The Mailbag: MLM-ing Essential Oils at Church

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Originally published March 26, 2018

 

Our church has recently had a visitor come who is now promoting essential oils to the women who are flocking to a class she is having in one of their homes. This makes me very uncomfortable as it appears (to me) that she has visited to increase her MLM [multi-level marketing] customer base while touting medicinal cures via essential oils. Do you have any research on this?

Sounds like a multi-level mess! There are several different issues going on here, so let’s dig in…

Cold-calling at church
Um, no. I mean… OK, I’m just going to go there. Have you no shame? Have you no home training? I don’t care how much of a go-getter saleswoman you are, there are some lines you just don’t cross. And I can’t believe I’m actually having to explain to grown up, adult people that you don’t go church hopping to make sales and recruit people to work for you. What’s next, showing up at funerals to sell Avon? Pampered Chef demonstrations at wedding receptions?

Church is the place where a local body of Believers gathers to worship the almighty God of the universe. How dare anyone sully the Bride of Christ it by making it something as low and common as a networking site for her business! If you are visiting a church, you should be doing so to worship, not for any other reason. Jesus made that really clear.

Depending on how blatant, intrusive, and disruptive the visitor’s behavior at your church is, someone – preferably one of the women in the class that the visitor is close to, but if not, possibly an elder or the pastor – may need to pull her aside and firmly, yet lovingly, explain that she is welcome to come to church to worship, but not to hustle.

Multi-Level Members
The reader who sent in the question asked about someone who’s visiting her church, but I want to take a moment to speak to you ladies who are MLM-ing your own church.

Your fellow church members might be uncomfortable telling you this, so I’m going to do so on their behalf: Some of you are going too far and being too pushy with your businesses. And you’re putting your brothers and sisters in the no-win situation of either having to acquiesce to the pressure you’re putting on them or hurt your feelings by telling you no.

It’s certainly fine to tell people at church what your job is when they ask, but leave the ball in their court:

“What do you do?”

“I’m an independent sales consultant for Fancy Widgets.”

“Oh? That sounds great!”

“Yeah, it’s an awesome company. I love it! If you’d ever be interested in working with us or adding to your widget collection, just let me know. Want some coffee?”

And don’t bring it up again. She knows you’re her Fancy Widgets connection. If she wants something, she’ll find you.

If you leave it at that and you end up having a few people at church who want to order from you, it’s certainly OK to discreetly take orders from them or bring their products to them at church after services are over. It’s fine for people to approach you about your business, but don’t repeatedly ask people at church to host parties, invite people from church to parties others are hosting for you, attempt to recruit people, or push products. That’s a distraction from worship and fellowship, it gets on people’s nerves, and it will eventually end up alienating your church family.

Scientifically proven?
I don’t have much experience with essential oils, but it’s my understanding that some essential oils can help alleviate the symptoms of some ailments in some people. In other words, peppermint oil may work wonders on your migraine, but do nothing for mine. As long as the limits of the powers of the essential oils are made clear along with the potential benefits, there’s no problem. If the visitor is making snake oil-type promises that the essential oils don’t deliver on, that’s lying and she needs to be confronted about it. If it gets to that point, you need to let your pastor or elders know what’s going on in case she doesn’t stop and one of them ends up having to deal with her.

Essential Oils and New Age Spirituality
Some (not all) essential oils companies claim that their oils will bring about spiritual benefits in addition to (or instead of) physiological benefits. While it’s fine to say that a little lavender oil in your bath will help relax you, saying that it will balance your chakras or yin your yang or bring you inner peace and confidence or whatever is crossing the line into unbiblical (usually New Age) spirituality. No Christian should have anything to do with buying or selling such essential oils. If there’s someone in your church who’s promoting a company like that at church, that’s a church discipline issue, because she’s introducing false doctrine into the church.

Marcia Montenegro over at Christian Answers for the New Age has published numerous posts on the problems with New Age spirituality and essential oils, as has Sola Sisters.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

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Feminist Infiltration and the Emasculation of Christian Men

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Originally published May 13, 2016

feminist emasculation

I hate radical secular feminism. I really do. Don’t get me wrong, I deeply appreciate the right to vote and own property. I think that men and women with the same amount of experience and education should be paid the same amount of money for doing the same job. And, I love seeing women study and develop their minds (particularly in the area of sound biblical doctrine.)

But what I don’t like is some of the methods that have been employed to achieve these things, the biblical values that have been sacrificed along the way, and the emasculating impact feminism has had on men.

Turn on any television show, watch a commercial, go to the movies, read the news, scroll through your social media feed, and examine the way men are generally viewed, spoken of, and being treated by others.

If a female character on a TV show slaps her husband or punches him in the arm, we laugh or sympathize with her anger, depending on the scenario, but if the roles were reversed we’d call the same behavior from a man abuse.

