We read this in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (ESV)
34 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.
35 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.
It is popular to argue that the rule applied only in early Christian times and does not apply today for various reasons. One argument is that now men and women are equally educated whereas at the time Paul wrote the passage women were generally uneducated. Therefore it is commonly held that men and woman can teach, prophesy and lead equally well in churches today.
However, Paul says this rule is found in the Law of Moses. Whether it is explicit in the Law or derived from it, it is impossible for either men or women to have been educated in the Law before God gave the Law to Moses. Therefore I doubt that the rule has anything to do with the education of either men or women. But rather it is concerned with something else – perhaps the natures of men and women or their relationship with God.
Whatever the rationale, it is very common for women to not only speak in most modern churches, but to lead and teach as well. However there is an old saying that applies not just to churches, but to the broader context of our lives as well, “When the women stand up, the men sit down.” The saying generally means that as women assume leadership, men tend to participate less.
While that is not universally true, I have witnessed that same reaction in various organizations and you have probably seen it too. I doubt if that is a cultural response because I have seen it and heard about the same thing happening in different countries.
When the women take positions of leadership in the church it means that fewer men participate in church leadership and functions which seems to result in fewer men attending church.
So what does all that mean? I suspect it is a factor in why Christ’s churches are struggling in recognition, authority and attendance.
I have read studies indicating that, in a family, when only a mother takes the children to church, the likelihood of the children developing a lifetime commitment to Christ is less than if the father is also involved.
Studies also indicate that when the father attends church regularly, (which he is more likely to do if he is participating) the children are more likely to remain committed to Christ for the rest of their lives.
You know that when you drop a pebble in a pond the ripples go out until the energy from the pebble is used up. The little waves either strike something like a rock or the edge of the pond or, if the pond is big enough, they just get used up moving water around. If the pebble is big enough the pond itself can actually suffer from the effects.
Could it be that women taking leadership roles in churches today is like pebbles in a pond? Could it be that such popular cultural behaviors are negatively affecting the church? Is the issue of women in church leadership a form of syncretism? Could it be that we are to follow the Bible as closely as we can and rather than imitate the popular culture we are to set ourselves apart from it by acting differently?
Did this article affect the way you think about worship? Please let me know. Your responses help me to know what your interests are.
BTW: I have expanded on the concept of worship in my book “Worshiping Alone”. If you have read the book, please go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble and leave a comment (click on rating stars). If you haven’t yet read it, please order a copy, read it, then leave a comment.
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