Women–silent in the church? Are you sure about that? (Part 2)

The Scripture is quite plain, women are to keep silent in the church!

 

Women should be silent during the church meetings. It is not proper for them to speak. They should be submissive, just as the law says.  If they have any questions, they should ask their husbands at home, for it is improper for women to speak in church meetings. (1 Corinthians 14:34-35)

These verses have been used to keep women silent in church meetings–in some cases an absolute silence. Obviously there are many exceptions, but often women are permitted to sing, pray and prophesy, but any kind of teaching or authoritative word is forbidden.

The word “silent” used here is the Greek word sigao, and the word for speak is laleo. What many people don’t realize is that two other sets of people are told to be silent in this chapter, both in the context of speaking (laleo). In verse 27, a person speaking in tongues is to be silent (sigao) if no interpreter is present. In verse 30, if a person is prophesying and another person hears from the Lord, the first person is to be silent (sigao) and let the second one speak.

In neither of these two situations are people silenced for all time within a church gathering. It’s easy to see that the silence applies under certain conditions only.

Here’s the likely scenario for these passages. Paul is answering questions the Corinthians have asked in a previous letter (1 Corinthians 7:1). In the first two instances, the question the Corinthians asked is obvious.

“Paul, what do you do if someone gives a message in tongues but there is no one to interpret it?”

“Paul, what should we do if someone is prophesying and another person gets a message before the first one has finished talking?”

The answer to both involves silence, but within those proscribed circumstances..

The problem with the verses about women is that Paul doesn’t state the question within his answer. Perhaps he thought it was obvious. But you can picture the question.

“Paul, what should we do if women disrupt the meetings by asking a lot of questions.”

As with the other situations where people are to be silent, it’s under certain conditions only. If women have a lot of questions– and remember, women in those days were uneducated–then let them ask their husbands at home.

 Photo Credit: Skelekitten via Compfight cc

5 thoughts on “Women–silent in the church? Are you sure about that? (Part 2)”

  1. Stated above is “The problem with the verses about women is that Paul doesn’t state the question within his answer.”

    The thing is that these verses are the question – or rather, the question that had been written to Paul in the letter mentioned in 1 Cor 7:1, his response (“What!”), follows as what has been written is so opposed to Paul’s thinking.

    A good look at the wording of the verse(s) show they are not consistent with Pauline thought.

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  2. i have heard many good opinions on what Paul could have meant instead of absolute silence for women for all time in any meeting, and each of them is confirmation that the overall message of Jesus is truly the model for our behavior: there is no difference in HIS opinion of male and female, jew or greek, rich or poor…

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  3. You are right to say that there is a time and
    place for speaking, as with one with tongues and with a prophecy. Paul says this about the time and place for women: 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the [the meeting]. How else could this be understood?

    Prophecy was to God and prayer was from God. These were definitely done in the 1st Century meetings.

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