Men are frequently portrayed as bumbling incompetents as fathers, husbands, and employees, with a heroine mom, wife, or co-worker stepping in to save the day.

We see women wearing the pants in the family and treating their husbands like an extra child, and we see men who respond in kind: acting like children, obeying their wives’ commands, and, often, indulging in hours of childish pastimes, like video games, instead of working hard and caring for their families.

It’s not Father Knows Best anymore. It’s Father’s a Moronic Buffoon to Kick Around.

And what’s alarming is that these attitudes have been creeping into the church for years.

Just as women rebelled against the law and social conventions to gain equality with men, “Christian” women now rebel against Scripture by becoming pastors and instructing and holding authority over men in the church. (In fact, this has been going on so long that many in the next generation aren’t even aware that the Bible prohibits this.)

Just as men in secular society have stepped back to avoid being run over by headstrong women, or even joined them in their quest for female dominance, evangelical men have abdicated their God-given positions of leadership in the church and home, sometimes even joining women in their violation of Scripture by inviting them into unbiblical positions of leadership and by sitting under their teaching and preaching.

Those are the things that are overt and visible. But it’s happening on a more subtle level, too, even among complementarian men, women, and churches.

Have you ever heard a man attempt to praise his wife by saying, “I married up,” or “way up,” or “way over my head,” and then proceed to describe himself as, basically, a bucket of slime in comparison to his wife? Most of the men I’ve heard say this have been good, godly men, including my husband, who has made similar remarks in the past.

I don’t know about the rest of you ladies, but I don’t want to hear anyone putting my husband (or any of my godly male friends) down, even my husband himself. The truth is, for believers, the cross is the great equalizer. We all marry equally up and equally down, because we are all redeemed, yet broken, sinful human beings- simultaneously saint and sinner.

And what about things like this?

There are some really great messages in this video:

Being a mom can be tough, and husbands should appreciate all the hard work their wives do as mothers.

God wired women differently from men in a way that uniquely equips us for motherhood, and these differences are good and should be valued.

Dads need to step in and give moms a break every now and then.

It’s just supposed to be a lighthearted “moms are precious” video. I get that. But how are the makers of the video achieving the “lighthearted” part? By portraying dads as silly and hapless.

Where are we getting this idea that men have to be torn down in order to build women up? Not from the Bible, but from secular feminism. That’s their modus operandi, not God’s.

We always look at Proverbs 31:10-31 with regard to what it says about excellent wives, but have you ever noticed what it says about husbands?

The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm…

Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land…

Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
11-12a, 23, 28-29

Here, in the quintessential passage praising godly wives, do we see a silly cartoon character of a husband? Do we see a husband being belittled so his wife can look good? No. We see a godly wife who does her husband good and inspires and encourages him to go out and conquer the world. We see a respectable man with a good reputation. And, we see a man who trusts, appreciates, and praises his wife without a hint of self deprecation.

The world’s way is that for women to be winners, men must lose. God’s way is iron sharpens iron. When wives are godly, it influences their husbands to be godly, and vice versa. When women fulfill the roles God has ordained for them at church, it frees and encourages men to be the leaders God has called them to be. We build each other up without tearing ourselves down. Nobody has to lose in order for somebody else to win. Godliness is truly a win-win situation.

Godly women are important, specially crafted by God for our roles, and worthy of honor and respect. But so are godly men. Let’s be sure, in the family and in the church, that we’re taking our cues from Scripture, not the world, when it comes to valuing women and men.

Throwback Thursday ~ 9 Ways NOT to Fight with Your Husband

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Originally published October 21, 2016

9-not-fight-husband

My twenty-fourth wedding anniversary is coming up in December. I am so thankful to God for bringing my husband into my life. He has been such a blessing to me. I adore Scott…most of the time. Scott and I are both very passionate people. That’s a polite way of saying we’re both prone to being hot-headed and overly emotional at times. And that’s sort of a secular way of saying we have both given in to sin and selfishness with each other over the years. We’ve had our share of arguments, and if you’re married, you probably have, too.

The Bible says:

Be angry, and do not sin. Psalm 4:4a

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20

There is a godly way to iron out our differences in marriage. We pray for each other and about whatever it is we’re disagreeing about. We die to self, put the other person first, and act in humility and love. We exercise self control and refuse to be ruled by our emotions. Husbands love their wives and lead with a self-sacrificing heart, and, wives, we submit to and respect our husbands’ God-given leadership.

