The Mailbag: Asked and Answered

The Lord’s richest blessings to you, readers. It is an honor and a joy to serve you in Christ. Welcome to all the newbies and to you seasoned veterans of the blog.

Because some of y’all are new, you aren’t yet aware of all of the resources here to help you. Or maybe you’ve been around a while and haven’t noticed something that might be helpful. Let’s remedy that!

First, if you’re new (or if you’ve never read it), check out Blog Orientation for New Readers and Old Friends. It’s like a CliffsNotes intro to the blog.

Second, be sure to familiarize yourself with all of the tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of the page. That’s where I keep the info I’m most frequently asked about.

Third, there’s a search bar at the bottom of every page (and one in the blue menu bar at the top of every page) which might help you find what you need.

Fourth, if you don’t find your question answered in one of these ways or below, you might want to check previous Asked & Answered articles and The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs.

And finally, let me get you new readers some answers to the questions several of you have asked. Some of you long time friends may have missed these along the way, so I hope they’ll be helpful to you, too!

Do you do have study Bibles you recommend?

I’m looking for a new study Bible. I looked at the ESV John McArthur Study Bible, but I read some alarming comments in its reviews on Amazon that it’s missing Scripture verses from Matthew and a few other books. I’m curious if missing verses are typical of this translation.

A popular question this time around!

I’ve recommended several study Bibles in my article Bible Book Backgrounds: Why You Need Them and Where to Find Them. I’m personally partial to the MacArthur Study Bible in ESV as that’s what I currently use.

The accusations of verses being left out of the ESV (or any other modern translation) are most likely coming from King James Onlyists. Since 1611, when the King James Version of the Bible was published, thousands more – and much older – manuscripts of Scripture have been discovered, allowing modern translators to be far more accurate about which material is actual Scripture, and which might be something like a clarifying note or commentary added later by a scribe, than translators of the KJV were 400 years ago.

It’s not that modern translators of the ESV (or any other accurate and reliable modern translation) have “left out” verses, it’s that the KJV translators, doing the best they could with the manuscripts they had at the time, inadvertently added in “verses” they shouldn’t have.

The Mailbag: What is KJV-Onlyism, and Is It Biblical?

Missing Verses in the Bible – Part 1   Part 2 by Gabriel Hughes

I am looking for a resource to introduce a completely unchurched neighbor to the Bible and the gospel. She is tender and open. 

I’m so glad you want to share with your neighbor. What a good example you are to all of us!

I would recommend working through the verses and materials at the What Must I Do to Be Saved? tab (in the blue menu bar at the top of this page) with her.

If she’s (or you’re) uncertain whether or not she’s saved, try my study Am I Really Saved?: A First John Check Up.

You might also want to check through the studies and materials in my Bible studies tab (in the blue menu bar at the top of this page) to see what might be helpful.

I was hoping to see where you stood on predestination.

That would be in my Statement of Faith tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

Is the Catholic religion false? Are they going to heaven?

This is such a painful issue for all of us who have Catholic loved ones. If that’s the case for you, dear reader, I’m so sorry I can’t reassure you that your Catholic loved ones are indeed saved and on their way to Heaven.

Roman Catholicism is an anti-gospel, unbiblical, heretical non-Christian religion that has sent millions of souls to Hell by teaching false doctrine. It is one of the accursed “another gospels” of Galatians 1:6-9. You no more belong at a Catholic “church” than at an altar of Baal or in the temple of Artemis.

Catholicism teaches numerous heresies, but perhaps the most grievous is that it anathematizes salvation by grace alone through faith alone. In other words, Catholic doctrine says if you believe this…

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

…instead of believing that your good works help earn your salvation (as Catholic doctrine teaches), you are anathema- condemned to Hell.

If someone believes that she can earn her salvation – even partly – by her own good works, she is not a Christian. She is still lost and dying in her sins and will spend eternity in Hell.

Can someone get saved while still attending a Catholic “church”? Yes, praise God – if she somehow hears the biblical gospel from someone or reads it in her Bible, repents, and believes it. God mercifully and kindly saves people out of Catholicism every day, just like He saves people out of Mormonism, atheism, Hinduism, and so on.

