WOMEN SPEAKING IN CHURCH    by  Mary A. LaClair      women mouth taped

The Corinthian church was seriously lacking in order and chapters 11-14 of First Corinhians deal with conducting an orderly meeting. In chapter 14 it tells women not to interrupt the service. The passage below addresses two issues for conduct of public worship: (1) women who speak and prophesy with authority and(2) women who interrupt to ask questions. See if you can pick out where each is addressed in this Scripture:

“1 Corinthians 11
New Living Translation (NLT)
‘11 1 And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.
Instructions for Public Worship
“2 I am so glad that you always keep me in your thoughts, and that you are following the teachings I passed on to you. 3 But there is one thing I want you to know: The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.[a] 4 A man dishonors his head[b] if he covers his head while praying or prophesying. 5 But a woman dishonors her head[c] if she prays or prophesies” —(in public worship)— “without a covering on her head, for this is the same as shaving her head. 6 Yes, if she refuses to wear a head covering, she should cut off all her hair! But since it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut or her head shaved, she should wear a covering.[d’]”

There seems to be no doubt that this portion is dealing with public worship gatherings and some Bibles even include the heading to this part of the chapter as INSTRUCTIONS FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP ie. NIV; CEV, NLT (as above)
It’s possible to get caught up in the word picture of hats and head coverings that the picture of women speaking and prophesying in church is missed by many. What this is saying is that it’s taken for granted for women to naturally pray and prophesy in public worship, and thus instructions on properly doing so.

???????????????????????????????????????ladies old fashion hats

Conversing with a Pastor, I offered to speak in his church on the principle of tithing. I was told I could speak only to the ladies Bible study; but I would not be invited to speak to the church as a whole. That particular church interpreted 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 “Let women remain silent and ask their husbands when they get home ” (my paraphrase) as actually saying women were not to speak in church at all which Scripture will prove a mis-interpretation.
Scripture says it this way:

34 women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 35 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. 1 Cor 14:34 35(from New International Version)

The New King James puts it this way:

34 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.35 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 35NKJV emphasis mine

When this Scripture was written, women sat on one side of the church and men on the other side. Asking a question of their husbands meant calling out across the room. One will note that chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians is addressed to an unruly church where everyone was speaking at once.

No matter which version is used; verse 35 explains verse 34. It means, “don’t interrupt a service or a teaching to ask a question”. It specifically addresses women asking questions during a service. Speaking and interrupting are two different things. women at podiumwomen w blaring megaphone at manEvery once in awhile I get serious about dogging God until He explains a particular Scripture to me. I feel I have some insight as to how and why that Scripture came about, and I got my answer from secular television. Yes, it’s true! And it’s not the first time God directed me to TV for an answer. One time He told me I’d find my answer on that night’s weather forecast! And I did! That’s another article.

Additionally a lot of our TV sit-coms feature loud over-bearing women with a Brooklyn accent.

The fictional characters of the Seinfeld and the Costanza mothers on the famous sit-com , are not portrayals of a general quiet female character.

I can just hear a Fran Dresher-type woman at an Old Testament prayer meeting call out to her husband, speaking without permission “Hey, Sam, what does that mean….. ?”, followed by laughter. While I’m not picking on anyone here, TV does admit this type of woman exists, else where would be the relational comedy ?

In addition, some Mediterranean people groups are known for their large outgoing Mamas’ who don’t mind either being loud; or, feigning ignorance for the sake of the male. Hmmmm….so…

…it definitely could be that this Scripture was written for a certain type of woman, in a certain situation, and not for all women in general. I think it was NOT written for the soft spoken contemplative wife of 1st Peter 3:4 5…

4 “Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.” NIV

There is a difference between speaking and interrupting. To be in submission here means not to interrupt. To make that one Scripture an example for all women is comparable to relating female comedienne’s to all women. Not so!

I wish to thank the TV producers, and the actresses who accept these roles, for having given me what I feel is insight into this Scripture!

And I thank God for women preachers like Joyce Meyer, Marilyn Hickey, Beth Moore, etc. etc. and am grateful that Diana Hagee is given the pulpit on occasion, also. women at podium                            Yes!

Proverbs 1:20 still holds true!

Prov 1:20

20 Wisdom calls aloud in the street,

she raises her voice in the public squares; (NIV)

The Spirit of Wisdom, in Scripture, is always in the female gender – – that’s woman!

Prov 1:20 21 from the Revised Standard:

20 Wisdom cries aloud in the street;

in the markets she raises her voice;

21 on the top of the walls she cries out;

at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: RSV

Proverbs 8:1-4 “Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? 2 On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; 3 beside the gates leading into the city, at the entrances, she cries aloud: 4 “To you, O men, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind.” (from New International Version)

There is a difference between speaking and interrupting. To be in submission here means not to interrupt. To make that one Scripture an example for all women is comparable to relating female comedienne’s to all women. Not so!

1 Corinthians 11:4-5 says that when women pray and prophesy in church that she should have her head covered:

“Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved.”  (NIV)

This certainly admits that men do not have exclusionary rights when it comes to speaking in church, or even prophesying in church — for Holy Scripture says that when women do prophesy in church, they should wear a ‘hat’ or a scarf. And that is women speaking in church!

They should speak with their wisdom as God intends.

Further reading relating to this topic is found at: AND AT—in-society-in-church

Thanks for reading and contemplating the whole of God’s word on this subject.


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