Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Remarriage after divorce… Spiritual gifts… Spiritual warfare at Bible study… Pants at church)

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.


I am wondering what your thoughts are on remarriage post divorce?

Great question, but let me tweak it just a little bit. “My thoughts” on remarriage after divorce are irrelevant. As Christians, what we want to know is what the Bible has to say about it. Unfortunately, every situation is different, so I can’t give you a simple answer that would apply to every single situation out there. But here are a few general biblical principles:

  • God makes clear throughout Scripture that He doesn’t like divorce and that He intends marriage to be for life.
  • There are two biblical grounds for divorce: adultery and abandonment. It is not a sin for a Christian to initiate a divorce when his/her spouse is guilty of one of these. Remarriage after a divorce for one of these two reasons is biblically permissible and is not a sin for the Christian.
  • But even in cases where there are biblical grounds for divorce, God does not require it. Scripture is saturated with the teachings of repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation, even after heinous sin, and if reconciliation is in any way possible after a spouse’s sin, that is the route that should be pursued, with copious amounts of pastoral counseling.

If you are a Christian who has been divorced (either before or after salvation) and you’re thinking about remarriage, my best counsel would be this: If you’re not already joined to a doctrinally sound church, find one and join it immediately, then set up an appointment with your pastor so he can shepherd you through applying Scripture to your particular situation. (If, for some reason, you can’t go to a doctrinally sound pastor for counsel, check out the Biblical Counseling Resources tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.)

Additional Resources:

The Mailbag: Is it all right for a Christian to get divorced?

The Mailbag: Must I reconcile with my abusive ex-husband?

Remarriage Forbidden?

DivorceCare


I have been thinking about cessationism and spiritual gifts for single women in the church—especially those who have been converted later in life with no prospects of marriage or child rearing in their future. What are they to do, and how does the Reformed church help these women find and nurture their spiritual gifts for the service of the church?

I’m so glad you asked. Every Christian is given at least one spiritual gift by God to use for serving the church. (I’m a little confused as to what marriage and parenting have to do with that. God gives spiritual gifts to every Christian, regardless of his or her station in life, and spiritual gifts are primarily for serving the church, not the family.)

There are a variety of spiritual gifts, but because the sign gifts have fulfilled their function and ceased, miracle working, healing, extra-biblical revelation (prophecy), and the ability to spontaneously speak a foreign language (“tongues”) are not among the gifts God bestows today.

“The Reformed Church,” as you’ve termed it, isn’t really a monolithic entity. There are all kinds of Reformed churches. You would have to ask each individual local church how they help their members find and nurture their spiritual gifts.

Personally, I do not recommend so-called spiritual gifts tests. However, I have developed a resource that I think will help Christians who are trying to find a place of service in the church as well as discover their spiritual gifting (and for churches who are trying to help their members with that). It’s called The Servanthood Survey.


I am one of the leads of a prayer group that also does a Bible study. We are doing chapter by chapter in the Old Testament. Most of the ladies are name it and claim it and speaking prophecy, casting out demons, health and prosperity expectations, one speaks in tongues, etc. I have disagreed with this which has upset the women for the sake of unity. I have stayed to try to give the opportunity to share Biblical Gospel, but it wears me out after each session. I let the pastor know. He’s planning changes to the group and I’ve let him know I’m not going to lead the group anymore. I feel like I’m letting God down. I also need to think of my spiritual well being. This is a Wesleyan church BTW. I plan on using your Bible studies. Your thoughts will be appreciated.

Having been in a few situations like this, I can certainly understand how spiritually, and therefore emotionally and physically draining this kind of thing is. This is true spiritual warfare.

I’m not quite clear as to whether or not you’re a member of this church, but if you are, you shouldn’t be. Any church, Wesleyan or not, that condones, encourages, or fails to teach biblically about “name it and claim it and speaking prophecy, casting out demons, health and prosperity expectations, [speaking in] tongues, etc.” is not a doctrinally sound church, and it’s no place for genuinely regenerated Christians. You can’t have “unity” with false doctrine and, very likely, false converts.

You’re not letting God down. On the contrary, you need to run, not walk, out of that den of demonic activity as fast as you can and find a doctrinally sound church to join.

It’s admirable that you’ve tried your best to teach these women biblically, but you cannot continue to be a member of this church. And even God the Father, Jesus, and their admonitions in Scripture don’t teach us to keep pursuing indefinitely people who have rejected biblical truth:

  • Think about Old Testament Israel. God pursued them, disciplined them, sent them prophets, performed miracles – the whole works – and He bore with them in their idolatry and disobedience for hundreds of years. But not forever. He eventually sent them into exile.
  • Remember the story of Jesus and the rich young ruler? Did Jesus chase him down and keep trying to convince him once he rejected biblical teaching from Jesus Himself? No. He let him go. What about the father of the prodigal son? Dad lets that rebel leave. (You can probably think of many more examples.)
  • Matthew 7:6: Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
  • Mark 6:11: And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave [this phrase assumes they will leave], shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.

