This topic has widely been debated, from those within the different denominations of Christianity to atheists, skeptics, feminists, and others who are passionate about the equality of men and women. Before we begin, it’s important to recognize that no one is arguing that women are less intrinsically valuable or inferior to men. It’s my hope that rational, loving people would recognize that this is not the argument at hand.
There are two basic thoughts. The first theological view is called complementarianism. It is held by some in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, that men and women have different but complementary roles and responsibilities in marriage, family life, religious leadership, and other areas of service.
The second theological view is called egalitarianism. It states that “all humans are equal in fundamental worth or social status,” according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. So the real question is, “Do men and women share the same roles and responsibilities?” Let’s see the passage that talks about women remaining silent in church and then make a final assessment.
1 Corinthians 14:33-35 and 1 Timothy 2:12 state: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” Earlier in the same epistle, 1 Corinthians 11:5, Paul mentions that women were praying and prophesying in church and that older women were teaching younger women (Titus 2:4). Therefore, 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 must not be an absolute command for women to be silent in church.
The concern of 1 Corinthians 14 is about order and structure. In that assembly, no one was exercising any authority. No elder, deacon, or pastor is even mentioned in these epistles. It’s quite possible that everyone in the church service was “most likely” doing whatever they wanted, whenever they desired.
Those speaking in tongues were yelling chaotically, others were receiving a person, emotional experience from God and no one was concerned about the interpretation or what to do if an unbeliever walks in and sees chaos and confusion. Consequently, the women were trying to take the lead instead of allowing the husbands to assume their God-given responsibility to help the church (1 Tim 2:11-15).
This could be the reason why Paul was telling the women to remain silent, not because of their inferiority, but because of the problem with that particular church. It’s important to realize when engaging in hermeneutics, the scientific principle of biblical study, not to take one passage and justify it as an absolute.
There are other scripture references that teach women are co-equal with men, and in no way are less superior to them. They just have different roles. For example, in Galatians, Pau told the church, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave or free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This passage validates the fact that both men and women are created equally in God’s eyes and are intrinsically valuable.
For more information, see the article here.
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