The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Friday, March 10, 2023

It’s Friday, March 10, 2023.

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

Part I

Colors Tell a Story About the Culture: What the Color (Sometimes) Tells Us About Worldview, Taste, and Trends

For most of us, color is a big part of life. It’s also something interesting for us to think about as we try to think in the Christian worldview perspective, because the Christian view of the world has to include something so basic and fundamental as the existence of color and the perception of color and the fact that color is a big driver of things in our society.

And in particular, the news story that occasions this conversation has to do with the fact that there are big trends in the colors of cars Americans are buying, and increasingly they are newly-invented or newly-designed, artistically-calibrated forms of earth tones and shades of gray. Now, why that’s news is quite simple, and that is because this represents a big change in automobile sales and in the colors people want on their cars and trucks and vehicles.

Now you might say this is a shift from big, bright metallic colors to more muted earth tones, but actually we need to stipulate right up front that the vast majority of automobiles and vehicles sold in the United States are white, or they are some variant of white, or they are white or black or some variant between those two. But nonetheless, when you think of cars in the United States, you think of very popular colors. Many of those are indicative of cultural trends, and that’s why we’re thinking about it today.

Our color preferences say a great deal about us, and right now you have probably perceived this yourself, there is a distinction. There’s something new going on when it comes to vehicle sales, and there’s a lot of gray, there’s a lot of putty, there is a lot of color that even as some observers have recognized, looks more like an undercoat than a finish coat, but it’s often a finish coat that’s very expensive at that.

So first of all, interesting question from a biblical worldview. What in the world is color, and where is it found in scripture? Well, it’s found in creation. It’s found in the variation of what God has made. It is also found directly in the biblical text. And I’ll just point out one example. Look at the Old Testament specifications of how the garments to be worn by the priesthood are defined by color and how even in the construction of the tabernacle and in the design of the temple, color is to play such a large part.

Fast forward to the New Testament. Just consider how much color plays a role, and understand that often color has theological significance in the scripture. W.A. Criswell, the famous pastor for so many decades of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, preached a sermon that became very famous both for its title and for its substance. The title, the Scarlet Thread Through the Bible. And of course, this was pointing to the substitutionary atonement through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

But then Dr. Criswell went back to the Old Testament to the book of Joshua and the story of Rahab, the harlot, who as you know, was told that she would be saved if she put a scarlet cord or a scarlet thread visible on the doorpost of her house. And so it was. And then remember also going back to the book of Exodus, the blood of the lamb on the doorpost whereby the children of Israel were saved from that final cataclysmic plague in the death of the firstborn.

So here you’re looking at the fact that color matters. Christians understand that color matters, and it’s also interesting that human beings have a particular attraction to color. And when it comes to our consumer society, the color choice is often a big choice, and in some cases it’s quite an expensive choice, and that’s actually what brings us to the news story. This is a news story from the Los Angeles Times. The headline is What’s Happening to the Color of Los Angeles Cars, Inside the Obsession with Muted Earth Tones. Maybe you’ve noticed this, lots of putty-colored cars, lots of tan-colored cars, deep resonant paint, not metallic, not brightly colored, and of course. A lot of grays too, including what many people just refer to as a battleship gray. Where did all of this come from?

Color trends tell us something about our society. They also tell us something about the fact that we are really creatures of a crowd. When you are looking at new trends in color, well, the crowd follows the trends, and the car sales follow the crowd. Thus, the news story. Maybe you’ve noticed how many vehicles these days are some form of gray, and this isn’t some just pale, insignificant gray. This is making quite a statement gray. You say, where did this come from? It came from the year 2013 and the German automaker Audi, and the color was called Nardo gray.

Now you ask why was it called Nardo gray? I have no idea, but they had to put some word in front of gray in order to make it a proprietary or, you might say, a trademarked product. Audi offered this as an accessory, this color Nardo gray, as I said, in 2013 on the vehicle known as the RS7, which by the way, is a four-door coupe that comes as a twin turbocharged V8, and it had more than 550 horsepower. So what color should it be? Well, it should be something special like Nardo gray.

