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 /
 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


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.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Sexual abuse, Feminism, Serpent seed doctrine…)

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!


Can you please suggest an iPhone app Radio station that plays biblically sound worship, praise and messages?

A reader asked this question via Facebook recently. I mostly listen to podcasts, and though I’m aware of a few good sermon apps, I wasn’t familiar with any apps that provide both sermons and music. I asked my Facebook readers for some help and got lots of great answers. You can check out their suggestions here (even if you’re not on Facebook). I’m not personally familiar with all of these sites and apps, so use good discernment and make sure everything they’re teaching lines up with Scripture.


Do you have advice on Christian women and feminism? I have friends who are reading Jesus Feminist. The title makes me cringe.

Secular feminism is not something I handle a whole lot here on the blog, although I have touched on it in these articles:

Toxic (Evangelical) Femininity

Feminist Infiltration and the Emasculation of Christian Men

6 Reasons Godly Women are Stronger Than Feminazis

 

I would recommend that you head over to Sheologians. Summer and Joy have done several very good podcast episodes and articles on the history of feminism and its current influence on society and the church. I cannot remember whether they covered Jesus Feminist or not, so you may want to make use of the “contact us” link at the top of their site and ask. (Tell them I said hi!)


My husband and I are having sexual problems that stem from the fact that I was molested as a child. What should I do?

I have intentionally left out the specific details of this particular reader’s question, first, in order to protect her identity, second, because I have no doubt that many readers have this same general question, and third, because, being a stranger on the internet, I am not the person who can best help anyone in this situation, so I can only give a very general answer anyway.

I grieve with those of you who have had this terrible sin perpetrated against you. I hope the person who abused you was caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. It is also my prayer that God has taken what was meant for evil against you and used it for good in your life by drawing you to Himself, teaching you to depend on Him, and deepening your walk with Him.

As I mentioned, although I’m humbled and honored that readers sometimes reach out to me for help with staggering griefs and difficulties, I would be doing you a disservice if I tried to help you via e-mail or a blog article with complicated personal problems that require ongoing counseling from someone you have (or can develop) a face-to-face relationship with.

Generally speaking, it’s important that you understand that, as a child, the abuse was not your fault, regardless of how you responded to it at the time. A physiological response (orgasm) to the abuse does not mean you enjoyed being violated, wanted it to happen, or were “asking for it”. Neither does having kept it a secret, being friendly with the abuser, “allowing” the abuse to continue in order to receive gifts from the abuser, etc. You were a victim.

It’s important that your husband understand that the sexual difficulties you are experiencing are no reflection on him. Sex is a very personal thing, and he may be incorrectly assuming that your aversion to sex is an aversion to his performance or to him, personally. He will also need to come to grips with the fact that there’s no quick, cut-and dried, three or five or fifteen step plan to “fixing” this. It will be a growth process for both of you.

Assuming you’re in a doctrinally sound church, I would urge you and your husband in the strongest possible terms to set up an appointment with your pastor for counseling. Shepherding your souls through life’s difficulties is part of his biblical job description, and if he went to a decent seminary, he was trained in marital counseling.

If you absolutely don’t think you could look your pastor in the eye during the sermon every week after discussing such personal matters, ask him for a referral to a certified biblical counselor (not a “Christian counselor” – biblical counseling, formerly called nouthetic counseling, is different) who can help you and your husband heal by learning and walking out in your marriage the Scriptures that apply to your situation. If your pastor isn’t familiar with biblical counseling, find a referral through the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, the counselor search links here, or contact a nearby (doctrinally sound) seminary or Christian university and ask if you can speak to someone in their school of biblical counseling.

I know it seems like it will be painful and embarrassing to discuss this situation with a third party, but don’t let it continue to fester. It will destroy your marriage. Getting biblical help will set you and your husband free.


What are your thoughts on a woman teaching an introductory class in biblical Greek to adults (men and women) at church?