And then there are the ungodly ways to handle problems and arguments in our marriages. Younger ladies, as someone who has learned many of these things the hard way, allow me to Titus 2 you for a few moments. Here are nine ways not to fight with your husband*:

1. Failure to leave and cleave
Your utmost loyalty is to your husband. When you and your husband have a disagreement, it is for the two of you to work out together. Do not run back to Mommy and Daddy (or your sister, best friend, etc.) and complain about your husband in hopes that they will take your side against him and fight your battles for you. That is the mark of a child, not a grown woman. (And, older moms, if your adult daughter attempts to do this with you, teach her that this is not the godly way to handle disagreements. Do not get involved. Send her back home to work things out with her husband.)

2. Don’t negatively compare your husband to other men.
“You’re just like your mother/father!” “My father would never treat me like this!” “My ex-husband/former boyfriend/deceased spouse always _______. Why don’t you?” “Pastor Bob/your friend Joe would never treat his wife this way!” The fact of the matter is, your husband was created in the image of God as a unique individual. There is no comparison to others.

3. Don’t use Scripture as a weapon.
Yes, the Bible is a two-edged sword. No, that doesn’t mean to slice your husband to pieces with it. In the same way he doesn’t get to yell “You’re not being submissive!” (even though it may be true) as a way to win an argument, you don’t get to take the verses that tell husbands how to act and use them to belittle him. The best way you can use Scripture in the middle of an argument is to remember what it says to you about obedience to Christ, humility, patience, and extending grace, and obey it.

4. Don’t use sex as a weapon or a bribe.
God created sex as a good gift for husbands and wives to enjoy. He tells us we are to give each other our right to intimacy and that we are not to deprive each other except temporarily, by agreement, and for the purpose of devoting ourselves to prayer. Do not withhold sex as a way to punish your husband or hold it over his head as a way to get him to do what you want him to do.

5. No personal attacks
Would you want your husband to call you ugly, a cow, a bad wife, a lousy mother? Of course not. Don’t call him lazy, weak, stupid, fat, etc.

6. Don’t emasculate him.
Do not attack your husband’s manhood. Berating him for his job performance, belittling him for not being as successful you think he should be (or as someone else is), throwing in his face how little money he makes, mocking his performance in the bedroom, denigrating him as a mama’s boy, making his kowtowing to you a test of his manhood, and saying things like, “A real man wouldn’t ____!”, are all great ways to tear down your house with your own hands. These kinds of remarks are some of the most hurtful things you can say to your husband. They make him feel the way you would feel if he said you were old, fat, and ugly and he was going to find someone else who was younger and beautiful. These are soul crushing things to say, and if you’re in the habit of saying them, your marriage isn’t going to last long. Stop.

7. Don’t be manipulative, passive aggressive, or play other emotional games.
No pouting, no slamming things around, no saying “NOTHING!” or “I’M FINE!” when he asks what’s wrong, no expecting him to read your mind and getting mad if he doesn’t, no making his giving in a test of his love for you, no holding things over his head, no maxing out the credit cards, flirting with other men, or sabotaging his work, hobbies, or relationships as a way to get back at him. None of these are godly ways to relate to anyone, and especially not to your husband. “The heart of her husband trusts in her,” the Bible says, “She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” Throughout God’s word, we’re admonished to lovingly speak the truth with one another, not hide, shade, twist, or withhold things. If you’re playing any of these emotional games with your husband you’re being dishonest, unkind, unloving, and malicious. 

8. NEVER threaten divorce.
For Christians, divorce is never a solution to regular marital spats. You have taken a vow before God to stick with your husband through the bad times. Christ has said He will never leave you nor forsake you despite the many times you’ve sinned against him. How, then, could you threaten to leave your husband for sinning against you? The only reason for such a threat is to hurt or scare the man you have pledged to love and honor for the rest of your life. That is not how a woman of God behaves.

9. Leave the past behind.
Don’t throw past sin in your husband’s face. When God forgives us, He puts that sin behind us. The Bible tells us we’re to forgive others the same way, and that we’re not to harbor a record of wrongdoing against others. Love and forgive your husband the way Christ has loved and forgiven you.

But what if he doesn’t do a good job at work or hasn’t cut the apron strings or is being disobedient to Scripture? There’s a time and a place to kindly, lovingly, and rationally discuss those things. The middle of a heated argument isn’t it. Christ does not use our weaknesses as a weapon against us and we do not use our husbands’ weaknesses as a weapon against them. We treat our husbands fairly, kindly, compassionately, respectfully. The same way we want them to treat us.

golden-rule


*As always, when I write articles like this about marriage, it is in the context of a relatively normal, healthy relationship. If you are being abused, get to safety and seek help. If you know someone who is being abused, do not place on her the burden of trying harder. Get her to safety and help her.

The Word on Wednesdays

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For the next couple of weeks, I’ll be making preparations to speak at a conference, so our next regular weekly Bible study won’t start until after I return home and get my household back in order (I’m thinking probably mid-April-ish, but don’t quote me on that.). :0) I have a study in mind, but will keep thinking and praying about it for a few more weeks.

