1 Corinthians 14:33b-37 (Wrapping Up Some More)

roleofwomenSo how do we decide? There are all these theories, and even conservative commentators disagree with each other. How do we test right from wrong?

Some would argue from the “clear” language of the passage that we must submit to the clearly stated commands of God. Of course, these same people don’t honor the even clearer commands for women to wear veils, for men to lift holy hands in prayer, or for women to wear no jewelry. And they certainly don’t greet one another with a Holy Kiss — even though these passages are stated in clear, unambiguous language.

Rather, for those clear commands that run contrary to our traditions, we correctly reason that each command has both a universal principle and a local, temporary application. The commands to greet one another with a Holy Kiss is how the universal command to treat each other as deeply beloved brothers and sisters in Christ was applied in the Roman world, and much of southern Europe and the Middle East today.

But when the clear command aligns with our traditions, we become blind to the same principle, insisting that we have no option but to do what is plainly commanded. But the requirement to do sound exegesis in light of textual and historical context doesn’t stop at the boundaries of our traditions.

Rather, ALWAYS the test is how congruent a proposed interpretation is with the great, over-arching principles of scripture: the character and nature of God, Jesus, and the Spirit, the grand narrative of scripture from Genesis to Revelation, the chesed and grace of God, the love of Jesus, the gifting work of the Spirit, the atonement, salvation by grace through faith in Jesus. The BIG doctrines.

And where on earth in those doctrines do we find a command that women be silent in the assemblies but not the Sunday school classes? Show me how that’s a logical corollary of any great biblical principle.

Well, in First Century Corinth, it was — because the surrounding culture considered it grossly immoral for women to speak with another woman’s husband. And the women of Corinth were likely highly uneducated and illiterate — incapable of engaging in meaningful, profitable Socratic discourse with the local, inspired teachers — who were all someone else’s husband.

In such a setting, love required that the women be silent in the assembly — except when speaking by the power of the Spirit, and even then, they must control their spiritual gifts as Paul directed.

That fits the narrative of scripture. Nothing else I’ve heard does.

Or maybe the verses aren’t even authentic. Or maybe Paul is refuting a Corinthian argument that women should be silent. Maybe. But while I find the arguments that Paul is quoting a Corinthian position very tempting, I’m not convinced.

I find a stronger case for the verses to be inauthentic, based on the arguments of Gordon Fee and other conservative experts in the text. But this argument has not persuaded most scholars, and so, like N. T. Wright, I’m inclined to accept the verses as authoritative, but badly misunderstood.

What is certainly not true is that the modern church is bound by the particulars of these passages. The state of women has greatly changed, the culture has changed, and so there no longer a need for us to give up freedom in Christ for the sake of the local culture. In fact, our treatment of women is considered by most outside the church as grossly immoral — and so things have turned around entirely. The culture is now actually ahead of Christianity, because once women were given equal opportunities, they proved their abilities beyond all doubts. I’m old enough to have seen it happen.

God gives gifts to his children by the Spirit as he wishes, including the gifts of leadership, teaching, and encouragement. And if he gives a gift to a woman, he expects her to use it in his Kingdom.

The notion of “spiritual leadership of men” is a nice argument, but it has zero support in the Old Testament. It is not to be found in Genesis 1, 2, or 3. It’s just not there. And since Paul always says that his conclusions are built on the Law, he must not be teaching what we sometimes call “spiritual leadership of men.” In fact, that’s a doctrine invented to allow our women to be leaders in the secular world and not in the church world — a near-Gnostic teaching if ever there was one.

I mean, how do justify saying that there are two standards for right and wrong between the secular and spiritual? I was always taught that such a distinction is false. If it’s wrong to cuss in the church building, it’s just as wrong to cuss in the schoolyard. God is the same God is both places. But evidently God doesn’t care how our women behave outside the confines of the church organizational chart.

So it just makes no sense to me to refuse to allow women to serve using their gifts wherever they can profitably serve the Kingdom. Who am I to tell the Spirit whom to gift?

(Act 11:17 ESV)  17 “If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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42 Responses to 1 Corinthians 14:33b-37 (Wrapping Up Some More)

  1. Price says:

    OK. I can accept this. !

  2. While we solidly disagree with the question of male spiritual leadership in Genesis 1-3 (I’d say it’s there in several places), I think you’re right on the general framework for this passage. Carroll Osburn argued rather convincingly that the problem was women publicly questioning and shaming their own husbands during the testing of prophecy (previously mentioned in Chapter 14). But I think both of these ideas fit together.

