Testimony Tuesday

Testimony Tuesday: Audrey’s Story

Audrey’s Story

A few months ago, I was scrolling on Twitter when a tweet from Michelle Lesley got my attention. She said, in her experience, false teachings enter the church through women’s ministries and worship music. I was aware of this. Many other evangelicals voiced similar concerns on doctrinal errors in women’s ministries and contemporary worship music. What stood out to me wasn’t what the tweet said, but what it didn’t.

In my experience, there is a third entrance through which false doctrines sneak into the church. It is a small door, but it was through it that I got introduced to false teachers.

This entrance is the young adult ministries.

Most churches have ministries for Christians who are in their 20’s and 30’s. I have been a member of several of them, and I noticed other young adults almost always led them. They get attracted to popular young pastors the same way women are drawn to popular female teachers. These pastors are trendy, funny, relatable, and have a substantial social media presence. They, however, are not doctrinally sound.

They, however, are not doctrinally sound…

Being a social media recluse, I only discovered these pastors through the 20’s/30’s ministry at my former church.

My first “Bible study” there was Good or God by John Bevere, and it was the first Christian book I ever read. Since I was a new Christian with little discernment, I believed everything Bevere taught. I got a few of his other books and watched several of his lessons from his preaching ministry, Messenger International. He quickly became one of my favorite teachers.

But as I learned much later, John Bevere is a questionable teacher. He teaches extra-biblical revelations — he once said God told him He was about to do new things in the church that would make Pentecost day child’s play. He teaches tongues is a supernatural language that helps us communicate with God so that the devil doesn’t understand us. And his wife, Lisa Bevere, disobeys Scriptures by teaching men and partnering with false teachers.

The next study we did was Transformed by Rick Warren.

Rick Warren is the pioneer of the seeker-sensitive movement, and he is not a trustworthy teacher. His book, The Purpose-Driven Church, has caused many churches to water down the gospel, and add worldly components in their services to keep unregenerated hearts entertained. In Transformed, Warren frequently twists Scriptures and uses dubious translations to make incorrect statements.

I just wanted to study the Bible…

After a while, I got frustrated with these types of studies and my life group. I just wanted to study the Bible. I hoped that after Transformed, we would finally dig in the Word. But the leader dashed my hopes when she announced yet another canned study from yet another popular pastor. I wanted to say something, but I was new and shy. So I kept quiet. By God’s grace, someone else in the group voiced the concerns I had about our Bible study sessions. The leader considered them, and we started studying books of the Bible.

But ironically, it gave me even more exposure to dangerous teachers.

As we discussed our weekly readings, my mates frequently mentioned pertinent quotes or sermons by their favorite pastors. That’s how I discovered names like Steven Furtick, Robert Morris, and Judah Smith. Trusting their judgment, I listened to these pastors and others associated with them. And for me, Christianity’s best and brightest were men like Craig Groeschel, Michael Todd, T. D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, Chad Veach, and John Gray. (I don’t consider all these men false teachers, but I don’t recommend them.)

After a shallow diet of Bible books studies, we eventually returned to canned studies. The next one we did was undoubtedly the worst of them all. It was Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer.

Joyce Meyer is a certified false teacher who teaches heresy like the Prosperity Gospel and Word of Faith theology. I bought her book intending to read it, but by God’s providence, my schedule changed, and I only attended three sessions. I still shudder when I think of the damning doctrines I almost learned.

I still shudder when I think of the damning doctrines…

Shortly after, I moved to another state, and I have never been back to that church. It’s been almost two years since then, and I realize now there were several other issues with that church. Nevertheless, young adult ministries can still be an avenue for false teaching even in sound churches, and need close oversight.

They are tomorrow’s leaders, and they have a profound influence on today’s youths. Most of the people in my life group worked in the children’s ministry or mentored teens in the church. If these kids get exposed to false teachers at such an impressionable age, it will be difficult to break that hold later. It is evidenced by the visceral reactions of Christians online when someone critiques their favorite teachers.

I used to be one of them. Someone once called my favorite pastor a false teacher, and I passionately defended him. I am ashamed to say that I even used the p-word (“Pharisee”). But today, I no longer follow him and his like.