So anyway, for the next few Wednesdays, you’ve got some options:

📖 You can finish up Imperishable Beauty or any of my other studies you’re currently working on.

📖 You can choose a book(s) of the Bible to work through on your own.

📖 You can choose one of my studies to work through at the Bible Studies tab at the top of this page. (I would choose one of the shorter ones, like Colossians or Ruth rather than one of the longer ones if you’re only trying to fill the space between now and the beginning of our next study.)

📖 You can follow along with the sampling of “re-run” lessons I’ll be posting here on the blog each week.

Here’s today’s “re-run”:

Bible Study Articles and Resources

Did you know that there are lots of resources here on the blog to help you out as you study the Bible? Below are a few favorites. Click on the link above for more.

The Mailbag: Which Bible Do You Recommend?

The Mailbag: How can I get started studying the Bible itself?

Nine Helps for Starting and Sticking to Daily Bible Study

10 Simple Steps to Plain Vanilla Bible Study

Rightly Dividing: 12 Do’s and Don’ts for Effective Bible Study

Bible Book Backgrounds: Why You Need Them and Where to Find Them

The Mailbag: As a newly doctrinally sound Christian, should I stop journaling?

(Taking notes on the text of Scripture.)

 

Vlogs, Volume 6

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In case you’ve missed them, here are my latest vlogs.

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you might have already caught all of these. If you’d like to subscribe to my YouTube channel, you’ll find it here. Or click here to view older vlogs I’ve previously posted on the blog. Enjoy!

 

 

 

The Mailbag: Should Christian women serve as surrogate mothers?

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Originally published September 4, 2017

 

I’m a single mom in my 20s with a small child. I know a couple who is having difficulty conceiving and was thinking about offering to be a surrogate for them. A donor egg will be used, so the child will not be biologically mine. This couple would only be “renting my womb” so to speak. It would mainly be to help them out, but the fee I would be paid would really ease the financial stress I’m under. Would I be sinning if I did this?

Infertility can be a heartbreaking experience. It is very kind and compassionate of you to want to help this couple out.

Whenever we’re trying to make decisions like this, the first thing we need to do is look at what the Bible says about it. The New Testament does not prohibit Christian women from serving as surrogate mothers. However, just because Scripture doesn’t mention something or specifically prohibit it doesn’t mean it’s permissible. We need to consider why surrogacy isn’t addressed in the New Testament.

If surrogacy had been addressed by Paul, Peter, or any of the other New Testament writers, it would have been denounced as sin, because in that time, the only way for a woman to become pregnant was through sexual intercourse, and sex with anyone other than her husband would have been sinful.

We do see instances of “surrogacy” in the Old Testament (Sarah, Rachel, Leah) in the ancient Middle Eastern cultural practice of a barren wife giving her maid to her husband. The child that the maid bore would then be legally considered the child of the husband and his wife. But, in this case, we have to remember that just because Scripture does mention something doesn’t mean it’s OK with God.

God did not instruct Sarah, Rachel, or Leah (or any other infertile Old Testament woman such as Hannah or Samson’s mother) to give their maids to their husbands to serve as surrogates. This was a cultural practice of the time that these women took it upon themselves to participate in without regard to whether or not it was godly. We also need to remember that these are descriptive (simply telling what happened) passages of Scripture, not prescriptive (a command or instruction we’re to follow – more on that here). We also need to consider the context of these surrogacies: the maids had no choice in the matter, the pregnancy came about through a sexual act, the child the maid bore was biologically hers, and the maid continued to live in the same household with the husband, wife, and child after the birth, factors, most of which, normally do not apply to modern day surrogacies.

There are, however, a couple of principles we can glean from these Old Testament surrogacies that you would do well to consider as you make your decision.

First, as with the Old Testament surrogacies, surrogacy today is a practice of our modern culture. It is not something God affirmatively instructs either couples or potential surrogates to do in response to infertility. The difference is that modern surrogacy does not involve a sexual encounter, so it may be considered as an option by Christians.

Next, even though the Old Testament surrogacies are different from modern day surrogacies in many ways, one thing they both have in common is that unforeseen problems and complications can arise and cause heartache for the surrogate, the couple, and others.

A great guiding principle in making this decision is found in 1 Corinthians 10:23:

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.

In other words, the Bible does not say you’ll be sinning by carrying this couple’s child, but is it the wisest and most godly thing to do in your particular situation? Think about some of those unforeseen problems and complications that could arise:

☙Women do still die in pregnancy and childbirth. What would happen to your own child if you died serving as a surrogate?

☙Many health issues (morning sickness, bed rest, etc.) come along with pregnancy and childbirth. How will these impact your body and your ability to mother your own child, who is your responsibility before the Lord?

☙Will the couple raise this child to know Christ? Could you, in good conscience, bring a child into the world you know will not be raised in a godly home?

