Women in the church

1 Corinthians 14:34 reads, ” …women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.”

I grew up in the Church of Christ which, traditionally, has a very strong opinion of this verse. I am about to begin my own life and career and am leaning towards joining a nondenominational church that focuses on Jesus. In making that decision I hope to find clarity regarding some of the Church of Christ’s (and other denominations) traditional beliefs. In your opinion, should women have an active role in the church today?

The verse seems very straight forward but I want to be cautious not to read it out of context. Any help is greatly appreciated.

Finally, I really like the idea of an “anonymous” place for Christ followers to ask questions. I pray that this website continues to act as the Body of Christ.

I think this is a phenomenal question especially since it is something so widely accepted in the Christian community at large. I want you to know that the answer I give is not in arrogance thinking that I have everything figured out. I will however tell you what my understanding is of God’s will is as revealed in the Word concerning this issue.

First off, yes I definitely believe women have a very important active role in the church! Passages like 1 Corinthians 1 (Chloe), Romans 16 (numerous women), Philippians 4 (Euodia & Syntyche), among others mention women in prominent roles in church involvement and service. Couple this with the example of Aquila AND Priscila being constantly mentioned by Paul and even mentioned together in helping Apollos understand the Gospel more clearly (Acts 18) and we see women working side by side with men. Even when we look at Jesus’ ministry and further back into the OT we see God using women in significant ways (although these last examples of course would be pre-“church” but I think the principle carries carries forward).

With that being said, I do believe the Scriptures teach that there are restrictions given for women’s roles in teaching/leading men and especially in collective worship assemblies. I have a very difficult time seeing the restrictions of 1 Corinthians 14 on women’s roles in teaching in the church assembly as meaning anything other than what it says. “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says” (1 Corinthians 14:34). I know that is unpopular and culturally unacceptable, but if we believe that Paul was an inspired apostle of Jesus (Galatians 1:1, 11-12 among other passages where this claim is made) and if we believe that what Paul wrote to Corinth was the same that he taught to all people (1 Corinthians 4:17), then I think we have to take what he said to apply to us as we try to be followers of Jesus. I think it is also important to note that not only is this restriction listed here but a similar instruction is given in 1 Timothy 2:9-15 where women are limited in taking authority over a man and the reason given there is order in Creation and the circumstances of the fall.

Does that help? Am I speaking to your actual question? Again, I do not relish this position since it hurts some people and prevents some saints who in my estimation would be wonderful teachers from doing so, but at the same time I want to have faith that God’s way is put in place for a reason and his ways are better than mine. The Gospel is very counter-cultural and always has been (husbands loving and being understanding of their wives wasn’t a popular notion in the ancient Roman world). I suppose that is why Jesus called us to forsake all for him.

I’d love to keep up this correspondence. It sounds like you’ve had some discouraging experiences in your church background and I appreciate your desire to search for people who are faithful to Christ in both word and deed and not some denominational label. I can understand where you’re coming from and I would encourage you to seek Christ as it sounds like you are already doing. I hope we can maintain this correspondence and that it will be a blessing for you to have a safe place to talk through the experiences you have had and are currently having. God bless you.