Paul the Pyromaniac Apostle

Many of Paul’s writings are (accounting for postmodern sensitivities) highly incendiary, thus this post’s title. There are many Christians who don’t agree with many of Paul’s writings for many different reasons. I recently gave a teaching on the spiritual gift of tongues. Naturally I turned to the 12th and 14th chapters of Brother Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth. For this is where he gives us the guidelines for the correct usage of this spiritual gift, among others.

Embedded in this text are a couple of verses which will not endear Brother Paul to today’s denizens. The verses go something like this:

“The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak; but are subject themselves, just as the Law also says.” (1 Corinthians 14:34)

As if he didn’t step on enough toes already, Paul adds ‘insult to injury’ in the next verse:

“If they (women) desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.” (1 Corinthians 14:35)

There has to be a perfectly good explanation that will soothe our egalitarian mindsets right? What are we to do with this text? As people who take Paul’s writings as God-breathed what are we to do? I have not done a word study on these texts so the conciliatory answer must lie there, no?

In the words of one Little Richard, “Help me, Somebody Help me!”

6 Responses to Paul the Pyromaniac Apostle

  1. diana says:

    Hi there.
    I don’t disagree with those lines. I think Paul is talking about debate in the church. He has made it clear in 1 Corinthians 11 that women may pray and prophecy, and so “being silent” doesn’t mean literally keeping mum. Paul always stressed on orderly worship because God is a God of order and not of chaos. In that way Paul also said “those who wish to speak in tongues, let them keep silent if there is no one to interpret”. He didn’t forbid speaking in tongues, but he said do it in a way that edifies the church and does not cause confusion. When an interpreter is present, let maximum 3 speak, one at a time. That is not discrimination against those who speak in tongues.
    You just did a thing on tongues so you already know all that and more.

    When Paul said “if women wish to learn let their husbands teach them at home” I think it implies two things. Firstly, that husbands have authority over their wives, not just to boss them around but also to teach and build them up in the Lord. That’s absolutely crucial, its their responsibility. Secondly, women should be aware that sin came first from Eve and they should accept God’s place for them in humility. That does not mean women are inferior to men, it only means they have a different role.

    When God cursed Eve, he said to her “your desire will be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” If we inherited sin from them, we inherit that as well. It does not mean women can’t teach. It just means we shouldn’t have authority. Paul DID ask women to teach the younger women, and Jesus told ALL his disciples to go out and proclaim his word. We are not in ANY way stopped from doing our good work for Christ. We are to proclaim his word, and do it obediently, in humility, considering others better than ourselves, and treating our husbands with the respect that is required from us. Our husbands have heaps to do back for us, including teaching,, see there are many things which are solely the men’s responsibility and that is a peace-causing division of labour which does not bring women down in any way. God has divided work because he is a God of order. Not of chaos. And that is why we are not all eyes, not all ears, not all hands, not all feet – we are all members of Christ, and individually members of one another. Women’s silence in churches isn’t a literal zipping of their lips, it is advice for them to keep away from debating and taking on authority in the church, when they are called to learn and build up the church in a different way.

    Just my thoughts. Sorry this got a bit long.

  2. bonnieq says:

    God’s ways are not man’s ways, God’s thoughts are not man’s thoughts. To put this into perspective, God made man holy unto Him, but He made woman for man’s glory; therefore, man is supposed to be the spiritual leaders, especially in the synagogues. This is not to say that a spiritually gifted woman cannot teach in other arenas, just not in the church building.

    Other scriptures reveal that the older women are to teach the younger women. We also find a few Biblical women who were prophets of God; therefore, we women do have a place, it’s just that most women haven’t got a clue. Rather, they grab onto society’s dictate that what a man can do, so can a woman do. “Society be damned and committed to hell; for the Devil’s number they have and his name they spell.”

    Still, while I have no doubt, as a woman, that I can do almost anything a man can do– and have had to do so when no man was available– it is not always the wisest course. Eve got Adam kicked out of Eden, and women ever since have been doing a bang up job of destroying the holiness of men. Women have got to get back to God’s guidelines for women; only then might we see fewer divorces, less abuse, less rape, fewer men hating women.

    Eve threw out the ball and we women grabbed it and ran, without ever stopping to think about the long range consequences. We are paying for it dearly today.

    As you say, the mindset today would have me hanging from the nearest tree; and, I guarantee you that my Biblical lessons on God’s opinion of the woman’s role as well as divorce are not well received at all: BUT! it is all scriptural and all truth. I just pray to reach even a few women.

    Thank you for posting this great article. Stop by for a visit sometime. 🙂

    Love in Christ,
    Truth Seekers and Speakers, link in blogroll
    Unicorn Haven, link in blogroll

  3. teachmedad says:

    In that day, women were not given the same educational opportunities as men. Secondly, they were segregated from the men in the church – the men on one side, the women on the other.

    So when the woman wouldn’t understand something, she would yell across the aisle to her husband –
    “Hey George, what does that mean? Santification? Never heard of it. What’s he talking about?” And it would interrupt the service.

    So Paul simply told the women to remain silent in the church and ask their husbands about it when they got home.

    It’s no big sexist thing. Paul was just trying to keep order.

    Del Gibbs

  4. diana says:

    Del, you say it so easily. lol. Good work

  5. Lazaro says:

    Thanks ya’ll for your input, it has all been very helpful.


  6. Troy says:

    Greetings. A measuring rule has many lines/bars on it representing lengths, whether inches or millimeters. Although there are many lines yet at the edge of the rule all of the bars line up. So it is with the Word of GOD there are many books and many verses within those books and ALL line up.
    Those who present to me their doctrine must show the ‘lining up’ of their doctrine from Genesis to Revelation.
    Through out scripture from Genesis to Revelation 1 Cor. 11:3 is seen and perceived as GOD’S order.


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