But it turns out that even as humans are social creatures, color is a social reality and when you’re looking at consumer sales, also a part of that social reality, well, if it becomes something that sells cars for this line, other auto manufacturers are going to be looking at similar colors. But color is an intellectual property these days. That’s something else you need to know. If you have a particular shade that can be measured by spectrum analysis, then you can basically get protection for that shade. So Audi owns Nardo gray. You want a gray? You’re going to have to develop a new gray.

As Daniel Miller reporting for The Times tells us, you want this low-key look? “It’ll cost you, sometimes dearly. The paint colors which are mostly offered on sports cars and utility vehicles often command premiums. In some cases they are merely options that can add a few hundred dollars to an automobile’s price tag. In others, they run $10,000 plus and are reserved for special cars such as extra rugged off-roaders or ultra high-performance two-seaters.”

In 2023, automakers like Nissan actually offered some car models in colors that are colors, not just tan or putty or gray. They are colors, but they are not metallic colors. And so you also have different impressions of color that become popular. And of course, if something’s popular today, that’s no indication that it will remain popular. Just look at a lot of the clothes that are now selling in the discount stores. They are, well, yesterday’s or last year’s colors. That’s the way it works. More on that in just a moment.

So all this started back in 2013 with Audi and Nardo gray, and now there are lots of grays, there are lots of putties, there are lots of stones, there are lots of naturally-named colors. And at least some experts looking at this say, “This is maybe back to nature. Maybe this is just people making a statement. Maybe this has something to do with COVID.” Just about everything these days supposedly has something to do with COVID, but this trend does go back to 2013. No COVID to explain things.

Then other manufacturers are offering limited edition colors, and again, these non-metallic, very basic, earth tone colors. Gobi was a color offered for a Jeep Wrangler but only for a very limited time, and it cost an extra $495. So if you don’t have one, you can’t get one. Now again, remember that most Americans aren’t even thinking this way, or at least most who are buying vehicles. 75% of all the vehicles sold in the United States last year were white, gray, black or silver. You want some other color? Well, you’re in 25%.

Some people are trying to read deeper worldview significance in these new color preferences saying maybe this is about climate change. Maybe this is about environmentalism, these colors that have more to do with what you find in nature. But then other people are saying, “Well, maybe it’s a male-female thing because an awful lot of these colors are popular among men more than among women, and at least when it comes to some of these grays, they look downright military.” Maybe there are a lot of men who want to drive a vehicle that looks like it belongs to the Navy.

A car collector cited in this particular article was also a podcaster in the area. He had two vehicles, both Porsches, and both of them were painted in a color called chalk. It’s a color, we’re told, that Porsche introduced in the year 2016, and this particular writer referred to chalk as “understated but just hip enough.” He also said, “I think people are choosing that because they’re taking a baby step forward in car color choice risk.” That’s a new category, by the way, you might might want to know of, car color choice risk. “They realize they’ve been in the big four, gray, black, white or silver, and they want to try to spice it up a little, so they take a baby step into chalk.”

In worldview significance, what this tells us is that we are drawn to color. That’s not an accident, and color just scientifically, as you want to know what it is, it is measured in terms of light. It is described in terms of hue and lightness and also saturation. It has to do with the visual spectrum, which is also based in an electromagnetic spectrum. It has to do with differing light absorption rates and reflection and an emission spectrum and interference and other physical categories you’re not thinking about when you look at a red rose and say, “Boy, that’s a beautiful red.”

But it’s also clear that color is something else. Even as it is describable in terms of the light spectrum and it’s even describable in terms of our visual capacities, God made the cosmos itself and filled it with color, and the most magnificent colors are actually the colors of God’s own creation. But he made us as human beings. Even as we are ordered to take dominion, we are able to manipulate color, and there’s an entire industry of color including one industry leader known as Pantone that actually lists and numbers the colors according to their spectral analysis and has a very copyrighted business in terms of identifying which particular hue is this and which is that. New hues, new colors being added all the time.

It’s also important perhaps that we understand that color can be very manipulative. There are those who try to light a room according to color. They choose paint according to mood. And we also need to understand that as we’re looking at color, there really are consumer product companies that join together in order to at least conspire at some level about the colors of what will likely be available, not only in terms of clothing we will wear, but interior design right down to the paint on the wall and even the color of the tile on the floor. And the reason for that is simple. If all these companies went off on their own, you would not be able to coordinate items. And so there are color committees and color commissions and color networks making decisions, and you don’t even know that your consumer choices are based in those decisions.

