“Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.” 1 Cor 14:34-35(NKJV)
I am involved in a bible study once a week in my lunch break. I haven’t been able to make it that last couple of sessions and I rocked up yesterday to study a pretty intense piece of scripture. We were reading 1Cor 14: 20-40, although most of the study was focused on these two verses. I thought it very interesting to note, that although being the only female present in a room of three men, it was interesting to get their ideas on the matter. For me, this is going to involve some prayer to understand what this could mean for women today.
If we were to take this as Paul writes it, there would be no women speaking or leading church. But as one of my colleagues (Let’s say C1) today in bible study stated, that there are many gifted women that speak at his church, and why be silent if God has given them the gift of speech? Another colleague (C2) then asked what is the proof of that. He had the firm idea that we as the human race have fallen so far from what was originally preached in the Bible and should adhere to it. C2 stated that this was God’s original order, as God didn’t create a world with sin in it; what he created was perfect until Satan was cast out to the earth (Rev 12:7-12; Jude 1:6-7; Is14:12). C2 Also stated that as women we were to be submissive, in reference to 1Cor 11:3-5 but I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonours his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved.
So you can imagine my mind with so many questions for our Father after this bible study. Although I didn’t have much of a chance to dwell on it back at work, it’s been in the back of my mind, wondering, what could this possibly mean for women today? I know of talented women who have preached in church. We also delved on the fact that in terms of work today, most married couples have to both work in order to make ends meet – C1 made this point. Then again, C2 pointed out that it depends on the expenses that have been paid.
Colleague 3 (C3) and C1 shared similar points of view and C2 was very clear on his opinions which made me wonder about my life. The question was asked of me, should women preach? I did say that not all are called to preach, I certainly don’t feel God calling me to stand at the pulpit, but I have, over the years, heard Him quietly encouraging me to write. And right now, I feel His Spirit with me, like I am worshipping Him just by sharing my thoughts. How amazing is our God?
I apologise for the tangent, but I do love the fact that I can share His love so freely.
Now, as I was saying, every person has different gifts, but I also pointed out the women who were mentioned in the Bible; Deborah in Judges 4, Ruth, Esther – what about these women of faith. Are their efforts to be discounted because they came to be in positions of power (Esther, Deborah) or will the hard work of others be discredited (Ruth) just because she had no husband to provide for and spiritually lead her? (That’s until Boaz, the family redeemer married Ruth) Also, the Bible was written by men – there are probably many stories of women, but because of the culture of the day, we may not find out about them.
Mind you, in saying all this – I do believe that the men are the head of the house. I believe this because God ordained it to be. But he still created men and women to live in peace with each other; wives to submit to husbands in love, as we as the Bride of Christ (body of believers) should submit to Christ, and the men to love their husbands, as Jesus loves his beloved “brides-to-be” (again, body of believers) Paul states in 1 Corinthians 11:7-10 “Since he (man) is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.” but further in Chapter 11 he goes to say in verses 11-12 “Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God.“
And as strong and independent God made me, I believe that I should submit to my husband and the bond between husband and wife should be the same with God and His people. Why do I believe this? Well, for starters it’s in the Bible. God’s word is Holy and He gave the writers of the Bible His words. Also, I believe that what God ordains in this life, in who we are, our personalities and relationships with others mirrors (weakly) God’s own diverse personality and love that He has for us.
I don’t disagree with C2 on some matters, but his answers has intrigued me all the more – and has challenged me to think about my place in this world; the place of women in the church today.
Genesis states “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.” (Gen 2: 21-22). As God created Adam all those many years ago for a helper and companion to walk, share and grow with; so are we to share the same kind of relationship with God. To be vulnerable as a woman can be, but to walk with the stride of a man becuase of God’s strength. I believe that men and womenare to be together in a companionship, recognising each other’s roles and, I believe, to not usurp them.