☙Hormones run rampant during pregnancy and carrying a child brings with it strong emotions. What if you end up being emotionally devastated to give this child up?

☙What would happen if, during your pregnancy, the couple suddenly becomes unable or unwilling to fulfill their financial responsibility to you? Would you be able to absorb the loss or pursue legal action against them?

☙What happens if one or both of the couple dies in a tragic accident, or becomes direly ill or disabled, or the couple divorces, or some other circumstance occurs during your pregnancy which causes them to be unwilling or unable to take the baby? 

☙What if, prior to birth, the baby is found to have a disability and the couple backs out of the agreement?

☙How will it impact your own child to see you give this baby away? Will he be fearful that you will give him away, too?

I would encourage you to enter into this decision-making process with much prayer, asking God for wisdom and searching His word for guidance. I would also encourage you to set up an appointment with your pastor for counseling on this matter, and speak to some godly older women in your church who are mothers. 


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit (1 Timothy 2:11-12)

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For the next several weeks I’ll be preparing to speak at the
Relying on God and His Word conference, so I’ll be re-running
some popular articles from the archives. I hope you’ll enjoy this one.


Originally published September 11, 2015

Rock Your Role is a series examining the “go to” and hot button Scriptures that relate to and help us understand our role as women in the church. Don’t forget to prayerfully consider our three key questions
as you read.

Jill Pulpit

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.
1 Timothy 2:11-12

I’ve never met a Christian woman, who, upon reading these verses for the first time joyfully embraced them without the slightest hint of balking, surprise or, “Wait, what?”. I have no doubt that such women are out there, somewhere, it’s just that I’ve never met one of them.

For 21st century American Christian women, these are hard verses. Whether you’re old enough to remember bra burnings and hard line feminists like Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda or you were born into a world replete with female engineers, construction workers, and urologists, you’ve probably been inundated with the “anything boys can do, girls can do better” message since the doctor announced, “It’s a girl!”

And that’s exactly why this passage seems to us like a cold bucket of water. It’s what we bring to the table, our presuppositions, that make these verses feel like a big, fat, arbitrary “no” from a God who just wants to spoil our plans, when everything else in the world says “yes” to whatever we might aspire to.

I’ve struggled with God’s instruction in these verses, trying to stretch it, Silly Putty style, into what I wanted it to mean, so that I could do what I wanted to do and still be “covered” biblically. And, ladies, let me tell you something- that is a sinful, wicked, self-seeking, and self-centered way of approaching this or any other Scripture. An approach from which I have had to repent many, many times.

Looking for loopholes and exceptions and trying to see how close to the line of sin we can get without actually putting a toe over is a characteristic of a carnal mind, not a mind set on pleasing God. Godly women don’t look for ways to get around Scripture. Godly women look for ways to obey Scripture. It’s God’s desire that we flee as far away from sin as we possibly can, and, instead, “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace.” He wants us to love, embrace, and obey His word, not rebel against it, even in our hearts, even in the name of “ministry” or “serving God.” So let’s keep that in mind as we take a look at this passage.

Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LordBehold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. 1 Samuel 15:22-23a

As always, we must examine every biblical passage in context, which means we need to start off by understanding a little background about the book and its author, and by reading the whole chapter.

First Timothy (along with 2 Timothy and Titus) is one of the pastoral epistles. It was written by Paul to young pastor Timothy as sort of a job description and operations manual for pastors, elders, and the church. So right off the bat, an important point we often miss about 1 Timothy is that it was written to a man, Timothy, a pastor, who would use this letter to train his elders (also men) and, subsequently, his congregation. That doesn’t mean that 1 Timothy doesn’t apply to women, or shouldn’t be studied by women, or that women aren’t required to obey 1 Timothy. It just means that when we open the letter of 1 Timothy, we need to understand that we, as women, are reading somebody else’s mail. Mail that pertains to us, yes, but mail that’s addressed to Timothy, and by extension, to pastors and elders today. That will help us better understand the tone and perspective of the passage.

The focal verse of this chapter is verse 4

God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Everything else Paul talks about in chapter 2 revolves around the idea that God wants to save people. He wants the church to pray for people, including governmental officials so that they will be saved. Paul was appointed a preacher and apostle so that people might be saved. Men shouldn’t detract from the gospel by quarreling or anger so that people can be saved. Women’s attire should not distract from the preaching of the gospel, and their good works should point people to the gospel so that people can be saved.