Not knowing the context and spiritual climate of your church and assuming the class is taught in the same way other academic foreign language classes are taught – alphabet, vocabulary, grammar, etc. – I don’t see any more problem with it than if she were teaching French or Swahili or Chinese.

The biblical prohibition against women teaching men has to do with women instructing men in the content of the Bible, not the language the Bible was originally written in. Greek is just a language like any other. It is not holy or special just because that’s the language the majority of the New Testament was penned in. (Actually, the opposite is true. Greek was the most widely spoken language of the time, so God used it to get His Word out to the largest number of people.)

Even if the teacher has the class translate portions of Scripture or uses a word or phrase from a Bible verse to illustrate the meaning of a word – assuming she doesn’t veer off into preaching on that verse – she is still teaching a language, not giving Bible instruction to men in the way prohibited by Scripture.

As I said, I don’t know the context and spiritual climate of your church so there could be other factors along those lines that need to be taken into consideration as to whether or not it’s wise for a woman to teach this class, but strictly speaking as to whether or not it’s a violation of Scripture, no.


Do you have any teachings on the implications of the serpent seed doctrine?

No, I’ve never written about it because, until I was asked this question, I’d never heard of it.

I did a brief search, and I would say that the implications are racism, false doctrine, and poor hermeneutics. Apparently, the gist of this teaching is that when the serpent tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden, a sexual encounter took place between the two, leading to the conception of Cain. Therefore, everyone who is descended from Cain was conceived from the “serpent’s seed” and is of the devil.

This is a concoction of an evil imagination and has no basis in Scripture whatsoever. In fact, Genesis 4:1 clearly tells us who Cain’s father was. Even Cain’s name tells us God caused Eve to conceive him:

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.”

I mean, that’s pretty much a mic drop moment with regard to this ridiculous “doctrine”.

Here are a couple of good resources explaining more:

What is the Serpent Seed doctrine?

The serpent seed and the Kenites


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

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Calvinism, Baptism, Modesty…)

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!


I was very troubled by a recent stance the discernment ministry Lighthouse Trails has taken – calling Calvinism heresy – and wondered if you had seen it. It’s one thing to just have a difference of opinion on Calvinism, but to put it this category?¹

Yes, I saw it when they made the big announcement on social media a few months ago. I expressed my disappointment to LT and have decided, going forward, not to use their materials or point readers to them as a trustworthy resource. There are several reasons for this:

1. The tone used in most of the LT anti-Calvinist posts, comments, and articles was derisive and condemnatory at best. There is no place for that among Believers, regardless of their stance on Calvinism (frequent readers will note I don’t recommend Reformed resources that take this sort of tone either).

2. It was clear from the LT materials I read that they don’t even have a complete and accurate understanding of what Calvinism is. Indeed, some of what they addressed was not Calvinism (which is biblical Christianity) but Hyper-Calvinism (which is heresy). That does not speak well of a discernment ministry. You must have a correct understanding of a doctrine before attempting to address it biblically, especially if you’re going to come to the conclusion that something is “another gospel” (heresy) as LT did with Calvinism.

3. Addressing a doctrine they haven’t thoroughly researched, as well as anathematizing something that is clearly biblical Christianity (even if they don’t agree with it), calls the discernment and biblical understanding of the entire organization into question and casts doubt on LT’s previous and future evaluations of doctrine. In other words, if they’re going to make this egregious an error over such a simple – and settled – biblical construct, how can any of their conclusions on other, more nuanced aspects of theology be trusted?

Here are some additional resources you may find helpful:

What is Calvinism? by Maurice Roberts

Calvinism & the Bible by Brian Godawa

What’s the Difference Between Arminianism, Calvinism and Hyper-Calvinism? by Tom Ascol

Calvinism Is Not Hyper-Calvinism by Josh Buice


I had viewed the Gospel Message video embedded on your site and had concern for the presentation. It is apparent you have hermeneutical concern for today’s God study, so I wanted to clarify what your view may be on baptism.

