Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Female pastor in 2 John?… Pronouns for pre-schoolers… Women’s ministry “how to”… Video studies for women?)

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.


Is the epistle of 2 John addressed to a female pastor? I just read a social media debate on this topic. One poster is focusing on the “children” in the verse, seeing them as God’s spiritual children (the church) and only considering the “chosen” or “elected” lady as the leader/pastor of the church. I took “chosen or elect” to mean she’s a “godly” woman, one predestined (chosen by God) like other believers.

Great question! It is so important to pay attention to details like this in Scripture.

No, 2 John is not addressed to a female “pastor”. If it were, it would be a stern letter of rebuke because such a woman would be in egregious sin and rebellion. The verses that are being twisted in an attempt to argue this fallacy are parts of verses 1, 4-5, and maybe a bit of 13:

The elder to the elect lady and her children … some of your children … I ask you, dear lady … The children of your elect sister greet you.

Excerpted from 2 John 1, 4-5, 13

You are definitely on the right track in your thinking. Some people think 2 John was written to a church and John was riffing off the “church as the Bride of Christ” metaphor by using this female personification of the church. “Elect” or “chosen lady” would then mean elect or chosen in the sense that the church is elect or chosen out of the world. This “lady’s” “children” would, metaphorically, be the members of that church.

Others think 2 John was written to a particular woman in the church, namely the woman who had offered her home as a place for the church to meet. Verse 10 would be a good fit with this idea, warning her that, though it was customary and good Christian hospitality to open her home to godly pastors and teachers who were traveling around and needed a place to stay, that she should not extend hospitality to those preaching a false gospel. This individual woman would be elect or chosen in the sense that every individual Christian is elect or chosen. Her “children” would be understood to be her own biological children.

Personally, I can see where a good argument could be made for both of these perspectives, and that maybe John had both in mind as God moved him to write this letter.

But whichever perspective you lean toward, one thing we know for sure is that it was not written to a female “pastor”. John would not have commended someone that Paul’s epistles rebuke. That would make Scripture contradict itself, and, thus, God contradict Himself, since He is the author of Scripture. And we know that can’t happen.


How would you respond (or how have you responded) when someone prefers to be called by the opposite gender?

I had a man correct my daughter (she’s only 2, almost 3) today because she referred to him as “he”. I told him out of deep love for him I could not in good conscience refer to him as “her,” but how do I explain that to an almost 3 year old? How have you informed your kids about this? Would love any feedback you have on this.

I do not envy you young moms who are having to deal with things like this with your small children. My youngest child is 19, so this was not an issue when he or any of his older siblings were toddlers or even young teens. Isn’t it amazing how fast the world has plunged headlong into this depth of sin?

I think you handled the situation just fine, and with a two or three year old who likely had zero memory of this incident the next day, you probably don’t even need to broach the subject. But if you do, I would suggest keeping your focus broad and shallow. “Honey, you need to whisper to me when you have a question about another person, or wait until later to ask. That person’s feelings might get hurt, and we don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings if we can avoid it.”.

Honestly, for a two or three year old, even the part about hurting someone else’s feelings is going to go right over her head (as is the “wait until later” part, and she’s also unlikely to remember the “whisper to me” part for the future). Children that young rarely have the capacity to grasp the concept that another person even has feelings. They certainly aren’t going to understand the concept of adults “identifying” as the opposite sex. This is really not something you need to worry about trying to explain to her at this young age, and no amount of talking or explaining is going to keep a pre-schooler from verbalizing any and every thought that comes to mind. Ask any parent – that’s just what they do at that age.

In another year or two, if you encounter a person like this again and your daughter asks you why that man is dressed like a woman, you might say something like,

“Well, you know how sometimes you think you’d like to be a dog or a fairy princess instead of a little girl so that’s what you pretend to be? Do you ever see Mommy doing that? No? That’s because when we grow up, the Bible tells us we’re to put childish ways behind us. We’re to be happy with the way God made us and do our best to love Him and serve Him as the person He created us to be.

It’s really sad, but sometimes a boy [or vice versa for a girl] who doesn’t know God will grow up and think he would rather be a lady than a man, kind of like you think you’d rather be a fairy princess or a dog than a little girl. But instead of acting like a grown up and asking God to help him be happy with the way He made him, the man will dress up like a lady and pretend to be a lady. Let’s take a moment to pray for him, that He will come to know Jesus and be happy that God made him a man.”

Additional Resources:

The Mailbag: What’s In a Name?

pride, pronouns & prodigals at A Word Fitly Spoken


My church is looking at getting our women’s ministry off the ground and I was asked to be on the team. Do you have any pointers for what works best for your women’s ministry? I definitely want the focus to be growing women in the Word, but I’m unsure how to go about structuring the meeting.

I’m going to give you some resources below that can help jump start your brainstorming, but first a few very simple suggestions:

  • Trust God and pray for wisdom and direction. God promises to give them to you if you ask, so why not take Him up on His offer?
  • Gather your ladies together (or create a survey and email it out) and ask them what sort of structure or class would be most helpful to them.
  • With their feedback in hand, talk things over with your pastor. He should be able to give you some guidance that’s tailor made for the ladies at your particular church.

Additional Resources:

Teach What Is Good: Discipling Younger Women in the 21st Century– Listen in to my teaching session from last year’s OHCW conference. In fact, you might find all of last year’s sessions to be helpful (you’ll find the links below the video).

