The Mailbag: Female Pastors- False Teachers or Just Sinning?

Originally published July 24, 2017


Is a woman who is in the position of pastor to be considered a false teacher or merely disobedient to The Word of God? Some churches in my area place pastors’ wives in the position of “co-pastor.” Would she have to be teaching some false doctrine to be considered a false teacher or does the fact that she is in the position in the first place make her a false teacher?

I love it when I hear from women – like the reader who sent in this question – who are thinking deeply and seriously about the things of God. It brings me so much joy to see God working in the hearts and minds of Christian women.

Before we start parsing these ideas out, let’s bottom line this thing. Scripture is both explicitly and implicitly clear that women are not to serve as pastors. Regardless of whether we call what she’s doing sin or false teaching, it is definitely unbiblical for a church to install a woman in the position of pastor, and for the woman to accept the position. So the bottom line is, it’s wrong and nobody should be attending such a church.

Now, onward and upward with the parsing…

The term “false teacher” is generally reserved for people (male or female) who actually teach – via speaking or writing – false doctrine. So if you if you want to get technical about it, if the woman in question simply holds the position of pastor but either does not preach/teach at all or does not preach/teach any sort of false doctrine, she, and the church that installed her, are simply sinning.

But there are a few more things to consider here:

♦ I’m familiar with various churches and denominations (none of which teach sound doctrine, including the specific ones the reader mentioned in her original e-mail) where a husband and wife serve as “co-pastors,” but I’ve never seen one in which the wife doesn’t preach/teach at all. It may not be often, but preaching is seen as part of her duties, otherwise, why would she be considered a co-pastor? (I suppose there could be churches where “co-pastor” is merely an honorific for the pastor’s wife, it’s just that I’ve never seen one.)

♦ Assuming preaching is one of her duties, I find it very difficult to imagine a woman who: sees nothing wrong with female pastors, is married to and pastored by a man who sees nothing wrong with female pastors, and attends a doctrinally unsound church that sees nothing wrong with female pastors, would get up in the pulpit and preach sound doctrine. Again, I suppose it could happen in theory, but how likely is it?

♦ As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, women teaching men and women teaching false doctrine are highly correlated. I have researched scores of women teachers. Every single one of them who unrepentantly teaches men also teaches false doctrine in some other aspect of her theology (usually Word of Faith or New Apostolic Reformation). In other words, if a woman teaches men, you can just about take it to the bank that she also teaches false doctrine.

♦ Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that this woman gets up and preaches sound doctrine every time she’s in the pulpit. So what? She’s still sinning by preaching to men, regardless of the content of her “sermon.” I have known of Reformed male pastors who preach perfectly sound doctrine, yet litter their sermons with foul language. I’ve known of other pastors who delivered biblical sermons every Sunday, but were sleeping with women in their congregations or were addicted to pornography or were molesting their own children. The point is- sound doctrine is not the only qualification for pastors. There are a number of observable and behavioral requirements for pastors listed in 1 Timothy and Titus – one of which is being a man – and violation of any of these requirements disqualifies a person from the role of pastor.

♦ While, technically, we would not label a female pastor a false teacher unless she’s overtly teaching false doctrine, the fact remains that she is teaching something unbiblical every time she stands in the pulpit. She is teaching, via her behavior, that it’s OK for her, her church, the church at large, the women of her congregation, and Christian women everywhere, to live in open rebellion against this portion of Scripture. Any pastor who, by his (her) own behavior, leads people to believe it is OK to ignore or rebel against God’s word has disqualified himself (herself) from the office of pastor.

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.

Ezekiel Bible Study

Ezekiel ~ Lesson 10


Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Read Ezekiel 20-21

Questions to Consider

1. Review your notes from last week’s lesson and be reminded of the things that lead into, and set the stage for, this week’s passage.

