Women in Ministry

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Question:  1 Corinthians 14:34-35 "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 (says) the law."  Is this actually in the Bible, and if so, why is it?

My Reply:
When reading/studying the Bible, you need to keep 3 things in mind:

1) Nothing in the Bible is "just there", as in out of context. So with this passage, you need to keep it in context with the rest of the letter (1 Corinthians), the rest of the chapter (which talks about bringing order during worship), the rest of the Bible (Men and women were created equal in the eyes of God), the context in which it was written (corrections needed among Corinthian believers), and the culture of those to whom it was written (Greek/Gentile Christians).

2) Just about every book/letter from Romans to Jude were written not with the purpose of teaching, but for the purpose of correcting. So when you read this little passage, take into consideration what I mentioned in #1 before jumping to the conclusion of what it might mean...for instance, notice that Paul told not only the women to shut up, but also those speaking in tongues without interpreters, as well as prophets who spoke out of turn.

3) When taken at face value, and without everything I mentioned already, then your confusion is understandable. But Paul's not telling women for all time not to talk (or lead) in worship, but is in fact addressing some particular women "in Chloe's household" church (as mentioned in the beginning of the letter) who were talking during worship, asking other men questions (probably pertaining to what was being taught), and making it difficult for others to focus on worship.  For, notice that Paul tells them to instead "ask their own husbands at home".

For more information on this passage, check out "Women Leaders and the Church".  The author, Dr. Linda Belleville, was a professor of mine while in Seminary.
---Pastor Andy
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