By Brooke Holt
“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” - 1 Corinthians 14:33-35
During Paul’s time, pagan practices were quite chaotic, even within the temples! There was temple prostitution, sacrifice of babies, and wild parties that were part of their worship. Clearly, Jesus Christ was not exalted in those places and practices. What we so often forget is that many of the Christians in Corinth actually converted from this pagan worship. Learning new ways is never easy, so we must extend grace and some compassionate understanding to what Paul wrote to this Corinthian church.
While the pagan worship could be quite ecstatic and out of control, so could the Corinthian church worship. People speaking in different tongues overcome by the Holy Spirit, prophecies flying about by numerous people while others sang or danced. Paul wrote to remind the Corinthians believers what kind of God they were worshipping and serving. They were no longer in the pagan temples! The Lord God was the one true God, and he was a God of joy, power, and order. Worshipping him was not to lead to confusion and a sense of being out of control but to peace among all people.
Clearly there were issues concerning the women of the church. In the pagan temples, women could be a lot of things and exercise a lot of roles, many of which were not holy. In the church of Jesus Christ, Paul encouraged women to behave in a way that would not offend or disrupt. While they were to be taught the ways of God and the Word of God, they were to not to cry out in the assembly. It is important to note here that there are many godly scholars who debate this passage, so my words are obviously not definitive on this issue. However, I believe that Paul was differentiating between the pagan ways of worship and the Christian ways of worship. Women were to be honored but quiet in assembly.
What is even more important to remember is that Jesus elevated women in remarkable ways throughout his ministry. Never had Jewish men spoken to women as Jesus did, especially not Jewish rabbis. Jesus loved women, taught them, and considered them his disciples. Whatever offense could be taken at these words of Paul must be surrendered to the words and ministry of Jesus. Women were, are, and will always be critical in the building of the kingdom of God!
What Paul wrote about was order and peace. God was not glorified in the chaos of worship because that was not his nature. Each person in the assembly was to respect and maintain that order of the Lord while in corporate worship.
How do you need to experience this peace of the Lord today? How does he want to invade the chaos of your home, your mind, your work, or your finances? Take some time to surrender everything in your life that feels chaotic to him today and ask him to breathe his peace into you and your circumstances. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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