to be Christian, and certainly, when it comes to where there’s a confusion between ethnic identity or national citizenship and Christianity, and if you’re talking about the lands dominated by Orthodox Christianity, that’s Eastern Orthodoxy, that’s where the confusion can get actually the thickest and the deepest. But Matthew, your question certainly has traction when you consider the fact that it’s one thing to identify as Christian. It’s another thing to uphold a Christian understanding of gender and sexuality, but we actually have to apply Christian morality to every dimension of life. In the case you pointed out, there was a very well-documented failure in that respect during that war.

Part V

Why Do Local Elections Matter? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Another good question comes in from Alex. He says he understands national elections, the process and the stakes, as we think about electing a president or even members of Congress, members of the United States Senate and the House. He says he understands that elections have consequences, but he says, “I don’t understand government enough to know how local elections matter. What are the consequences for voting, say, for a district judge?” Well, there actually could be a lot of consequences, and in any sense, it’s a consequential office. Thus, our responsibility does begin rather locally.

It’s true, Alex. You’re absolutely right that the issues in national elections are often clear. The stakes are higher. It’s easier to understand. Local affairs can get rather pedestrian. It can come right down to what’s going to happen in terms of this road being paved or some other road, but it comes down also to some basic questions that at least from time to time may make local government the most important government you could consider. For example, local governments are often up to a lot of mischief, even when it comes to LGBTQ legislation, so-called diversity, and equity, and inclusion based kinds of legislation.

Remember that most justice meet it out in the United States. Most justice at the level of law enforcement and most justice at the level of the courts happens and is basically limited to local police forces, local authorities, and local courts. So if we’re talking about the rule of law, actually, the vast majority of everything from investigations, and arrests, and prosecutions, and trials takes place at the local level. You’re looking at the fact there must be thousands of district court judges all across the United States, but there are millions of crimes, and there is a tremendous need for those judges to judge according to the law and the worldview of those judges does matter.

Alex, I want to add to this not only a little bit of urgency, but a little bit of honest complexity. One of the more difficult things to do in many of these local elections, one of the most difficult things to accomplish is actually finding out enough about the candidates to know how to be an informed voter. So I would suggest one of the things you might do is try to find other voters or organizations of voters who have similar convictions and similar concerns, and see if together, you can find out more about these candidates, and then vote according to your conscience in order to vote for the future and for the righteousness and the justice of your community.

Part VI

Does the Year of Jubilee in the Old Testament Justify President Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Next, a question came from Russell, and this has to do with what I talked about in detail and critiqued in detail as the Biden plan to so-called forgive student loans in many cases. I think it’s a very bad policy. I think it’s morally wrong. It’s politically wrong. It’s economically wrong. But nonetheless, Russell says that he’s in basic agreement, but he says, listen, “Many who profess a more liberal grasp of Scripture have quoted this,” he’s speaking here of the Law of Jubilee, the Year of Jubilee in Leviticus 25, “to say that we should forgive this debt on this basis.”

Well, the reason why I didn’t talk about it is because it really has nothing to do with what we’re talking about here, but I understand why you’re raising it, Russell, because there are many people who are saying, “Oh, yes, it does have to do with it.” But what’s really interesting, these are the very people who tell us that Israel is a theocracy, and then when it comes to sexual ethics and all the rest of the commands, we’re to have nothing to do with that, and it is the case that this is the law for Israel.

You’ll notice that there’s no mention of this in the New Testament in terms of something that was binding upon the Roman Empire, and you also understand that the distribution of the land according to the old covenant had to do with tribes and families, and the purpose of the Year of Jubilee was to return ancestral rights to a family as a reset. That meant that even if someone, say, bought a piece of property from someone, you are buying it for a time. That was the understanding upfront. You were buying it for a time. There would be a reversion to the owners of the ancestral lands.

Let me just point out that that has nothing to do with student loans in the United States, whatsoever. It would take some kind of really creative imaginations to say, “Look, here’s what it means. It means that in a period of years, you should just forgive all debts.” Well, okay. Let the people who make that kind of argument come back with a serious proposal. Car loans. Mortgages for homes. Long-term borrowing for corporations. No, that would be insanity, and let me tell you who would get hurt when it comes to, for example, the interest made off of those loans and the long-term impact of borrowing.

