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In this section of the 14th Chapter of Corinthians Paul rebukes a few women in the congregation, who did not, evidently, understand their God-ordained place in relationship to the male members in the church. Fact is, that they were those who did not understand this place in the church because they did not know these first principles in the home, in the marital relationship of husband and wife! 

It seems quite likely that the Corinthian women were rather free and bold in their conduct so that Paul had occasion in I Cor. 11:1-16 to instruct, correct and admonish them in their conduct in the services, coming with their hair shorn, assuming masculine mannerisms, hair-do and dress! 

Surely what Paul has to say to the Corinthians is also applicable in our day for the women in the church. 

The passage here in I Corinthians 14:34-36 leads as follows, “Let your woman 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. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for woman to speak in the church. What? came the word of God, out from you? or came it unto you only?” 

Now surely this passage is still concerned with the “spiritual gifts” in the church, be it then by way of a sort of an appendage. It calls a halt to the sinful emancipation of the woman in the church, which simply must lead to the wife ruling over the husband. That is against the “law” of God, God’s created ordinances as they are “from the beginning!” It destroys the mystery of God as portrayed in the relationship of Christ to the church. See Ephesians 5:22-33. Such conduct of women betrays a lack of spiritual sensitiveness of what is right and proper in sight of God. And a husband, who allows his wife to rule over him, too, shows a lack of spiritual manhood, reflecting the headship of Christ over the church. And a consistory which allows women to rule in the church also shows that it is composed of men, who do not know how to rule their own houses well; such members should not be in office! I Tim. 3:1-13

Surely Paul is not militating against the spiritual equality that a woman (female) has the man (the male) in Christ as a living member by faith in Christ. In the spiritual body of Christ there is really no prerogative which the male has over the female. For in Christ all are one. And presently in heaven the distinction is really wholly gone between male and female. For there we shall be like the angels in heaven, neither marrying nor given in marriage, Matt. 22:31. And does not Paul write in Gal. 3:27-29, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There shall be neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond not free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all on in Christ Jesus . . .” Certainly, if words have meaning, Paul here places the woman (female) on a par with the man (male) in Christ Jesus. As image-bearers of God in their soul and spirit and body women are not inferior creatures. She toe, was created in the image of Godin the beginning (Gen. 1:27). 

And many of the “gift” spoken of in I Corinthians 12:1through I Corinthians 13 are given to the woman in the church, as the Spirit wills, counsels to do. Many a sister in the Lord has received great gifts of faith, knowledge, wisdom, patience, meekness, etc. 

Paul, however, is not speaking of the latter in this passage!

He is speaking of their place “in the church,” that is, in the congregational worship. Here there was speaking with tongues prophesying, all to the edification of the church; also for the edification of the “women” in the church, as living members of God’s church! 

The fact that a woman (female) has equality in Christ with the man (male) does not imply that they haveequality in this life in the institutional life of the church. Also here the natural is first; afterwards that which is spiritual! (See I Cor. 15:46). A woman has no more equality in the institutional life of the church than what she has in the marital relationship with her husband. Here is the place of obedience to her husband! 

Thus it is written in the “law.” “For it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” Hence, this is not simply a rule which must be applied to a few unruly women in the church at Corinth; it is a universal rule laid down for all climes and ages, and which has always been practiced by godly women, true daughters of Sara. I Peter 3:1-4.

And this is a rule which the consistory in Corinth must practice, and which must be insisted upon by all Christian husbands in the Corinthian congregations! Not to do so would demonstrate even the consistory and the husbands as such, who do not understand the very A-B-C of God’s ordinance. Paul does not address the “women” here in this section, but addresses the congregation, that is, the Consistory to this Effect. Says he: Let your women keep silence in the churches.

