Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Paul’s gospel, National repentance, Pastor search committee, Pastor’s wife teaching men)

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 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!

In these potpourri editions of The Mailbag, I’d also like to address the three questions I’m most commonly asked:

“Do you know anything about [Christian pastor/teacher/author] or his/her materials? Is he/she doctrinally sound?”

Try these links: 
Popular False Teachers /
 Recommended Bible Teachers / search bar
Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own
(Do keep bringing me names, though. If I get enough questions about a particular teacher, I’ll probably write an article on her.)

“Can you recommend a good women’s Bible study?”

No. Here’s why:
The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?
The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.”.

“You shouldn’t be warning against [popular false teacher] for [X,Y,Z] reason!”

Answering the Opposition- Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections


Didn’t the risen Christ give Paul the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith? Paul called it “my gospel”? Is the Great Commission the same as Paul’s gospel? Thanks!

Not exactly, but it’s great that you’re noticing those little details as you study God’s Word!

“Paul’s” gospel…

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 2 Timothy 2:8

…is the biblical gospel of salvation that Paul preached – the good news of what Christ did to save sinners through His death, burial, and resurrection – and the call to repentance and belief.

The Great Commission…

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

…is the church’s (and individual Christians’) “marching orders” to share that gospel with sinners and disciple them to maturity in Christ. It is God’s main purpose for the church.

So, in a nutshell, the gospel is what Christ did. The Great Commission is what we’re supposed to do with the gospel.


I got into quite the discussion with people today who feel that prayers of repentance for our national sins are not only unnecessary, but an affront to them because THEY did nothing wrong. I cited Daniel who prayed prayers of repentance for his nation, though he led a righteous life. They got all confused with Old Testament sacrificial law and that Christ was the ultimate sacrifice so we only need repent of our OWN sins. Could you address this, please?

Well…depending on exactly what they were saying, they may have been at least partly right. We can certainly pray that God will lead individuals in our nation to repent of whatever sins they may have committed, but we cannot repent on behalf of another person or of a nation. God does not hold us responsible for the sins of others, and we cannot repent for the sins of others. (see Ezekiel 18).

If you’re referring to Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9, if you’ll read very carefully, you’ll notice he is confessing the sin of his people, lamenting over the sin of his people, and asking God to pour out His mercy on his people despite their sin, but he is not repenting on their behalf.

It is impossible to repent for someone else’s (let alone a whole nation’s) sin because repenting is more than:

  • confessing that sin has occurred,
  • admitting that someone is guilty for having committed that sin,
  • feeling sorrowful over sin,
  • asking forgiveness for sin, or
  • asking God to be merciful toward the sinner.

Repentance means to turn away from your sin, to forsake it, to stop doing it because you want to obey God instead. Although I’m sure he wished he could have, Daniel could not turn away from someone else’s (the nation of Israel’s) sin. And, he specifically says in verse 13: “we have not entreated the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities”.

Another thing to remember is that Daniel is interceding for God’s covenant people. They belonged to Him. They had agreed to follow Him. America is not in a covenant relationship with God. For a Christian today, interceding for the church and praying that God would lead Christians to repentance would be more analogous to what Daniel was doing.


We lost our pastor almost a year ago and are struggling to find a new one. Do you have any suggestions of where we could send the information about our church and the position in hopes of finding a suitable candidate?

I would suggest sending your information to:

The Master’s Seminary’s Pastor Search page

Founders Ministries Minister Search page

Expositors Seminary

I hope you’ll find a wonderful, godly pastor very soon!

Now, although this might not be possible for your particular church, I would like to throw something out there for the consideration of any pastor or church member who might be reading this. The most biblical model of leadership for the local church is that it be led by a plurality of elders.¹ For that primary reason, I would encourage every church that doesn’t already have this leadership structure in place to look into it and give strong, prayerful consideration to transitioning into leadership by a plurality of elders.

However, secondarily, there are practical benefits to your church being led by a plurality of elders, and avoiding being “pastorless” is a huge one. My own church recently welcomed a new pastor after being without one for two full years. That two years was a struggle. The interim pastor was a stranger to us and we were strangers to him. He did not know the ins and outs of life at our church or the strengths and weaknesses of our church. As affable as our interim pastor was, it was always in the back of everyone’s mind that he was temporary. This was not our pastor and everyone knew it. And then there were some other issues that arose during his tenure that awaited the new pastor’s arrival.

