The Mailbag: Potpourri (Loneliness, Masons, Psych Meds…)


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 also like to take the opportunity in these potpourrri 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 can be a helpful tool!

I am wondering if it is common for women who really begin to exercise discernment and pull away from bad theology and false teachers to find themselves somewhat isolated and lonely? Are other women dealing with this same issue?

It probably sounds weird to say it this way but, no, you are not alone in your loneliness and isolation. I hear this often from:

…women who are growing in discernment and are beginning to realize that the rest of their church is growing more and more accepting of false doctrine.

…women who are having difficulty finding a doctrinally sound church to join.

…women who go to churches that are mostly doctrinally sound but can’t attend their church’s women’s ministry events or women’s “Bible” study because the event centers around (or the study is written by) a false teacher.

Sometimes the loneliness is something you just have to endure for a while. Maybe God has placed you at this church in order to pray for its health and work for biblical change. Maybe God led you away from your last church because it was too far gone in false doctrine to turn around and you haven’t been able to find a new church yet.

Be patient. Use this time of loneliness to draw nearer to the Lord. If you’re married, pour your energies into a closer relationship with your husband. Try to cultivate a deeper friendship with one or two other women instead of dwelling on the fact that there aren’t any classes or group gatherings for you to attend. And, secondarily (your primary focus should always be on face to face relationships), try joining a Christian women’s group on social media. Hereherehere, and here are a few I’m familiar with and can recommend.

And don’t forget, Jesus knows what it feels like to be lonely and rejected for standing for biblical truth. Rejoice – you are sharing in His sufferings.

The wife of a pastor I trust mentioned on social media that she went to [secular singer’s] concert and thought it was fantastic. I know his music isn’t something we should listen to but how do I deal in regards to her husband’s teachings?

Well… let’s back up just a little bit.

I’m not very familiar with the singer you named, but from what little I’ve been told, he’s not biting the heads off bats on stage or building an altar to Satan in his living room. He’s a “pop/Top 40” or “adult contemporary” kind of guy who mostly sings love songs. Now, does that mean it’s blanketly OK for Christians to listen to his music? Not necessarily. Does it mean we should blanketly question the sanctification of a Christian who enjoys listening to him, or the doctrine of her spouse? Not necessarily.

Assuming she would not publicly admit to liking a celebrity who is well known for blatantly promoting sin in his life or his music, what her social media remark probably means is that the singer’s music doesn’t generally glorify sin, and the pastor’s wife either isn’t aware that the singer overtly promotes sin (abortion, the homosexual agenda, a false religion, etc.) off stage or she’s familiar enough with his life to know that he doesn’t, so she has made the decision that it’s OK to listen to his music.

Perhaps you would make a different decision about your own listening habits, but it’s not your place to impose your listening standards on this woman or to judge her husband’s entire body of doctrine by one remark his wife made on social media. Scripture doesn’t say we can never listen to an unsaved singer or that we can never listen to music that’s not expressly “Christian.” The Bible does say we’re to set our minds on things that are pure, lovely, excellent, etc., but it does not say that you or I get to determine what is pure, lovely, excellent, etc., for another person’s conscience, unless rightly handled Scripture clearly addresses it. We are to work out our own salvation on issues about which the Bible is silent.

Unless the woman’s social media remark was just one in a pattern of questionable or sinful comments or behaviors, I don’t think it’s fair to jump to the conclusion, based on this one comment alone, that the pastor is doctrinally unsound, a poor spiritual leader to his wife and family, or otherwise unfit for ministry. Continue to exercise as much discernment when listening to him as you would with any other pastor or teacher you follow.

Do You MIND? Five Reasons for Pastors to Mind What their Brides are Reading

Would you have a problem being a member of a Lutheran church? Our church is possibly disbanding and my husband (Southern Baptist all his life) is interested in visiting there. I read about a few differences, but I am not sure if they are differences to keep us away.

(I just want to note that this reader asked me if I would attend a Lutheran church, so that’s how I’m answering – for me. Naturally, if my husband and I were faced with this issue, we would discuss it and pray about it, he would make the final decision, and I would gladly abide by that (biblical) decision. Also, I’m not answering for anyone else. I have godly, doctrinally sound friends who are Lutherans, and I’m certainly not saying they – or anyone else – need to leave a solid local Lutheran church.)