All Word and No Play: The Importance of Fun and Fellowship in the Doctrinally Sound Church

Guest Post: Building a Biblically Healthy Women’s Ministry (by a pastor, for pastors)


The small church I pastor in the process of launching a women’s ministry and I’m curious if there are any specific video studies led by women that you recommend. I hope to compose a menu of studies for them. Thanks for your assistance.

In case anyone is confused, this email is from a (male) pastor, not a woman pretending to be a pastor. Just wanted to clear that up, there. :0)

Brother pastor, my husband is a retired worship pastor, and God always had us at small churches too, so I not only sympathize with the challenges small churches face, but I also have a lot of experience with women’s ministry at small churches.

And still, I encourage women’s ministries (men’s ministries too, if that were my wheelhouse) not to use what I call “canned” studies (workbooks, videos, etc.) but to study and teach straight from the text of Scripture itself. That’s the primary reason why, on principle, I don’t make recommendations for any women’s Bible study materials other than the Bible itself. The second reason I don’t recommend “canned” studies is that, as you have probably discovered in your search, the overwhelming majority of women’s “Bible” studies are authored by false teachers and consist mainly of fluff and false doctrine. Even if I wanted to make recommendations, it would be nearly impossible.

What I would recommend instead is that you find at least one woman, and maybe up to five or six women, should your church be so blessed, who are spiritually mature and seem to have the gift of teaching, and begin training them to rightly handle and teach Scripture to other women, since this is the biblical instruction we’re given.

As they’re learning, you may wish to take them through or have them practice teaching some of the Bible studies I’ve written as “training wheels” to help them learn. My studies (all free) are designed to teach women how to study straight from the text of Scripture in a “learn by doing” way. Once they get the hang of it, they’ll never have to rely on anyone else’s materials again, even mine! Plus, they’ll eventually be able to teach other women how to teach the Bible. Here are some other resources I think will help:

Additional Resources:

Bible Studies

McBible Study and the Famine of God’s Word

4 Ways We’re Getting Women’s Discipleship Wrong, and How We Can Get it Right!

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.”.

Teach What Is Good: Discipling Younger Women in the 21st Century (Session 2 on video)

How to Study the Bible – and How Not To


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.

7 thoughts on “The Mailbag: Potpourri (Female pastor in 2 John?… Pronouns for pre-schoolers… Women’s ministry “how to”… Video studies for women?)”

  1. Thank you for this mailbag! It’s full of great information. I am saving it for a further study. The womens Bible studies are always shallow teaching, and I never attend. I’m praying about getting involved somehow.

    Thank you and blessings to you, Marilyn Benthien

    Like

  2. I know you don’t like canned studies, but I just have to recommend Nancy Guthrie. Our women’s small group has been using a series of books she’s written on seeing Jesus in the Old Testament and it is amazing. She is very solid in her teaching. Her books are commended by men such as Alistair Begg and Sinclair Ferguson.

    The reason I use canned materials is I work full time and I don’t want to prepare for the small group, I just want to study alongside the women. This works well for us – we do the entire thing as a group, not leaving any as “homework”. We take our time and it leads to some wonderful discussions and opportunities to mentor the younger ladies.

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    1. Hi Lisa-

      I’m sorry, but I’m afraid that rather than refuting my point, you’re proving it.

      –I don’t know whether you’ve ever checked out my Recommended Bible Teachers tab or not, but if you have, you might have noticed that Nancy Guthrie is not listed. There’s a reason for that. She has long been associated with The Gospel Coalition, which, over the past 10 years or so, has become increasingly woke, platforms racists like Thabiti Anyabwile, and twists God’s Word by regularly publishing articles about finding the gospel in whatever movie is popular at the moment, just to give a few examples of TGC’s downgrade. She has also been speaking at TGC’s women’s conference for several years running, which platforms women who preach to men such as Jackie Hill Perry (who is also a racist and a false teacher) and Jen Wilkin. All of this has been going on long enough that a Christian who is up close and personal with it should have disassociated herself from it long ago. Therefore, I can only assume that Nancy is in agreement with all of these unbiblical things.

      –As for Begg and Ferguson endorsing her, I recently removed Alistair Begg from my list of recommended teachers when evidence came to light that he thinks it’s OK for women to preach as long as they’re doing so “under a pastor’s authority,” which is unbiblical. And Sinclair Ferguson’s social justice leanings have come into question over the past few years due to his panel responses during the 2019 Shepherds’ Conference, the fact that he writes for TGC, and due to his affiliation with Together for the Gospel (T4G) which, would still be on a woke trajectory were it not now defunct.

      I have no doubt that your ladies group has had some good discussions and good fellowship, but if you don’t have time to prepare, you shouldn’t be teaching. Leave that to someone who does have time to prepare, and if no one is willing to put in that time and effort, cancel the class. The teaching of the Word of God is that important. It shouldn’t be approached in a lackadaisical manner.

      May I suggest you read a couple of articles linked above that I hope will change your perspective?

      McBible Study and the Famine of God’s Word

      The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.”.

      My recommendation to the pastor, supported by your comment, stands.

      Like

      1. Thanks for the info, I quit following The Gospel Coalition years ago so I don’t really keep up with who’s in or out there. As for the men mentioned, this surprises me, I’ll have to dig deeper.

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      2. Thank you for your kind response, Lisa. I deeply appreciate it. Just a thought – when you teach and study straight from the text of Scripture as I’ve recommended, you don’t have to waste time and effort keeping up with these things. Who has the time? We can know and trust – without any research or vetting – that there’s no false doctrine in the Bible, and its Author comes with no sinful or questionable baggage. That’s just one more reason why I recommend cutting out the middle man and studying/teaching straight from Scripture. :0)

        Like

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