Friday, November 17, 2023

It’s Friday, November 17, 2023.

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

Part I

The Corruption of College Sports Continues: The Danger of Alcohol Sales at University Sporting Events

Well, it’s Friday and it’s time to look at sports, because sports right now is very much in the headlines and with great worldview significance. A couple of stories loom larger than others. The first has to do with the fact that there’s been a shift in collegiate athletics towards things that would’ve been unthinkable just a matter of a few years ago, not to mention decades ago. One of them is gambling, the other one is alcohol. So if you do rewind history and you go back to say the golden era of college sports, whenever you want to say that that was, at least there was a consensus that two things needed to be kept far, far away from collegiate athletics. Those two things, gambling and alcohol.

So you can understand why the combustible nature of adding gambling and alcohol to collegiate athletics, the entire idea was so unthinkable that it didn’t happen. It didn’t happen until it became thinkable, and once it became thinkable, well, it’s now actual. How actual? Well, the Chicago Tribune reported just last week that 55 of 69 schools in major college football now are selling booze, that’s the word used in the headline, in stadiums. So there were zero just a matter of a short number of years ago, now 55 of 69. Now, there are a couple of things to consider here.

Well, on the small end of the moral spectrum is this. Once you have a new industry or a new revenue stream that becomes available, well, the argument is very easy. People say, “Well, we can’t just let that go. Look, university X is bringing in millions, hundreds of thousands every year. The money’s flowing along with the alcohol. We can’t let that go. That’s not good stewardship.” You can hear exactly how those arguments come. “We’re leaving money on the table,” they will say. Another smaller insight from all of this is that there is a particular link between certain behaviors and other behaviors.

When it comes to sports, alcohol has always been there, at least in many contexts, but it’s been out in the parking lot, not in the stadium. It’s been out on the streets, not in the gymnasium or the coliseum. It’s a very, very different picture now. Furthermore, there’s a third let’s just say lesser consideration here with other larger issues looming, but there has also been in every sane society a concern to protect young people and the understanding that young people are particularly vulnerable.

So here’s one of the hypocrisies of this whole thing. You have universities trying to supposedly keep their students from developing problems with alcohol, at the same time they’re selling alcohol is a major revenue stream, and the revenue stream only works if it grows and you actually lead to a larger market with a greater demand and more alcohol flowing. The other thing is that you have the contradiction of the fact that supposedly there are young people who aren’t legally able to drink who are being invited into the stadium where some of the major revenue is coming from alcohol sales. You ask the question, and it’s the same question to be asked with the invasion of gambling into collegiate athletics, what could go wrong? The obvious answer is just about everything.

Reporters Larry Lage and Mike Householder for the Associated Press tell us, “For many years, the booze flowed only outside of stadiums. Not anymore. Selling beer and wine inside college football stadiums has become the norm over the past decade, a way for schools to bring in more revenue and attract fans who otherwise might be inclined to stay home.” Interesting to ponder that statement for a moment. So supposedly, some fans who otherwise would stay at home are going to come if they can sip wine and chug beer at the game? I’ll just take it at face value. I guess that says something about an awful out of these fans. Evidently, this is something that teams have discovered and now they’re saying it out loud.

Now, I want to let you in on the kind of moral calculation that takes place here. The AP story goes to the University of Wisconsin, identified as one of the institutions that still does not sell alcohol to the general public at football games. But listen to this, “But it will begin selling booze at basketball and hockey games this season.” So what would be the lofty moral language behind this? Just listen to this quote. “If our fan experience metrics increase, then it certainly warrants a conversation.” That was said by Michael Pinta, the deputy athletic director at Wisconsin. Again, think of this language, “If our fan experience metrics increase, then it certainly warrants a conversation.”

Okay, maybe you didn’t wake up this morning wanting to know what fan experience metrics might be, but whatever it is, it’s going to be a justification, I can promise you, for selling more alcohol. Now, in moral terms, how fast does this kind of thing spread, the contagion? Well just consider this. “The Associated Press survey found that 19 schools that are currently in the Power Five conferences began selling alcohol to the public during football games in 2019.” Remember that, by the way, let me just interject. Way back in 2019, way back, perhaps four years ago in ancient history.