And, finally – an exhortation to men – Timothy and the elders are to allow women to be taught the gospel so that they might be saved. See that word “let” right there at the beginning of verse 11? Timothy and the elders have the responsibility to step up and make sure women are allowed to come into the church and be taught the gospel. That’s something we take for granted now, but in a time when women were routinely regarded with the same value and intelligence as a stick of furniture or the family cow, this was huge. This just reinforces what we learned from Galatians 3:28: everybody is welcome at God’s table. There are no second class citizens in God’s kingdom. God wants to save women, too. We modern women rarely appreciate how precious this concept would have been to first century women hungry to know and be known by God. And the men were to make sure it happened.

But, as Jesus said, “to whom much was given, of [her] much will be required.” The men had the responsibility to make sure women were taught God’s word so they could be saved and grow spiritually, but the women had the responsibility to listen, learn, and conduct themselves in a way that would not hinder others (or even themselves) from learning and hearing the gospel.

Paul goes on to explain in verse 12 what he means by “quietly with all submissiveness”: Women are not to teach men or exercise authority over them. In the first century church, this would have been relatively easy to understand, since church services were fairly simple and didn’t include programs, parachurch organizations, Christian conferences, etc. But in our day, perhaps a little more explanation would be helpful.

Teaching includes any situation in the gathering of the body of Christ in which women would be giving instruction to men in the Scriptures and/or on spiritual matters (which, in a biblical church gathering, would necessarily include Scripture), whether in an official position of teacher (pastor, teaching elder, Sunday School/Bible study teacher, or other leadership position) or any other situation requiring exhorting, teaching, or explaining of the Scriptures.

Exercising authority includes any official position (pastor, pastoral positions, certain committee positions, elder, teacher, director, or other leadership position) or other situation which places a woman in charge of, over, or responsible for men or places men in a role subordinate to a woman.

But why? Why would God reserve the positions of teaching and authority over male or mixed groups to men? He gives two reasons in verses 13-14. God’s design for male headship, and Eve’s deception and sin.

For Adam was formed first, then Eve– Starting with Creation (not the Fall), God began laying out the pattern of male headship in the foundational institutions of His kingdom: Creation, the family, and the church. Man was created first, woman second. Man was given authority over Creation, woman was specifically created for him, to be his helper. We also see male headship in the family. God requires husbands to take the primary leadership role and wives to submit to and respect their husbands.

And, finally, we see God’s design for male headship in the church, not only in overt passages like 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 14, the description of qualifications for pastors and elders, and the precedent of male leadership in the Old Testament temple, but also in the beautiful picture of Christ, the bridegroom, as head of the church, His bride, who lovingly submits to Him. Starting with the very first man and woman, before sin entered the world, God initiated a pattern of male leadership.

And Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor– Here, Paul reminds us that, when Eve listened to the serpent, she stepped out from under her husband’s oversight, was deceived, and sinned. Eve’s sin reminds us that she not only was deceived into rebelling against God’s command about eating the fruit, but she also broke His design for male headship in marriage. In establishing male leadership in the church, God is recalling, reflecting, and restoring His pattern of male headship that started in the Garden.

But I’ve been taught that 1 Timothy 2:12 only applied to the particular time and culture in which it was written.

No, that’s not the case. We’ve just seen that clearly spelled out in verses 13-14. God explains exactly why He’s delegating the teaching of men, and authority over men, to men. There’s nothing in these two verses that even hint that this command is temporary or restricted to the women in the first century Ephesian church. The first reason was the Creative order – Adam was formed first, then Eve. The second reason is that Eve was deceived. Both of those reasons are universal (applying to all women and churches everywhere regardless of era or culture). It makes no sense that these two reasons related to Eve would apply only to first century Ephesus any more than it would make sense for them to apply only to tenth century Damascus or seventeenth century Paris.

Next, again, we examine the context of 1 Timothy 2. There are all sorts of instructions to the church in that chapter. Was the instruction to pray for governmental leaders (1-2) limited to the first century Ephesian church? Were only the men of the first century Ephesian church to pray without quarreling (8)? Was modesty (9-10) only required of women in the first century Ephesian church? Then why pick out this one instruction in verse 12 and claim it was limited to that time and culture?

Finally, look at the overall general pattern of male headship and leadership in Scripture. First human created? A man. The Patriarchs? As the word implies – all men. Priests, Levites, Scribes? Men. Heads of the twelve tribes of Israel? Men. Major and minor prophets? Men. All kings of Israel and Judah? Men. Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic Covenants? All established between God and men. Authors of Scripture? Men. The forerunner of Christ? John the Baptist – a man. Messiah? A man. All of the apostles? Men. All of the pastors, elders, and deacons of churches in the New Testament? Men. Founder and head of the church? Christ – a man. Leader and head of the family? Men. Now which fits better with this pattern, women preaching to, teaching, and exercising authority over men in the church, or women not preaching to, teaching, and exercising authority over men in the church?

But what about women in the Bible who served in leadership roles like Deborah, Esther, or Priscilla? Doesn’t that mean it’s OK for women to preach, teach men, and exercise authority over men in the church?

