Complementarianism, Mailbag

The Mailbag: “What’s a Woman to Do?” Potpourri

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question. I also like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar can be a helpful tool!

In these potpourri editions of The Mailbag, I’d also like to address the three questions I’m most commonly asked:

“Do you know anything about [Christian pastor/teacher/author] or his/her materials? Is he/she doctrinally sound?”

Try these links: 
Popular False Teachers /
 Recommended Bible Teachers / search bar
Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own
(Do keep bringing me names, though. If I get enough questions about a particular teacher, I’ll probably write an article on her.)

“Can you recommend a good women’s Bible study?”

No. Here’s why:
The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?
The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.”.

“You shouldn’t be warning against [popular false teacher] for [X,Y,Z] reason!”

Answering the Opposition- Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections

It’s ladies night!…er…day…or whatever. I’ve accumulated several questions that have to do with women’s roles in the church and home, so that’s the theme of today’s Mailbag. If you have similar questions, you might find my article Rock Your Role FAQs to be helpful.


Is it biblical for women to serve as children’s ministry leaders or directors in the church?

It could be, depending on the situation. (You should not bear the title Children’s “Pastor” or “Minister”, though. Biblically, women are not pastors/ministers, so carrying that title would be dishonest and misleading.)

It is perfectly biblical for women to teach and lead children in the church setting. (And when I say “children”, I mean birth to about age 12. I’ve addressed women teaching youth/teens here, #13.) The biblical prohibition is against teaching and holding authority over men in the church. Male children are not men.

The potential 1 Timothy 2:12 issue is not with teaching and leading children or supervising other women who teach children. The issue at play is whether or not you’ll be holding unbiblical authority over any men who work or volunteer in the children’s department as Sunday school teachers, Awana leaders, nursery workers, etc. And that’s something that’s got to be examined on a case by case basis. It could be completely biblical for you to serve as a children’s director in one church but not in another simply due to circumstances of the environment.

Does your church only have women working in the children’s department? Is there an associate pastor or elder over you that handles any issues of authority? Would you have to train, evaluate, or correct male volunteers? What kinds of things would male volunteers need to come to you about? These and other questions all need to be carefully considered by your pastor, elders, your husband, and you.

Generally speaking, it is biblically OK for a woman to serve as children’s ministry leaders as long as that position, in that particular church, does not require her to instruct men in the Scriptures or hold unbiblical authority over men.

My husband is a new Christian (Praise the Lord!). I was raised in church and have a firm foundation in the Word, but unfortunately he was not blessed with such an upbringing. When we study the Bible together at home, how can I handle his lack of knowledge in a Godly way? I know what the Bible says about women not teaching men, and I strongly desire to be obedient to God’s Word. I’m just a little confused about what that looks like in this situation.

I rejoice with you over your husband’s salvation! This is a great question that’s probably on the minds of many godly women.

First, I think we might need to review a little bit of “what the Bible says about women not teaching men.” When Scripture prohibits women from teaching or holding authority over men, it does so in a specific setting: the gathered body of Believers (the church – You may want to go back over my article Jill in the Pulpit.). You are talking about helping your newly saved husband privately, at home. That’s different, and it is not included in the 1 Timothy 2:12 prohibition.

At home, between the two of you, the only issue is whether you’re submitting to him and respecting him. If your husband wants you to explain things to him from Scripture and you do that in a loving, kind, and submissive way, there’s absolutely no biblical problem with that. (It’s also important that you know the correct answers to his questions and can handle Scripture rightly. If not, study it together or ask your Sunday School teacher, pastor, etc., for help.)

In Scripture, we see Priscilla and her husband Aquila taking Apollos aside privately (likely in their home) and helping him understand “the way of God more accurately.” And Paul commends Priscilla in “the great thank you list” of Romans 16. She would not have been mentioned in a positive light in Acts nor commended by Paul in Romans if she had been sinning by helping Apollos. And if she wasn’t sinning by helping Apollos, who wasn’t even her husband (again, recalling that this was a private conversation, not teaching in the church), it would not make sense that it would have been wrong for her, or any other woman to help her own husband.

In 1 Peter 3 and 1 Corinthians 7 we see that a woman can be instrumental in bringing her unsaved husband to Christ. Why, then, would she not – privately, at his own request – continue to answer his questions, explain things, or suggest passages of Scripture for him to read after he got saved?