When a church is led by a plurality of elders, many of these issues can be avoided or lessened. When a lead teaching elder dies, moves, or steps down for whatever reason, there is, ideally, already another elder available to step in and take over. This elder already knows the church and the people and they know him. There’s no need to assemble and train a pastor search committee, launch a nationwide search, wait on resumes to arrive, interview candidates, present them to the church for a vote, and then hire a stranger about whom you know virtually nothing except what’s on his resume and whatever he says in his interview. The transition from elder to elder is smoother and immediate with little upheaval and relational trauma to the church body.

Just something to think about.

¹I’m not saying that churches which aren’t elder-led are apostate or intrinsically sinful, I’m just saying that if you want to get as close to the biblical model as possible, go with a plurality of elders.

I am a relatively new (about one year old –  but growing in discernment!) Christian, and I attend a small Baptist church of about 15 people in the remote area in which I live. The pastor’s wife leads both men and women in a “Bible” study group using popular (biblically questionable at best, such as Max Lucado) books instead of reading Scripture. I choose not to attend these studies, but because the church is so small, my absence is obvious and noticed. People comment that they have not seen me at “Bible” study. 

Everything else that happens in the church, the sermons, worship, prayer, are all on point biblically, thus far. My pastor is a godly man as far as I can tell, so my only issue to date is these co-ed, led by a woman, “not-Bible” studies. Should I take my concerns to my pastor? I’m already on a bit of shaky ground with the pastor’s wife. I’m reluctant to upset the apple cart any more. However, if the right thing to do is to address it and deal with potential consequences (shunning, whatever) then I want to do the right thing by my Lord and Savior. How would you guide me in this situation?

I know this is a really difficult situation to be in and I’m sorry it’s making you uncomfortable at church. Yes, when we see sin in the camp, we must speak up, so you should begin preparing to address this situation. Normally, I encourage women to go to the person most directly in charge of the issue first, which in this case would be the pastor’s wife, but I’m guessing that if you’re on “shaky ground” with her it’s because you’ve already tried to address this with her. The next step is to go to the pastor.

I would encourage you to spend a little time studying through the book of Esther, realizing that she was in a somewhat similar situation to yours: God revealed to her an ungodly situation that would harm His people, and she – at great personal risk – had to go to the man in charge and implore him to right the situation, not knowing how he would respond. It could be that God has specifically placed you in this church “for such a time as this”.

Notice that Esther asked that her people be gathered to pray for her. If you have any like-minded friends or loved ones who will pray with you as you prepare your heart to talk to your pastor, that would be beneficial. I have already prayed for you, and I am asking everyone reading this to stop and take a moment to pray for you as well.

If the pastor tells you you’re wrong or doesn’t rectify the situation, and there’s another, better church you could join, even if it’s not as convenient as this one, prayerfully consider moving your membership there. If, as you said, everything else at your current church really is doctrinally sound, and you have no other options for a doctrinally sound church to attend that’s within achievable driving distance of your house, my counsel to you would be to stay at this church, continue not to attend the “not-Bible” study, and fervently pray for God to change the hearts of your pastor and his wife.

If you stay and people continue to say, “We missed you at ‘Bible’ study!” all you have to say is, “Thank you!” or “It’s nice to be missed,” or something like that. I can’t speak for everyone, but when I say, “I missed you at _____,” to someone, it’s not a demand to know why she wasn’t there, it’s to let her know that I love her and missed fellowshipping with her. Hopefully, that’s all your fellow church members mean by saying that. If a nosy Nelly asks why you weren’t there, keep in mind that you’re not required to give her that information just because she asked. You can say something like, “I have a conflict and can’t attend,” which is truthful (you have a biblical conflict and can’t, in good conscience, attend), yet gives no one the opportunity to say that you were gossiping or trying to stir up division in the church. If she continues to pry, look her dead in the eye and keep repeating, “I have a conflict and can’t attend” until she comes to her senses and realizes it’s none of her business why you weren’t there.

Here are some resources I hope will help you:

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit

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

Searching for a new church?


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.