2. Read 20:1-44. Outline the main “bullet points” of what is happening in this passage:





3. In 20:5-29, God takes the elders of Israel who have come to inquire of Him via Ezekiel (20:1) on a “stroll down memory lane”. Summarize each of the historical events God reminds them of:





Do you notice a pattern, or cycle, to the interactions between God and His people?

God does _______.

Israel does _______.

God’s anger is kindled.

God does _______.

How does this pattern fit each of the events above?

Do you notice any recurring actions or reactions/responses on the part of God or Israel in these passages? Explain.

What are the three main sins of Israel that God highlights in these passages? (20:16) Why does Israel commit the same sins over and over again? Do you find yourself committing the same sins again and again? Why?

In 20:8-9, 13b-14, and 21b-22, what is God’s initial posture toward Israel’s sin? But then what does He actually do? Why? Was God showing mercy to Israel because they “deserved” it? What does it mean that God acted the way He did “for the sake of His name”? What kind of reputation did God want to have in the eyes of the pagan nations surrounding Israel? Why?

One of the heretical teachings of the New Apostolic Reformation is that God is hamstrung by our actions. Like, if we have all of our spiritual ducks in a row, God is obligated to do what we want Him to do, as though He had no choice in the matter. Explain how the inverse in this passage (Israel sins, so God is obligated to punish them, but, instead, shows them mercy for His name’s sake) disproves this idea. Aside from God’s promises, do our actions absolutely determine God’s actions in a given situation? Why not?

4. In 20:30-44, God turns from His recitation of history to presently addressing the elders of Israel who have come to inquire of Him. Explain why He says they may not inquire of Him. (20:30-31) Compare 20:30-44 with 20:4-29. What is the point of comparison God is trying to drive home to these elders? (20:36) How does this fit with the cliche “Those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”? In what ways have you learned from your past experiences with sin so that you will not repeat those sins?

5. Read 20:45-21:7

To what does God tell Ezekiel to prophesy in 20:46 and 21:2? Why would God tell him to prophesy against geographical locations instead of people? What does He mean by doing so?

Meditate on 21:6-7 for a moment- how should Ezekiel’s response inform the way we regard those who are lost and facing God’s judgment in Hell? How could this kind of regard for the lost impact our evangelism?

6. Read 21:8-32

Consider God’s “father-child” relationship with Israel. What does it mean that Israel has “despised the rod” (21:10b, 13)? Since they despised the rod, they will receive the ________. What does the sword (21:9-17) represent?

Whose “sword” will God use to exercise His wrath against Israel? (21:18) Who else is God using their sword against? (21:20). When God tells Ezekiel to “mark a way” and “make a signpost” for the sword (21:19-20), what does that tell you about His attitude regarding the Babylonians laying siege to Israel and the Ammonites? What will be the outcome for Israel? (21:24-27) For the Ammonites? (21:28-32)

7. Compare God’s discipline of Israel in these two chapters with God’s discipline of Christians. What are some similarities and/or differences you see? What do these chapters teach us about sin, God’s discipline of His children, His wrath against sin, and His desire that His sinning children be reconciled to Him?


• Add 20:12, 20, 26, 38, 42, 44, 21:5, 16, 22 to your “And you/they shall know that I am the Lord” list. Write down who will know that He is the Lord, what will cause them to know He is the Lord, and why God wants them to know He is the Lord.

• Ezekiel 21:32 says of the Ammonites: “You shall be no more remembered, for I the Lord have spoken.” In some instances, God has said this kind of thing about a certain people group or nation, and, to this day, no historical or archaeological evidence of their existence can be found outside of Scripture. Do a little research. Has any historical or archaeological evidence been found for the Ammonites?

Suggested Memory Verse

Bible Study

Throwback Thursday on Wednesday! ~ Rightly Dividing: 12 Do’s and Don’ts for Effective Bible Study

Family stuff, church stuff, a hurricane in the Gulf, and a speaking engagement this coming weekend, means I needed a little flexibility in the blog schedule, so I’m flip-flopping Wednesday and Thursday this week. Today, I hope you’ll enjoy this Throwback Thursday article, and, Lord willing, Lesson 10  of Ezekiel will be coming your way tomorrow.

