Five Times Paul Commands Women to Be Silent in the Churches!

Five Times Paul Commands Women to Be Silent in the Churches!

Does the Apostle Paul contradict himself concerning women speaking in the churches? “But every woman that prays or prophesies with her hear uncovered dishonors her head” (1 Corinthians 11:5). Is he telling women that they can pray and prophesy openly and individually in the churches? What about these verses just a few chapters later? “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” (1 Corinthians 14:34, 35).

Recently, I listened to a preacher teach on this topic. He made some great observations. If you will notice in 1 Corinthians 11, the Apostle isn’t commanding women to pray and prophesy openly in a church service by themselves and then in 1 Corinthians 14, he is commanding them to keep silent, it’s not permitted for them to speak, and it’s a shame for women to speak in the church. All of these are commands on how women are to behave in the churches.

So what he is talking about in 1 Corinthians 11 then? A woman in a church service is prophesying any time she is singing a hymn or praise song. She is singing out the truth of God’s Word. When she is reading Scripture along with the congregation, she is prophesying God’s Word. When she is reciting a prayer with the congregation, she is praying or when she is praying silently to herself, she is praying in the church service. None of these are her speaking out by herself in any way nor is she teaching nor being in authority over men as commanded in 1 Timothy 2:12.

The Apostle reiterates this command in 1 Timothy 2:11, 12. “Let the women learn in silence. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” Therefore, in these verses, he commands that women be silent in the churches five times! I am not sure how much clearer he can be than that. If a preacher asks the congregation to recite a prayer or scripture, a woman is obeying the elder and speaking along with the congregation. When she is singing praises to the Lord, she is singing with the congregation. Other than this, women are to be silent.

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
1 Corinthians 14:33

35 thoughts on “Five Times Paul Commands Women to Be Silent in the Churches!

  1. Lori,

    Do you think the questions surrounding this have to do with the lack of structure at some churches, or a pastor’s lack of structure in how he conducts the service? Or do you think it is generally just that some congregations are unruly/misled?

    The reason I am asking is I used to be a Catholic. Never was there a time for someone to ask questions (you can ask the priest privately afterwards, look in the Bible at home, or ask a teacher/catechist after to clarify what the priest said), make “speeches,” or generally speak unless following the script approved by the priest (always male).

    When I hear that in other churches female singers take a little time to “preach” I am flabbergasted, as the female singers in Catholic churches simply sing the prescribed psalm / prayer as outlined in the Mass. Sometimes women will read aloud the daily the Bible reading, but again, only as permitted by the Priest (male). There is no “preaching,” as she simply reads and then sits. The priest provides the lesson from the Gospel and the reading.

    Otherwise, women (and men) are only speaking when communally saying prayers or singing.

    My question is, these women who feel the need to speak in church, WHEN are they speaking? I can’t imagine someone, man or woman, interrupting a sermon, asking questions during church, stopping singing a psalm to add in their own comments, or usurping the pastor’s role in teaching. I guess I am blessed to have always been in the “right” churches.

  2. I believe it’s exactly what the Apostle Paul wrote to the churches and to “all the churches of the saints.” God is a God of order and knowing women, they want to usurp the authority of men so he wanted to make it clear to all generations what the gatherings of believers should look like.

  3. God means us to honour and worship him. But not to preach at or profess authority over men.

  4. A message that cannot be heard often enough in today’s churches.

    While a woman was the final creation, and the most perfect, her sphere was in the home, teaching other women and children. When the women in America did this, our nation prospered and was mighty. When they left it, our nation is experiencing the worst dysfunction in our history.

  5. People (mostly women) are often surprised when I don’t enjoy female preachers (or females doing men’s sports, but that’s a topic for another blog!). Even before I saw that it wasn’t biblical, I never liked it. It always felt wrong to me, though I could never pinpoint exactly why. With the feminist slant creeping into everything these days, I’m even more cautious about speakers or workshops.

  6. Definitely – women / girls playing physically aggressive or competitive sports. Or engaged in sports which cannot be done with appropriate modesty cannot be right.

  7. It can never be right for us to go against God’s plan and it will obviously have a detrimental impact on society.

  8. While a woman was the final creation, and the most perfect …
    Score some points with worldly women, via some flattery, will you?
    Woman was the last thing created on earth and the first thing to transgress against God.
    In 1 Corinthians 11 that Lori cited above, Paul tells us:
    6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.

    We are plainly taught that the man is the first and more honored creation, coming unveiled before God because, as we are told, the man is the image and glory of God, while contrastingly that the woman is the glory of man, and should come into God’s presence with her head covered. Ephesians 5 also exhibits this:
    22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. … 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

    The wife is to submit to the husband, who is a likeness of God, as unto the Lord. The husband is the image of Christ while the wife images the church. And the wife is told to “see that she reverence her husband.” While the husband is to love her like Christ loves the church, and like how the husband loves himself.
    Don’t get that all backwards and Feminist and exalt women over men, as “the most perfect”. Neither sex is anything but sinful, and righteous God did not put the wrong sex in charge.
    He hath done all things well.

  9. When Montesquieu said,

    “While a woman was the final creation, and the most perfect,”

    … it never occurred to me that the intention was an elevation of the female of the species ABOVE male. Honestly, I read it to mean more like a “crowning completion of creation;” like the one puzzle piece that was missing from the picture. God places that puzzle piece into the picture of creation, now it’s perfect (“good” versus “not good for man to be alone”) … everybody is coupled.