Invariably, when I (or any other Protestant for that matter) address a well established doctrine or practice of Catholicism and how/why it isn’t biblical, a Catholic will argue: “That’s not what we really believe!”. If you’re a Catholic and you’re about to make a comment along those lines, here’s my response: That’s what your own “church” teaches, so it IS what Catholics are supposed to believe. If you don’t believe your own “church’s” doctrine, why are you still a Catholic?

The Mailbag: Potpourri (…Catholic statues…)

Roman Catholicism: Mass Confusion at A Word Fitly Spoken

Truth and Love – with Mike Gendron at A Word Fitly Spoken

I am writing to see if you know of any resources for parents of adult special needs as far as Bible reading and studies go. I have 2 special needs daughters that I lead in Bible study. I don’t want to make it too kid like but I also don’t want it too hard to grasp either. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

What a blessing to be able to continue teaching your daughters the Bible even into adulthood!

I have offered some suggestions in my article The Mailbag: Potpourri (NBCS, Homeschool resources, Piper…) (3rd section).

I am curious to get your take on Bible Study Fellowship (BSF).

Here ya go!

The Mailbag: BSF (Bible Study Fellowship)

I am wondering if you had a recommendation for a chronological Bible? My sister and I have both desired to get one, yet often Bibles are pricey and thus we don’t want to get one that isn’t excellent.

Great question! I’ve never really looked at a chronological Bible because, to me (now you have to know this about me: I’m pretty frugal – read: cheap) it always seemed like a waste of money to buy a Bible arranged in chronological order when you could just use a regular Bible you already own and like along with a chronological reading plan that’s free.

So I can’t really recommend a chronological Bible since I’m not familiar with any of them, but I can recommend some decent Bible translations…

The Mailbag: Which Bible Do You Recommend?

…and a free (and excellent) chronological Bible reading plan:

Bible Reading Plans for the New Year- 2023.

Do you wear a hat in worship?

Not usually, though I have worn a few Easter bonnets in my time. In my opinion, I don’t look that great in hats. But I can rock a pair of sunglasses.😎 (Which I also don’t typically wear during the worship service)

Or is this what you’re really asking about?

Rock Your Role: A Head of the Times- Head Coverings for Christian Women? (1 Corinthians 11:1-16)

(Tell you what, readers – I won’t judge you for covering if you won’t judge me for not covering. Deal?)

I’m turned upside down. For the last several years, I have led a group of 15 women through dozens of Bible studies written by many of the authors your have warned against in your articles. As I grow in my faith and Bible education, I am concerned about the “all about me” trends I see from Lifeway and Bible Study writers/producers. I see a worldly influence in most of what is written today. Who is a safe Bible study teacher? I used to think it was Beth Moore but, after doing her Daniel Study, I’m scratching my head about her reference to levels of heaven. The group I lead needs a structured lesson and isn’t prepared to dig into commentaries to do the work on their own. It would be far too intimidating and time consuming for many of the ladies I am blessed to lead. Is there any study or author that you do recommend?

I had to include your whole email, because I know lots of readers will be as encouraged as I was to read about how God is growing you – and, soon, hopefully, your group – in the knowledge of His Word.

Are there any studies I recommend? Yes. Mine. You’ll find them at the Bible Studies tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page. They’re all free and they’re all suitable for groups or individuals, for study or for teaching.

My studies are designed for women and groups exactly like you and yours. They’re to help you transition from using what I call “canned” studies (books, workbooks, DVDs, etc.) to studying and teaching straight from the text of Scripture. And once you get the hang of it, you’ll never have to ask “Who is a safe Bible study teacher?” again, because you’ll never have to depend on anyone else’s books and materials again, including mine.

I would like to know if you think it is unbiblical to teach my grandson Scripture. He is 16 years old, and I try to hold him accountable to church attendance as well as a private Bible study and memory Scripture. I’m the only one to encourage in that area of his life.  

You go for it, Granny!

Thank God …THANK GOD… for women like you who pour the gospel into their grandchildren. You are in good company with Lois. What a blessing it would be if your grandson turns out to be a Timothy!