I continue, “Before that, just 20 such schools permitted the practice.” “Since 2019, ” says AP, “another 16 schools have come on board including Michigan State, Kentucky and Stanford,” again, “all of which started selling booze in their football stadiums during the current season.” So that’s how fast this is. That’s how contemporary this news story is. A sociologist at Texas A&M said, “Athletic departments typically are not profitable, so selling alcohol is simply becoming a new revenue stream.” Well, let’s just state the obvious. Organized crime could become a new revenue stream. Are athletic department’s going to say they’re into that too? Now, wait just a minute. They’re into gambling, so I guess we are getting close.

Add alcohol. Remember bootlegging? Add gambling. Remember organized crime? It does look like it’s becoming very hard to tell the difference between a major American university sports program, well, and what goes on right in the street.

Part II

No, We Do Not All Know It’s Wrong: The Blowout Buyout of Jimbo Fisher

But before we leave this Friday edition of looking at sports, we have to talk about something that doesn’t generally go on in the streets, and that’s $77 million payouts. That normally doesn’t happen, but it happened in College Station, Texas where Jimbo Fisher, the now former head football coach at Texas A&M was let go with a contract that requires the university to pay him $77 million over just a few years for leaving, for being fired. The story behind this is even more, well, I’ll use the word scandalous. When you consider the fact that the athletic director who fired him had tried to justify not only paying him this much, but said he wanted to pay him more for a 15 year contract. That was said just a matter of say a couple years before he turned around and talked to the board into allowing the firing with this $77 million of walkaway money.

I’m currently in San Antonio, Texas where the local newspaper, the San Antonio Express News, ran a lead editorial on Wednesday of this week with a headline, “Coach buyouts, an obscene tradition.” I’m not arguing with the editorial. “There’s no getting around the fact that the scale of Fisher’s golden parachute is obscene.” The editors went on. “Even if the payout isn’t being bankrolled by the taxpayers of Texas, it still amounts to an outrageous amount of money to pay someone not to do their job.” The newspaper also points to some rather awkward math. Remember, the athletic director just made a decision that will require a $77 million payout to a former coach in order not to coach. At the same time back in 2021, that’s just two years ago, the same athletic director “publicly fretted that the university’s athletic department faced a pandemic induced $48 million shortfall and $17 million in expense reductions.”

We really are talking about a lot of money here, but the editors end on a very strange note. This is how they ended. “Texas A&M has a history of throwing tons of money at big name football coaches and it’s hard to blame Fisher for taking the money he was offered.” Here’s the last sentence, “But we all know it’s wrong.” Well, that’s an interesting statement. In worldview analysis, a statement we all know it’s wrong demands some attention. Do we all know it’s wrong? Not only does I think it’s wrong, it feels wrong, it looks wrong, but do we all think it’s wrong? I don’t think we all think it’s wrong. I think there are a lot of athletic directors who will do the same thing in a skinny minute if they just had the funds to do it.

I think Texas A&M will be likely to throw even more money at the next coach because, after all, who’s going to come for a lesser contract than the coach who just got let go? Texas A&M could not fire Jimbo Fisher without the ambition at least of hiring someone with an even better record and that’s going to cost even more money. We all know it’s wrong. I’m not sure the fans at Texas A&M know it’s wrong. Evidently, the regents, the board at Texas A&M isn’t convinced it’s wrong. The athletic director at Texas A&M who at one point lamented the fact he couldn’t sign Jimbo Fisher to more years, well, he doesn’t seem to think it’s wrong.

You have athletic directors and university presidents who are saying, “It seems kind of wrong, but you know what everybody else is doing, and if we don’t do it, we have a losing team. That’s wrong.” So we all know it’s wrong. Well, we all know at the same time that some of the people who say they know it’s wrong are going to turn around in just a few minutes and do it again, maybe even bigger.

Nancy Armour, very liberal columnist on social issues for USA Today ran an article entitled College Athletes Lose with Salaries Out of Control. She means salaries of coaches. She goes on to say this, “College sports is broken and it isn’t the kids asking to be paid who broke it.” “Texas A&M,” she writes, “is going to pay Jimbo Fisher more than $77 million to go away.” She continues, “Throw in the money owed for bonuses he’s already earned, the payoffs for his assistants and the contract for the new coach and the total price tag likely will be north of $100 million.”