  3. Alan says:

    Jay, I respect your willingness to wrestle with a difficult scripture. From where I sit, though, it does sound like you’re searching for an interpretation that takes you to the end result that you’ve decided in advance for other reasons. If you were differently inclined from the start, I think you could easily refute the objections you’ve listed related to things like veils, raising hands, jewelry, and the holy kiss. Many people have done so in the past. The same line of reasoning you used here could be used against any unpopular doctrine in scripture. Today it’s the role of women, tomorrow sexual immorality, homosexuality, or anything else. If not, why not?

    I mean you no disrespect in saying this. But I am concerned about the lengths to which many people are willing to go, to eliminate an unpopular doctrine. At least you haven’t succumbed to the radical notion of removing unwanted passages from scripture. As long as they remain in our Bibles, people will be able to decide for themselves.

  4. laymond says:

    “So how do we decide? There are all these theories, and even conservative commentators disagree with each other. How do we test right from wrong?”

    I was under the impression that we had mostly agreed that, at different times, Paul wrote what was God’s will, and what was Paul’s will. I believe the minimizing of women’s role in, not only “church” but in life in general, was Paul’s will at work.
    In my own opinion, Paul was not repeating anything that Jesus had spoken while representing “The Word of God” therefore I do not consider Paul’s personal opinion as a command from God, anymore than the opinion of Jay Guinn. We need to stop putting Jesus in the role of God, and replacing Jesus “the mediator” with the preacher Paul.

  5. brent says:

    Paragraphs 2-4 of your post, Jay, are exactly what I tried to relate to some of my family members a while back. You said it very well in a concise, clear way, something I’m afraid I was never able to do. To me, a hermeneutic that cannot be consistently applied needs to be reexamined. Likewise, as you stated, it needs to be measured against the “big picture” of God and His redemptive story. Thanks for challenging us in that regard.

  6. Dwight says:

    Wasn’t all of the letters basically written to address problems that were arising in that place and if so, then none of the letters have any relevance to us today? But if they do, then they all have relevance. If we take these as occasional letters that were commands just for the immediate problems and that they cannot be applied beyond that, then It could be argued that when homosexuality is condemned in the letters that it is just as many revisionist say, just condemned for that culture who practicied it without “real love”. But the fact is that Paul condemns it flatly without debating one type or another or without addressing the culture that it was being done in. We can speculate about why something was said, but since we do not have the exact problem or question, we must argue from the command side. And these letters were passed around from town to town and applied as if they too had the issues, because they could. These commands not only addresed the problems, but were used to keep the problems from arising. They were applied because all scripture is relevant. If the assembly has women, then being silent is applicable.

  7. Travis says:

    Just want to point out that I have heard it preached many times in the CoC I used to attend that the role of women was to be consistent in both public and private settings (the home, the church, and the workplace). It is wrong for a woman to have authority over a man in any setting. This particular preacher believed it was wrong to vote for Elizabeth Dole for president in the late 1990s (or any woman for elected office, for that matter) because it put a woman over a man. Women could only teach the younger grades in school. He was consistent on that point, while, as you say, overlooking the more “clear” commands such as women wearing veils, men lifting holy hands, etc. So there are different levels of commitment at play, and this particular preacher was quite sure his view was correct, even though the next preacher we hired after he left did not believe the same as far as women not being able to hold office, teach high school and college (his wife was a college math instructor). Same congregation, two preachers with two different views, yet no divisions in that particular congregation over that issue. It’s a shame we can’t keep that spirit of unity among those with different views along the entire complementarian/egalitarian spectrum.

  8. John says:

    As a man in my mid sixties who grew up in the sixties, I remember well the verse used often in preaching to teenage boys: “Does not even nature tell us that it is a shame for a man to wear long hair”. It was quoted as authoritative scripture. But, its use faded away as most men started wearing their hair longer than the teenagers they were preaching to.

    The point is, at that time there was no doubt whatsoever, in the minds of so many preachers and parents, that that verse had divine authority. It didn’t take long for a collective, “never mind”.

  9. Jay Guin says:


    Thanks for the note. The first preacher was at least consistent, although I doubt many in the church followed his teaching on the subject. It’s the first I’ve heard of such teaching in the last 20 or so years.