The biblical prohibition against women teaching men has a very specific context, and that context isn’t private instruction in the family. It’s public instruction (pastoring, preaching, teaching the Bible to men, and holding authority over men) in the gathering of the church body.

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit (1 Timothy 2:11-12)

Rock Your Role FAQs (see #12)

It would be very helpful if a godly older man at your church could take your grandson under his wing and disciple him, not because you’re violating Scripture, but because your grandson is at an age where he needs male role models and mentors to show him what a godly man looks and acts like.

Is it sinful for a wife to lead family worship (devotions) if the man is unwilling to read Scripture or even pray aloud? In our home that looks like mom gathering the children around, reading a chapter of Scripture, asking a few questions to the kids, singing a hymn, and praying. Sometimes the husband stays in the room. How should a wife handle this?  Should we try to do this before Dad gets home, as to not violate the command of women not to teach men?  

No, Hon, it is not sinful, it’s your responsibility as a Christian parent. Please see my answer to “Granny” above. She’s “Lois,” you’re “Eunice”.

No, I wouldn’t throw it in his face that you’re leading the children in worship, but I also wouldn’t make any special effort to do it when he’s not home, nor discourage him from staying in the room if he wanders in. If he’s not saved, he needs to see your living testimony and hear the gospel. If he is saved, yet shirking his responsibility as the spiritual leader of your home, perhaps the Lord will use your faithfulness to convict him.

I would also recommend that you set up an appointment with your pastor for counsel about all of this (you go alone if your husband won’t go with you). If your husband claims to be a Christian, he probably needs some godly older men to rally around him and disciple him about how to lead his wife and children. If he’s not saved, perhaps your pastor could recommend a godly older woman to disciple you through living with an unsaved 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.

Rock Your Role

Rock Your Role: A Head of the Times- Head Coverings for Christian Women? (1 Corinthians 11:1-16)

Rock Your Role is a series examining the “go to” and hot button Scriptures that relate to and help us understand our role as women in the church. Don’t forget to prayerfully consider our three key questions as you read.

head coverings

Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven… Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered?
1 Corinthians 11: 4-5, 13

In this series, we’ve been examining the biblical passages that define and give shape to our role as godly women in the church. We’ve taken a look at the different roles God has laid out for men and women in the church and the passages of Scripture people commonly like to twist to argue against the clear teaching of God’s word about those roles.

But aside from a very small minority of folks, no one is arguing that Christian women need to wear some sort of head covering in church or while praying. Most of us seem to instinctively know that the first half of 1 Corinthians 11 is not a command that is binding on 21st century American women. So why even bring up this passage in this series?

Because much like the tiresome “Leviticus also prohibits eating shellfish and wearing garments of mixed fibers!” argument repeatedly trotted out by those offended when Christians rightly call homosexuality a sin, 1 Corinthians 11 is used by feminists, egalitarians, and others as a “gotcha” passage against Christians who rightly uphold the biblical roles of men and women in the church. “If you believe women shouldn’t preach, teach men, or hold authority over men in the church,” they say, “then why don’t you wear a head covering? See? You’re a hypocrite! You pick and choose which Scriptures you’ll obey!”

What they (and often we) don’t realize – because this passage takes some digging and study – is that women who obey Scripture’s parameters for biblical womanhood (submitting to their husbands, following God’s role for women in the church, etc.) are “wearing a head covering.”

First Timothy 2:11-15, the most commonly cited biblical prohibition against women teaching or exercising authority over men in the church, works hand in glove with 1 Corinthians 11:1-16. Both passages deal with male and female roles and authority in the church. But, whereas, in 1 Timothy God gives only universally applicable, unchanging reasons for His instruction that women are not to teach or exercise authority over men in the church (the creative order {verse 13}, and the deception of Eve {verse 14}), in 1 Corinthians, He gives both universal reasons (3, 8-9, 11-12) and transient, man-made, cultural customs (head coverings and hair length) as an additional illustration of the principle He is teaching.

First Corinthians is something of a “policy and procedure manual” for the church. Through Paul’s letter, the Holy Spirit is instructing the church at Corinth, and, subsequently, us, on everything from orderliness in the worship service, to love, lawsuits, marriage, idolatry, and other issues of importance. Chapter 11 fits right in with the flow of instruction. God decided the church needed to be taught about authority and gender roles and inspired Paul to pen this section.