Complementarianism

Seven Reasons 1 Timothy 2:12 Isn’t the Crazy Aunt We Hide in the Closet when Company Comes Over

Originally published January 12, 2018

A while back I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and happened to catch part of an interaction between two women discussing a false teacher. I couldn’t come close to the exact wording if I tried, but the gist of it was…

Discerning Christian Woman: Divangelista X is a false teacher and preaches to men.

Non-Discerning Christian(?) Woman: How can you say she shouldn’t be preaching to men? So what! She’s out there helping so many people and charitable causes! People love her! I think she’s great!

Discerning Christian Woman: Well, I’m really not as concerned about the fact that she preaches to men as I am about the false doctrine she teaches.

I didn’t butt in because neither of them was talking to me, but what I wanted to say was, “Why?” Why, Discerning Christian Woman, did you back off the completely biblically valid point that this false teacher is rebelling against Scripture by preaching to men? If you had been discussing a male false teacher who was running around on his wife, you probably would have led your argument against him with his sin of adultery, with the false doctrine he teaches relegated to a level secondary importance.

Ladies…pastors…why are we so embarrassed to stand up boldly and say that women who preach to men are in unrepentant sin and disqualified from teaching regardless of what their doctrine might be?

It’s a simple little thing called the fear of man. Or, more specifically, fear of woman. We’ve seen women whose feminist ideals are challenged. Even feminists who call themselves Christians have been known to fly into a demonic rage, bent on destroying any person, pastor, or church who dares to topple their golden “I am Woman, Hear Me Roar” calf. No one wants to be on the receiving end of that kind of vitriol.

We’re more afraid of the wrath of woman than the wrath of God.
And shame on us for that.

God doesn’t call us to be wimps, people. He calls us to stand on His Word no matter the cost. The great men and women of the faith who have gone before us have done just that, giving their lives rather than renouncing Christ, refraining from sharing the gospel, compromising the Lord’s Supper, stopping the translation of Scripture into the language of the people.

And we’re worried that feminazis might yell at us or make trouble at church.

We need to stop blushing ashamedly and stand unapologetically firm when it comes to denouncing female teachers who preach to men. Here are seven reasons why:

1.
Women preaching to men is personal sin.

When a woman takes it upon herself to disobey Scripture by preaching to men, she is sinning. If we’re the Christians we claim to be, how can we see someone mired in sin and not want to rescue her? It is not loving to ignore someone’s sin, or worse, affirm her in it. To do so is the ultimate act of selfishness, because we’re more concerned about the the consequences for confronting her and how that will affect me than we are about her soul and her relationship with Christ. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”. Sometimes laying down your life means dying to self and confronting sin out of love for someone else.

2.
Women preaching to men is public rebellion.

When a woman stands up in front of a group of men and women and unashamedly preaches to them, she is initiating a public act of aggression against Christ and His church. I don’t care how sweet and pretty and “aw, shucks” she is – that’s what she’s doing. She is leading a rebellion against God’s clear command for all the world, and the church, to see. This is a blot on the reputation of Christ’s Bride whom He wishes to be “holy and without blemish“.  Christians are people who submit to and obey Christ, not leaders of rebellions against Him.

3.
Women preaching to men is false doctrine

She may not say it with her lips, but when a woman preaches to men in defiance of Scripture, she’s teaching false doctrine through her behavior. What is the false doctrine she’s teaching? “I don’t have to obey God’s Word, and neither do you. If there’s a part of the Bible you don’t like, you’re free to disregard it.” Call it antinomianism. Call it whatever you like. But it’s one of the oldest and most fundamental false doctrines.

4.
Women preaching to men undermines
the authority of Scripture.

Christians are “people of the Book.” We are to live under the authority of the written Word of God breathed out by the Holy Spirit. Those who truly love Christ love His Word and want to be obedient to it. When a woman preaches to men in defiance of God’s Word, she is stating with her actions that Scripture has no authority over her. That she can do whatever she wants regardless of what God has spoken. Those who follow her learn, “I am the authority in my life, not God.”