Sometimes a new color becomes wildly popular and appears on just about everything. This was the case of cerulean blue that goes back to the year 1999 when it was, in a big way, the color of the year. And now you still see it here and there, but for a while cerulean blue was everywhere. While I enjoyed this consideration of color on The Briefing today, it just reminds us that as human beings made in God’s image, we are given the ability not only to see color. Evidently some animals can see some colors. Some animals can see no colors. And we really don’t know, because we can’t get in the consciousness of these animals, what they think of any color if they can perceive them.

But isn’t it interesting that the human being made in God’s image was made to perceive color and color is also a part of God’s creation? He embedded color, an entire range and a vast, seemingly limitless spectrum of color, and he gave it to his creatures for our observation and for his glory. But color can also mean different things to different people at different times. You wave a white flag. Well, it turns out that means something.

But it’s also good that Christians understand that there are people who are trying to get our attention all the time, and I guess it’s not unhealthy for us to be advised there are people who are trying to get our attention by color. They’re also trying to sell us colors, whether it’s based upon environmentalism or some kind of military attraction or whether people just turn out to like a very deep and resonant gray, well, it probably does tell us something, that there is a significant interest in people buying new cars in these rather muted colors.

Does that mean we’re in a rather muted age? Not necessarily, but it does mean that here you have a newspaper like the Los Angeles Times saying, “Wow, there’s a big difference in the color choices being made by some people. Maybe that’s telling us something.” And as Christians we might say, “Well, maybe so.”

Part II

The Stinking City: New York City’s Marijuana Stench Problem

But next it’s also important to know that God made us not only to see but also to smell. That’s one of the gifts we sometimes find most complicated. And by the way, smell can be very attractive, or it can be very repellent.

Jason DeSena Trennert writing in The Wall Street Journal yesterday is complaining about new smells in New York, and this is rather predictable. The headline, “New York Smells Like a Declining City.” Why? Because everywhere he goes, the city smells like weed. Marijuana is becoming a predominant smell in many parts, especially of urbanized America, and it’s not an accident.

Mr. Trennert writes, “There may be no greater symbol of decay than the ubiquitous stench of marijuana. I smell it when I leave my apartment building at 6:45 AM and when I come home at night. As the health of public finance declines in society, so does private virtue.” And he goes on to say, “This is often because enterprising politicians find it easier to use vice as a source of public funding instead of making sober fiscal choices. The result of that,” he says, “is that New York is high and New York stinks.” Trennert also points out that there are greater dangers and greater evils attached to marijuana than just smell, but he says it’s not insignificant.

And so he suggested it might be morally telling that these days, in a whole new way, New York stinks.

Part III

In Recognition of the ‘King of Sting’: Famous Entomologist, Justin O. Schmidt, Dies at 75

But finally, before turning to questions, I want to mention an obituary. In this case it’s for an entomologist who died at age 75. His name is Justin O. Schmidt. He was known among other entomologists as the king of sting. It is because he came up with a spectrum for identifying different levels of sting from insects. Level one wasn’t all that bad, but level 1.5 was, “a rare piercing, elevated sort of pain like someone has fired a staple into your cheek.” If you get bitten by a red-headed paper wasp, you are probably in level three. “Immediate, irrationally, intense and unrelenting, this is the closest you will come to seeing the blue of a flame from within the fire.” You get bitten by a bullet ant, well, look out. Level four, “pure, intense, brilliant pain like walking over flaming charcoal with a three-inch nail in your heel.”

It was estimated that this entomologist was bitten by more than 1,000 different insects on his way to coming up with this scientific analysis. He said back in 2016, “Humans are fascinated by stinging insects. Why?” he asked. “Because we have a genetically innate fear of animals that attack us, be they leopards, bears, snakes, spiders, or stinging insects.” Unlike many scientists, he knew his way with words and spoke with great color. Consider this. When he was bitten by a tarantula hawk, it’s a kind of wasp, it’s explained, and he rated it a four on the pain index, he described it this way, and notice the scientific jargon, not. “Blinding fear, shockingly electric, a running hair dryer has just been dropped in your bubble bath end.”

