I attend a small Bible study that is non-gender specific and we have been studying 1 Corinthians. We reached 1Cor. 14:33-35: “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 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 church.
Now I don’t know about you, but when I read or hear someone quote those verses the Spirit churns inside me. I know that I am no better than any of the women in the class and I do not want any woman to think she needs my permission to speak, nor should any one, man or woman, be in submission to me. One searches their inner self for attributes of leadership, but first one should understand what is necessary to lead. It would be necessary to know the future in order to give a correct command and I do not know the future. No man does. Yet the Bible says it is disgraceful (The KJV says it is a shame) for a woman to speak in church and it makes no similar statement about men!
It did not sound right, it did not feel right, but now I understand better. The key is “Who is shamed?” The answer is “It is the men that are shamed or disgraced”: not the women! If the men of the Church were enthusiastic and properly representing God on this earth, there would be nothing a woman could say that would not have already been said!
We assume too much when we read those verses. Our first mistake was assuming who was shamed. Our second mistake was assuming it is God’s law that Paul cites. And our third mistake is assuming God does not want women to speak in Church.
A study of the law, as put forth in the first books of the Bible, does not support the idea that God wants women to be in submission to men. There is one verse that might support such an idea and I will save it for last (it is worth the wait).
A study of the prophetess Deborah in the fourth chapter of Judges will shed some light on the subject. Judges were not in submission to anyone, men or women, (Judges 2:18) “Whenever the LORD raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the LORD had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them.” Because Deborah was a Judge, she was not submissive to men. She held court and made decisions about the affaires of men and God was with her. When god decided to free Israel He chose a man to accomplish the task, but the man had more faith in Deborah than he had in God! Because of this, it was a woman that freed Israel from the rule of Sisera. None of the women were shamed: it was the men that were shamed.
Still don’t get it? Consider the death of Abimelech. A woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and he was sure he was going to die, so he commanded his servant to kill him, just so no one could say a woman did! Abimelech made a mistake when he went to close to the tower and that mistake was his shame and it was the actions of a woman that pointed it out. By the way, it did not work. Joab understood and he knew David would also (2 Sam 11:18-21) and if the messenger had not previously known, he did when Joab told him what to say to David!
Too sum it up; men are shamed when women speak in Church: not women. It has to be man’s law that required women to be in submission to men; we can see it is not God’s law, because if it were, He would not have appointed a women Judge. If men make mistakes and women do not drop millstones on their heads, then who will? (When you have a head like mine, millstones just bounce off, so feel free to throw!)
And as I promised, there is one verse that says women are to be subservient to men. Are you ready? IT IS A CURSE, NOT A BLESSING! (Gen 3:16) “To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
I trust the men that are reading this are laughing as much as the women.
Well, I am anyway.