5.
Women preaching to men is God’s judgment on the church.

My people—infants are their oppressors,
    and women rule over them.
O my people, your guides mislead you
    and they have swallowed up the course of your paths.
Isaiah 3:12

The fact that God allows a thing to take place in no way indicates that He is pleased with it. When God allows people to persist in sin, it’s not that he’s blessing that person or church, but that He’s giving them over to sin in judgment.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God,
God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

Romans 1:28

(To the church at Thyatira)
But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart,
and I will give to each of you according to your works.
Revelation 2:20-23

6.
Women preaching to men undermines
God-ordained male authority.

Jesus Christ is the head of the church. That means He gets to make the rules for it, not us. And one of His rules is that men are to be the pastors, elders, and those in authority, not women. When women try to push themselves into positions designed for men, it waters down and cheapens the beauty of male leadership the way God designed it, just as it would if men tried to push their way into the roles God has designed for women. And just as a woman would feel disenfranchised if a man tried to usurp her position as an older woman teaching younger women (Titus 2:3-5), biblical pastors perceive the threat to their God-given authority as more and more women take the pulpit.

7.
Women preaching to men is
an indicator of further false doctrine.

I have researched dozens of female teachers, and every single one of them who unrepentantly preaches to men also teaches other forms of false doctrine (usually Word of Faith {prosperity gospel} or New Apostolic Reformation). Every. single. one. If you see a woman unrepentantly preaching to men, that is God’s warning signal to you to stay away before you’re engulfed in even more false doctrine. Refusing to speak out against women preaching to men is to put fellow Christians in a gasoline-doused house of straw without a fire detector. It forces them to stop and search for the fire or examine it to see if it really is a fire – which could end up getting them killed – whereas, if they had a fire detector they would know to make an immediate exit.

 

Every family has that one crazy relative that you just pray will act normal for once – or that you could lock her in the closet – when company comes over. (In my family, I’m pretty sure that’s me.) First Timothy 2:12 is not the “crazy aunt” of the family of God. There’s no need to be embarrassed about putting her front and center for the world to see. She is beautiful and precious and serves an important purpose for God’s glory and our good. Let’s let her out of the closet and be proud of her.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Prayer quilts, Discouraged husband, Jesus Calling at the CPC…)

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 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 can be a helpful tool!

In these potpourri editions of The Mailbag, I’d also like to address the three questions I’m most commonly asked:

“Do you know anything about [Christian pastor/teacher/author] or his/her materials? Is he/she doctrinally sound?”

Try these links: 
Popular False Teachers /
 Recommended Bible Teachers / search bar
Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own
(Do keep bringing me names, though. If I get enough questions about a particular teacher, I’ll probably write an article on her.)

“Can you recommend a good women’s Bible study?”

No. Here’s why:
The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?
The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.”.

“You shouldn’t be warning against [popular false teacher] for [X,Y,Z] reason!”

Answering the Opposition- Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections


Wondering if you’ve ever commented on “Prayer Quilt Ministries” that some churches have. I was visiting a church recently that had an announcement in the bulletin for those interested to visit the lobby and “tie a knot in a prayer quilt”. On the church’s website the prayer quilt page says, “Gather to help press, pin, cut, sew or design prayer quilts. These are tied with prayer when given away to someone suffering from lengthy or devastating illness.” It’s probably a good work to make a quilt for someone who needs it, but what about the “prayer & tying of knots” issue?

Great question! I think it probably depends on the church’s theology. If it’s a New Apostolic Reformation type of church that believes that touching these quilts and praying while tying the knots in them will heal the recipients or somehow transport some sort of spiritual mojo to them in the warp and woof of the fabric, then that’s false doctrine and it needs to be done away with. That would be kind of like those magic “prayer cloths” that televangelists used to send out if you would only send them a “seed offering”.

However, if the church is doctrinally sound (which your e-mail indicated is the case), it’s very unlikely that it’s anything sinister like that. It sounds to me like the quilts themselves are just a kind ministry to hurting people. It reminds me of the story of Dorcas. “All the widows stood beside [Peter] weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them.”

The purpose of the knots is probably two-fold. First, it encourages church members to pray for the recipients of the quilts, and gives them a touchstone of having done so. Second, the recipient is probably told that every knot on the quilt was tied by someone who prayed for her. I think the knots are probably sort of like the stones we sometimes see Israel setting up in the Old Testament, or even baptism – a physical reminder of a spiritual moment. It’s an encouragement both to those who tie them and the recipients.

And if that’s as far as it goes, I don’t think that’s unbiblical. In fact, I think it is a great ministry for women to get involved in, it reaches out to people with the love of Christ, and if a Bible or gospel tract is included (I hope!), it’s a form of evangelism. All good and biblical things.