Go. Get out of there while the gettin’s good.

Additional Resources

The Mailbag: How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing?

The Mailbag: What is the New Apostolic Reformation?


So I’ve been going to this new small church I found, seemingly very sound and conservative. The first time I went, I wore flowy pants, not immodest at all in my opinion. And I noticed all the women wearing skirts or dresses, and so I felt out of place. And I also attended a father/daughter camping trip, and lo and behold, all the girls are wearing skirts to this camping trip.

I am not a dress wearing type of girl. I have usually worn jeans to church, I try to dress it up and look feminine and also wear makeup.

I don’t like feeling self-conscious, and I don’t want to look like I’m some sort of feminist by wearing pants. And I feel like I’m less of a Christian woman if I wear pants to church. But at this new church, I’m one of maybe a few other women who has worn pants. I also don’t want to just start wearing dresses and skirts to church JUST because I want to live up to this standard I feel the church is setting. I have talked to the leadership there and they said I’m fine wearing pants. I But I still feel like I’m out of place. How do you think I should be thinking about this?

Nobody likes to stick out like a sore thumb. I get it. Personally, I kinda like to blend into the wallpaper wherever I go, if possible.

And I think that’s the heart of your dilemma – you feel self-conscious and it makes you uncomfortable, and you want that uncomfortable feeling to go away. (Go back to your original email and count how many times you said “I feel” or referred to your feelings.)

This isn’t an issue of modesty, because you’re neither outlandishly (you said a few other women had worn pants) or provocatively dressed. This isn’t an issue of the other women or anyone else unbiblically judging you for wearing pants (at least you didn’t say that anywhere in your email). And though you describe the situation as, “this standard I feel the church is setting,” you said you had talked to the elders and they said you were fine wearing pants. So the church is not actually setting this standard, you just feel that it is because of your own self-consciousness.

This isn’t about other people, this is about you. What you’ve got here is a battle of the feelings. Feeling 1: I don’t want to feel self-conscious by wearing pants. Feeling 2: I dislike wearing dresses. Welp, as I see it you’ve got three options:

  1. Wear pants and stop worrying about it. Focus on worship or whatever activity you’re at and stop focusing on yourself and how you’re dressed. (We’re not supposed to be focusing on ourselves anyway. That’s a form of pride and narcissism. You might want to explore that with the Lord in prayer. Go back to your original email and count how many times you used the words “I” and “me”.) After a while you’ll get used to it and that self-conscious feeling will fade. And besides that, maybe those other pants-wearing women will be emboldened to wear pants once they see you wearing them. You could start a trend!
  2. Wear a dress and stop worrying about it. How do you know you’re not a dress-wearing kind of girl if you don’t give it a good faith effort? Try it for six months. It’s not going to kill you. It might grow on you. You never know.
  3. Find another doctrinally sound church in the area where more women wear pants. This is an option, but, honestly, I would not recommend it. It sounds like you’ve found a good church and God is trying to do some sanctifying work in your heart and life. Don’t kick against or run away from what He’s trying to do, submit to it and grow to greater Christlikeness.

And one last thing- from the way you described everything, I’d be willing to bet that nobody at your church is fretting about you wearing pants as much as you are. I encourage you – hang in there, stop looking down at your pants, start looking up at the Lord, and walk with Him as He works this out.

(And before I hear from the “women can’t wear pants” crowd: The Mailbag: May Christian Women Wear Pants?)


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.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Teaching hubby the Bible… Generational sin… Blood moons… God honors women preaching?… Remarriage forbidden)

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.


A comment left on my Rock Your Role FAQs article…

How would this apply within marriage? My husband does not read the Bible..he claims to believe in God, but I don’t actually see him seeking. Is it wrong for me to share with him what I learn or read in my Bible? Thank you for your advice!!

I know that having an unsaved or less spiritually mature husband can be really difficult. I’m sure this is a question many of my readers are struggling with.

When you say, “How would this apply within marriage?” I’m not really sure if “this” means a specific question and answer within that article or if “this” means the biblical prohibition against women teaching men, in general. I’m going to go with the latter since I can’t guess the former. :0)

The biblical prohibition against women teaching the Bible to men has a very specific context: the gathering of the church body. Your marriage is not the gathering of the church body.

It is perfectly fine and biblical for you to share what you’re learning from the Bible with your husband if he is open and receptive to it. But, and this is important, it is also perfectly fine and biblical for you not to share what you’re learning from the Bible with him if he is not open and receptive to it, if it makes him angry, or if he tells you to stop nagging or preaching at him.

A lot of women in the New Testament church were in the very same position. They were saved, and their husbands were not. First Peter 3:1-6 was written just for them, and for you. I would recommend studying that passage as well as 1 Corinthians 7:16, Ephesians 5:22-33, and Proverbs 31:10-31 to guide your own behavior as a godly wife. And, if you think it would be helpful, you may want to work through my Bible study on biblical womanhood.