The Lord is faithful…

I credit this change to American Gospel: Christ Alone, that exposed counterfeit gospels and their leaders, many of whom I respected even though I didn’t follow them; Justin Peters who set me free from false teachings like extra-biblical revelations and mysticism that have been a stumbling block in my faith; Michelle Lesley, who pulled me off the path of egalitarianism, made me appreciate my role as a woman, and exposed dangerous women teaching otherwise; and What Shall I Cry Ministry that taught me the difference between expository preaching and man-centered preaching.

My deepest gratitude goes to the Holy Spirit, who provided me with these excellent resources and opened my eyes to the truth.

The Lord is faithful, and He will protect His elect.

Grace and peace to you!


Ladies, God is still at work in the hearts and lives of His people, including yours! Would you like to share a testimony of how God saved you, how He has blessed you, convicted you, taught you something from His Word, brought you out from under false doctrine, placed you in a good church or done something otherwise awesome in your life? Private/direct message me on social media, e-mail me (MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com), or comment below. Your testimony can be as brief as a few sentences or as long as 1500 words. Let’s encourage one another with God’s work in our lives!

Discernment, False Teachers

Todd White

If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against certain teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.

This article is what I call a “clearinghouse article”. It is a collection of articles written by others on the teacher, ministry, or unbiblical trend named below. Either I have not had the time to write a full blown article on it myself, or I felt that the articles listed did a fine job of explaining the biblical issues and there was no need to reinvent the wheel.

Disclaimer: I did not write the articles below, and I am not thoroughly familiar with all of the websites used in my clearinghouse articles. I do not endorse anything on these sites that deviates from Scripture or conflicts with my beliefs as outlined in the “Welcome” or “Statement of Faith” tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

Here are the  biblical criteria I use when deciding whether or not to recommend a teacher, ministry, etc.:

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, or author, he or she has to meet three criteria:

a) A female teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly preach to or teach men in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. A male teacher or pastor cannot allow women to carry out this violation of Scripture in his ministry. The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be living in any other sin (for example, cohabiting with her boyfriend or living as a homosexual).

b) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be partnering with or frequently appearing with false teachers. This is a violation of Scripture.

c) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be teaching false doctrine.

I recommend against any teacher or ministry who violates one or more of these biblical tenets.

I am not very familiar with most of the teachers I’m asked about (there are so many out there!) and have not had the opportunity to examine their writings or hear them speak, so most of the “quick checking” I do involves items a and b (although in order to partner with false teachers (b) it is reasonable to assume their doctrine is acceptable to the false teacher and that they are not teaching anything that would conflict with the false teacher’s doctrine). Partnering with false teachers and women preaching to men are each sufficient biblical reasons not to follow a pastor, teacher, or author, or use his/her materials.

Just to be clear, “not recommended” is a spectrum. On one end of this spectrum are people like Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth and Kay Arthur. These are people I would not label as false teachers because their doctrine is generally sound, but because of some red flags I’m seeing with them, you won’t find me proactively endorsing them or suggesting them as a good resource, either. There are better people you could be listening to. On the other end of the spectrum are people like Joyce Meyer and Rachel Held Evans- complete heretics whose teachings, if believed, might lead you to an eternity in Hell. Most of the teachers I review fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum (leaning toward the latter).

If you’d like to check out some pastors and teachers I heartily recommend, click the Recommended Bible Teachers tab at the top of this page.


Todd White
Not Recommended

 

Primary issues with Todd White: New Apostolic Reformation heresy, fake faith healing, yokes with numerous false teachers

 

New Apostolic Reformation

New Apostolic Reformation articles

The Mailbag: What is the New Apostolic Reformation?

The Mailbag: Should Christians listen to “Reckless Love”? (Contains videos and discussion of blasphemous NAR music, practices, and beliefs)

 

Theological Issues

Todd White Flips the Gospel Upside Down at Messed Up Church

Are Bethel Church and Todd White False Teachers? at WWUTT

Todd White Said the Cross Determined Your Value? at WWUTT

Responding to the False Teaching of Bethel Church, Jesus Culture, and Todd White by Gabriel Hughes

Todd White False Healer Witchcraft New Age Agenda by Justin Peters

Faith Healing

Todd White Exposed-Fake Leg Lengthening Trick! an excerpt from American Gospel

Fake Healing Videos Evaluated: Todd White, Tom Fischer and more by Mike Winger

Todd White Doubles Down on False Leg Lengthening Miracle at Fighting for the Faith

“I’m sinless.”