I am married and have a struggle with my wife about our roles. It’s been hard dealing with this. I get more respect from my Starbucks barista than I do at home.

The whole girl power thing is really not bad if it doesn’t come at the expense of men. But it’s gone too far, it’s kinda like idol worship now.

I’m going to be honest I know a lot of men that are tapping out. Young men don’t want to get married, older men can’t afford their wives’ lifestyles. Divorced men are ruined and spiraling down out here. It’s bad… Real bad.

You may never read this, but I hope you keep up the good fight. Not many people, much less women even look at us men as anything more than walking ATM’s and fix it guys. Thank you for making a bold move in the opposite direction. God be with you and keep you.

Every once in a while I get a heartbreaking e-mail like this from a husband. Sadly, there’s usually nothing I can do for them. Their wives are not the type who would care what I had to say even if I could talk to them.

But ladies, I’d like to ask you to do something for our friend here. Would you take just a moment and pray for him, his marriage, and his wife? And, if you wouldn’t mind, would you leave a comment under this article letting him know you’ve prayed for him and offering any words of encouragement you’d like? Thank you.


I volunteer at a Crisis Pregnancy Center that regularly gives away not only Bibles (good) but also Jesus Calling (bad!). I have been researching and note-taking a compilation of what you point out so that I can gently and lovingly bring this to the attention of the director of the center. I am not very confident however that she and others in authority will see the problem. It might be worth noting that my job at the center is strictly data input. I do not see any patients so therefore I myself do not ever have an occasion give a patient a Jesus Calling devotion. But should I not volunteer here if others continue to do so?

Way to be thinking theologically! This is the kind of thing we will all have to be thinking through more and more as the days grow darker, and it’s important that we think them through biblically.

Wow, it hurts my heart to hear that a CPC is doing this. These women are already in a difficult situation and instead of helping them with the truth of Scripture this CPC (and probably others out there) is feeding them false doctrine when they’re at their most vulnerable. 

Approaching the director kindly is the best first step, remembering that the vast majority of Christians simply don’t know what false doctrine is or the extent to which it has infected Christian materials. For most people, it never occurs to them that something sold at a Christian store might not be biblical. It’s my prayer that the director will listen and be convicted to stop using these materials in favor of doctrinally sound ones. When you go in to talk to her, you might want to have a couple of suggestions in mind for alternative materials. This tract from Living Waters might be a fit. Wretched has a great little gospel booklet called Don’t Stub Your Toe. Or you might contact Pre-Born! or another pro-life ministry you trust and ask for ideas.

But if the director brushes off your concerns, you’ll need to make a decision about whether or not to continue to work there. If you are married, the first thing you need to do is discuss this with your husband and find out what he thinks. If he tells you what he’d like you to do, you’ll need to abide by that. But even if he leaves the decision up to you, he will probably have some helpful wisdom and insight. You might also wish to bounce this off your pastor, an elder, or a godly friend.

Since you’re not the one purchasing the books or handing them out, I believe you could still work there – if your conscience allows. I would recommend that you pray about it and ask God to give you the wisdom to make a godly decision.


I need some direction. I’ve been teaching/sharing God’s Word at a nursing home for over two years on Sunday mornings. We have mostly women, but there are two men who join us. I was asked by the nursing home to lead our little church because they haven’t been able to find any men willing to do it. That’s my dilemma, I know Paul said he wouldn’t allow a woman to teach men, I don’t know how to handle this. I myself am not part of any other church, so I don’t have a pastor to help. I’ve reached out to some churches, but no one is getting back to me. Since we can’t find a man willing to lead, am I okay to keep doing what I’m doing? 

That is quite the dilemma! Let me see if I can help.

You started your e-mail by saying, “I need some direction,” so I hope you’ll be open to some direction that’s in a bit of a different direction than the one you’re asking about.

It’s wonderful that you’re wanting to help out at the nursing home and teach God’s Word. We need more women in mercy ministries like this, and I’m sure you’re a joy and a blessing to the ladies. But I’m afraid there’s a bigger issue you need to deal with than whether or not to be teaching at the nursing home.

You need to find a doctrinally sound church, become a member of it, and attend and serve it faithfully. Church membership, fellowship, and service are not optional for Christians (Basic Training: 7 Reasons Church is Not Optional and Non-Negotiable for Christians).

