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Women In The Church

1 Corinthians 14:34
34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.

See I Corinthians and other Pastoral Epistles. Paul states that a woman is to keep silent in the Church (I Corinthians 14:34). In 1 Corinthians 11:5, a woman is praying in the assembly. Examine closely the context of 1 Corinthians 14 and determine if Paul meant for the woman to keep silent only in regard to the tongue issue. Did he apply this only to the Corinthian Church or the culture of the Middle East? Scripturally, can a woman pray, sing, or give a testimony in a church service? Can she teach men? Research, discuss, and come to a conclusion.

The apparent teaching of the verse is that women may pray or prophesize in the church service. Those who would allow women a place of authority within the service see this verse as the controlling verse so that 14:34 must be limiting only under special circumstances. As has been discussed above, this is an unlikely interpretation. Further it comes as no surprise to one reading the entire section that Paul supports 11:5 on the original creation, just as he has support 14:34 and 1 Timothy on the original creation.

1 Corinthians 11:8-10 (KJV)
8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. 10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.

If God is not the author of confusion, then God is not going to allow the same passages of Scripture (the Genesis story) to support conflicting positions. Since Paul relies upon the relationship of Adam and Eve for all of these points, there must a consistent method of fitting all of these verses together without creating forced or questionable exceptions. 

It is true that some resolve this dilemma by attributing the particular issue of head dress to the culture of the time and draw the universal rule that men and women in the church are to maintain the cultural distinctions between male and female. In that culture it appears that only prostitutes wore short hair or shaved their heads, so for a church member to do so would not be appropriate. Then, to avoid the conflict with 14:34, the conclusion is reached that in chapter 11 Paul is speaking of “public prayer” and prophecy, but not in the worship service. However, this determination relies upon secular information about the society that might not be available to one reading the Scripture in a different time or place. Since God’s rules are universal for all times, a different explanation must be sought.

The solution appears to come from the overall context of these various verses and their clear teaching that men are to be in control. From a general reading of the New Testament, men established and controlled the churches even though many were physically held in the houses of women. Further, Christianity liberated women in terms of their participation in the church services, particularly when compared to Jewish services. As such it was the natural tendency for women to attempt to exercise more control. Whether this was the only factor, or if an abuse of spiritual gifts was contributing to the situation in the Corinthian church needs not  be discussed.


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