The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. (I Corinthians 14:34-35)
The passage above prohibits women from speaking as pastors or preachers during a church service. This is no doubt one of the most politically incorrect passages of Scripture. I’m most certainly going to offend a few people with this blog post, but I really have no choice but to do so. I take this passage at face value, and I refuse to skip a passage of Scripture just because people don’t agree with it.
The Apostle Paul here says that women are to keep silent in the churches, they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves to the teaching of men. Paul here is saying that women need to refrain from preaching and submit to male authority. This is not because men are better Christians or more spiritually mature then women. Paul says elsewhere that man and women are spiritually equal in Christ (Galatians 3:27-28). So then why does he limit their ministry in church? The answer is because God has equipped them differently than men for a different job. God has blessed women with stronger nurturing emotions than men, which allows them to minister to young children with greater skill. This is useful in the household, but this makes it harder for them to preach, because, these emotions can sometimes lead them astray. They are both a strength and a weakness. Because of these emotions women are more easily hurt then men. Preachers need to have thick skin, so they do not become bitter when they face opposition from their audience. Women deserve to be treated delicately because of their gentle nature, whereas preachers sometimes need to be bluntly and even publicly rebuked when they err. God simply did not intend for women to be preachers when he created them.
Now I know what I just said will hurt a lot of feelings. I’m sorry about that. Women are in no way inferior to men, and then do indeed have many roles in church. I believe that women can even teach men doctrine in private, although it must be done delicately with a spirit of submissiveness (see Acts 18:26). I, for one, have learned many things from discussions with my wife. I also think that women can teach each other in women’s Bible studies, and I am not opposed to women’s conferences either. Indeed there are many women in the Bible that had important ministries. If we interpret the passage above too harshly, we run the risk of shackling women’s opportunity for ministry more than the Spirit intends.
Ultimately, many people in our society, both male and female, hate this passage of Scripture because it teaches submission. People hate submission. They hate to submit to GOd and to each other. But submission is good for us. It reminds us that we are not individually the center of the universe, and that we need to treat other people and God as more important than ourselves (Phillippians 2:3-4).