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.

9 thoughts on “The Mailbag: Female Pastors- False Teachers or Just Sinning?”

      1. So does this mean an unrepentant woman pastor (or subsequent male pastors who allow this) will not “inherit the kingdom” the same way someone who claims to be a Christian, yet continues in a homosexual lifestyle will not inherit the kingdom? I’m a newly born-again believer and trying to wrap my brain around what the varying differences of sin are in relation to salvation. Would it be incorrect to think this is a fellow sister in Christ? I hope that makes sense!


      2. Hi there, Jay! It makes total sense. Tell you what, instead of me giving you the answer, let me recommend some Scriptures for you to study, and let’s see if you can discern the answer: 1 John 1:5-10, 2:3-6, 15-17, 3:4-10, 5:3, 18. In fact, you may just want to study the whole book of 1 John, especially for context. Let me know if you have any questions. :0)


      3. Thank you Michelle for encouraging me to discern this on my own w/some guidance! One key word that jumps out to me is the word “practice” in 3:4 and 3:9…”no one born of God makes a practice of sinning…” and he cannot go on sinning. Which makes sense. But this opens another can of worms for me b/c I have listened and followed many authors, YouTubers, etc. who refer to women pastors or women who teach men in the Biblical setting as a “secondary” or “nonessential” issue. Your podcast is the first time I heard it actually referred to as a sin. I just watched a 9-part series on Mike Winger’s ( YouTube channel about Women in Ministry and he does a very thorough job digging into both the OT and NT to dissect the egalitarian view vs. complementarian view (he considers himself “soft” comp.). He constantly refers to those w/the egalitarian view as his brothers and sisters in Christ, but he never defines their view as sin, even though he points out how flawed and at times, the way they deliberately twist Scripture to fit the egalitarian narrative where one does not exist. Now, back to 1 John where you guided me…1:6, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice truth.” It seems to me that many Christians are defining what that “darkness” (sin) is very differently. Which so confuses me b/c it seems like it would be black & white, yet there seems like so much gray. I am wrestling and struggling at times, and at times, I have to walk away from my hunger to study God’s Word b/c I feel like I end up down all these rabbit holes, and while the internet is great in some respects for resources and edification on various Biblical subjects, it also opens me up to so many contradictions that I don’t know what to believe.


      4. Hi Jay- It sounds like you’ve done some good studying and the Holy Spirit is leading you in the right direction! Let’s zoom out and look at this issue big picture. When a person is genuinely born again (there is such a thing as “false converts” – people who think they’re saved, but aren’t (Matthew 7:15-23), and people who know they’re not saved, but are trying to fool others into thinking they’re saved), she has a new nature. She’s not perfect or sinless, but she is on a trajectory of growing and increasing in obedience to the Word. A false convert is not. A false convert acts like a lost person because that’s what she is. She persists in whichever sins she likes because that is her nature. This is what 1 John is getting at: Genuinely regenerated Believers do not knowingly, unrepentantly, and despite biblical correction, willfully persist in sin, and people who do knowingly, unrepentantly, and despite biblical correction, willfully persist in sin are not Believers.

        In light of this,think about women – Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer, for example – who persist for decades in preaching to men and preaching false doctrine despite the hundreds of biblical corrections they’ve received over that time. Beth Moore is the clearest example of this that I’ve seen. Anyone who has observed her and her “ministry” over the last 40+ years can easily see that she has not only not been on a trajectory of growing in holiness, she has actually been on a downward trajectory of increasing unholiness and false doctrine.

        Theologians typically define “sin” as “missing the mark”. That is what the Hebrew / Greek words translated as “sin” in English mean. A simpler, more “rubber meets the road” definition that’s helpful in this case is this: When God’s Word (rightly handled, and in context) tells us to do something and we don’t, that’s sin. When it tells us not to do something and we do it anyway, that is also sin. The Bible clearly instructs us (1 Timothy 2:11-3:7, Titus 1:5-9) that women are not to pastor, preach, instruct men in the Scriptures, or exercise authority over men, in the gathering of the church body, and that pastors/elders are to be biblically qualified men. When a woman (or a man) defies that biblical command, that’s a sin.

        I know a lot of this stuff is really confusing for a new Believer. You must feel like you’re trying to drink from a fire hose of information! :0) Let me make some recommendations for you that will help:

        1. Are you joined to and faithfully attending a doctrinally sound local church? If not, that’s priority one. Click on the “Searching for a new church?” tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page and find a good church. (If you are already a member of a local church, but you’re not sure if it’s doctrinally sound, check out the “What to look for in a church” section of that tab and compare your church to it.) The primary reason for joining a local church is because God commands it and you’ll want to be obedient to Him. But the second reason is that you’ll be sitting under good, biblical preaching and teaching that will help you learn about these things. You can also ask your pastor and teachers when you have questions.

        2. Check out my articles: Women Preaching: It’s Not a Secondary Doctrinal Issue, Rock Your Role FAQs, Counter Arguments to Egalitarianism, and the rest of my Rock Your Role series of articles. You might also find my Bible study on 1 John to be helpful. I wrote it for women who are struggling with assurance of their own salvation, but it might help clear up some of the questions you have here as well.

        I hope this helps. Blessings to you! :0)


      5. Drinking from a fire hose is a PERFECT description of how it feels sometimes! And yes, it is very confusing when you have so many people using definitions differently or trying to “redefine” Biblical terms to fit our current culture. I am very blessed in that I am attending a solid, Bible-teaching church that has a pastor who preaches exegetically. The Lord has guided me through so much, and I am so thankful for those resources (you included) he has placed in my life. I think part of my confusion is being over sensitive b/c I was raised in the Catholic Church, and had my own season through following Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer. Yet God never left me alone in those places. He continued to draw me to him. I feel a sense of over-correcting sometimes in fear of falling back into a false gospel situation. My pastor’s wife has been slowly discipling me (I’m fairly new at the church; left my last one even though the preaching was solid- the Bethel and Hillsong music weighed heavily on my conscience and after months of wrestling and a long talk w/my pastor, felt it was time to find a new church). I have read all the articles you reference above, but have not checked out the 1 John study, which I will definitely do. Thank you so much for taking the time to address my question, and for all you do for the Lord to help Christian women.


Before commenting please see the "Welcome" tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page. Comments are handled manually, so there will be a delay before approved comments are posted. I do not publish comments which promote false doctrine.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.