Todd White Says “I Am Sinless” (Just Like Jesus) by Steven Kozar

Does Todd White Claim to Be Sinless? by Popular Gospel

Mentored by Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn

Todd White’s Mentor is Kenneth Copeland! Be Careful of Todd White’s False Gospel Teachings at Berean Perspective Apologetics & Evangelism Ministry

Todd White’s Experience At A Benny Hinn Meeting at Nathan Griffith

“Encounter Gospel”

The Fortune-Telling “Encounter Gospel” of Bethel & the NAR Explained at Messed Up Church

 

Specific Incidents with Todd White

Todd receives American Gospel movie and letter from Costi Hinn

Todd calls American Gospel “demonically inspired” and “persecution”

Todd’s “Repentance” Sermon

Discerning Todd White at A Word Fitly Spoken

Has Todd White Repented? by Justin Peters

Todd’s Wealth

Todd White: How Much Money Does He Actually Make? by Steven Kozar

 

Collections of Articles/Episodes

The Todd White Cornucopia of False Teaching at Messed Up Church

Todd White at Fighting for the Faith

Todd White at Berean Research

Discernment, False Teachers

Ann Voskamp

If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against certain teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.

This article is what I call a “clearinghouse article”. It is a collection of articles written by others on the teacher, ministry, or unbiblical trend named below. Either I have not had the time to write a full blown article on it myself, or I felt that the articles listed did a fine job of explaining the biblical issues and there was no need to reinvent the wheel.

Disclaimer: I did not write the articles below, and I am not thoroughly familiar with all of the websites used in my clearinghouse articles. I do not endorse anything on these sites that deviates from Scripture or conflicts with my beliefs as outlined in the “Welcome” or “Statement of Faith” tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

Here are the  biblical criteria I use when deciding whether or not to recommend a teacher, ministry, etc.:

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, or author, he or she has to meet three criteria:

a) A female teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly preach to or teach men in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. A male teacher or pastor cannot allow women to carry out this violation of Scripture in his ministry. The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be living in any other sin (for example, cohabiting with her boyfriend or living as a homosexual).

b) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be partnering with or frequently appearing with false teachers. This is a violation of Scripture.

c) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be teaching false doctrine.

I recommend against any teacher or ministry who violates one or more of these biblical tenets.

I am not very familiar with most of the teachers I’m asked about (there are so many out there!) and have not had the opportunity to examine their writings or hear them speak, so most of the “quick checking” I do involves items a and b (although in order to partner with false teachers (b) it is reasonable to assume their doctrine is acceptable to the false teacher and that they are not teaching anything that would conflict with the false teacher’s doctrine). Partnering with false teachers and women preaching to men are each sufficient biblical reasons not to follow a pastor, teacher, or author, or use his/her materials.

Just to be clear, “not recommended” is a spectrum. On one end of this spectrum are people like Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth and Kay Arthur. These are people I would not label as false teachers because their doctrine is generally sound, but because of some red flags I’m seeing with them, you won’t find me proactively endorsing them or suggesting them as a good resource, either. There are better people you could be listening to. On the other end of the spectrum are people like Joyce Meyer and Rachel Held Evans- complete heretics whose teachings, if believed, might lead you to an eternity in Hell. Most of the teachers I review fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum (leaning toward the latter).

If you’d like to check out some pastors and teachers I heartily recommend, click the Recommended Bible Teachers tab at the top of this page.


Ann Voskamp
Not Recommended

 

Primary issues with Ann Voskamp: False doctrine (New Age mysticism, panentheism, “theological erotica”), twists and mishandles Scripture, yokes with numerous false teachers, preaches to men

 

Theological Issues

Mystical Estrogen at Fighting for the Faith

Ann Voskamp’s Dangerous View of God’s Love at Berean Research

Panentheism

One Thousand Gifts at Christian Answers for the New Age

Panentheism and Hollow Words by Marcia Montenegro

“Theological Erotica”

One Thousand Gifts at Christian Answers for the New Age

 

Book Reviews

Romantic Panentheism: A Review of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp by Bob DeWaay

Interview With Marcia Montenegro: “One Thousand Gifts” Review with Steven Kozar

One Thousand Gifts by Tim Challies (please see also this companion piece: In which Tim Challies realizes Ann Voskamp is a real person by Elizabeth Prata)

The Broken Way at Wise in His Eyes

 

Examples of Ann Voskamp Preaching to Men

Hillsong Sunday sermon (Hillsong/Brian Houston)

The Way of the Lamb (instructing pastors at a pastors’ conference)

Founder’s Week at Moody Bible Institute (Other problematic speakers were on the roster, but normally at an event like this, each speaker comes in on a different day, they do not share a stage, and they have no contact with one another. I do not consider this “partnering” with other teachers.)