Originally published August 19, 2014

12 dos donts

Bible study. As Christians we want to do it, we know we’re supposed to do it, but have you ever stopped to think that there are right ways and wrong ways to do it? Let’s take a look at a few do’s and don’ts of “rightly dividing God’s word” in Bible study.

Do use a good translation, not a paraphrase. You want to get as close to the original wording as possible. There are a number of easy to read, accurate translations out there. The English Standard Version (ESV) and New American Standard Bible (NASB) are two of the best. Try some translations on for size at

Do read the entire Bible from cover to cover at least every few years. It will give you a better understanding of the “big picture” of the Bible and how all the little pieces inside it fit together. (I highly recommend a chronological reading plan since the books of the Bible aren’t always arranged chronologically.)

Don’t neglect the textual context. Every Bible verse has what I call a “micro-context” (how it fits in with the verses immediately before and after it) a larger context (how it fits in with the chapter and book it’s in) and a “macro-context” (how it fits in with the big picture of the Bible). When we fail to take verses in context, we are mishandling and misappropriating God’s precious and holy word.

Do consider the cultural context. Who wrote the passage, and what do we know about him and his perspective? To whom was the passage written- Jews or Gentiles? Those under the Law or those under grace? Men or women? Pastors or lay people? How did the culture at the time view the topic the passage is about, God, Judaism, the church, etc.? At what period in history, in which country, and in what language was the passage written? A good study Bible or study Bible app can be a tremendous help here.

Don’t confuse descriptive texts (passages that describe something that happened to somebody) with prescriptive texts (a command we’re to obey). Just because you read that Noah built an ark or that Judas went out and hanged himself, doesn’t mean that God is telling you to do the same (thank goodness!). Those are descriptive passages. God is simply telling the story of what happened to someone else because it somehow fits into His bigger story of redemption.

Do consider the type of literature and literary devices you’re reading. Is this book of the Bible history? Poetry? Law? Prophecy? Epistle? Is the particular passage a song, metaphor, hyperbole, comparison, allegory, parable? The Bible uses various vehicles to drive truth home, and they must all be understood in different ways.

Don’t feel like you HAVE to use a Bible study or devotional book or workbook. It really is OK to just pick up the actual Bible and study it. God made His word understandable, made you smart enough to understand it, and gave you the indwelling Holy Spirit to illumine your understanding.

Do, if you decide to use one, choose a Bible study book or workbook that treats Scripture as the “swimming pool” you dive into and swim around in, not the “diving board” the author springs off of into a pool filled only with her own personal stories, anecdotes, and opinions.

Do read the Bible in orderly chunks, not in single verses. Think about the way you would read a magazine. Do you pick it up each day and read a random sentence or paragraph? Do you read the third page of an article before you read the first page of it? You’ll best understand a book of the Bible if you start at the beginning and read the chapters in order to the end.

Don’t give in to the temptation to read yourself into Scripture. The Bible isn’t our story. Approach every passage remembering that the Bible is God’s story of redemption through Christ from His perspective, and we study it to learn about and draw closer to Him.

Don’t underestimate how helpful your Bible’s cross-references to related verses can be. Reading several different passages on a particular topic you’re studying can give you a broader understanding of what the Bible has to say about it.

Do let clear passages interpret unclear passages. This is another reason cross-references are so handy. If you come across a passage you just don’t get, try reading related passages that are clearer, and understand the unclear passage in light of the clearer ones.

Lengthy tomes have been written on the topic of biblical hermeneutics and Bible study methods, so I’m sure I could go on at length, but it’s your turn:

Have you ever found it difficult or daunting to study the Bible?
What are some of the benefits of rightly handling God’s word?
How has a right understanding of Scripture helped you to grow
in your walk with the Lord?