  10. Jay Guin says:


    One of the reasons my line of reasoning cannot be used to approve homosexual conduct is laid in this comment from yesterday: http://oneinjesus.info/2015/05/1-corinthians-1433b-37-wrapping-up/#comment-143450

    Paul’s condemnation of homosexual conduct was contrary to the surrounding the culture and so not driven by cultural considerations. Moreover, his conclusions (not just his beginning principles) are plainly found in the Torah and run contrary to Gen 2.

    I’m not just throwing words in the air to reach a desired result. In fact, the hermeneutic carries within itself a serious discipline — and that’s because I developed my approach to the interpretation of Paul by being guided by Paul’s own words and principles. Paul over and over goes back to the OT and to the gospel to support his positions. We should do the same.

  11. Tiffany says:

    Jay-this was an excellent summary. Thank you. Dwight, you said, “Wasn’t all of the letters basically written to address problems that were arising in that place and if so, then none of the letters have any relevance to us today? But if they do, then they all have relevance.” They were all written to address the original audience and their needs, and they are all relevant, but all within in them is not relevant equally. The goal is to discern the eternal principles through the situational/cultural which is as difficult as it would be to discern the ‘gospel truth’ of a one-sided phone conversation. I am sympathetic to those who, as an outpouring of their love and fear of the Lord, desire to have certain ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers on matters of dogma, but sometimes the best we can get to in our search for eternal principles through one-sided letters from 2,000 years ago is “most likely” or as Jay says a few times in this piece, “maybe.” Craig Keener addresses his own struggles with his “most likely” conclusions at the end of his text on gender. Grace must cover us from there.
    For most men-God bless you-attempting to discern God’s truth on this matter through sound exegesis (especially the foundational method of searching for the over-arching meta-narrative on women, as Jay points out), the matter is decided by the results on the white board. Miriam+Gen 1+ Deborah + Joel’s prophecy+ Phoebe=inclusion. Or a different set of numbers that equal the opposite. But as Jay pointed out, for women, there is another number in there-“And if he gives a gift to a woman, he expects her to use it in his Kingdom.” This desire to use a gift burns and attempts to leap forth into the Body in the same way it does for men who feel called to preach and teach. So women find themselves in a position where they can remain in the Church of Christ, silencing, or maybe just quieting the gift in them, but knowing it isn’t being nurtured by the Body for best stewardship, or leave to a denomination. What a terrible choice! (Too often the answer offered here is, “Just use your gift in other places! The assembly is only a couple of hours a week.” As I mentioned in a previous post, this grossly misses the point.) That’s why this conversation is so important. I wonder how different the church would look if we took our sound “most likely” exegetical conclusions on women in the church and then trusted the discernment of women enough to believe them when they say they are gifted to preach, teach, or lead, and then allowed the Spirit to be freely used through them, trumping fear and the need to make spiritual decisions for women with grace and mutual trust and submission.
    The dualism Jay mentions is real. Too many women are leaders using speaking gits-their true selves-in the world, but must become something other than they are once they enter church. The message this sends to women and girls-don’t bring your true self into the Body of Christ unless your true self fits along these descriptors for 1st century women and our traditional roles for them-is so contrary to the gospel it’s Platonic! (To do this to men isn’t any better-feel free to be a quiet, behind the scenes exemplary air conditioner repairman in the world, but in church we expect you to be a substitute preaching church leader.) Considering the gifts in me, the full narrative of Scripture, the exegetical work so well explained here, following the trajectory of change toward inclusion as God’s vision for reconciliation, it’s my belief the church should be moved by the Spirit’s power according to Spirit’s gifts, not gender. Thank you again for addressing this topic so respectfully to people and the Scriptures, Jay. It is a profoundly useful tool for constructive dialogue.

  12. Dwight says:

    Tiffany, when you become a saint you are in the church or congregation or body of Christ, which is not neccessarily the same as the assembly. The church is everywhere and if you have a gift, then you can use that gift to better the body of Christ. Many women do. The problem is that the assembly has become a marker of our Christianity and acting within the context of the assembly it is where we come to be noticed and notice others. It is sad that our expectations is that if you are not doing something between 9-11 on Sunday morning, then you aren’t doing anything towards God. Most of the most important things happen by women on a daily basis in the body of Christ. Even in I Cor. prophecy is better than speaking in tongues, but love rules them all and it the most important and acting on love is what God will see. If we truly want to be used by God, then we will not wait for assembly, we will use our gifts now helping others, teaching, etc. Women can be and are leaders in doing many things even while not being leaders in the assembly and this is not leaving your true self. We want what we want and not neccessarily what God wants or needs.