The Justice Conference (social justice)

Evangelicals for Life

 

Examples of Ann Voskamp Partnering with False Teachers

Women of Joy Conferences (Sheila Walsh, Chrystal Evans Hurst, Jennie Allen)

Hillsong’s Colour Conference 2020 (multiple) (Hillsong/Bobbie Houston, female “pastor,” Leanne Matthesius)

Q-Conference/Q-Ideas (multiple) (Rebekah and Gabe Lyons, Francis Chan, Priscilla Shirer, Jennie Allen, Bill Johnson. others)

Beth Moore: Guest post on Ann’s blog

IF:Gathering (Ann is on the leadership team of IF and has spoken at IF numerous times alongside false teachers and female “pastors”/preachers)

Thrive 2017 (Lysa TerKeurst, Bianca Olthoff, female “pastor,” Carolyn Haas)

 

Specific Incidents with Ann Voskamp

Ann Voskamp: Whoever Tells the Church Mothers to Go Home Are Homewreckers in Our Father’s Church at Relevant (not a recommended site) – After John MacArthur’s 2019 remarks that false teacher, Beth Moore, should not be preaching to men and should “go home,” Ann apparently wrote a response in support of Beth and some form of egalitarianism. She has since deleted the article.

Social Justice/Racial Issues

Ann Voskamp Among Protestors Outside the National Prayer Breakfast at Church Leaders (not a recommended site)

Ann promotes Black Lives Matter, White Fragility, and other unbiblical teachings (and teachers) on race on her blog

Bible Study

Throwback Thursday ~ You Have What it Takes to Lead a BIBLE Study?

Originally published February 1, 2019

I am so sick of women’s ministry/discipleship/”Bible” study that centers around narcissistic navel-gazing, I could vomit. My hurts, my feelings, my opinions, my self image.

Newsflash- You’re not the only person on the planet who’s ever been hurt or had problems.

And wallowing in the hurt and your emotions has never been the way to heal and feel better. Healing from the hurt comes from taking your focus off yourself and placing it on Christ: studying the actual Bible, obeying His commands, walking in holiness, praying, worshiping, serving others.

These canned “Bible” studies that masquerade as teaching the Bible – maybe even have the name of a book of the Bible in the title – yet all the “study” questions are about you, your preferences, and how you feel, are doing you no favors, ladies. They are keeping you enslaved to your hurts and self idolatry so you’ll continue to buy more and more of these books. Don’t be naive. LifeWay, CBD¹, and all the major “Christian” publishers know that there’s no money to be made in telling you to study your Bible. If you study your Bible you might actually grow in Christ, learn to glorify Him instead of your own opinions, heal from your hurts, and learn to handle your problems in a biblical way. And then all these divangelistas – whose main function in life seems to be exegeting stories from their own lives and telling you all about their pain- will be out of a job because you won’t need them, their books, their DVDs, their conferences, their simulcasts, or their merch, any more.

The Christian retail machine doesn’t make money when you follow what the Bible says to do: sit under good preaching and teaching at your own church, disciple women in your own church, be discipled by godly older women in your church, serve your church, attend your church like your life depends on it (because your spiritual life does), study your Bible every day, live in obedience to Christ. 

You’re being played and you’re being used by Big Christian Retail, ladies. Stop clinging to the pretty little gilded shackles they have locked around your wrists. Break free and experience the freedom in Christ that can only come from walking faithfully with Him in His Word.

I’m no prophet, nor a son of a prophet, but sometimes I think I might have a tiny inkling of how Jeremiah felt when he said:

If I say, “I will not mention him,
or speak any more in his name,”
there is in my heart as it were a burning fire
shut up in my bones,
and I am weary with holding it in,
and I cannot.
Jeremiah 20:9

When I see the way so many professing Christian pastors, leaders, and teachers in the public eye damage the spiritual lives of their followers by adulterating God’s Word, biblical anger wells up inside me. And sometimes, the pressure gets to be too much and it finds a way to escape, like it did the other day when I tweeted the remarks above.

hate with a holy, biblical hatred what the Christian retail machine, overall, has done to Christians, particularly Christian women, by feeding them fluff and false doctrine.

