Monday, December 06, 2010

Women Keep Silent!

Posted by Hannah at 7:00 AM

1 Corinthians 14

I was watching a very interesting video clip on youtube that someone had pointed out.  Paul was speaking with the church in Corinth.  I'm sure most of us realize at that point there was no actual church building, and services were held in different places.  It must have been an exciting and scary time all bundled into one. 

1 Corinthians 14:23-25 GNB  (23)  If, then, the whole church meets together and everyone starts speaking in strange tongues---and if some ordinary people or unbelievers come in, won't they say that you are all crazy?  (24)  But if everyone is proclaiming God's message when some unbelievers or ordinary people come in, they will be convinced of their sin by what they hear. They will be judged by all they hear,  (25)  their secret thoughts will be brought into the open, and they will bow down and worship God, confessing, "Truly God is here among you!"

I have to admit I think Paul has a point here.  Can you imagine being invited to learn more about Christianity, and you walk into the gathering placing with chaos going on?  

Among this group of people everyone is doing their own thing at the same time!

IN THIS CORNER - you have people speaking languages you don't understand!

IN the other CORNER - you have people praying and stating what God is doing in their life!

IN the center of the ring - you have people SINGING his praises!

Not very inviting is it?  I can see how people would think they are all crazy.  ALL these people doing their own thing at the same time - chaos!

Paul spoke about how this group in Corith needs to worship in an orderly fashion, so that those within the worship circle - and those newcomers can be edified, uplifted, and understand what God wishes to reveal to them.

1 Corinthians 14:26-31 GNB  (26)  This is what I mean, my friends. When you meet for worship, one person has a hymn, another a teaching, another a revelation from God, another a message in strange tongues, and still another the explanation of what is said. Everything must be of help to the church.  (27)  If someone is going to speak in strange tongues, two or three at the most should speak, one after the other, and someone else must explain what is being said.  (28)  But if no one is there who can explain, then the one who speaks in strange tongues must be quiet and speak only to himself and to God.  (29)  Two or three who are given God's message should speak, while the others are to judge what they say.  (30)  But if someone sitting in the meeting receives a message from God, the one who is speaking should stop.  (31)  All of you may proclaim God's message, one by one, so that everyone will learn and be encouraged.

To me he is saying everyone must take turns.  

If someone is nudged by the Holy Spirit to speak in tongues, then someone must interpret to the others what is being said.  If no one can interpret what is being said they are asked to be silent, and speak only to God at that point.  Paul earlier in this chapter mentioned the reasons why this is done.  The worship is for the benefit of all in attendance, and if you can't understand what the person is saying?  What benefit are you receiving?  The Holy Spirit may be working in this person, but if you can't understand the message?

Everyone is encouraged to speak, and share one by one so that the group as a whole is edified, uplifted, and encouraged.

1 Corinthians 14:32-35 GNB  (32)  The gift of proclaiming God's message should be under the speaker's control,  (33)  because God does not want us to be in disorder but in harmony and peace. As in all the churches of God's people,  (34)  the women should keep quiet in the meetings. They are not allowed to speak; as the Jewish Law says, they must not be in charge.  (35)  If they want to find out about something, they should ask their husbands at home. It is a disgraceful thing for a woman to speak in a church meeting.

The final portion of this scripture has been questioned over and over.  It tends to contradict Paul's message though out the bible, and in this section of scripture as well. Why would Paul said everyone need to take turns sharing with the group so they can learn and be uplifted - then say only means PART of the crowd that has gathered can do so?

One interesting note I took from the video was there was no law of submission at the time.  For me personally?  I thought of Ephesians 5.  That references submission right?  I found the problem with that is Ephesians had not even been written yet.  It would be at least 5-7 years down the road before it was written.  It was also interesting that there was no law about submission of women mentioned in the bible prior, and that for people causes confusion about this verse. 

They had mentioned that this portion of scripture is placed in different spots in different manuscripts they had found for scripture as well.  So was it intended to be placed here in the first place?  Why would he encourage everyone to share, and then say to the women to be silent?  There are plenty of theories.

To me one makes more sense when you view the nature of God, Jesus, and YES even Paul!  Paul speaks of order, and states that one person that is nudged by the Holy to either speak in tongues, prophecy, edify, etc you are to take turns.  If one speaks in tongues and no one can interpret?  Be silence.  It could mean that next time you get together for worship if you are nudged again someone WILL be able to interpret, and all can benefit from this.  It certainly doesn't mean sit down and hush forever!