Later in the article, Nancy Armour refers to Fisher’s deal as “Fisher’s obscene deal”. She complains about the big money in collegiate athletics, particularly collegiate football. She says, “Like the football facility at Clemson that includes a golf simulator and a sand volleyball court or the locker room at Washington which looks more like a club than an athletic facility with its purple LED lighting.” So she’s talking about big money in collegiate athletics. But let me also note that the entire sports section of USA Today kind of depends upon a continuing escalation of all that money being thrown into collegiate sports.

So Nancy Armour writes in the paper more or less her own version of we all know this is wrong, but if all these schools stopped doing it, well, just to take the obvious, there would be a lesser role for newspapers like USA Today, its sports section and its sports writers. I’m not throwing them under the bus here. I’m not dismissing this argument. I think it’s patently ridiculous that someone’s paid $77 million not to do a job. I also understand a competitive market and these schools really are in a competitive market, but as they point fingers at each other, it’s really something that has been out of control for a very long time. Nancy Armour kind of insinuates that there once was a time when salaries were more rational. I’m not sure when that time was.

From a Christian worldview perspective, I want to get away from the money except as illustrating this point. We as human beings have a hard time keeping things in any kind of proper perspective. When I look at all this money being thrown at collegiate athletics, I think of the mission invested in the institution I lead to train ministers of the gospel to take the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to the nations and to feed and to establish godly churches. I look at that and go, “Where is the priority?” Even among many Christians who evidently are far more generous with sports programs than they are with the education of their preachers and the formation of missionaries, or for that matter, the education of their grandchildren, a lot more attention to the sports than even to the academics.

One of the task of the Christian is to put things into proper perspective. I can’t tell you today exactly where sports should be in perspective in your life or in this season of your life or in your family, but I can tell you this, there are far too many families who are out on sporting events because they supposedly have to do this and their kids aren’t very involved in church, and quite frankly, I know of many Christian families where the kids are absolutely worn out because of travel team, this and that responsibility, the family is continuously pulled apart. I don’t deny for a moment that athletics has a proper place in a society and some people are more interested in it, frankly, they’re more athletically gifted.

They are, in a sense, called to involvement in sports in a way that someone else might not be. I understand that there, as in the military, is a rare bonding experience. I understand that for young men, sports in particular, team sports can be particularly bonding and coaches can have an extraordinary influence, and in a fatherless society, there are coaches at every level who have stood in in remarkably heroic ways. I also understand that the experience of men and women in sports can be something that is enormously rewarding and sometimes a lifetime endeavor.

But I see what almost everyone else sees right now, and that is just with the one case of Jimbo Fisher, something is out of proportion, something is out of scale, and we all know it’s bigger than that. I can remember talking to a man in another denomination who was speaking of what he saw as the greatest enemies to the spiritual eyes of young people, and he said, “I think sports is a big part of it.” What used to be so important as a crucible for character is now becoming just a way of exhausting children in the name of a giant industry of youth sports. I’m in no position to dictate the answers to these questions, but I do insist that the questions are legitimate. Indeed, at some point, the questions are unavoidable, which leads me to transition to questions this week that were sent in by listeners of The Briefing.

Part III

What Do You Believe About Dinosaurs? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Now’s the time when we turn to your questions, and as always, I thank you in advance for sending the questions. First place in questions goes today to a mom who is sending in a question because of issues raised by her two and a half year old boy, a little boy we are told who loves dinosaurs. She says this, “Reading him books and taking him to the Children’s Museum near our home has raised some questions in my mind on this topic and I would love your perspective. What do you believe about dinosaurs?”

This mom goes on to say that she is a young earth creationist. She believes in seven day creation, ex nihilo. She then asks, “Where are the dinosaurs in this story? How do I reconcile phrases such as millions of years ago and evolutionary terminology with a biblical understanding of creation?” Well, sweet mom, I want to speak to you, first of all, it is about as typical as possible that your two and a half year old boy is fascinated with dinosaurs. Back when I was a little boy about his age, I had a little plastic dinosaur that I took just about everywhere, and that dinosaur was actually a logo of a gas company.