As chapter 11 opens, Paul commends the church at Corinth for keeping God’s word as Paul had taught them (2), but, apparently, something was out of whack with the authority structure and the way men and women were behaving in the church, because Paul immediately pivots to say,

“But I want you to understand…” (3)

In other words, “You’ve been doing pretty well in these other areas, but this area needs some improvement so I’m going to give you very clear instruction about it. Listen up.”

If you’ve ever taken a composition class, you know that persuasive or instructive writing often follows the format of presenting a thesis statement (the main point of your paper) and then supporting or proving that thesis statement with evidence, examples, or logical arguments. This is the format Paul seems to follow in this section.

Why is this important?

Because those who use this passage to argue against the biblical roles of men and women either misunderstand or ignore the main point the Holy Spirit is trying to teach in these verses.

The thesis statement of this passage of Scripture is not found in the verses mentioning head coverings and haircuts. It is found in verse 3:

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

In other words, the entire point of this section of Scripture is not that women should wear head coverings, the point is the biblical line of succession of authority. Head coverings, head shaving, short haircuts, and long hair are examples, illustrations, and logical arguments supporting the main point in verse 3.

God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of man, and man is the head of his wife. And, similar to the way that Christ has a different role in the godhead than God the Father, yet is not in any way inferior to Him, women have a different role in marriage and the church than men, yet are equal to them in value, worth, and salvation. (11) Paul proceeds to explain this by using head coverings and hair lengths- commonplace marks of apparel whose function and significance would have been easily understood by his first century audience -to illustrate his point.

At that particular time, in that particular locale, among those particular people, a head covering was worn by married women to signify a) that they were married, and b) that they respected and were in submission to their husbands. For the women of the church of Corinth, it was a symbol that they understood and embraced their role as godly wives. A woman who pointedly refused to wear her head covering in church would have been making a statement akin to, “I can do what I want. I don’t have to do what my husband, my church leadership, or even God says.” (Kind of like women in the church today who argue against biblical womanhood so vehemently.) By doing so, she dishonored both her own head (herself) and the “head” of her home, her husband. Worst of all, she rejected and rebelled against the authority structure God Himself established.

In a way, refusing to wear the head covering would have been similar to a wife today who takes off her wedding ring and flings it at her husband when she’s angry or leaves her ring at home when she goes out because she’s on the prowl for another man. It’s not the mere act of removing the ring itself that is intrinsically wrong, but, rather, the symbolic statement she makes by removing it.

Head coverings are no longer a cultural norm in Western society. Christian women today do not have to wear a literal head covering, but even from the earliest Old Testament times godly women have always adorned themselves with “a symbol of authority” (10) on their heads: their humility and submission to their husbands and to Christ, in the home, in the church, and in the world.

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. 1 Peter 3:3-7

If you’re following in Sarah’s footsteps, striving to love Christ and obey His written word in all you do, you are already “wearing a head covering.” So the next time someone tries to use this passage of Scripture against you, asking, “Why don’t you wear a head covering?” you can confidently answer, “I do. Why don’t you?”

Additional Resources:

Here are some great resources that get into more of the specific details of this passage.

Discovering Head Covering at A Word Fitly Spoken

Addressing the Dressing III: Clothes and Roman Culture by Lyndon Unger

Addressing the Dressing IV: Hair and Roman Culture by Lyndon Unger

1 Corinthians 11:2-16- An Interactive Bible Study by Lyndon Unger

Does 1 Corinthians 11:4-5 mean a woman should never ever cut her hair? at CARM

Should Christian women wear head coverings? at Got Questions

It’s a Shame for a Man to Have Long Hair? by WWUTT (When We Understand the Text)

Head Coverings for Women by John MacArthur

Why Don’t You Wear a Head Covering? at G3 Ministries

Headcoverings by Reagan Escude Scott

1 Corinthians 11:1-16 – Episode 1566, 1567, 1568 by Gabriel Hughes on the WWUTT Podcast

Steve Lawson on Head Coverings