He really did warn about being bitten by insects such as the harvester ants. “The black ones only hurt for four hours. So if you can imagine someone taking some needle-nose pliers and digging underneath your skin and grabbing tendons and nerve and kind of ripping them apart for about four hours. But as for the red one, it lasts for eight hours.” And you can tell that this man loved his work when he described the eight hours as, “the bonus with no extra charge.”

This too is a part of God’s creation. Of course, I think we as Christians would understand biblically these stinging animals are a part of the curse. But God made us for his glory able to perceive things including color and smell and also sting.

Part IV

How Do You Maintain A Fruitful and Flourishing Marriage Through the Busyness of Life? — Dr. Mohler Responds to a Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Now we turn to questions.

Always appreciate the questions. Audrey sent in a question mentioning that she and her husband are celebrating a 10th wedding anniversary. They have three boys, ages nine to two, and she sweetly writes, “10 years is just a fraction of the time you and Mary have been married.” And indeed, this year we’re going to be celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary. But she asks, “What is your number one piece of advice to maintain a fruitful and flourishing marriage in the midst of the chaos and busyness of life?”

First of all, I’d respond to Audrey by saying congratulations to you and your husband and thank God for your family. And I would simply say that one thing I think Mary would join me in wanting to say is you just have to start with the fact that life is complicated. You have three children. You just understand that already. You and your husband know that in this highly modern age we are unnecessarily complicated. A part of what you need to do is simply to determine that you’re going to uncomplicate things as often as you can.

One of the secrets I think I would just state right out loud is that Mary and I have to get away and spend a significant amount of time together. We did so with our children and still do when we can and now grandchildren, but we just have to have some significant uninterrupted time. As for most of the weeks of the year, most of the days of the week, most of the hours of the day, they are anything but uninterrupted. We can make it through some very, very chaotic days and weeks and even months when we know we’re going to be able to spend some incredibly good time together.

Part V

If God Does Not Change, Why Does the Bible Say He Regretted Making Saul King? — Dr. Mohler Responds to a Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

A good theological question is sent in by John pointing to a specific text, I Samuel 15:34, where we are told, “The Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.” He says, “Can you please explain? I know that the Bible says that the Lord God is never changing, he is unwavering.” Well, that’s actually easily answered and it’s a very good question, John. At times, particularly in texts like this, a moral judgment made by God is being expressed, even as the Holy Spirit inspired the author of Scripture to write it, that God regretted having done this.

But we know that God is omniscient, he’s omnipotent, and by his very perfection, he never actually repents or regrets. But this is a very clear way of communicating to us because after all, this is so that we would understand what God is telling us here. It is a very clear moral verdict against Saul. But God wasn’t learning something through this experience. That’s biblically impossible. He was teaching Israel something through this experience, and that’s what’s fundamentally important.

Part VI

Why Did You Not Cite the Old Testament as Permission for Using Instruments in Worship? — Dr. Mohler Responds to a Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Douglas is listening carefully to The Briefing, and he goes back to a previous edition when we answered questions. And he says, “Today, you said that using musical instruments in worship is neither prohibited nor encouraged.” And by that he means in scripture. He says, “I’m puzzled because Psalm 149 to 150 seem to encourage their usage.” Well, I appreciate you listening, Doug. Those who would say that there is no biblical justification for using instruments in worship would be specific to say there is no New Testament justification for the use of instruments in worship. They would draw a distinction between the worship of Israel and the worship of the church. Again, I’m just saying this is not binding upon all Christians.

I believe there’s plenty of biblical warrant for the rightful use of instruments, by the way, not to overcome nor to compete with the human voice in the singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, but to help to guide and teach it. We have any number of instruments here on the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Boyce College and one of the nation’s great pipe organs, a grand instrument. And let me just tell you, you when someone’s playing it. But Douglas, you’re smart to ask that question because yes, you’re right when you point to the use of instruments in the worship of Israel. Those who are claiming that there’s no scriptural warrant for the use of instruments are speaking specifically of the New Testament.

It wasn’t just Douglas by the way. We had a lot of really thoughtful readers who wrote in with similar questions, and I appreciate the opportunity for the clarification. This is often referred to, by the way, as the argument over the regulative principle in worship. And those who are non-instrumental would claim that the regulation of worship in the New Testament does not include instruments. As I’ve said, I along with many other Christians see it differently.