My article The Mailbag: Can I share the gospel with my unsaved husband? is another good resource. If you need help presenting the gospel to your husband, check out the What must I do to be saved? tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

One more suggestion: Think about making an appointment with your pastor for some biblical counsel on being a gospel influence on your husband. You may want to also ask him to point you to (or you may already know) a godly older woman in your church who has walked faithfully through the situation of having an unsaved husband, and who can disciple you through this.


Do you have any information about the generational sin/curses teaching? I’d love to understand if this is a false teaching and if it is…understand what the Bible really says. I don’t buy into the fact my great great grandma was sinful and that is why someone in the family is messed up.

You’re correct, this idea is diametrically opposed to what Scripture teaches. Certainly our children can be hurt or negatively impacted by the sins we commit. They can learn sinful behavior from watching us sin. And we are all sinners by nature. But children don’t genetically inherit a particular sin(s) – say, for example, profanity or adultery – from their parents. And God doesn’t punish us for the sins of our parents or ancestors.

The absolute best resource for refuting this false idea is Ezekiel 18. It is so beautifully clear and such a wonderful picture of the gospel smack dab in the middle of the Old Testament. Give it a good study.

Additionally, we released a podcast episode a while back called What Do We Do with the Guilt of Generational Sin? that may help.


Does “The moon turning to blood” refer to what we consider a “blood moon”?

Not as it pertains to being a sign of Jesus’ return, no. I think you’ll find this article and this article to be helpful.


Do you think it’s possible for God to “honour” a women’s preaching that is bringing people to Christ?

This is really two separate questions about women preaching. Let’s break it down:

1. Can God graciously save someone, despite the fact that he’s sitting under a woman who’s sinning by pretending to be a pastor? Yes. He also saves people who are currently Mormons, currently being abused, etc. God can save anyone despite someone else’s sin.

2. Does the fact that God saves someone who’s under the influence or authority of someone who’s sinning mean that God approves of or honors the sin being committed? No. God doesn’t honor people for sinning.

God doesn’t honor or approve of Mormon false teachers just because someone happens to hear enough actual Bible to get saved while still in Mormonism. Mormonism is still idolatry, and that Mormon leader is still committing the sin of teaching false doctrine. Or, let’s say a pastor is secretly abusing his son. If the son gets saved during one of Dad’s sermons does that mean God honors or approves of the abuse? Of course not. It’s a display of God’s mercy and grace that God still saves people despite other people’s sin.

The same applies to someone who gets saved despite sitting under a woman who’s sinning by pretending to be a pastor.

Additionally, granting for argument’s sake that she’s actually preaching the biblical gospel, the fact that the woman “pastor” got that part right doesn’t excuse or make up for her sin of rebelling against God’s Word. If I work in a soup kitchen all week long, but every Saturday I go out and murder somebody, we know that my good works during the week don’t outweigh, excuse, or make up for the sin of murder. I still need to repent of being a murderer, and the woman “pastor” still has to repent from rebelling against God’s Word regarding her role in the church.


I was widowed a year ago, and a divorced man asked me to marry him but my pastor said it was absolutely forbidden. Can you please help me with this issue? The entire world is divorced!

Let me first offer my condolences for the loss of your husband. I can’t imagine how difficult that must be.

Have you asked your pastor to explain why* he said this? I’m not exactly sure of his reasoning, so let me just offer a few general thoughts.

One reason your pastor might have said this is that he holds to what’s called the permanence view of marriage. This view essentially says there are no biblical grounds for divorce (for anyone) and, thus, no biblical allowance for remarriage.

On the other hand, he may believe (as I, and many other Christians do) that, while reconciliation of a marriage is always the first and best goal, and that, in most cases, divorce is a sin, there are certain circumstances (chiefly adultery and abandonment) in which the Bible allows for divorce as a last resort. If that’s the case, depending on the circumstances of your gentleman friend’s divorce, your pastor may be saying that his divorce was not biblical, and, therefore, the two of you should not marry.

Finally, your pastor may have reasons aside from the divorce that would cause him to tell you not to marry this gentleman. Perhaps your pastor knows that he isn’t saved, that he is cheating on you, that he’s engaging in criminal activity, etc. I hope that’s not the case, but that’s the only other possibility I could think of.

I would suggest you talk to your pastor about this, hear him out on his reasoning, and compare his reasoning to rightly handled, in context Scripture. It could very well be that he’s offering you good, biblical counsel. Or…not.

*Readers, I’m not faulting anyone for asking me a question like this, but I often receive questions about why a certain person – whether it’s a false teacher, your husband, your pastor, a friend, whoever – did or said something, or what he meant by what he said or did. Generally speaking, I have no way of knowing why a particular person said or did a particular thing or what it meant. I can only speculate. If you want to know why someone did or said something, or what he meant, it’s best to go to that person and ask him or her directly.


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.