Favorite Finds

Favorite Finds: August 25, 2020


Here are a few of my favorite online finds…


“As “true” Christian women, we consecrate ourselves to fulfill his calling and purposes for our lives. By his grace and in humble dependence on his power,” we can pursue that which is pleasing to the Lord in these 15 Ways to Honor Christ as Women by Susan Hunt.


“At first blush, these two texts seem to settle the matter in favor of the complementarian position. After all, this is the sense adopted in the vast majority of English translations. How could they all be wrong? Clearly Paul does not intend for women to be teaching/preaching within the church, right?” An excellent apologetic on this aspect of complementarianism in Why it is important not to conflate prophecy and teaching in discussions about women preaching  by Denny Burk.


“God’s design of the worship of his Church transcends pandemics and culture. This season shall pass and local churches will once again assemble together, embrace one another in Christian love, and celebrate the body and blood of King Jesus through the Lord’s Supper as we long for him to return and make all things new.” Some insightful observations and exhortations in  Josh Buice’s thought-provoking article There Is No Such Thing as Virtual Lord’s Supper.


“Abuse does not call for the abandonment of God’s good design, but the restoration of it through the power of the Gospel. The answer for every form of abuse is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Tom Buck handily addresses the issue of abuse eroding biblical headship and submission in this article for Founders Ministries: Complementarianism is Not the Problem.


Four pianists, eight hymns (do you recognize all of them?): enjoy!


The resources listed above are not to be understood as a blanket endorsement for the websites on which they appear, or of everything the author or subject of the resource says or does. I do not endorse any person, website, or resource that conflicts with Scripture or the theology outlined in the Statement of Faith and Welcome tabs at the top of this page.

The Mailbag: Church Roles and Ambiguous Anatomy


I’m curious to know if someone who is medically intersex should be considered a man or a woman for the purposes of appropriate church roles. I’m not sure if the Bible addresses that or not. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, “Intersex is a group of conditions where there is a discrepancy between the external genitals and the internal genitals (the testes and ovaries). The older term for this condition is hermaphroditism.” In other words, a person could have XX chromosomes (genetically female) and ovaries, yet the external genitalia appears male (i.e. penis instead of vagina), or vice versa for a genetic (XY) male. There are also some other genetic anomalies that result in intersex, and a wide variety of genital anomalies not related to sexual identity that fall under the category of “intersex”.

(And just so we’re all on the same page here, “medically intersex” refers to a congenital abnormality– a birth defect. It does not mean, nor does the reader who sent in this question mean, a physically/genetically normal man or woman who has decided to mutilate his/her body with surgery to appear to be the opposite sex. That’s different. Also, the reader who sent in the question is not asking whether or not a medically intersex person may be saved or may be a church member. She is only asking how the biblical roles for men and women in the church {i.e. preaching/teaching/leadership roles} apply to a medically intersex person, so that is the question I’m answering.)

But because “intersex” has become something of a catch-all term for a so many genetic defects related to chromosomal abnormalities and/or internal reproductive organ abnormalities and/or external genital abnormalities, it’s nearly impossible to answer a question like, “How common is medical intersex?”. But even the (now defunct) Intersex Society of North America (an advocacy group, which we can probably safely surmise would be fairly liberal/over-generalized in its statistics) estimates that only .05-.07% (half of 1%) of babies at birth have genitalia so ambiguous that they require a consult by a sex specialist, and far fewer end up needing surgery to correct these anomalies.

Now, keep in mind that, as I said, that .05-.07% is the total estimate for a wide variety of reproductive and genital anomalies, many of which do not affect sexual identity. So the number of people who are genetically female with male genitals or genetically male with female genitals (what the reader who sent in this question is referring to) is only a fraction of that .05-.07%. In other words, it’s an extremely rare condition.

