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