The gas company was Sinclair, and the dinosaur was a brontosaurus. Again, it was an iconic thing and yet it was a toy to a little boy. By the way, it’s also interesting that the dinosaur was a symbol, at least in part because it’s supposed to remind us of how oil was produced over a very long period of time. Well, you pretty much know the story. The bottom line is that I share this mom’s conviction in creation of six days. So it’s often referred to as seven day creation because on seventh day God rested, seven day creation ex nihilo, which means out of nothing.

So that means a direct contradiction to the modern theory or theories of evolution, and especially to the claim that you have a massively old earth with the time supposedly a sufficient explanation for a process of change, you could use evolution and change as synonyms here, that eventually leads to the world as we know it today and leads to ourselves as evolved creatures. Some Christians try to split the difference with some form of theistic evolution. I think that’s an oxymoron. Does it work? Doesn’t fit the biblical text? I think there are others who try to say, “Look, you can work in an old earth in this way or another way.” I’ll just simply say as I read the scripture, it’s a very straightforward description.

Where did dinosaurs show up? They show up in the sixth day of creation when God created all the beings on the land and in the sea, and there’s just no other place to put them and there’s no reason to believe they simply weren’t there. The claim made by so many is that it’s impossible that you had humanoids and dinosaurs living contemporaneously at the same time, even in some of the same places. But I can’t answer that question with archeological evidence. I’m not an archeologist. I can simply tell you that biblically speaking, there’s no reason why that would not have happened.

In the Old Testament, as a matter of fact, there are references to leviathan and to the behemoth both on the land and in the sea, particularly in the sea, by the way, these inexplicable massive and menacing creatures. I don’t know exactly what they were, but the fact is that as you look at a biblical timeline, there is in truth nowhere else to put the dinosaurs. So why did the dinosaurs die out? Well, in this case, I think there is good evidence that cold-blooded creatures had severe problems during ice ages and periods of cold and especially sustained cold. It may be climate change, maybe any number of things, but the dinosaurs are no longer with us.

By the way, one of the things you need to watch in a lot of this conversation in the culture about dinosaurs is that even much of the research that’s claimed by evolutionists is very old, superseded by later research. But I think it’s not so much our responsibility to pay attention to that research, especially based in materialistic worldviews, contrary to scripture and evolution, which I think is directly contrary to scripture. Then even as you would have blind and designless evolution, which is absolutely contradictory to scripture, I think we as Christians just need to lean into scripture.

I noticed this question, and mom, I’m giving this more time than I expected because quite honestly I think there are probably a lot of people interested in the dinosaurs, including your little boy. I noticed you didn’t say he asked the question, but you did. I think that’s just another reminder of the fact that as a Christian parent, your responsibility is to be there able to answer the questions of your little boy. But one of the good things you need to remember is you really don’t need to ask him those questions right now.

Just let him play with the dinosaurs and enjoy going to the museum and reminding him of the biblical timeline and storyline and the fact that God made all the creatures for his glory and some of them are no longer with us, but even the remembrance of these creatures should bring us pleasure, perhaps even a little bit of thrill even as it brings God glory. So do we believe in God who is glorified in the existence of dinosaurs that he made? Tell your little boy. Yes, we sure do.

Part IV

How Should the Pro Life Movement Respond After Last Week’s Off-week Election Results? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

So many listeners wrote in with urgent questions about what we do with the issue of abortion after the election results of November, 2023. There’s so many questions. They’re hard even to summarize except to say everybody’s basically asking the question, what do we do now? I’m going to suggest, and we’ll talk about this at greater length in months ahead, but what we have to do now is stand our ground regardless of how people vote, regardless of what the polls tell us, our worldview comes from scripture and scripture is absolutely clear not only about the sanctity of human life from the point of fertilization until natural death, but also of our responsibility to contend for it and to defend it.

We obviously have a much bigger job to do than we knew a matter of weeks ago, but frankly we kind of suspected that might be true. This is a wake up call, but it’s also a call to action, and it’s good for Christians every once in a while just to look at each other in the eye and say, “We have no authorization for retreat. None. We have no authority to renegotiate this understanding. None.” What we are called to is faithfulness, and let’s be honest that faithfulness is now in a more challenging context than some of us expected, but here we are. So here we go.