  13. Tiffany says:

    Dwight-per your comment, “The problem is that the assembly has become a marker of our Christianity and acting within the context of the assembly it is where we come to be noticed and notice others. It is sad that our expectations is that if you are not doing something between 9-11 on Sunday morning, then you aren’t doing anything towards God.” I agree with you that Christians, male and female, do their most significant work for the Kingdom outside of the ‘assembly’. I don’t assume that if I don’t see people ministering or leading in the assembly then they are not doing anything for the Kingdom other times during the week. Like you, I know many who do much outside the hours of 9-11 Sunday a.m. I think the tension here is ‘What is the purpose of the assembly?’ For too many it has become to go do our five acts of worship to stay heaven bound. We should search through Acts 2, 1 Cor 12, 1 Peter… to find this answer. We are to come together to pray and break bread. We are to study the Apostles’ teachings and grow into meat. Who should do this teaching? With faithfulness a given,should the men only teach, or those who know the material the best? 1 Cor 12 says we are to be the Body parts of Christ to the world. Here’s the point from a female perspective: We, like our faithful brothers, serve wherever God calls, in and out of the assembly. It is all an honor, and not about being noticed. Laying the ‘woman are seeking power’ argument aside (which I don’t hear you saying overtly) it is painful beyond words for some women to see young boys’ gifts be tested and affirmed by the Body while theirs are not welcome to come in the door. “Young man, I think you have a gift for preaching. Let me mentor you and give you opportunity to nurture that gift in the pulpit. Let us as a body pray over you to thank God for this gift. Let us ask God together to provide opportunity for you to use it. Let us help grow this gift in you so that it can be used most effectively in the world for Christ.” Now for the women, “if you think your gift is teaching or preaching, we aren’t going to listen to you use it in here to help you discern whether or not that is true. You need to discern than yourself, or seek discernment for that through people outside of this body. We will not publicly recognize it, pray for it, or help you nurture it through practice here among us so that you can most effectively use it for others. That’s fine that you say you have it; but you’re on your own with it to use out there.” It’s not family behavior. We all should want to give our best for Christ to the world, and to equip the church with the highest standard of gifting available. Silencing the woman-who are often more equipped than men who are asked to preach and lead outside of their gifting-does not do this, and denying women the haven of the Body to grow their gifts is outside of what I read as a purpose of the church. So maybe that’s the bigger question-is a purpose of the church to discern and nurture spiritual gifts for the edification of those there and beyond? If so, women do create for themselves some opportunities for this among a portion of the Body through Ladies classes and such, but it isn’t for the edification of the full body, and it is made quite difficult. It feels like working against an opposing system rather than flowing in one stream together, and I don’t see that as God’s intent. In Christian love,

  14. Dwight says:

    One last thought. Paul edified the body of Christ from his prison cell and we complain that we don’t have any access to doing it because we aren’t front and center in the assembly as a woman. Hmmm! Paul talked of being content in whatever state we are in, but didn’t tell us that this would limit our ability and duty to work for God in that state in all things. In fact Paul said. “I can do all things thruogh Christ who strengthens me” and he was in chains. Don’t focus on what you can’t do…focus on what you can do. All in all we limit ourselves when we just see ourselves in a limited way. We can’t do this one thing, so we can’t do anything. We don’t see the field, because the one flower is so good looking and we want to be that flower. Our glory will not be standing before others in leading singing, prayer, etc., but our glory will be standing before God in what we have done to help others. How many times did Jesus stand up and lead prayer or singing? Actually I don’t know of a case, but he did teach and feed and support. He did what we are supposed to do…good.

  15. Dwight says:

    Tiffany. in answer to your thoughts. You went from recognizing that most of the work for Christ is done outside the assembly to focusing on the assembly and what women can’t do, even when assembly is a small segment of our Christian life. The purpose of the assembly is to partake of each other as Christians. This doesn’t require singing, leading, bible classes, etc. In fact in I Cor.11:16 all that is talked about is the Lord’s Supper and no mention of doing anything else. The assembly when we come together beyond the Lord’s Supper is to edify each other Heb.10:25 and yet this is wide open as far as how it is done. But the purpose of the congregation is not “to discern and nurture spiritual gifts for the edification of those there and beyond?” If you had a gift, then you used it in the way you could. The tension is this…”men and women should be equal in doing all things in Christ body”, but for some reason God doesn’t put this concept forward anywhere that I know of. But then again who is this God to limit us in a few “impressive” things, but give us many, many opportunites that are put before us that we don’t like. How dare He!