The Bible knows nothing of unchurched Christians, and serving at the nursing home is not a reason not to be joined to a local church. You could always serve at the nursing home on Sunday afternoons after worshiping at your own church, or serve on another day. If you’re asking around at churches for someone to volunteer on Sunday mornings, this is why you’re not getting much of a response – you’re contacting churches. Pastors and their church members are supposed to be in church on Sunday mornings, not somewhere else.

I know you might be thinking that your group of ladies at the nursing home is your church because you called it “our little church”. It might be an awesome group of ladies with super close fellowship, but what you have there is a women’s Bible study class, not a church. It doesn’t have a pastor, elders, or deacons. It doesn’t have a membership, so there’s no mechanism for church discipline. Nobody is giving offerings or serving the Body. You’re not performing the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper (I hope). This is not a church.

Have you ever been on an airplane and noticed that when the flight attendant gives the safety instructions, she always tells you to put on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others with theirs? It’s good advice in this situation too. Right now, you’re disobeying Scripture by not being joined to a local church, so you’re setting a sinful example for your ladies while simultaneously teaching them that they need to obey God’s Word. Put your mask on first. Repent and join a local church. You also need to be sitting under good preaching and teaching at your own church so you’ll have something to give these ladies and to keep your own theology on track so you can make sure what you’re teaching them doesn’t veer off into false doctrine. Put your mask on first. You can’t help other people breathe if you’re passing out from lack of oxygen. Finally, joining a local church will fix the problem you mentioned of, “I don’t have a pastor to help.” If you’ll put your mask on first by finding a good church to join, you will have a pastor, elders, deacons, and lots of other men to help.

When we do things God’s way, in God’s order, most of the secondary things, like your dilemma about the men at the nursing home, tend to fall into place. Tell you what. You find a good church to join – maybe one of the ones you contacted for help (check out the “Searching for a new church?” tab at the top of this page if you need it) – get plugged in, and ask your pastor for some help with this. If he can’t or won’t help you, write me back, and we’ll go from there, OK? I’ll bet you won’t need to.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Complementarianism, Mailbag

The Mailbag: “What’s a Woman to Do?” Potpourri

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 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 can be a helpful tool!

In these potpourri editions of The Mailbag, I’d also like to address the three questions I’m most commonly asked:

“Do you know anything about [Christian pastor/teacher/author] or his/her materials? Is he/she doctrinally sound?”

Try these links: 
Popular False Teachers /
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“Can you recommend a good women’s Bible study?”

No. Here’s why:
The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?
The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.”.

“You shouldn’t be warning against [popular false teacher] for [X,Y,Z] reason!”

Answering the Opposition- Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections


It’s ladies night!…er…day…or whatever. I’ve accumulated several questions that have to do with women’s roles in the church and home, so that’s the theme of today’s Mailbag. If you have similar questions, you might find my article Rock Your Role FAQs to be helpful.

 

Is it biblical for women to serve as children’s ministry leaders or directors in the church?

It could be, depending on the situation. (You should not bear the title Children’s “Pastor” or “Minister”, though. Biblically, women are not pastors/ministers, so carrying that title would be dishonest and misleading.)

It is perfectly biblical for women to teach and lead children in the church setting. (And when I say “children”, I mean birth to about age 12. I’ve addressed women teaching youth/teens here, #13.) The biblical prohibition is against teaching and holding authority over men in the church. Male children are not men.

The potential 1 Timothy 2:12 issue is not with teaching and leading children or supervising other women who teach children. The issue at play is whether or not you’ll be holding unbiblical authority over any men who work or volunteer in the children’s department as Sunday school teachers, Awana leaders, nursery workers, etc. And that’s something that’s got to be examined on a case by case basis. It could be completely biblical for you to serve as a children’s director in one church but not in another simply due to circumstances of the environment.

Does your church only have women working in the children’s department? Is there an associate pastor or elder over you that handles any issues of authority? Would you have to train, evaluate, or correct male volunteers? What kinds of things would male volunteers need to come to you about? These and other questions all need to be carefully considered by your pastor, elders, your husband, and you.

Generally speaking, it is biblically OK for a woman to serve as children’s ministry leaders as long as that position, in that particular church, does not require her to instruct men in the Scriptures or hold unbiblical authority over men.