For surely the “law” here does not simply refer to the Decalogue (although the principle of the priority of the “father” is suggested in the fifth commandment) but refers to the entire Word of God, as this Word is the norm of faith and life in the home and in the church. Fact is, that this is the rule laid down by God in the first wedding, namely, that of Adam and Eve in Paradise. Seen Gen. 1:27Gen. 2:7, 22. And we know how ill it fared with Eve when she did not stay in her role, but was in the transgression by speaking with Satan in the form of the serpent; without consulting her husband. She spoke out of turn. See I Timothy 2:11 where we read, “Let the woman (female) learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in transgression . . . .”

Two principles are here to be remembered. The first is the principle of the fact that Adam was first created, and that the woman was taken out of the man. The second is, that the woman sinned first, exactly because she usurped a place over the husband! And, we may add, that Christ has come to establish the original order of creation, and, therefore, good order (rank) and decency is that a woman shall not teach in the congregation, shall in no wise rule over the man!

Turning to the pages of Scripture, one might cite the example of Deborah in the days of the judges and that of Hulda the prophetess in the days of King Josiah. (See Judges 5 and Judges 6 and II Kings 22:14 and II Chron. 34:22). Both of these woman were prophetesses. And one of them, Deborah, even ruled over all Israel. For we read in Judges 4:4, “And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time. And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.” 

Now, what must be said of this? 

We are certain that in all cases where a woman rules, it was always in very abnormal times in the church, when the very foundations were about to be destroyed. It is the exception to the rule in Scripture, and, therefore in each case establishes the rule laid down in the law. At such a time men did not quit themselves like men. It was not a case of a woman ruling over a man, hut it was rather a case that the foundations of righteousness and the service of God should stand. Such was the case in the days of Deborah. What courage (?) did Barak exhibit to fight the battles of Jehovah when he said, “If thou wilt go with me, then will I go!” And why did the glory of this battle go to a woman by name of Jael? Why must Sisera lay prostrate at her feet? 

Surely this is an indictment against the men in Israel in Deborah’s day. 

And what about the days of King Josiah? Was that too not a time when the teachers in Israel had utterly failed to instruct the people in the law? Was the scroll of the law not found by the workmen in the temple? Truly that the prophetess, Huldah, must be inquired after by the very leaders in Israel is an indictment against Israel! It was the exception that confirmed the rule. 

In the church women are to be silent. 

They are not to climb the pulpit; neither are they to rule the “roost” at home! The latter type of woman would surely climb the pulpit betimes were she in a position to do so. How well a minister of some twenty-five years of experience knows this! 

Is she then in no wise to be a prophet? Has the Holy Spirit not also anointed the believing mother with the office of believer, prophetess, priesteress and—ah, queen? 

Her place is in the home. She speaks in relationship to the children. She is to be honored as such by them next to and under the father! And what a beautiful place she graces in the home. 

She is the very picture of Christ in her “silence” toward her husband. She is beautiful as was Sara of old. 

When she grows old she must teach the young women, the daughters by example and precept to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed!Titus 2:3-5

Yes, I have anticipated the question of our Christian school teachers, our Sunday school teachers, who are sisters in the Lord? Does this then mean that we should not teach? I answer: Paul is speaking of the offices in the church. Ministers, elders and deacons. These must be men. He is, not speaking of the school as an extension of the home. Such are our day schools, are they not? Are they not ruled and governed by the “Board.” Men, they are. Let the teachers remember. And our Sunday Schools? Here woman do not teach men, do they? They teach classes ofchildren. In a sense, they are helpers of the Ministers. But in so doing they often receive instruction at the teacher’s meeting from ministers, either in the Instructor or personally. 

If any in Corinth would desire it different, and insist on having women speak, have their own confusion of speaking with tongues and prophesying, Paul asks in effect with Job, “Has wisdom died with you?” Did the Word of God go forth from you? Are you the very archetype of wisdom and knowledge? The whole army of the saints is out of step, except ye Corinthians, says Paul ironically! Or did the Word of God only come to you. You alone know, what is right? 

Well, be assured, that what I tell you in this letter is the “commandment of the Lord.” 

If a man is too ignorant to learn, let him be ignorant and suffer the consequences. 

Meanwhile let all things be done decently and in order. 

And last but not least: in the love of Christ Jesus! 

—G.L.