It would be beneficial to your husband for him to begin learning from godly men, not because it’s wrong for you to help him learn, but because other men can help him learn his role as a Christian man and how to handle things men go through better than a woman – even his wife – can. It might be helpful to your husband for you to suggest good books by doctrinally sound men for him to read and good preaching and podcasts to listen to (see some of my favorites in the sidebar to your left). He would probably also benefit tremendously from getting involved with a men’s group or Bible study at church, or having a godly older man disciple him.

What a blessing that God has given your husband a knowledgeable, godly wife who can help him!

I teach the Bible to women and young people in the home of a Christian sister. Frequently, her husband brings his Bible and sits in on the group. I usually just ignore the fact that he’s in there and focus on the youth, because, technically, that’s who I’m there to teach. I feel uncomfortable with him there because I agree with the Bible that I’m not supposed to be teaching men, but I also feel uncomfortable asking him to leave his own den. What do you recommend in this case?

It’s a bit of a sticky situation, but more because of etiquette and logistics than because of Scripture. Let’s explore a few different aspects of this situation.

✢ Is the husband saved? If he’s unsaved, the dilemma stops here. He’s not part of the church (the universal body of Believers), he’s an outsider observing Christians, and the things of God are folly to him. He’s not even capable of understanding Christian teaching on a spiritual level, so you’re not teaching him. At best, he’s absorbing enough of the gospel to eventually lead him to Christ. That would fall under the category of evangelism, and Scripture doesn’t prohibit women from sharing the gospel with men. (See #11 here)

✢ Take into consideration that different people sometimes have different ideas about etiquette and social interactions. Whether or not he’s saved, it’s possible the husband is sitting in on the group because he feels, as the host, it would be rude of him not to. By talking with him about your discomfort with his presence, you might actually be letting him off the hook when there are other things he’d rather be doing.

But from here on out, we’ll assume the husband is saved and doesn’t fully understand that women aren’t to teach men in the gathered body of Believers.

✢ You mentioned that you are teaching “women and young people”/”youth”. I’m inferring from that phraseology that this group of “young people/youth” is a co-ed group in their teens. If I’m correct about that (and maybe I’m not), this could be part of the issue depending on the age of the kids in the group. First, of all, if the males in this group are in their late teens to early 20s or older, you really don’t have a leg to stand on. You’re teaching men (even if they are young men), so that needs to stop. But this could also be a contributing factor to why the husband is coming to the study, especially if he is a younger man. If he sees you teaching 18 year old young men and he’s 25, he probably doesn’t see much difference between those young men and himself and assumes he’s welcome to attend. There’s no hard and fast biblical command about it, but I usually recommend women stop teaching boys around the time they start middle school (12ish). I’ve explained more here, #13.

✢ It’s possible the husband only has a partial understanding of the applicable Scriptures here. Perhaps he thinks Scripture only says women can’t be pastors or that as long as you’re outside the four walls of the church building you can teach men. Maybe you and his wife can pull him aside privately after the meeting or at another time and explain a little bit more about what Scripture says, your desire to obey it, your discomfort with him there, and your discomfort with asking him to leave.

✢ You know the husband and his wife better than I do. Would it work better to explain things to the wife and ask her to talk to him? Or possibly for you and your husband to talk to him and his wife together? It might also be beneficial for you to set up a meeting with your pastor and get some wise counsel from him on how to proceed.

✢ Enlist the aid of your husband and/or some other godly men at church. They could invite this fellow to join them during your class time for a men’s Bible study, bowling, a movie, dinner, watching the game on TV, or whatever. Maybe the husband just needs some friends or a better offer! :0)

✢ If you’ve talked to the husband and he understands what Scripture says, and your dilemma, and he refuses to refrain from attending the class, it’s time to move the class meeting to another location – perhaps your house, the church, or the home of someone else in the group. If it gets to this point, things have moved beyond whether or not you’re teaching a man. Now he’s intentionally being a stumbling block to a sister in Christ (which, if you belong to the same church, actually requires church discipline). He is sinning and he causing you to sin against your conscience. Scripture says if something causes you to sin, remove it. Since you can’t remove him from his house, you’ll have to remove yourself from his house.

✢ Finally, along the lines of removing things from your life that cause you to sin, if you’ve tried every possible way of working things out and you’re still going to be in a situation where you’re sinning against your conscience, step down from teaching. As much as you might want to, you do not have to teach that class. And it’s far better to  give up a “want” and not sin than to keep doing a “want” and sin. God takes sin very seriously, and we should, too.

I’ve tried to cover a range of possibilities and solutions, and some of them may sound extreme, but most of the time situations like this among friends, and especially among church family, can be resolved with a simple, loving conversation. Try talking to him about it, and you’ll most likely be able to work it out.

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.