My husband is a new Christian (Praise the Lord!). I was raised in church and have a firm foundation in the Word, but unfortunately he was not blessed with such an upbringing. When we study the Bible together at home, how can I handle his lack of knowledge in a Godly way? I know what the Bible says about women not teaching men, and I strongly desire to be obedient to God’s Word. I’m just a little confused about what that looks like in this situation.

I rejoice with you over your husband’s salvation! This is a great question that’s probably on the minds of many godly women.

First, I think we might need to review a little bit of “what the Bible says about women not teaching men.” When Scripture prohibits women from teaching or holding authority over men, it does so in a specific setting: the gathered body of Believers (the church – You may want to go back over my article Jill in the Pulpit.). You are talking about helping your newly saved husband privately, at home. That’s different, and it is not included in the 1 Timothy 2:12 prohibition.

At home, between the two of you, the only issue is whether you’re submitting to him and respecting him. If your husband wants you to explain things to him from Scripture and you do that in a loving, kind, and submissive way, there’s absolutely no biblical problem with that. (It’s also important that you know the correct answers to his questions and can handle Scripture rightly. If not, study it together or ask your Sunday School teacher, pastor, etc., for help.)

In Scripture, we see Priscilla and her husband Aquila taking Apollos aside privately (likely in their home) and helping him understand “the way of God more accurately.” And Paul commends Priscilla in “the great thank you list” of Romans 16. She would not have been mentioned in a positive light in Acts nor commended by Paul in Romans if she had been sinning by helping Apollos. And if she wasn’t sinning by helping Apollos, who wasn’t even her husband (again, recalling that this was a private conversation, not teaching in the church), it would not make sense that it would have been wrong for her, or any other woman to help her own husband.

In 1 Peter 3 and 1 Corinthians 7 we see that a woman can be instrumental in bringing her unsaved husband to Christ. Why, then, would she not – privately, at his own request – continue to answer his questions, explain things, or suggest passages of Scripture for him to read after he got saved?

It would be beneficial to your husband for him to begin learning from godly men, not because it’s wrong for you to help him learn, but because other men can help him learn his role as a Christian man and how to handle things men go through better than a woman – even his wife – can. It might be helpful to your husband for you to suggest good books by doctrinally sound men for him to read and good preaching and podcasts to listen to (see some of my favorites in the sidebar to your left). He would probably also benefit tremendously from getting involved with a men’s group or Bible study at church, or having a godly older man disciple him.

What a blessing that God has given your husband a knowledgeable, godly wife who can help him!


I teach the Bible to women and young people in the home of a Christian sister. Frequently, her husband brings his Bible and sits in on the group. I usually just ignore the fact that he’s in there and focus on the youth, because, technically, that’s who I’m there to teach. I feel uncomfortable with him there because I agree with the Bible that I’m not supposed to be teaching men, but I also feel uncomfortable asking him to leave his own den. What do you recommend in this case?

It’s a bit of a sticky situation, but more because of etiquette and logistics than because of Scripture. Let’s explore a few different aspects of this situation.

✢ Is the husband saved? If he’s unsaved, the dilemma stops here. He’s not part of the church (the universal body of Believers), he’s an outsider observing Christians, and the things of God are folly to him. He’s not even capable of understanding Christian teaching on a spiritual level, so you’re not teaching him. At best, he’s absorbing enough of the gospel to eventually lead him to Christ. That would fall under the category of evangelism, and Scripture doesn’t prohibit women from sharing the gospel with men. (See #11 here)

✢ Take into consideration that different people sometimes have different ideas about etiquette and social interactions. Whether or not he’s saved, it’s possible the husband is sitting in on the group because he feels, as the host, it would be rude of him not to. By talking with him about your discomfort with his presence, you might actually be letting him off the hook when there are other things he’d rather be doing.

But from here on out, we’ll assume the husband is saved and doesn’t fully understand that women aren’t to teach men in the gathered body of Believers.

