When is it right to speak? The role of the woman in the church is one of the most debated topics. Can a woman be a pastor? Is it right for them to teach men? When is it right to speak in the church? There are sharply divided lines on this and how you answer it depends on how you interpret scripture.
As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But all things should be done decently and in order.
What is Right?
Well, this is downright controversial. Should women be silent? If they have a question, they should ask their husband? What is going on here? Sometimes there are passages in the Bible that need historical explanation. It is not what it appears.
Paul has already established that women can speak by using their spiritual gift. Women prayed during the services and prophesied. He also told them to pray in the church services. So what is up here? Why is Paul telling the women to be silent? Women were considered second-class citizens in the Roman empire. They were the property of their husbands with the sole role of bearing children and maintaining the house; most were illiterate and uneducated. Women weren’t seen out in public much and had strict dress codes so they would not be confused with the prostitutes in the city.
In ancient churches, the congregation was divided by gender. The women sat together on one side of the building and the men on the other. While the teacher was speaking, they were to remain silent. If a woman had a question, she was to wait until they got home and he would explain it instead of disrupting the service. This verse in no way makes men better than women. Paul tells us that we are all created equal. What he wanted to get across was that there were to be no disruptions in the church service.
When is it right to Speak?
When is it right for a woman to speak in church? According to Paul they can pray, sing, and prophesy. All of these serve an important purpose in the church. While we may not fully agree with this passage, we are called to obey it. Yes, women can teach just as good as men, but that’s not the issue. We are to obey the Word of God as we submit ourselves under Christ’s authority.