Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Women be Silent in Church: 1 Corinthians 14:34-35



34: Let your [unbelieving] wives hold their peace in the assemblies For it is not entrusted to them to speak [their minds concerning the Word of God] rather to yield as also the law teaches 35: And if they are resolved to learn anything[1] let them ask their husbands at home[2] for it is indecorous for [unbelieving] wives to speak [out] in the assembly [of believers].


[1] It is unlikely that Paul would choose to deliberately alienate unbelieving married women by being rude to them, by bluntly telling them to shut-up, go home, and let their husbands teach them. This would contradict the entire tenor of scripture that reveals apostle’s main goal in life was winning souls. There is no doubt the souls of wives were just as important to him as the souls of husbands. The common translation of this verse is supplementally rude and misogynistic. There is no viable reason to retain it, just as there is no textual reason not to exercise optional alternatives in the translation that conveys good intentions on the part of the apostle [towards unsaved wives]. It is much more likely that Paul used the gentler approach of assuming the sincerity of the women by telling them that if they were resolved to learn about the Christian faith, that having private discussions with their husbands at homes was better than publicly disrupting preaching or teaching services.
[2] The says absolutely nothing about women being under obedience. Paul must have been referencing unauthoritative Jewish tradition. Women are not singled out for oppression here. As is true, today, the same was true back then, that unsaved wives are more likely to go to church with believing husbands, than the husbands are with wives. The Church at Corinth likely had quite a few couples attending where only the husband was a believer. Since Paul had previously instructed both women and men in New Testament public speaking protocol (Joel prophesied of this and was quoted by Peter), the context implies that the apostle was not speaking to women in general—nor, indeed, to all wives. 

The context of this passage indicates that the Greek word, gyne G1135, has been mistranslated, in verse :34. The word should have been translated as wives—not as women. In this verse, the women commanded to silence are instructed to ask questions of their husbands at home. Since all women do not have husbands, only wives can be referred to, here. But not all wives. 

Joel’s prophecy about God’s daughters preaching and prophesying is not limited to his unmarried daughters. This leads to the obvious conclusion, that the wives Paul referred to were not qualified to speak in church. 

This means they were yet saved, for there is no time limit imposed upon new believers before they are permitted to speak in assemblies. 

A likely scenario is that born-again Jewish husbands were bringing their unbelieving Jewish wives to the church adjoining the synagogue in Corinth. The unsaved women, were obviously taking advantage of the new-found freedom Christian women experienced in assemblies, and were disrupting the services with questions about the new faith. 

There is also the possibility that some of these wives were reluctant attendees at the Christian church services, and resented being there in the first place. There could have been some deliberate disruption going on. In ancient times, husbands routinely ordered wives about. A first century wife could easily interpret an invitation from a husband [to attend church with him] as a command.

This portion of ! Corinthians chapter 14, is addressed in detail, in the book, Woman this is WAR! Gender Slavery and the Evangelical Caste System. The book also examines Bible commentary and translation practices which have historically been androcentric (male centered) and even misogynistic (anti-woman). 

   These have adversely effected understanding of the scriptures, relations between women and men, the happiness of men and women, and, in general, has hindered the work of the gospel, by forbidding women to preach, pastor, or serve as elders or deacons. The book chronicles the early history of the women's rights movements, as well as the role of church leadership in aggressively suppressing both women's rights and the historical record of Christian initiatives within the movements. 
   Through the complementarian movement, many of the same arguments used to support the institution of slavery, are still used today in suppressing the rights of Christian women. This book documents identical arguments used by Christian leaders against both movements and is an unparalleled resource for all who desire an in-depth study of gender equality from a historical and Christian perspective. 
   This book traces history of women’s rights, much further than usual, to the very first feminists…who were Christians—godly women, who brought the issue of women's rights to the forefront as they struggled to alleviate the suffering of others, and found they were hindered in doing so for no other reason than the fact of their sex. This work, provides valuable historical insight into Christian initiatives in the movements for women’s rights, that are rarely included in Christian literature.

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