Most brethren used to agree that women were not allowed to speak in the churches, but this was long ago when the church was young. Definitely, new testament churches were taught such by the apostle Paul. Paul said, “ Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church” (1 Cor 14:34) The churches of Christ used to abide by this direct commandment from Jesus Christ via the apostle Paul. (v37) However, as time passed and the world changed toward the equality of women, the churches of Christ also changed.
When the denominational churches began to teach children, in what they call ‘Sunday School’, the churches of Christ also followed. To do this, they had to explain how women could be silent in the church, and yet be allowed to be speakers. The explanations vary from local church to local church, but the result is the same.
Some say women can teach children because Paul only prohibited women teaching over men. When asked how they could violate the sanctity of ‘Silence’, some say, women can speak in the churches because they can sing in the churches. Some say Paul only meant this for the prophet’s wives. Some say this silence was only for married women. Some say Paul was not totally inspired. Some say women are to only keep silent during what they deem, “The Worship Service’. Many today will try and twist Paul’s commandment by using Greek lexicons and commentaries. In the end of all things, most keep silent about this touchy subject, and allow women to be teachers and speakers in the church. Let us examine these excuses the churches of Christ has created in order to break a direct commandment of God.
Women Teaching Children In The Church
Can women teach little children in the church? Ask any church of Christ member and 99.9% will say yes. Now find such in the bible, and you will come up empty. Women were placed in the home to love their children and to love and be subject to their husband. (Tit 2:3-5) Though women are saved by the gospel in the exact same way as men are, their duties as a Christian is different than men. Men were commissioned to preach to all the world. (Mt 28:19,20 f; Mk 16:15,16) No woman could do this and not break the commandment for women to be ‘Chaste keepers at home’. Truly, women as well as men are to teach their own children, (Eph 6:1,2) but in the churches, women were prohibited to be speakers. If they had any questions to ask, those questions must be asked separate and apart from the assembly. (1 Cor 14:35)
Women Singing In The Church
The commandment of singing was for all members of the church. (Eph 5:19 f; Col 3:16) Therefore, this is a situation of commandment vs commandment. Paul’s commandment prohibited women from speaking in the churches. To speak makes one a speaker, as a leader of the assembly. This Paul addressed to Timothy when he said, “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. ” (1 Tim 2:11,12) Immediately after Paul’s admonition concerning women not to teach or to take authority over men, the requirements for elders and deacons was given. (1 Tim 3:1-13) Contained within these was the requirement of a man to be the husband of one wife. (vs 2) Therefore, women can sing praises to God, but they can’t lead the proceeding. Why? Because they are submitting to men as they were commanded and they are obeying the commandment to sing.
Silence of Married Women Only
I have heard some argue that married women are to remain silent, but not single women. Paul never said single women can be speakers in the church. What he did say clarifies this argument totally, “And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.” (1 Cor 14:35) Take note the last part of this command. Paul said it is ‘Shameful for ‘Women’ to speak in the church’. This correlates with his opening statement which said, “ Let your women keep silent in the churches,” (v 34) Yes, if a woman is married she can ask her husband at home. A single woman would not have this option, but this does not in any way negate their prohibition to be speakers in the church.
Was Paul Totally Inspired?
To even question if Paul was totally inspired only uncovers the intent of all those who have broken a direct commandment from Jesus Christ. Yes, Paul was totally inspired. How do we know this? The apostle Peter called Paul’s letters to the churches ‘Scripture’. “And consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” Paul wrote to a young Timothy that ‘All Scripture’ was given by the inspiration of God’. (2 Tim 3:16,17) Simply put, all of Paul’s writings were inspired of God.
What Is The ‘Worship Service’?
You can look from Matthew to Revelation and you will never find the words ‘Worship Service’. By adding these two words, the churches of Christ has negated a direct commandment of God. They say, women can speak as long as it’s not the “Worship Service”. Attention to all who have added this phrase, most everyone is to remain silent in what they deem the ‘Worship Service’. They have defined the worship service to mean when the church partakes of the communion, gives of their means and hears preaching. However, the new testament no where gives us this phrasing or definition. It is all invented by the wisdom of men and not God. There is no difference between a bible study or what the churches of Christ call a worship service. The word church is nothing more than the assembly. When the saints are gathered to gather, this constitutes the church. Thus the Hebrew writer said, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb 10:25) Therefore, when the church comes to gather, all women are to remain silent.
The Use of Greek and Commentaries
I have written more than a few times on this one particular subject. Simply put, when the church uses the works of denominations, they soon will become a denomination. Thus, women allowed to teach ‘bible classes for children’ originated in denominations as did all these Greek and Hebrew Lexicons and Commentaries. Those who use such devices are also guilty of what Paul called ‘Disputes and arguments over words”. “If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.” (1 Tim 6:3-5)
Immediately before Paul commanded Christians to “Study to show yourself approved of God…” Paul wrote these words, “Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers.” (2 Tim 2:14) Let’s get real brethren, the bible is much too simple to argue over. You don’t need a PhD or to be a genius to understand the meaning of God’s simple commandments. In fact, the Word of God is hidden from such people. “At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.” (Mt 11:25)
Conclusion: Most liberal minded brethren today discard the words of Paul and feel free to do exactly what he condemned by the authority of Jesus Christ. To these and all who continue to break this commandment, let the Word of God speak to you this one conclusion: “Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached? If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant.” (1 Cor 14:36-38) It’s time for men to do what God commanded them to do and that is ‘Teach and Preach’ the Word of God. It’s time for women to submit to their husband, to the church, and remain silent in the churches of Christ.