Go back and read the robust theological thoughts and writings of some of the women who helped usher in the Reformation. And then go stick your head in the door of the average women’s “Bible” study at the church down the street and listen to the teaching and comments. We didn’t get to where we are today without somebody poisoning the water hole.

So it was with no small sense of irony that two days after I had let the fire loose on Twitter, I found myself clicking – with much trepidation – on an article from LifeWay Women that popped up in my feed: You Have What It Takes to Lead a Bible Study.

It was written by a darling young lady named Mickey who made several very good points and was charming and encouraging. I’m certain she wanted the article to be helpful and edifying, and I have no points of contention with her personally. This article was a work product. It expresses LifeWay’s position, not necessarily Mickey’s personal thoughts and opinions. (I wrote for a LifeWay publication once. Believe me, if what you’ve written doesn’t match what they’re trying to convey, they edit it until it does. Which, as a business, they certainly have a right to do.)

“What might LifeWay Women think qualifies someone to lead² a Bible study?” I wondered, as I waited for the page to load. “I have what it takes? What does it take in their eyes?”

The first point of the article was to address women’s feelings of inadequacy about leading a Bible study and reassure them. Feelings. Not what the Bible says about teaching God’s Word, or the qualifications for doing so, or even the need other women have to be taught Scripture. Feelings. For LifeWay, the major obstacle to overcome for a woman who’s on the fence about teaching a Bible study is her feelings of inadequacy.

And how did LifeWay address those feelings of inadequacy and offer reassurance? Again, not with Scripture (indeed, no Scriptures are quoted or even referenced in the article), but by exegeting a personal anecdote from the author’s life. “I felt inadequate too, but then I gave it a try and I was successful. So if you’re feeling inadequate to lead, just give it a try. You’ll be successful, too.” It may be an oversimplification, but that’s the take away.

If this methodology sounds familiar to you, maybe it’s because you’ve worked through one of LifeWay’s most popular women’s “Bible” studies. Generally speaking, this is the core of the majority of LifeWay’s women’s “Bible” study products: your feelings and the exegesis of personal stories from the author’s life to relate to and address those feelings.

The article went on to quote a recent LifeWay Women survey which asked women,

“What is the biggest obstacle keeping you from leading a Bible study?”

Know what the number one answer was? “I don’t feel like I know enough to lead.” (Again with the feelz.)

Is it any wonder, when, for decades now, evangelical women have been fed a steady diet of nothing but girlfriend stories that they feel inadequate to teach the Bible? Of course they feel inadequate! They don’t know their Bibles because the materials they’ve been getting from LifeWay all this time haven’t taught them the Bible. They likely know more about their favorite author than they do about Jesus. Most of them probably correctly feel inadequate because they don’t know enough to lead.

Feelings of inadequacy aren’t wrong simply because they make you feel bad. Sometimes your feelings of inadequacy are wrong because you’re neurotic or unrealistically anxious, and sometimes they’re right because you don’t have the skills to handle the task you’re attempting. We’ve all watched enough American Idol auditions to know that.

Our feelings need to be informed, molded, and submitted to the facts of God’s written Word. And what does God’s written Word have to say about whether or not you have what it takes to lead a Bible study?

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
James 3:1

Where LifeWay issues a blanket “anybody can do it” encouragement to the hundreds of women (whom LifeWay has never laid eyes on and has no idea whether or not they’re biblically qualified to teach God’s Word) reading this article – “…trust me, friend, you have what it takes, too” – the Bible says that teaching Scripture is a solemn, weighty ministry fraught with the burden of responsibility of imparting God’s Word correctly. And precisely because of that, “not many” should become teachers.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15

What does LifeWay think qualifies someone to lead a Bible study? “…a willing spirit, an open heart for new friendships, and thirst for more of God.” Is that what the Bible says about qualifying for the lofty responsibility of teaching God’s Word? No. The Bible says we need to work hard at studying, understanding, and rightly handling God’s Word so that we don’t end up twisting it or teaching something that conflicts with it. We need to be able to stand before God unashamed to say, “I worked hard, and studied long, and did my very best to teach your Word accurately.”

