Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Let Your Women Be Silent in Church….1 Corinthians 14:34

Although many theologians may say they believe the command for women to keep silent in church services. In practical application, they demonstrate that, in reality, they do not. You would have to search far and wide to find a single evangelical fellowship that actually adheres to this verse of scripture. I personally have never encountered one that does.

In how many church fellowships are women required to be utterly silent in all church proceedings? In how many Christian gatherings do we actually see women prohibited from praying out loud, singing any song—in the choir or otherwise, or forbidden to speak up in order to give testimonies, prayer requests or make announcements? The verse specifically says, be silent in church.

So, even though this verse is frequently quoted in defense of authority of males over females, it is otherwise ignored by the church at large including by those who conveniently use it, only when it suits them, in order to make a point.

The Bible record itself refutes the popular interpretation of 1 Corinthians 14:34. The scriptures do not prohibit women from speaking. We see women in the Bible who did not remain silent but spoke publicly in the name of the Lord, and their words were recorded in the scriptures: Miriam, Deborah, Anna to are just a few.

As far as church is Concerned, in the Bible we see:

  • That our sons and our daughters will prophesy (How many denominations teach that prophesy means to preach?)
  • Women prophets (Deborah, Hulda, Miriam, the four daughters of Agabus)
  • Women Bible Teachers (Pricilla)
  • Women Deacons (Phoebe)
  • A Woman Apostle? (Junias)

A Question of Submission....

Ephesians 5:21-33 begins with a command for all Christians to submit to one another, and ends by explaining that the marriage relationship is intended by God to reflect the relationship between Christ and his church.

The relationship between Christ and his church is a completely voluntary love relationship on both sides.

Jesus said all men would know we are his disciples because of our love for one another. A husband who exerts authority over his wife, and demands submission from his wife, is not loving his wife and the marriage is not reflecting the love relationship between Christ and his church. Therefore, any husband who exerts authority over his wife and demands submission from her (and any leader who endorses such behavior) is not a disciple of Jesus.

We see this command again in 1 Peter 5:5 (all Christians are commanded to submit one to another). Does that mean that the right to exert authority and demand submission has been given to every Christian over every other Christian?

Most will agree that is a ludicrous notion.

So how can a theological conclusion be justified which claims that is exactly the case with husbands and wives?