No it doesn’t. The Bible does not contradict itself because its author, the Holy Spirit, doesn’t contradict Himself. If you’d like to read more about how Deborah, Esther, Priscilla and other women of the Bible were actually acting in obedience to God’s role for women, please read my article Rock Your Role: Oh No She Di-int! Priscilla Didn’t Preach, Deborah Didn’t Dominate, and Esther Wasn’t an Egalitarian.

 

In God’s perfect plan, Janes and Jills are not to serve as pastors. They are not to preach to or teach men at Christian conferences or other gatherings of the body of Christ. They are not to teach co-ed Sunday School classes. They are not to serve in positions or places of authority over men in the church.

But even though we daughters of Eve bear the taint of her reproach in this small way all these years later, God has graciously provided us with many, many ways to redeem the name of womankind by serving Him if we “continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.” (15) One of those ways is the gospel influence mothers are able to have in their children’s lives. Think about it. Samuel had a godly mother. Timothy had a godly mother and grandmother. Jesus had a godly mother. It is no small thing to pour the gospel into your children and raise them up to be mighty men and women of God.

So, ladies, let’s stop clinging to the fence God has placed around the pulpit, bemoaning the fact that He doesn’t want us to cross it, and trying to figure out a way to sneak over, under, or around it. If we’ll just turn around and leave that fence behind us, we’ll find a wide open field of opportunities to serve God in His church, His way.

Jack-in-the-Pulpit Photo courtesy of: https://www.ourstate.com/jack-in-the-pulpit/

Jack-in-the-Pulpit
Photo courtesy of:
https://www.ourstate.com/jack-in-the-pulpit/


Additional Resources:

Ten Things You Should Know About 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and the Relationship Between Men and Women in the Local Church at The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) This is a refutation of the most common egalitarian arguments against the plain meaning of 1 Timothy 2:11-15.

Why Women Should Not Teach the Bible to Men by Josh Buice

Will the Next SBC Resurgence Include a Redefining of Complementarianism? by Tom Buck The springboard issue for this article series was the movement to elect a female president of the Southern Baptist Convention, however, it is largely an exposition of the text of 1 Timothy 2:11-15. Regardless of whether or not you’re familiar with this issue, and even if you’re not Southern Baptist, these articles are helpful and easy to understand. Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4

Only Men May be Pastors at Founders Ministries

What Does It Mean That Women Should “Remain Quiet” in Church? at Crossway

Throwback Thursday ~ The Mailbag: I love the Bible, but I have to force myself to read it

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Originally published October 9, 2017

 

I am struggling with reading the Word. I find myself having to drag myself to it to dedicate time to read it, struggling against doing other things instead. I love the Lord with all my heart. I love His Word, LOVE everything about the Bible. I know that love for God’s word and hunger for it is one of the marks of salvation. I want to hunger for reading it like a baby hungers for milk. I want that passion for His word.

Please don’t tell me to check my salvation as I daily obsess about this to the point where my sister in Christ said I have OCD about this. I hear about false converts and it scares me. An elder told me that you can do the unpardonable sin against the Holy Spirit and I thought that once I was saved I could not do that, that was the sin of unbelief. Now, I am sometimes scared to even think about the Holy Spirit, because what if I do that! Please take me Lord, before I would do that! Please help me. 

This question from a friend of my Facebook page just reached through the screen and clutched at my heart. I’ve been right where this sister is now, and I know many of you have been there as well. If you would, take a moment to pray for her and any other Christian you know who’s struggling with this kind of anxiety in her walk.

The Unpardonable Sin
You cannot commit the unpardonable sin. No one living today can commit that sin. I don’t mean to sound harsh, as we all make mistakes, but I am appalled at your elder’s ignorance on this issue and what he said to you. It’s a very common question, and he should at least know a simple answer to it. I’ve covered it here: What is the unpardonable sin?

Check your salvation?
There is no reason for me to tell you to check your salvation, and it never entered my mind to do so. Lost people don’t ask God to take their lives lest they commit the unpardonable sin or worry about whether or not they hunger enough for God’s Word. Only saved people think like that, because saved people are new creations in Christ, with the mind of Christ, who desire to please Christ. Lost people can’t even understand the things of God because these things are revealed by the Holy Spirit, which they don’t have.

I would really encourage you to work through the book of 1 John (I’ve written a study on it if you’d find that helpful). John wrote this epistle to reassure believers. As he says in 5:13: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Getting over the “hump” of reticence.
What you describe about dragging yourself to do your Bible study but then loving the Word once you get over that hump of reticence is absolutely, without a doubt, one hundred per cent normal. Pastors feel that way. Elders feel that way. Bible teachers feel that way. Every Christian, including me, feels that way at least sometimes. Usually several times a week for me.