    If I’d stopped reading at that point, right after the word “perfect,” then yes, that’s exactly what it means: females perfect, males not. But upon finishing reading the rest of the comment, the intention of the comment is clarified.

  10. Watching (in passing) women’s collegiate basketball reminds me a bit of watching dogs walking on their hind paws; it’s surprising they can do it so well, but it’s more of a curiosity than anything. I do enjoy watching figure skating and gymnastics, though I am concerned about what young girls do to their bodies to train.

  11. Hello Elias, that the woman was the final creation and the most perfect only makes the fall of Eve and Adam more sobering. Also, there is a sin called evil surmising, and that is one Christians are to avoid. God’s creation was perfect, man’s choices perverted it.

    Robyn below summarizes it nicely, and I cannot explain myself better then she described the comment.

    My comment plainly made the roles of the men and women clear, and in no way elevated the woman above the man. She was a helpmeet, designed by God. While America is full of feminism, within and without the church, and it is easy to read this often, that was not the gist of my comment.

    Your comment can hardly be argued with, but it is friendly fire, and you are attacking an argument I did not make.

  12. To the extent that thechristofeminists (female or male) dare to address it at all, the response to Paul’s message is nearly always something along the lines of “oh, that was addressed to women of another era and culture.”

    My immediate response to that statement is always “so what you are saying is that God’s commandment, as relayed to us through Paul, is irrelevant to today’s strong, empowered women? Have you remembered to correct God on this matter?”

    Shuts them down every time.

  13. Many sports are clearly completely inconsistent with Godly femininity in terms of the behaviour that they encourage and in many cases immodest clothing.

  14. There are also serious risks to reproductive health in both violent sports and competitive gymnastics.

  15. Girls and women aren’t created to be as tough and physical as men. I know they have a lot more knee injuries than men because of the way our hips are made.

  16. I’m assuming you’re talking about women in competitive team sports only as un-Christianlike, and not downplaying the importance of fitness? Exercise is important to heart function and building strong bones along with a healthy diet. I exercise alone often in the comfort of our home using many types of gym equipment, and occasionally my husband assists in my routine as he’s a semi-professional athlete, and enjoys me to look more “athletic”, rather than simply thin.

  17. Wow! I don’t know Elias. I don’t believe Eve was any more perfect than the rest of creation. God didn’t need to practice to get things right. It is true that the man is the head of the women as Christ is the head of the church. I don’t believe a women is destined to be less Christlike than the man. I have known some very godly women and some very ungodly men. I don’t find in scripture where a man is more honored than the women. God has a order for the family but both man and woman stand equal in Christ.

  18. Heidi, my biggest bugbear in womens’ sport is when certian femaler tennis players in WImbledon do that ugly grunting or gasping thing. So unfeminine! They sound like pigs. euww!!!

    I love to watch figure and pairs skating, it is like ballet on ice. Sometimes the costumes can be a litle skimpier than necessary, although i appreciate they cannot be long and drapey.

  19. I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts on women in sports (including dancing), specifically in reference to the immodest clothing some sports require. For example, are the leotards or leggings required for dancing acceptable? I personally struggle with this, as I appreciate the art and health benefits that come with dance, though the apparel can make me feel uncomfortable.

  20. I am not a fan of women in sports, Jen, since the uniforms or outfits have become extremely immodest in most of them and some of the sports are very masculine in nature and cause young girls and women to stand in unfeminine ways (legs spread apart).

  21. I just found this article. I’ve felt very confused at times about women covering their heads during “prayer & propheysing”. Just as women remaining silent in church isn’t a cultural thing, headcovering isn’t either. I’ve been told I’m being legalistic so I don’t cover, but I feel ashamed. I’ve also started being more modest & prefer to wear skirts. So what are the thoughts of you all?

  22. I have listened to sermons by all of my favorite preachers (John Piper, John MacArthur, and Michael Pearl) and none of them suggest that women need to wear a literal covering over her head. I agree with them.

  23. Hermeneutics seem to change when considering this passage for some reason. The church understood it as a literal covering until the 1960s. Most of the old commentators did as well. 😉

    Wonderful blog sister!

  24. What exactly does the silnece mean? Are we not to greet each other with words? Our elders talk to us before service and ask us questions, both of us, both spiritual and relational.

  25. Speaking prophetically is not the same thing as teaching authortative doctrine.
    The testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy. Jesus Christ is the Word of God. So speaking the Word of God and testifying about Him may occasionally be appropriate for a woman, but to teach doctrine and be in authority over men is a completely different issue.

    Just because you have the ability to do something doesn’t mean you should.

    It doesn’t help men any to grow up in their role if women are stepping in and doing what men should be doing for them. If anything it is humiliating and counterproductive. Woman is designed to help the man, the man is supposed to be in authority.

    If a man asks you to do something that a man should be doing, you should politely refuse and recommended a man to do it. For example, I saw a pastor who couldn’t make it to a prayer meeting, and so he asked this very Godly woman to fill in for him and lead it while he was away. She did it, and it went fine, but it shouldn’t have been done that way. I could tell she felt uncomfortable being put in that position. She was able to do it, but it sets bad precedent. Ideally, she should have told the pastor to ask a man. This lady also had a husband. So she was then put in charge of the meeting and even over her own husband.

    Better to do it God’s way, with imperfections, than do it the wrong way perfectly.

  26. Lori
    If a woman read out scripture IN front of the congregation as requested by her elder , do you think this would be going against Gods word ?

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