I hold to a Reformed Southern Baptist, credo-baptist understanding of baptism. You can find further details at these links:

Statement of Faith (tab at top of this page)

Basic Training: Baptism

(Remember, the search bar and the tabs at the top of the blog are your friends! :0)


I have only recently come to understand 1 Timothy 2:12. However, why do we so passionately receive verse 12, yet neglect verse 9? Why do people choose which parts of the Bible to obey?

No Christian should be making a conscious choice to disobey any command(s) of Scripture that pertains to Christians. Willful disobedience is sin which needs to be repented of, and might even indicate that the person is not saved. Genuinely regenerated Christians desire from the heart to keep God’s commands.

I am not sure whether your question is based on your own church (or local churches you’re familiar with) in which women embrace their biblical roles but are dressing immodestly, or if you’re seeing a lot of attention focused on verse 12 (in books, online articles, conferences, organizations, sermons, social media, etc.) and not as much on verse 9.

If it’s the latter, I would say that you’re seeing a lot of attention focused on verse 12 rather than verse 9 for the same reason you see firemen hosing down a house that’s on fire rather than hosing down one that’s not. When the day comes that celebrity “Christian” women get up on stage dressed immodestly, write books about how dressing immodestly is perfectly biblical, form organizations to push the immodest dress agenda, hold conferences extolling immodest dress, and encourage other women to dress immodestly as they worship, I think you’ll see the same kind of pushback with verse 9 that you’re seeing now with verse 12.

If what you’re asking about is women at your church who embrace their biblical roles but seem not to be obeying verse 9, first make sure you have a correct understanding of what verse 9 is talking about:

likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair
and gold or pearls or costly attire,

a) The context of 1 Timothy, including chapter 2, is instructions for the gathering of the church. So, while Christian women should dress in a way that glorifies God at all times simply because we belong to Christ, this particular verse is about how we dress for church, not for a gala, the beach, or the gym.

b) “Braided hair and gold or pearls” are examples – much like head coverings – of specific things that were considered immodest in the time and culture in which 1 Timothy was written. If a woman comes to your church with her hair in a French braid or wearing an understated pearl necklace, she is not necessarily dressing immodestly. There is nothing intrinsically immodest about gold, pearls, or braids, but rather the meaning a culture attaches to them or the statement they make in a particular venue.

c) The term “modest” has more than one meaning in this verse. It does mean to dress in a way that is not sexually provocative (“respectable apparel”). But in the same way we would use the phrase “a modest income” or “a modest home”, it also means to dress in a way that’s not flashy (which, in the first century meant bling like gold, pearls, and extravagantly braided hairstyles), and that doesn’t attempt call attention to yourself or show off your wealth (“costly attire”).

So, in this sense, a woman who walks into the average American church wearing a dress she got at Target is probably not dressing immodestly, whereas a woman who walks in wearing uber-expensive designer clothes, shoes, and handbag, and dripping with jewels probably is, necklines and hemlines notwithstanding. That goes for outlandish apparel or clothing that’s meant to grab attention as well. If your hair is three shades of green and fashioned into a unicorn horn, that’s going to be immodest in most churches. If you walk into church wearing scuba gear or a space suit, that also fits what this verse means by immodest.

In a nutshell, we’re to fit in, not to be a distraction from worship with our clothes and coifs. You are not supposed to be the center of attention in church, God is.

If this is an issue with the women of your church in general, or with one woman in particular, set up an appointment with your pastor and get some counsel from him on the best way to address the situation.


I have a bone to pick with you.

This is a verbatim quote of the opening line of the reader’s e-mail. Normally, I would just hit “delete” without giving such rudeness the time of day, but I thought I’d make an example of it instead. Ladies, rudeness and displays of self-centered anger dishonor Christ, and if you’re e-mailing someone like me who struggles against the sin of impatience, you’re not only tempting a sister in Christ to sin, but you’re probably not going to get a hearing.

I have personally known [female Bible teacher you’ve written about] for over 30 years.