Part V

Is It Wrong for Women to Teach Mixed Sunday School Classes? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Next, I want to turn to a question sent in by Noah who is a new student at Southern Seminary this coming fall. So welcome Noah. Glad to meet you by email and thankful for your question. He asked the question, he says, “In a lot of churches, you have women teaching Sunday school classes, teaching the scripture. Is that right or is that wrong?” Well, I’m simply going to say, Noah, you look in the New Testament, there is no verse about Sunday School. Instead, there are very clear teachings about who is to do the teaching in the church, and when it comes to teaching the scripture to the assembly, and that means men and women and boys and girls together, I think it’s very clear that that is a role that is biblically defined as for men, men qualified by Scripture.

So I’ll state it just openly, I think that it is not right order nor advisable to have a woman teaching men and older boys in that context. So, I have been in conversation for decades with a lot of pastors trying to think through these things, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with women teaching the Bible to children and to girls and other women. Thus I think even as you look at the experience of Judaism, even in the time of Jesus and thereafter and before, it also helps us to understand a change comes with adolescence. At that point it’s important that boys be understood as those who are becoming men, and at that point I think they need to be taught by men when it comes to the scriptures in the context of the local church.

I also think this is very important in the family just in terms of mother and father understanding the responsibility for son and daughter. But I want to be clear because you ask a clear question in the context of the local church, I think the scripture is clear, women should not be in the teaching office regardless of what you call the context where you have the Christian assembly of men and women, rather, that responsibility is to be invested as understood as the teaching office with men who are qualified by Scripture. I know that’s not popular in a lot of circles. I know some people will say that’s not expedient, but I do believe it’s clear in Scripture and faithful.

Part VI

With Whom Did Jacob Wrestle? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

I’m going to end today with a fascinating question posed by a family. The letter says, “Dear Dr. Mohler. Will you help to settle a little dinnertime debate for our family? In Genesis 32, does Jacob wrestle with God the Father, Yahweh or God the son, Christophany? Or is the text purposefully ambiguous in order that we may have this conversation? In advance, I say thank you, and we have Wesley, Lottie, Eli, Hannah and Philip.” They range from five to mom and dad. How glorious is that? Okay, so can I settle a little dinnertime debate? The answer is maybe, maybe not.

Maybe you have to debate that at your dinner table. I think the right and proper understanding of Genesis 32 is that Jacob wrestled with the Lord, that’s what it says. Now, at the same time, it is left a bit ambiguous so that this issue is not defined for us in this chapter, Genesis 32, in such a way that we can make the division, some of the divisions you make, and they’re smart divisions, by the way, just the suggestion. Could it be this, a Christophany, Yaweh, God the Father, God the Son, a Christophany? Could it be a Christophany? Yes, it could, but there’s nothing in the text that tells us that.

Is it God or the angel of God? Well, straightforwardly the text appears to tell us it was God, but God is often manifested, revealed in the angel of the Lord. So it could be. I think I am thankful that Scripture gives us just what we need here and no more. So it’s a very smart, biblically informed, faithful debate at your dinner table. I think the answer is that what we are to learn from Genesis 32 is the danger of wrestling with God in the wrong way and for Jacob what might have been presented here as wrestling with God in the right way. Or let’s put it another way. Does this lead to faithfulness or unfaithfulness in Jacob’s life? It leads to faithfulness.

So whatever happened as Jacob was wrestling with God, it’s not presented, by the way, in a negative light in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament. It is presented as a fact, and out of that fact comes Jacob. So this was actually used by God in Jacob’s life to make Jacob who he needed to be to fulfill God’s purposes. As the reformer John Calvin said, “It is not wrong to wrestle with God in the sense that God comes to wrestle with us to teach us something. It is wrong to disobey God and always right to obey God.” I think that’s just about the perfect balance in understanding this. I can just say it must be a glorious God-honoring thing to sit at your table as your family does. Thanks for taking us a little bit into the life of your family with this question.

I love the questions that were sent today and perhaps another time we can consider what would’ve happened if, well, to put all this together, Jacob had wrestled with a dinosaur.

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’m speaking to you from San Antonio, Texas, and I’ll meet you again on Monday for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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