Look, the fact is that public school teachers in California, by their pension funds, have some of the greatest investment that will require if they’re going to have their pensions as they are, at least according to the law, owed. Then, in order for those pension funds to remain solvent, you couldn’t possibly say, “Okay. Let’s take several billion, billion, billion, trillions of dollars out of those investment funds and return them supposedly to ancestral owners.” In other words, it would mean economic chaos, and it would lead not to mutual enrichment, but to nearly universal poverty.

One of the weakest elements in the Biden administration’s argument here is that somehow those who took out educational loans are in a different capacity from people who took out loans, say, for other purposes. You could say, “Well, it’s because they were borrowing about the future.” Well, so is someone who tries to start a business with a small business administration loan or bank borrowing, but no one is suggesting that we just say, “Well, you know what? We want to encourage those people, so let’s just have the public take on all those debts.”

Just think about what that would incentivize. You’d be looking to high school students saying, “Look, you need to look at the future and load up on as much debt as you possibly can because some future president is going to be in a political position where he’s going to gain points by forgiving that.” So, Russell, when it comes to someone, as you say here, with a more liberal grasp of Scripture coming up to make this argument, tell them that you’ll be glad to talk about the Year of Jubilee once you actually read it together and once you also say, “By the way, that means we need to read the entire book of Leviticus.” My guess is that conversation is going to come to a screeching halt.

Part VII

A Clarification and Apology on the Use of ‘Hobby Child’ — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Next, I want to have an honest heart-to-heart with listeners for just a moment. Two listeners to The Briefing last week, in particular, last Friday’s edition, wrote in, and you got my attention. It’s because of something I said in speaking about the crisis of the declining birth rate in nations such as South Korea. In talking about the larger worldview implications, I used an expression that I really didn’t define, I didn’t contextualize. The expression itself is actually a meaningful expression, but I regret that I used it in that particular context. The phrase is “hobby child” or “hobby baby.”

I made the statement that the biblical worldview says that we should be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth. Now, that doesn’t mean that I have a magic number of children that every couple should have. I mean that the current pattern we’re seeing in this world, and in particular, in Western nations and even more acutely, in many Asian nations of a rapidly collapsing birth rate. It’s a sign of something basically wrong, morally wrong in this age and in this generation. So many people consider themselves just not wanting to have children and consider children an inconvenience or a cost they’re just not willing to pay. But anyway, I said it’s not God’s purpose for couples just to have one hobby child.

Now, here’s the huge problem. Where does that term come from? The term actually comes from sociologists looking at different societies where you do have the pattern of some people saying, “We’re going to have one child. We’re going to pour all the expectations into that child. Part of it is because we just want to limit our family in such a way it really doesn’t limit many other aspects of our lives.” In that sense, it’s something real, but it is not what I meant in speaking about, say, all families that have one child, I’m not speaking of those who have one child as being committed to something like a hobby child, and so I wish I had not used the term in that context because lacking the context of how it arose with people who actually said, “More or less, that’s what we are doing,” and were described by sociologists as doing that as a lifestyle choice, that’s a very different reality than those who are listening to The Briefing who have any number of children, or no children, or one child.

There are any number of reasons, some of which have nothing to do with the human will, about how many children any couple may have. Let’s just rejoice that Christians rejoice in children. Let’s be glad that children make us glad, and let’s be common in our understanding that children are not in imposition. They’re not an economic cost. They are indeed the sign of God’s glory and the promise of God’s faithfulness. In one sense in this secular age, there are just far too many parents who may have one, two, three. Well, you get the point. They may have one or more children, and some of them do see those children as something of a hobby. That’s not the way any Christian couple based in biblical conviction sees any children. One, two, three, four, or more.

So words have consequences, and I just want to tell you I wish I could take the phrase out of last week’s edition of The Briefing not because it was absolutely wrong, but it was stated in the wrong context, and that’s something I want to avoid. So as I thank you for your questions, I also want to say from time to time, you may need send in something and say, “You know, you could have said that better,” because we as Christians want to do just that, right? Say the truth and learn always how to say it better.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

For more information, go to my website at You can call me on Twitter by going to For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to For information on Boyce College, just go to

I hope you and your family have a marvelous Labor Day on Monday, and I’ll meet you again on Tuesday for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

I am always glad to hear from readers. Write me using the contact form. Follow regular updates on Twitter at @albertmohler.

Subscribe via email for daily Briefings and more (unsubscribe at any time).