The name of the teacher is irrelevant, but it is not someone I’ve warned against nor whom I consider a false teacher. Additionally, this reader bases her defense of said Bible teacher (below) on knowing her personally and on the reader’s personal opinions and experiences, not on what Scripture says, which does not speak well of what she has learned from the Bible teacher. I don’t think the reader’s rudeness or her lack of biblical understanding are a fair representation of this particular teacher, so that’s another reason I’m leaving her name out.

She gets permission from her husband and her pastor [and the male head of her ministry] before she teaches with men in the audience…I have met some of the men on the board and they have no problem [with her] lecturing with men in the audience.

Please point me to the passage of Scripture, chapter and verse, that says a husband, pastor, or ministry head or board can give a woman permission to do something God has prohibited. No one has the authority to say “yes” where God has said “no.” I’ve addressed in detail this idea of a woman teaching men “under her husband’s/pastor’s authority” in my article Fencing off the Forbidden Fruit Tree.

Additionally, it does not matter how many people give approval to something or how important they are – that is not what makes something right or biblical. God is the arbiter of right and wrong, biblical and unbiblical, not people.

When you see the men in audience she is giving a lecture not teaching.

But you just said in the previous sentence, “She gets permission from her husband and her pastor before she teaches with men in the audience.” Which is it?

Furthermore, it doesn’t matter whether you call it preaching, teaching, lecturing, sharing, proclaiming, exhorting, or delivering a soliloquy, if it’s instructing men in the Scriptures in the gathered body of Believers, it violates 1 Timothy 2:12, and it’s sin.

The men chose to listen to [her] lead the lectures.

That’s true. That means that they are also guilty of violating 1 Timothy 2:12, not that they are guilty and she is not.

You need to come to [one of this Bible teacher’s events]. You will see what is actually being done and said.

When I wrote the article you read about this Bible teacher, I provided videos of her teaching, quotes from her materials, and other objective, verifiable evidence of what she says, does, and teaches. That’s not “what is actually being done and said”?

I am basing my evaluation of this teacher’s words and actions on Scripture, not on my personal experience. I don’t need to be physically present at one of her events in order to do that.

[This Bible teacher] and other teachers: When [this Bible teacher] gets an invitation to speak she asks God if she should do it or not. So you need to ask God if [she] is sinning because she only goes wherever God sends her.

I believe what the reader is addressing here is that I have pointed out as unbiblical that the Bible teacher in question has joined in ministry activities with demonstrably false teachers.

God has given us His written Word. Whatever He might subjectively “tell” us in prayer does not override what He has objectively told us in the Bible. God gave His answer to her question about 2,000 years ago in 2 John 9-11, Romans 16:17-18, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, and many other passages. If someone is invited to partner in ministry with false teachers, her answer is to be “no.” God is not “sending her” to partner with false teachers because He has already instructed her not to do that in His written Word. And if she is so learned in the Scriptures that she’s qualified to be a Bible teacher, she should already know that without having to ask Him. And if you’ve known her for thirty years, she should have taught you that by now as well. I don’t need to “ask God if she is sinning,” I only have to open my Bible and read what He’s already said about it.

Before you say anything about a Christian speaker you need to do more research and go to that ministry personally.

“More research” meaning, “keep researching until you agree with me”? I did multiple hours of research on the article you read. I sufficiently substantiated every point I made with Scripture and accurate, verifiable evidence from the teacher’s own words and actions.

As I previously stated, my conclusions about the Bible teacher are not based on my personal experience, so there is no need for me to visit the ministry in person. If you’re alluding to Matthew 18:15-20, that passage does not apply to commenting on and evaluating a teacher’s publicly available statements and materials as I’ve explained in detail in my article Answering the Opposition- Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections (#1).


¹Please note, I do not participate in, nor provide a forum in the comments section for, Calvinism-Arminianism debates. Please refer to the Welcome tab (top of this page) for comment guidelines before commenting.

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.