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.
2 Timothy 2:24-25a

LifeWay seems to think getting over your feelings of inadequacy means you have what it takes to lead a Bible study. The Bible says there’s a much higher standard. Are you even able to teach – to accurately explain what God’s Word says, in a way women can understand, and help them correctly apply it to their lives? Are you quarrelsome? Kind? Able to endure evil patiently? Do you know and can you handle Scripture well enough to correct someone who makes an unbiblical argument, and can you do it gently?

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Titus 2:3-5

LifeWay doesn’t address the character needed to teach the Bible. The Bible says you’re to be mature and behave reverently, you’re not to gossip and slander others, and you’re not be controlled by alcohol.

While one of LifeWay’s tips for leading a small group is to choose a study that fits the “interests, preferences, and characteristics” of the women in your group, the Bible doesn’t really care what they’re interested in or prefer to learn. It prescribes what they need to learn. Do you know “what is good” according to Scripture? You have to know that if you’re going to teach it. And you also have to know what the Bible says about wives loving and submitting to their husbands, loving their children, being self-controlled, kind, and pure, and working at home, if you’re going to teach those things.

 

The Bible says you have to know your Bible to teach a women’s Bible study. You have to have certain skills, abilities, and character traits. Not just anybody can do it. Not just anybody should do it.

Do you have what it takes to lead a Bible study? If you want to know, don’t check with LifeWay. Check your Bible.


¹Christianbook.com – It used to be called Christian Book Distributors. Old habits die hard. :0)

Additional Resources:

Bible Studies

Basic Training: Bible Studies and Sermons

McBible Study and the Famine of God’s Word²
After I finished writing today’s article, I noticed that the LifeWay article exclusively used the phrase “lead a Bible study” rather than “teach a Bible study.” This is likely due to the fact that many LifeWay studies do not require the leader to teach so much as to play a DVD of a popular LifeWay author teaching. It is probably also intentional – to encourage women to lead without that pesky little need to be biblically qualified to teach. However, most people still rightly understand “leading a Bible study” to mean teaching the Bible, thus the survey response of “I don’t feel like I know enough to lead,” and Mickey’s own fear that “I don’t know enough about the Bible to lead…”. You don’t need to know much about the Bible to push a button on a DVD player. McBible Study and the Famine of God’s Word addresses this harmful practice and the need for the church to have trained teachers teaching the Bible.

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

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

Mailbag, Marriage

The Mailbag: Masks in church- Do I submit to my husband or my pastor?

 

Help! I feel torn between two biblical commands, and I don’t know what to do. Our church has started meeting together in person again. The leadership has strongly requested that everyone wear masks. E-mails have been sent out about it, there are signs all over the church requesting that people wear masks, etc., and though it has been mentioned a few times that they will not ask anyone to leave if he/she isn’t wearing a mask, it’s pretty obvious the powers that be want everybody wearing masks.

My husband is very anti-mask. Although he is OK with wearing them where required by law, it’s not legally required in churches where we live, and he doesn’t want me to wear a mask in church. He has explained his reasons to me for his position. I think they are wise, valid reasons, and I actually agree with him. In addition to his reasons, I struggle against anxiety attacks and claustrophobia, which masks make worse, and mentally fending off these attacks makes it extremely difficult for me to focus on anything else, like worship or the sermon.

I believe the Bible is clear that I’m to submit to my husband. However, the Bible is also clear that we’re to submit to our pastors/leaders. And what about dying to self and putting the wants/needs of others (such as my fellow church members who are fearful of catching COVID) first? I’m so confused. What should I do?

This is a really great question. It’s so encouraging to me that you want to do the godly thing in this situation.

But before I begin answering your excellent question, unfortunately, in the zeitgeist we live in that’s even affecting Christians, I’ve got to fence this discussion for all of my readers with two parameters:

1. There will be no pro-/anti- mask arguing in the comments section of this article nor on any of my social media platforms, nor will I read or answer any e-mails/private messages arguing your position on masks. Any such e-mails, messages, or comments will be deleted. The way I’ve seen many professing Christians – on both sides of the issue, mind you – comporting themselves online about masks, is, frankly, appalling, and I refuse to lend my platforms to that kind of behavior.