So, take that very tiny number of people and add on the qualifiers for this reader’s question. The medically intersex person has to get through the narrow gate of salvation (because unsaved people don’t have “church roles,” as they’re not part of the church, and, naturally, shouldn’t be serving or leading in the church in any way whatsoever). Now your numbers have gone from tiny to tinier. Now, whittle those numbers down even further: the person not only has to be saved, but has to have a doctrinally sound understanding of the roles of men and women in the church, the person has to desire a position of leadership or servanthood in which the biblical role of men/women is an issue (for most positions in the church, it generally isn’t), the person has to be otherwise biblically qualified to serve in that role (e.g. above reproach, sober-minded, etc.), and the person has to find and become a member of a doctrinally sound church that actually follows the Bible’s teachings on the roles of men and women in the church.

Now your numbers have gone from “tinier” to, “Get me the strongest electron microscope in existence.” Statistically speaking, this is never going to be an issue in any doctrinally sound church.

But it’s interesting to think about.

There isn’t a Bible passage that describes medical intersex and whether or not a person so afflicted may or may not serve in the role of pastor, elder, deacon, preaching to/teaching Scripture to men, holding authority over men, or older women teaching the younger women (the church roles assigned to either only males or only females).

The closest the Bible comes to addressing this issue is in Leviticus 21:16-23, which says that a man with crushed testicles may not serve as a priest in the temple. However, this passage does not apply to the question at hand for a couple of reasons, which are abundantly clear if you read the passage in context.

First of all, “crushed testicles” is only one condition in a litany of other physical abnormalities which disqualified a man (only men could serve as priests) from the priesthood. And the reason for this had nothing to do with sexual identity. The reason men with physical “blemishes” couldn’t be priests was basically the same reason that when you brought an animal for sacrifice, it had to be perfect, free of any physical defect: It symbolically pointed ahead to the perfection of Christ. Christ was not only the unblemished Lamb of God, our perfect sacrifice, He is also our perfect high priest. That’s why both the Old Testament sacrifice and priest had to be “without blemish”.

Second, although there are some similarities between the Old Testament temple and the New Testament church, they are two distinctly different entities with different qualifications for leadership. This is easy to see if you compare some of the requirements for the Old Testament priesthood with the requirements for pastors of New Testament churches. Other than the fact that the pastorate is restricted to men, there are no physical requirements for pastors. Certainly we would not say that a man who is blind or has psoriasis is disqualified from being a pastor strictly on the basis of those conditions, would we? Yet these men (and others with all types of physical “blemishes,” including crushed testicles) were disqualified from the priesthood.

So, having no direct biblical passages to go on, here are a few thoughts…

  • Such a unique situation that isn’t directly addressed by Scripture will need to dealt with on a case by case basis by the pastor, elders, and church leadership.
  • The medically intersex person who meets all of the qualifiers I outlined above should set up an appointment with his/her pastor, explain the medical condition, explain whether he/she has been living as a man or a woman, and why, and get pastoral counsel on which positions of service or leadership would be appropriate.
  • I would think it would be helpful for the medically intersex person’s current pastor to contact his/her former pastor for insight on how the situation was handled at his/her previous church. The current pastor might end up making different decisions than the previous pastor, but getting the benefit of the previous pastor’s experience would seem to me to be beneficial.
  • The medically intersex person seeking to serve the church has probably already established an identity (dressing, behaving, considers him/herself as, presenting as) as a man or a woman in his/her daily life. Taking that into consideration and weighing all of the other factors and details, church leadership may prayerfully consider it appropriate to let this person function in the church as the sex he/she identifies as. In other words, if the person has established an identity as a woman (she considers herself a woman, dresses/acts like a woman, her family, friends, and others consider her to be a woman, etc.), it could be an appropriate decision to allow her to function as a woman in the church, following the Bible’s role for women in the church.
  • Another appropriate decision the church leadership might make would be to err on the side of caution and help the medically intersex person find a place of service that is not impacted by the Bible’s parameters for men and women in the church. Here and here are a couple of good jumping off points.

If the medically intersex person and his/her church leadership prayerfully come together seeking wisdom from the Lord, and trying to discern what is pleasing to the Lord, there is one biblical certainty about this situation: they can trust Him to direct their path.

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.