✢ You mentioned that you are teaching “women and young people”/”youth”. I’m inferring from that phraseology that this group of “young people/youth” is a co-ed group in their teens. If I’m correct about that (and maybe I’m not), this could be part of the issue depending on the age of the kids in the group. First, of all, if the males in this group are in their late teens to early 20s or older, you really don’t have a leg to stand on. You’re teaching men (even if they are young men), so that needs to stop. But this could also be a contributing factor to why the husband is coming to the study, especially if he is a younger man. If he sees you teaching 18 year old young men and he’s 25, he probably doesn’t see much difference between those young men and himself and assumes he’s welcome to attend. There’s no hard and fast biblical command about it, but I usually recommend women stop teaching boys around the time they start middle school (12ish). I’ve explained more here, #13.

✢ It’s possible the husband only has a partial understanding of the applicable Scriptures here. Perhaps he thinks Scripture only says women can’t be pastors or that as long as you’re outside the four walls of the church building you can teach men. Maybe you and his wife can pull him aside privately after the meeting or at another time and explain a little bit more about what Scripture says, your desire to obey it, your discomfort with him there, and your discomfort with asking him to leave.

✢ You know the husband and his wife better than I do. Would it work better to explain things to the wife and ask her to talk to him? Or possibly for you and your husband to talk to him and his wife together? It might also be beneficial for you to set up a meeting with your pastor and get some wise counsel from him on how to proceed.

✢ Enlist the aid of your husband and/or some other godly men at church. They could invite this fellow to join them during your class time for a men’s Bible study, bowling, a movie, dinner, watching the game on TV, or whatever. Maybe the husband just needs some friends or a better offer! :0)

✢ If you’ve talked to the husband and he understands what Scripture says, and your dilemma, and he refuses to refrain from attending the class, it’s time to move the class meeting to another location – perhaps your house, the church, or the home of someone else in the group. If it gets to this point, things have moved beyond whether or not you’re teaching a man. Now he’s intentionally being a stumbling block to a sister in Christ (which, if you belong to the same church, actually requires church discipline). He is sinning and he causing you to sin against your conscience. Scripture says if something causes you to sin, remove it. Since you can’t remove him from his house, you’ll have to remove yourself from his house.

✢ Finally, along the lines of removing things from your life that cause you to sin, if you’ve tried every possible way of working things out and you’re still going to be in a situation where you’re sinning against your conscience, step down from teaching. As much as you might want to, you do not have to teach that class. And it’s far better to  give up a “want” and not sin than to keep doing a “want” and sin. God takes sin very seriously, and we should, too.

I’ve tried to cover a range of possibilities and solutions, and some of them may sound extreme, but most of the time situations like this among friends, and especially among church family, can be resolved with a simple, loving conversation. Try talking to him about it, and you’ll most likely be able to work it out.


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.

Favorite Finds

Favorite Finds ~ January 14, 2019

Here are a few of my favorite recent online finds…

It’s a few years old, but this excellent episode of the Issues, Etc. radio show: This Week in Pop-American Christianity: Priscilla Shirer on Hearing the Voice of God recently came across my news feed. Many false teachers (in this case, Priscilla Shirer) twist or misunderstand John 10 to mean that, if you’re a Christian, God will speak to you audibly. That’s not what it means, as anyone who takes the time to read the passage in context can attest. Pastor and podcaster Chris Rosebrough explains simply, carefully, and biblically, why this teaching is wrong and what John 10 actually means.

 

“I get dozens of emails each month from parents whose teens are leaving the church or being swept away by a false version of Jesus and the gospel…In this list I’ve compiled ten critical topics for the modern teen.” Great for youth directors and parents of teens, but the adults in your church probably need to read this too. Check out Ten Theological Topics for Parents of Modern Teens by our friend Costi Hinn on his blog, For the Gospel.

 

Pornography is usually addressed as a “men’s problem”, but, increasingly, women are succumbing to this insidious temptation. Stephanie offers pastors three suggestions (these would be helpful for anyone) for counseling and discipling women who participate in the sin of pornography in her 9Marks article Helping Women Who Struggle with Pornography.

 

Thoroughly and knowledgeably written by Denny Burk (head of CBMW), What Does It Mean That Women Should “Remain Quiet” in Church? (1 Timothy 2) from Crossway is one of the best commentaries I’ve ever read on 1 Timothy 2:11-14. I’ve added it as a resource to my own article on that passage: Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit.

 

Fasting mirrors the hunger we should have for Christ. Do Christians Fast Because Food and Drink Are Bad? from Crossway explains more.