Wednesday, 18 February 2015
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 Corinthians 14:35
Like the previous verse, this is a command. Far too many scholars and teachers say that this is merely a cultural or geographically isolated command. Where does such manipulation of Scripture come from? Paul says nothing of this. Rather, his words are clear, contained within an epistle to the Gentile church (which is prescriptive for the entire church age), and it contains nothing that can justify it being temporary or not all-inclusive.
Again, who is the ultimate Author of Scripture? It is the Holy Spirit working through the hand of a human author. In the case of 1 Corinthians, He is working through Paul. There is no need to point angry fingers at those who hold to the sanctity of these words. Rather, there should be willing obedience to them. Paul, having brought up the issue of women not being permitted to speak in the church, now gives further clarification of that. Not only are they to not prophesy or speak in tongues (which is what this chapter has been discussing), they have even further limitations placed on them. “If they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home.”
As the men are conducting the affairs of the church, it would be disorderly for the wives to be having side conversations with their husbands. Anyone who has spoken in public will surely note that having people talk while they are speaking is a distraction to their attention. Cell phones ringing, babies crying, etc, all cause the mind to get sidetracked. Paul has already shown that those who speak in tongues and those who prophesy should do so in order. This is so that others will be edified. If someone is having a side conversation, it will be just as difficult for others to concentrate as if two were prophesying at the same time.
Instead of women asking their husbands about a matter during the church, he says that they should “ask their husbands at home.” This will keep the church from being disorderly and it will allow the speakers to do so without breaking their concentration. But Paul goes further in his explanation. He not only says that they should ask their husbands at home, but he explains why. It is because “it is shameful for women to speak in church.”
Understanding the roles of men and women in the Bible, which reveals a patriarchal society is the appropriate one, it is unruly, disorderly, and improper for women to speak in the congregation where men are present. It is actually a shame upon themselves and thus it then reflects shame on their head; the husband. Paul explained this in detail in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16.
His concern is for order and propriety in the church, leading to edification. If his words are ignored, there will always be a breakdown in that respect. Nobody would expect students in a university to be chatting during an important lecture on some great scientific principle, and yet the Bible is far more important than that. Time spent in a church each week for instruction is limited. Therefore, anything which detracts from those precious moments is to be restricted. This is Paul’s intent and aim in his words.
Life application: The command in 1 Corinthians 14:35 is given for order and propriety. To violate it is to show a disregard for what God deems important. Let us always seek His will through His word, being obedient to it out of love and respect for Him.
Another day in Your presence, O God! Thank You for this gift. May I use it wisely and bring You the honor that You are due. Let me do nothing that will diminish You in the eyes of others. Amen.