I was reading a story from someone that had family in China, and they were missionaries.  This was a time in history when the Chinese women were kept at home, and their feet were bound for vanity purposes.  When the family came to hear the worship service these women didn't understand the Etiquette of worship.  They would be speaking to other women during the service to catch up on things.  Yes it was chaos!  When the worship service was finished?  A family member of the missionaries said something along the lines of, "WOW we are back in the Corith Church!"

I'm sure at the time some women understood the etiquette of worship, and others didn't know this.  I know at first when I learned about this I was thinking mostly Jewish women would be in attendance.  They had been in their section within the temples, and had viewed a form of etiquette.  I didn't stop to think about the fact they welcomed Gentiles at that point.  You had people from all walks of life attending these worship gatherings.  Some of course wouldn't have the first clue about etiquette of worship, and I can understand WHY they would ask them to be silent due to the chaos they would cause.

It was the same principal I had for my children when we were at church, and the bread and the wine were being presented.  I wanted to make sure my children understood WHY this was being done, and made sure they KNEW what they were doing.  I'm sure it looked FUN from the outside to them, but they needed to understand the meaning before I allowed them to participate.  They needed to be old enough to grasp this.  That was important to me, and I'm sure when they were young they didn't quite understand why MOM wasn't allowing them to participate in this 'fun time' at church.  I wanted them to be mature enough to understand.  It was more than, 'WOW we get to eat bread and drink grape juice this morning!" 

Anyway, it would make sense to me that until these women understand how to function within worship gatherings they were to keep silent.  I don't believe that Paul meant that women were to keep silent always, because we see women in the bible mentioned participating in ways they couldn't if they had to keep silent.

I realize some today use this verse to say if women do participate - and not be silent - THEY are in charge.  This is just plain silly.  Paul was asking people to take turns, and there wasn't anyone 'in charge' in that sense.  The principal to me for this worship was to grow in the faith, and not be IN charge.  They were there to edify each other, and to be led by the Holy Spirit.  Paul speaks in different places in the bible about women sharing and teaching the faith, and it wasn't about a power struggle as most like to present it.  It was to learn and to grow in the faith, and how much more important is that compared to some human realm of power.

This passage in scripture was speaking more on the orderly fashion that the worshipers should follow so that chaos didn't erupt, and also that people were not using the church for their own personal gains.  It speaks more about that, but there are those that tend to just concentrate on 'woman need to be silent and sit down'.  

If you think about that part?  They truly need to check their heart!  It tends to be more out of selfish motive, and its clear when they open their mouths to explain this passage.  Their motive is also spoken about in this passage.  When the Holy Spirit is moving inside of an individual, and it is shared?  God is blessing us with this message, and it is from HIM that it comes.  It truly has nothing to do with gender.

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Anonymous said...

Let me confirm that thought about Chinese women. I have been to certain sports gatherings where Chinese mothers were congregated. They were often forgetful of the western etiquette of being orderly and allowing the coach to speak to the kids. They would just be obliviously talking at the top of their voices to one another in Chinese.

I also remember being at church leaders meetings and being seated next to people of other backgrounds. They would think nothing of turning and talking to me in the middle of it, particularly if they had a question to ask but sometimes just to comment. Eventually, the chairperson would ask for our attention and it seemed no matter how much I tried to ignore the conversation and obey the chairperson, the person beside me would continue, without embarrassment! I think it is just an ethnic thing.

Hannah on 8:21 AM said...

Yes. I understand what you are saying. I have had similar circumstances myself. They didn't understand what they were doing was seen as 'disruptive'. It wasn't until someone had the chance to sit them down and explain it to them do they understand. This isn't a uncommon when you mix together different cultures, backgrounds, etc.

I remember working for a french bakery when I was young. The corporate headquarters was in France, and it wasn't unusual for them transfer French men to the USA to work at these companies. I remember one in particular that seemed to scare our Hispanic employees. Why? He carried around a 'purse', and I guess they also have different hygiene habits. So they thought he was gay, and he stinks on top of it. I handled explaining the 'purse' deal to him, but had the french men explain the use of deodorant. Handbags are not unusual at the time for men in France. He didn't realize how that portrayed him here. I also remember explaining the culture to one of the Hispanic women, and how he wasn't 'gay' - and how hygiene was different in France. Within the week no purse, and his stint was gone. TENSIONS calmed!

When you place that circumstances forward this portion of scripture makes more sense. Paul would be causing so much confusion if he first said to offer prayers, songs, etc - and then tells them to hush as well.

Where as if they followed the Etiquette of worship compared to those that didn't? It seems rational, and a common sense thing to ask under the circumstance.

Mara Reid on 1:53 PM said...

Hannah and Anonymous,
These things are good to know.

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