Like your husband, I’m also a lifelong Southern Baptist, and though I’m Reformed (most of the SBC isn’t), and there are a lot of problems in the Southern Baptist Convention at large, I’m not ready to jump ship just yet. There are still a lot of doctrinally sound SBC churches out there (I’m a member of an awesome one) and there is space for those churches and doctrinally sound individuals to continue working for change to correct those problems. So, to answer that aspect of your question, I would not seek out a church of any other denomination at this point in my life.

However, if my family had to move to another place where the only doctrinally sound church available to us was a Lutheran church, knowing only what I know right now about Lutheranism – which, admittedly, is at a moderate level – I would joyfully attend it. (I would definitely study up on Lutheran doctrine more, though, if I were in that situation.)

The Lutheran doctrines I’m most familiar with that I don’t agree with are some (not all) of their beliefs and practices regarding baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Those are the areas where I would suggest you and your husband start studying. Examine the Lutheran application of the Scriptures regarding those issues, pray about it, talk to the Lutheran pastor about it, talk to a non-Lutheran pastor you trust about it, and decide whether you can submit to Lutheran doctrine in those areas. I don’t know if those or other Lutheran doctrines are differences that would keep you away or not. There are plenty of doctrinally sound folks who are Lutherans, so obviously, they’re differences that don’t keep everybody away.

Let me point you toward a couple of those doctrinally sound Lutherans who might be able to help with your questions and give you better resources than I can:

Chris Rosebrough – a Lutheran pastor – heads up one of my favorite podcasts, Fighting for the Faith. You might want to give him a listen and/or contact him for some advice or resources.

Jorge Rodriguez, also Lutheran, admins the Fighting for the Faith Facebook group. I’ve seen several questions on Lutheran doctrine in the group, so you could post questions there or contact Jorge through his blog, Faithful Stewardship.

I’m not sure how much time either Chris or Jorge has to answer individual messages, but it’s worth a shot.

Should Christians be Masons?

I don’t know what’s going on with the Masons and their infiltration of the church these days, but I’m seeing this question pop up more and more.

No, Christians should not be Masons if for no other reason than that their ceremonies, beliefs, etc., are so shrouded in secrecy. Christians are people of the light, not people of the darkness. But there are many more unbiblical tenets to Masonry that preclude a genuinely regenerated Christian from joining. Here are some resources if you’d like to study up:

Should Christians Join the Masonic Lodge? by Steven Tsoukalas

What is Free Masonry and what do Free Masons believe? at Got Questions

Freemasonry and the Christian at The Master’s Seminary

I wanted to know your take on Christians and anti-depressants and/or anti-anxiety medication.

I’m neither qualified, nor do I think it would be wise, to make a blanket statement for or against these types of medications. As a maturing Christian and student of the Bible for many years and as someone with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and half a master’s in family counseling here is what I’m willing and qualified to say:

☙Many of the issues people see therapists for – including some forms of depression and anxiety – are actually spiritual issues. Before seeing a psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist, and certainly before trying any psychotropic medication, I would recommend that someone talk with a pastor, a mature Christian friend, or an ACBC certified Biblical counselor (not the same thing as a “Christian counselor”) to make sure she correctly understands and has applied the biblical gospel and what the Bible says about the issue she’s facing. It’s not by accident that our God has names like Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counsellor, Comforter, and the Great Physician.

☙Sometimes Christians – doctrinally sound Christians who aren’t living in any unrepentant sin – have emotional or organic brain issues that require psychological/psychiatric intervention and/or psychotropic medication. There are psychological/psychiatric treatments that do not conflict with Scripture, and no Christian should feel guilty for partaking of them if she has dealt with all potential spiritual issues related to her problem and has exhausted all other less extreme measures to deal with her problem. Christians who play armchair expert and blanketly denounce any form of psychological/psychiatric intervention as unbiblical and satanic are misinformed and aren’t helping anybody, least of all brothers and sisters in Christ who are dealing with mental issues.

☙Psychotropic drugs can have some intense side effects, which is one reason I would recommend exhausting every other possibility first: first spiritual issues, then behavior and/or talk therapy. If you find you must take a medication, make sure you have a good doctor who knows your medical history, get a second or third opinion, and do lots of research.

What are some biblical ways of addressing my child’s mental illness?

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.