Part VII

How Should Christians Think About the Concept of Closure? — Dr. Mohler Responds to a Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

A really thoughtful question came in from a listener named Don. Going back to the conversation we had on The Briefing about the trial and later conviction in sentencing of South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh found guilty of two heinous murders, that of both his wife and his son. Don writes saying, “You commented that the prosecution of Mr. Murdaugh in those cases could bring closure to the families who lost loved ones. In those additional cases, could you please elucidate on how we as Christians should view the concept of closure?” He says, “I realize this arises from the common grace desire by all of us for justice in this world, but I strongly suspect that the concept has sadly been captured and manipulated by the psychiatric community in the process of the triumph of the therapeutic.”

Well, Don, you’re exactly right because the triumph of the therapeutic means the virus of the therapeutic in almost everything. But there is a quest that I think God has put within us, not so much for psychic closure as for moral closure, and that’s the kind of closure I was speaking of in particular. And that’s one of the reasons why we want to have a criminal arrested. We want to know who committed the crime. And we want a trial to take place that’s fair and just and righteous. We want the right sentence to be administered. There is a quest for justice, and we as a society can only achieve a certain kind of satisfaction, and it’s a very limited satisfaction with knowing that justice has been accomplished or justice has been served.

Now, that points to something else which I mentioned and I’ll mention again, and that is that the biblical worldview tells us there will be no final satisfaction until the judgment of God. But by common grace we are as human cultures given the responsibility, human governments in particular, to administer justice, even as it’s described by the apostle Paul was the power of the sword, even as it’s described by the apostle Paul in a passage such as Romans 13. I think you’re undoubtedly right when you say that much of this, the concept of closure, has been overtaken by the therapeutic. And I think that tells us something.

I think number one, that’s just profoundly accurate, but I think that also tells us something. It tells us something far more important than what the therapeutic community knows. And that is that we are made in God’s image as moral creatures, and we will never find moral rest until we meet the justice of God. And then, of course, the only rescue is the atonement accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ.


How Can We Claim the Song That Bears Solomon's Name as Wisdom in the Very Area Where His Inconsistency is Most Visible? — Dr. Mohler Responds to a Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

An interesting question came from a seminary student out west named Cisco, and he referred to the conversation we had about Solomon and answering a question about a week ago. And of course looking at Solomon’s sin, who is the wisest man and yet consider his sin. He had all of those wives and all those concubines. And then Cisco asked, “How can we claim the song that is the Song with Solomon that bears Solomon’s name is wisdom in the very area where his inconsistency is most visible?”

The answer to that, Cisco, is that the Song of Solomon is inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is given to us by the wisdom of God, not so much by the wisdom of Solomon. And it is one of the great ironies of scripture that Solomon’s sin is made just as clear in the biblical text as is Solomon’s wisdom. And so the bottom line is evidently God wanted us to see this for exactly what it is, both in the text of the Song of Solomon and in the truth about Solomon that is also made very clear in God’s perfect word.

Part IX

So What Exactly Did Adam and Eve Learn About Good and Evil? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Jason wrote in with a very good question, speaking of the fact that in the fall, once Adam and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit, their eyes were opened and they knew the distinction, the difference between right and wrong. And then he says this, “To obey this command would have been good, and to break the command would have been evil. So to that extent, didn’t they already know the difference between good and evil? What were their eyes open to in Genesis 3 that they weren’t previously aware of?”

Well, that is the thrill at first of the temptation and then the giving in to disobedience, to evil. That’s what they experienced. So long as they were perfectly obedient, they did not know the experience of being disobedient. It was that knowledge now, the knowledge of the difference between good and evil, that became a part of human experience. And now there’s not a sentient human being who does not know that distinction. And I think we all know, even as we raise children, for example, that there comes a moment when a child all of a sudden recognizes the capacity to obey or to disobey and then gives in to the thrill of disobedience.

What follows then has everything to do with the parent’s responsibility to take away the thrill. But even in doing so, here’s what parents understand. You can take away the thrill, but you can’t take away the knowledge. This too is a part of what it means to be fallen humanity so desperately, infinitely in need of the grace and mercy that God has shown us in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Lots of questions sent in. Some of them would take some time to address, and so we need to take some time to do that.

But for now, thanks for listening to The Briefing.

For more information, go to my website at You can follow 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’ll meet you again on Monday for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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