Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Breastfeeding videos…Women performing weddings…Only God is awesome?)

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 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 (at the very bottom of each page) can be a helpful tool!

Or maybe I answered your question already? Check out my article The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs to see if your question has been answered and to get some helpful resources.


For any men who might be reading – this question is about breastfeeding. If that’s a sensitive issue for you, please just scroll right on past this section.

I have searching for biblical content about breastfeeding and your post from 3 years ago “The Mailbag: Should Christian women cover up while breastfeeding? really did make think. I’m currently studying to become a pediatric dietitian if God allows it, and I have a debate in myself. I’m starting to create content in social media in order to teach about these topics: breastfeeding, nutrition, etc. But now I don’t know if it’ correct to share real videos that are educative to teach how to properly breastfeed, showing examples and different cases that help mothers to understand. Since it is shameful to show breast according to Bible, am I wrong if I am looking to share or record these types of videos? Just to clarify, these videos only shows the necessary.

I hope my email can reach you and have an advice for this, may the Lord continuing giving you wisdom and excuse me any grammatical error since english is not my first language.

Can I first just say – I have the utmost admiration for anyone who tackles English as a second language. Its intricacies and inconsistencies are often difficult even for us native speakers! When I get English messages from followers whose native language is not English, they almost always apologize for grammar and spelling errors. Please rest assured, when I read your messages, I’m not critiquing them, I’m wishing I were as proficient in a second language as you are!

Instructional videos for mothers about breastfeeding are not the same thing as a mother who is breastfeeding in public. For one thing, your videos are aimed specifically at women (new mothers), and for a legitimate purpose (teaching breastfeeding). If a man (assuming he’s not a health care worker who needs to view your videos for professional purposes) proactively clicks on and watches your videos in order to see women’s bare breasts, he is the one at fault, not you. His actions would be more similar to a man who peeks through the window of a woman’s bedroom to watch her breastfeed, not a man out in public, minding his own business, who’s suddenly confronted with a view of a woman’s breasts because she’s not making any effort to reasonably cover while nursing.

Additionally, aiming your videos at new mothers (women) is more similar to a woman breastfeeding her baby in a group meeting for new moms (all women), than out in public (random men and women present).

Here are a couple of things I would suggest:

  • Make sure the titles of your videos make it obvious in some way that they are educational, instructional videos on breastfeeding for new mothers and postpartum/neonatal healthcare workers.
  • Instead of, say, just posting these videos on your personal Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., pages, set up a separate professional social media page or group specifically for your videos and other breastfeeding materials. (I would suggest also setting up a website and YouTube channel specifically for your breastfeeding materials.) Not only will this help build your professional online platform, but your male friends and family members won’t be randomly running across your videos (which might make them uncomfortable) every time they scroll through social media.

I think that’s really as far as your responsibility goes. Men have to take responsibility for what they view at some point, too. It’s not all on you.


I have a question about women who are ordained. My cousin is ordained to perform marriages in the state of South Carolina. Would that be considered the same as an ordained preacher and against I Timothy 2 teaching? As far as I know all she does is perform marriage ceremonies and does not “preach” in the pulpit.

Great question!

I’m thinking there might be a little confusion about the term “ordained” here. “Ordaining” is what a church does when it sets someone apart for ministry. “Licensing” is what the government does that allows a person to legally perform marriages recognized by the state.

For example, pastors, elders, and (usually) deacons are ordained by the church to their respective offices, but they are not automatically licensed to legally perform marriages. For that, they have to go downtown to the courthouse and fill out some paperwork. By the same token, people can go to the courthouse, fill out the paperwork, and become licensed to perform marriages, and never have set foot in a church in their lives.

So, I think maybe you mean your cousin is licensed by the state to perform marriages, not that she is ordained by her church to do so. (I’ve never heard of a church that ordains someone just to perform marriages, but if that’s what’s going on here, the more pressing problem is the church’s ecclesiology, not your cousin officiating at weddings.)

So let’s go with your cousin being licensed by the state, not ordained by the church: No, that’s not technically a violation of 1 Timothy 2:12, assuming she’s not preaching a sermon as part of the marriage ceremony. The biblical prohibition is against women pastoring, preaching to men, instructing men in the Scriptures, and holding unbiblical authority over men in the context of the church gathering.

But there are all kinds of variables that play into whether or not it’s wise or appropriate for her to be officiating weddings. Does your cousin profess to be a Christian? Where do these weddings take place – in a church, park, reception hall, beach, etc.? Is she performing these weddings, or being viewed as performing these weddings as an official representative of her church? (In other words, would those not in the know confuse her performing weddings for her being a pastor of her church?) Do the bride and groom profess to be Christians? If so, why would they not want their pastor (or at least a pastor) to perform the ceremony in their own church?

I’m just saying I would need to know a lot more, probably on a case by case basis, to weigh in on whether or not it’s actually a good idea for her to perform any or all of these wedding ceremonies.


FIRST, I want to say thank you for your recent list of doctrinally sound men. My reason for writing comes from referring to them as “awesome” in your social media post about them:

Today on the blog: Check out these awesome men to follow and learn from…”

I would just would ask you to consider the use of the word “awesome” when it applies to “mere” men (or women, for that matter.) Never mind the “world,” but Christians use that word so freely when talking about truly “good” things (and we also use it for things like movies and ice cream.)

