“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)
The Basket Case Chronicles #172
“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. 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. What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?” (1 Cor. 14:34–36).
Paul has been addressing the use of spiritual gifts in the church, but his real subject was the need for decorum and order in their worship services. And so here, when he shifts to the question of how their women are to behave in church, he is not really changing the subject.
The prohibition of v. 34 appears to be a flat prohibition, but this is only if we forget what was laid out a few chapters earlier. There Paul required any women in the service who prayed or who prophesied to do so in a manner that showed tangible respect to their husbands (1 Cor. 11:5, 10). Now in order to be able to show respect to your husband by how you pray or prophesy in church, it is necessary to be allowed to pray or prophesy there. It further means that this prohibition here is contextualized—women are to be “under obedience,” as the law required. An instance of what a disorderly speaking might look like is then given—an impromptu Q&A is out, for example.
If anyone is prepared to dispute any of this—and we have lots of people like that in our day—Paul wants to know if they are the source of the Word of God, or if they were the only ones who received it. Since the answer to both rhetorical questions is no, then we see the Pauline refutation of modern feminism long before it arose.