"Women should be silent in the churches..."

(I Corinthians 14:34)
Hubby and I have been having discussions lately about what other people believe about women’s roles in the church. The thing that has been on my mind lately is Christians who insist that women are not to speak in church at all.

Now in most churches that’s really not a problem since the only one who ever gets to utter a word is the pastor. In my church we have open sharing and prayer times where anyone can share and pray about what is on their hearts. Both men and women often stand up to share insights that they have had recently, to inform people of new things in their lives, and to join in praying for others.

There is a woman who attends our church with her adult son. She often stands up to thank the church for something or to ask for prayer. Last Sunday and this Sunday as she stood to speak I wondered to myself, who would speak for this woman if our church did not allow women to speak during the service? She is only ever accompanied by her son who is on the developmental level of a child. Would she have to enlist the aid of some willing male in the congregation to convey her thanks or her desire for prayer? Or would she have no voice at all? Who would speak for the other women without husbands, fathers, or sons to speak for them?

As I sat pondering these things I realized that what I was thinking sounded uncomfortably like the situation you find in certain cultural/religious circles where women are not allowed to so much as blink with out the approval and supervision of a male relative. Somehow I don’t think this is what God had in mind for the intelligent beings that he created in his image.

A pet peeve of mine is that most discussions that I have seen of what women are and are not allowed to do in church are fairly insulting to women. Someone will often throw out a token, “Women aren’t inferior to men” and then proceed to treat women exactly as if they are. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to what women aren’t allowed to do other than the bias of the men and women involved in making the decision.

Let me make it clear that I am not claiming that there should be no role distinctions between men and women in the Christian church and in the Christian family. I just happen to think that there are some pretty clear distinctions and some that are not so clear. I also think that there are some demands placed on Christian women that are not supported by the Bible. And not allowing women to speak at all in church just happens to be one of them.

Update: Hubby found me this link to a paper by D.A. Carson on this issue.


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