That feeling does not mean you’re not hungering for the Word or that you don’t have a passion for it. Indeed, if you weren’t hungering for the Word with such a passion, you wouldn’t be so up in arms about feeling tempted to do something besides reading your Bible.

That feeling is not something lacking in your desire for the Word. That feeling is Satan tempting you to do anything rather than study your Bible. And the way you combat that temptation? You pray through it, pick up your Bible, and start reading – regardless of how you feel about it. Obedience is hard sometimes. But when you grit your teeth against that temptation and obey God anyway, that is a precious offering to the Lord. He doesn’t require that you feel all hearts and flower-y while you’re doing it. That’s you putting that pressure on yourself. This is battle. Fight. You obey and let God worry about your feelings.

“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Matthew 21:28-31a

Peace be unto you.
God did not save you in order for you to spend your life in a state of fear and anxiety. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism says, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” Forever starts the moment you’re saved. God wants you to enjoy spending time with Him in this life just as much as He wants you to in the next.

Christ is the Prince of Peace and His desire is for you to be at peace with Him. He knows you inside and out and He still delights in you. It is safe to let go, relax, and rest in His love and delight. He is not going to let go of you. Here are a few Scriptures that may bring you some comfort and reassurance. Believe them. Trust Him. He loves you. Let that sink in and simply love Him back.

For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with salvation.
Let the godly exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their beds.
Psalm 149:4-5


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

The Word on Wednesdays

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For the next several weeks, I’ll be making preparations to speak at a conference, so our next regular weekly Bible study won’t start until after I return home and get my household back in order (I’m thinking probably mid-April-ish, but don’t quote me on that.). :0) I have a study in mind, but will keep thinking and praying about it for a few more weeks.

So anyway, for the next several Wednesdays, you’ve got some options:

📖 You can finish up Imperishable Beauty or any of my other studies you’re currently working on.

📖 You can choose a book(s) of the Bible to work through on your own.

📖 You can choose one of my studies to work through at the Bible Studies tab at the top of this page. (I would choose one of the shorter ones, like Colossians or Ruth rather than one of the longer ones if you’re only trying to fill the space between now and the beginning of our next study.)

📖 You can follow along with the sampling of “re-run” lessons I’ll be posting here on the blog each week.

Here’s today’s “re-run”:

Wednesday’s Word

Wednesday is Bible study day here on the blog. In my Wednesday’s Word study, you’ll find miscellaneous, one lesson Bible studies from each book of the Bible. One chapter of Scripture followed by study questions. This sampler series demonstrates that there’s nothing to be afraid of when approaching those “lesser known” books and that every book of the Bible is valuable and worth studying.

Wednesday’s Word ~ Zechariah 7

zech 7 13

In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, which is Chislev. Now the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-melech and their men to entreat the favor of the Lord,saying to the priests of the house of the Lord of hosts and the prophets, “Should I weep and abstain in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?” Keep reading…

Just So URL Know (Update)…

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Originally published February 6, 2018:

Just a little announcement…

I’ve changed the blog’s URL from MichelleLesleyBooks.com to MichelleLesley.com. Same blog, same content, just drop the “books” and you’re good to go. For the next year, the old address will seamlessly automatically redirect you to the new address. (See update below.)

I’m trying to make my way around the web to change the site address anywhere I have it listed, but after seven years with the old address, I can’t begin to remember all the nooks and crannies I need to search out and correct.

If you happen to see my old web address listed somewhere, I surely would appreciate a heads up so I can get over there and update it to the new address.

And if you’ve been so kind as to link to my blog or any of my articles on your own web site, the old address will work just fine for the next year, but after that, the links will need to be changed to the new URL or they won’t work.

Why the change? I originally moved over to WordPress from Blogspot because I was told it was a better platform for marketing and publicity for my book which we were trying to get off the ground at the time. I wanted to use MichelleLesley.com when I was getting settled in at WP, but someone else had already purchased and was using that domain (Can you believe there are TWO of us? :0) So I stuck “books” on the end of the address because the blog was originally intended to be the vehicle for promoting and selling my first book and any to come in the future.

So now that my book is out of print, the “books” part is cumbersome and doesn’t make much sense, AND MichelleLesley.com is finally freed up for me to use, so, voila!

Update (March 2019):

Wow, the last year just flew by! My old URL, MichelleLesleyBooks.com expired over the weekend. All of my content is still here at MichelleLesley.com, but if you’re using an old link that has “books” in it, it’s not going to work any more, and you won’t be automatically redirected to the new URL. Just go to your browser bar, delete the “books” part of the link, and you should get to the article you’re looking for just fine. 

If you happen to be reading one of my articles, or someone else’s blog or article, that links to one of my articles with an old link, I’d greatly appreciate it if you’d let them or me know so we can get it fixed. Thanks!