2. This article will deal with the biblical topic of submission in marriage. Every time I address this issue somebody brings up the “But what about abuse?” argument as if the sin and exception of abuse negates the biblical rule of submission. (Very much like when the topic of abortion comes up and people automatically bring out the “But what about rape/incest?” argument.) It doesn’t. Abuse is a sin and a separate issue from submission that must be dealt with in a biblical way. Abuse has nothing to do with biblical submission even though some abusers evilly (and abusively) try to connect the two. At any rate, abuse is not today’s topic. Today’s topic is about a woman in a healthy Christian marriage who wants to obey our Lord’s command to all Christian wives in non-abusive marriages that we are to submit to our husbands. If you’d like me to address the topic of abuse in a future edition of The Mailbag, please send in your question. And if you’re being abused, get somewhere safe immediately, and reach out to your pastor, church, or a good Christian friend for help.

 

Any Christian who studies her Bible has, no doubt, surmised that submission to authority – to God, to our husbands, to our pastors, to our governmental officials, to our employers, and children to their parents – is a big deal to God because He discusses it and instructs us on it so often in Scripture. But how do we juggle our obedience to all of those authorities, especially when obedience to one might conflict with obedience to another?

Well, the first thing we have to recognize is that there’s a hierarchy of authority in our lives. The authorities in our lives are not all on an equal plane. Some of them outrank others.

God outranks everybody. We obey Him regardless of what any mere human might say about it, and regardless of what it might cost us. Peter may have stuck his foot in his mouth a lot, but he hit it right on the nose when he told his “pastor” (the high priest), who was ordering the apostles to disobey God’s command: “We must obey God rather than men.

But what about your dilemma? You want to obey God by obeying both His command to submit to your husband and His command to submit to your pastoral leadership. Neither your husband nor your pastor is asking you to disobey God. But submitting to one would mean not submitting to the other. It’s a Catch-22, right?

Not really, because for a married woman, her husband outranks her pastor in the chain of command of authority in her life. I think we probably all get this, intuitively, but, if it helps, consider the following:

• God established the family long before He established the church. It was the very first structure of authority He set up as a unit, and is the foundation of human society and relationships.

• The assemblage of God’s people – both Old Testament (Israel) and New (the church) – is contingent upon the family in several regards: God is our Father – we are His children, Christ is the bridegroom – the church is the bride, the twelve tribes of Israel were literal family lines and their elders were heads of clans and families, only men from certain family lines could serve as priests and Levites, a pastor must be the husband of one wife and rule his home and children well or he is disqualified from the pastorate, wives are to consult their husbands at home rather than disrupt a worship service with questions, and so on. The family isn’t contingent on the church the way the church is contingent on the family.

• The bond and vow of marriage outranks your less binding relationship to your pastor and church. When you married your husband, you made a vow before God and man to be loyally and faithfully bound to him for the rest of your (or his) natural life. When you consummated your marriage, you entered into a one flesh union with your husband. That’s a much more profound commitment to your husband than the commitment you have to your pastor and church.This is why the act of pursuing a divorce is nearly always a sin, while, comparatively, the act of leaving a particular local church (though you might have sinful reasons for doing so) is not.

• And as far as loving your neighbor or putting others’ wants and needs ahead of your own – your husband is your nearest neighbor. What about loving him? What about dying to self for him? It is far more important, both because of the depth of your commitment to him, and for practical reasons of familial peace under your own roof, that his wants and needs outweigh the wants and needs of Miss Tilly in the third pew.

So, what does this mean for your mask situation? It means you need to submit to your husband. Certainly, a godly husband would be willing to talk with you about his reasons for his decision and discuss your convictions about submitting to your church’s leadership. Perhaps your husband would think it’s a good idea for him (or both of you) to discuss the matter with your pastor. One godly husband might then decide to let you decide for yourself what to do regarding masking at church. Another godly husband might, after prayerfully receiving your input, still decide it is wisest for his family not to wear masks. You respectfully give your input and then back off, praying for him as he makes the decision he believes will most honor God and for which he will have to answer to God. And when he makes that decision, you graciously abide by it.

And my guess would be that if you have a godly, doctrinally sound pastor, he would tell you basically the same thing. I can’t imagine a good pastor telling a wife who’s seeking to obey Scripture that she needs to submit to him over submitting to her husband.


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.