Thursday, September 22, 2005

Post 4: An End Time Teaching for Women: Be All that Christ Called You to Be

I Corinthians 14
(Bible Refs. KJV-ASV)

Should Women Be Silent?

     Many Christians believe that we are living in the end times and that they, or at least their children, may very well witness the 2nd Coming of Christ. In times such as these, there are Christian women struggling to find their role in the body of Christ because in some churches women are not taught to first identify themselves as, yes, "sons of God," but rather are taught to seek their roles by first identifying with their gender, and then conforming to the appropriate body part or role in the “women's only” section in the body of Christ.  Now is the time for women to step up to the plate of God's truth and to be all that God has called them to be, and to teach other women to do the same. Nothing short of the truth will prepare us and our children in the times that we live, and especially in light of the encroaching darkness that is coming upon our world.

     If you as a woman feel a special call on your life and question your right to follow that call because of your gender, take note, because there is another side to the story that you might want to hear. Whatever situation we occupy in life, we are not bound to believe anything that exalts itself above the truth of God. It is God's truth that sets us free no matter what others may say or think, and when we know the truth, the half-truths no longer hold power over us. The first place to find freedom is the door to your own heart, as Proverbs 23:7 teaches us that we are what we think.  I wonder how many women have had their relationship with God at least diminished on some level, by believing that God, as taught by those who claim to be God's authorities and representatives of Scripture, does not consider them spiritually equal to men, as if the Spirit of Christ is hindered by one’s physical or emotional design.

     Are we empowered by God or is God empowered by us? Some may belittle you, but God is not belittling you. Some may treat and speak to you in a condescending manner as if you were a child, but God is not speaking to you that way. How important do you think it is to know that God does not share in these attitudes towards you? The most important and powerful relationship you have is your relationship with God and He alone will suffice, because there is nothing more significant to your victory in life then to know the true God and His true love for you. How can you fully know His love if you truly believe that He judges you differently because you are a woman. You are spiritual because you have the image of Christ within you. You are powerful because you have the power of Christ within you. You are full of wisdom and capable of leading others because you have the wisdom of Christ within you. You are a priest of God as Scripture states,

1Pe 2:5 ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

1Pe 2:9 But ye are a elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

     In Paul's day there were those who argued for the "silence" of women; they (women) were to be seen and not heard in the church of God. Some condemned the idea to the point that they declared it a "shame" for a women to speak in the church. The Apostle Paul dealt with this issue in 1 Corinthians 14, in verses 34 -39. This section of Scripture is clear in Paul's address of this issue and yet, the clear truth is fought and the arguments used to promote a gender "agenda" are to say, at the very least, "longwinded." There are many men of God who on the contrary seek to liberate women from spiritual falsehood, but also, there are many who seek to accomplish quite the opposite. As you will see below, Paul does not support the statement that women are to be silent in the congregation.

     The background or context for 1 Corinthians 14 concerns the proper use of prophesying, speaking in tongues, and the proper protocol of prophets as seen in verses 1 to 33. Apparently, women were performing these spiritual manifestations under the protest of at least some of the men congregants.  We start by reading verse 34,

1Co 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. (Paul here is stating the complaint made by some of the male congregants).

First, the phrase, “they are commanded” are words added by the translator and is not in the original text.

Second, author Charles Trombley in his book, “Who Said Women Can’t Teach?,” explains that the word “law” is a reference to the Torah and is the Jewish interpretation of oral law, with no such biblical law concerning the silence of women. This understanding of the meaning of law in this context is backed up by several academic sources, and it is well known that the women were not afforded the same rights as men and were treated as 2nd class citizens in Judaism. Trombley and others also logically point out that Paul accepted the women prophesying in the church as seen in 1 Corinthians 11 (this topic is treated in post 3). Therefore, this one example and the many examples provided in Scripture illustrate for us that Paul did not forbid women to speak in the church.

Verses 34-36 Seem to be abruptly interjected into the structure of Paul’s letter and has baffled some regarding the logical flow of the previous verses. Trombley’s thorough research from several scholarly resources conclude that Paul was quoting a complaint made by some of the men concerning the silence of women according to Jewish law. As we will see shortly, this view is verified by the very words of Paul.  Paul contradicts and does not back up the statement that women are to be silent!

     Paul will now state and address the complaint made against women:

1Co 14:35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. According to Bullinger’s Critical Greek Lexicon, shame used here means dishonor, disgrace, and vile.

1Co 14:36 What? Came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?
Now note Paul’s response to the aforementioned in verses 34-35 and in verse 36, Paul immediately corrects their attitude toward the silence of women; he confronts them by saying, in a sense, “what are you talking about,” and is understood by his rebuke with the following 2 questions:
1. Did we get the Word of God from you?
2. Is God’s Word for you alone?

1Co 14:37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
To those who reject Paul’s instruction Paul says,

1Co 14:38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.
Finally in verse 39 he instructs them against stopping anyone from speaking in tongues in the congregation and this includes the female members.

In Conclusion,
     Paul states the issue at hand and then follows through with a response. The whole letter concerns the manifestations and gifts of the Holy Spirit in which Paul concludes by forbidding anyone to stop another from speaking in tongues. Clearly, if he wanted to stop the women from speaking, he would have clarified his closing statement. When some of his letters are understood in the context shown above, the confusion, contradictions to other Scriptures, false accusations about Paul, and speculations should cease.

     If the men and women of the church are equal spiritually, does this mean that a man is not a man and a woman is not a woman? Does this mean the woman cannot respect, love and look up to the man in the way that comes natural for her to do? Does this mean the man cannot respect, love, and protect the woman in the way that is natural for him to do? Does this mean that the man has become a woman and the woman has become a man?

Have you ever heard the saying,

A bird takes flight not because God gave the bird wings to fly, but God gave the bird wings because the bird was meant to fly!