Is it wrong to want there to be a word that is reserved for God and what he does? When something is clearly a work of God, even working through a person, there are times I can agree that it is something awesome. But largely, the things we call awesome are not.

It’s always good to evaluate our words to make sure we are representing Christ well, and, no, it’s not wrong to want there to be a word that is reserved for God and what He does. But let me challenge us to take this a bit deeper than just the surface level use of a particular word.

I’ve received this same basic question a handful of times over the years, and the question has always been about the word “awesome”. And I just have two questions about that:

First, why “awesome”? I think a much stronger biblical case could be made against using “good” or “holy”.

I’m betting that, like the reader who wrote in, we all use the word “good” in the same ways the word “awesome” is used – “truly good things,” movies, ice cream, saying “Good dog!” etc. – because they both mean the same thing, except that awesome is a little more intense. And yet, while Scripture doesn’t speak to our use of the descriptor “awesome,” Jesus Himself addressed the use of the word “good” in Mark and Luke:

And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.

Now, when we read this passage in context, we know that Jesus isn’t telling this guy (or us) that he shouldn’t call Him good, that he shouldn’t call anything good, that Jesus isn’t good, or that Jesus isn’t God. Quite the opposite of most of those, in fact.

He’s directing the rich young ruler’s attention to the fact that only God is completely good. That God is the only and perfect standard and embodiment of good. He was basically saying, “You’re calling me good in this context. Does that mean you’re prepared to call me God?”.

But what Jesus doesn’t say (here or anywhere else in Scripture) is, “Since only God is truly, completely, and perfectly good, you can’t use the word “good” to describe anything else.”. In fact God Himself uses the word “good” to describe other, lesser things besides Himself. He has prepared good works for us to do. God pronounced everything He created good. He gives us good gifts. He says good trees bear good fruit. And so on.

Personally, if I got to choose the word we were all going to consecrate to use only for describing God, it would be “holy”. I would be totally OK with us losing expressions like “holy cow,” “holy moly,” etc., forever. (And when my kids were little and would use one of those expressions, I would remind them, “Only God is holy.”.) First of all, there are far fewer people and things that could correctly be called “holy” than “awesome” or “good”.

“Only Thou art holy,” we sing. And it’s true. Though Christians are a holy nation, and we’re to strive for holiness, we are only positionally holy and set apart because Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to us. Even our righteous deeds are as filthy rags. In a common grace sense, we might say someone is a “good” man for the job, or a store is having an “awesome” sale, but there is no common grace sense in which anyone but Christians – and we, only through Christ – could, in any way, properly be called holy.

My second question about reserving “awesome,” or any other adjective, strictly for God is: If you’re going to be consistent with your line of reasoning, how far are you going to take this? If you’re going to stop using “awesome” for anything but God, are you also going to stop using the word “good” for anything but God? What about “perfect”? Powerful? Just? Kind? Compassionate? Merciful? Are you going to stop saying, “I love you” to your family because God is love, and only He loves perfectly and completely?

I hope not. I hope you won’t stop using any of those words, because God doesn’t require you to. It would be self-imposed legalism. Remember when Jesus said to the Pharisees, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”? He was trying to teach them that the Sabbath was meant to be a blessing and a benefit of rest to God’s people, not a slave driver of legalism adding one more day of work (to earn God’s favor) to their week.

It’s kind of the same general idea with language in this case. Language is one of God’s good and awesome gifts to us. It gives us a way to express our reverence for Him, but also our delight in the work of His hands – like ice cream and dogs. Just as with the Sabbath, there’s a godly and appropriate way to use language, but, outside of those parameters, language was never meant to enslave us or hamstring our ability to communicate. When we use language to appreciate God’s good gifts, or to express delight or pleasure, knowing that every good gift and grace redounds to His glory, He is exalted.

When we use language to appreciate God’s good gifts, or to express delight or pleasure, knowing that every good gift and grace redounds to His glory, He is exalted.

If you’re convicted not to use the word “awesome” for anything but God, or you don’t want people calling you awesome as a matter of conscience, that’s totally fine. Don’t violate your conscience. But you must realize that it is a matter of your conscience, not everybody’s. And you can’t bind others to your conscience. Whether or not to use the word “awesome” is an issue of Christian liberty. It is not a biblical command.

Listen in to Christian Liberty on A Word Fitly Spoken

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.

3 thoughts on “The Mailbag: Potpourri (Breastfeeding videos…Women performing weddings…Only God is awesome?)”

  1. While the writer’s feeling that God is the only one we should be in awe of isunderstandable, I would agree that “awesome” does not refer exclusively to God (according to the dictionary); however it has been over-used to the point of being almost meaningless, such as in the examples the writer used. “Our awesome God” is quite a bit different from “this ice cream is awesome” That being said, language is one thing that does evolve.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Michelle. This reminds me do you have a post on slang words Christian women or men for that matter shouldn’t use? The reason I ask is because in our church ladies restroom there is a sign which reads ( and I will edit the offensive word) “Be the women of God who when your feet hit the floor, the devil says ” Oh cr*p! She’s up!” I remember getting in huge trouble saying that word when I was growing up and my girls definitely were not allowed to say it when they were children. It just seems like such an ugly word for Christ followers to use. Can you weigh in on this or have you covered this already and post the link? Thank you Michelle.

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