  16. Tiffany says:

    Dwight-I wholeheartedly agree that we should serve God wherever we are in all circumstances. My point is that the church shouldn’t be my chains. The church should be the one place, if anywhere, where the chains are set free. You’re right, it is about limitation to a certain degree. You said, “We can’t do this one thing, so we can’t do anything.” I don’t know of anyone saying that (or doing that.) This discussion (at least for me) isn’t so I can do more on Sunday to get more recognition. It’s to be a part of the Spirit’s journey with the church to grow her to her fullest potential for the lost. The fact is, I could write a letter of edification to a church from a prison cell, as you cite, but it wouldn’t get read in the majority of our churches. The church limits women’s use of giftedness, and rather than the women being told to be content in the chains the church has put her in, maybe the church should stop limiting the Spirit’s gifts. Again, this is about the purpose of the church. I don’t think my brothers are up there ‘front and center’ for attention, so I don’t understand why women are accused of seeking that. I’m thinking the best of everyone, that we are all earnestly seeking to be used by God in and out of the assembly for His purposes. We may just have to choose to disagree here because I want this space to remain scholarly and not turn into a back and forth. But grace and peace to you as we continue to study this important issue-

  17. Dwight says:

    Tiffany, when you say church do you mean the assembly or the church, because if you teach and help and aid others, then you are part of the Spirit’s journey, but this cannot be done by the assembly, because the assembly is of the saved and for the saved. Spreading the word to the lost will expand the Kingdom, not doing more or different things within the assembly. The church isn’t holding you back from aiding and spreading the gospel to others, even though you might not be able to teach a lesson within the assembly. The church is the people of God under God and has never limited anyone in using their gifts, but their might be a time and a place in which they are limited in the assembly. Actually, Tiffany, if you wrote a letter or book all of the assemblies that I have ever been in would read it aloud. I know of a woman who has wrote songs that are in our songbook. Again you only see the “chains”, but not the possiblities. Paul was in real chains and did much. If you want to do more, then do more, but it sounds as though you just want in on the “action” of things that the scriptures limit you on in the assembly a few hours out of the week,

  18. Alabama John says:

    Churches buildings are used by local folks mostly. When Paul was in prison, No telling where all those prisoners that heard him and those that heard but acted aloof were from.

    Those preaching in many institutions like prisons, old folks homes, orphanages, etc. have no idea what good they did and how far their messages were carried.

    Knowing how many you influenced to become Christians just might be a great surprise for us at judgment day.

    Interest is not the only thing that compounds. Just look at the numbers Paul unknowingly has influenced up to today and its compounding daily to who knows what number til the end of time here on earth.

    Your actions can be having the same effect. What a thought!!!

  19. Dwight says:

    Tiffany, It might sound as though I am trying to shut you down,but I am trying to encourage you. I can public speak and I know many men that can and I know some that can do it better than the preacher who is up there all of the time. They also think they aren’t allowed to do enough as they also would like to preach…sound familar. They instead go home and complain that they aren’t given the opportunity they deserve, but when people present themselves to them, they also don’t invite them into their house, they don’t initiate a Bible study, they don’t find out if they need help, they just don’t. These people could read and write and post and discuss, but they talk about what they can’t do and not what they can. And while it is true they can wait on the Lord’s Supper or pray or lead singing, this is hardly an exhibition of their Godliness, because the people in the audience are doing the same thing, just not in a highly visible way. I myself am trying to do more, not at assembly, but in life and I need encouragment to read more Bible, to talk to others and help others and grow the kingdom or church of God, but this requires me freeing myself.

  20. Dwight says:

    AJ, Amen brother! Amen! We should act locally, not within our building, but within our community and think globally, because all those we touch will touch others. We all want to be leaders, but Jesus wasn’t a leader, by the standards of the Jewish leaders and Pharisees, etc., but just a man walking around teaching, helping and relating to others. Every once in a while he would stand on a rock and talk to a large crowd, but most of the time he taught small groups…and His apostles…a woman at the well, etc. Jesus though was a leader “of servitude” because of what He did and not because of where he was placed or allowed or not allowed to do. He stood before others in simple clothing and then washed their feet and then told the others to do likewise. Jesus was no Joel Olsteen. Jesus was underappreciated, under dressed, under Roman rule, under Jewish Law, under the scrutiny of the Jewish leaders, under those around Him in servitude and lifted up by God.

  21. Mark says:

    There are two women of whom I know who do preach from the pulpit in the cofC and not on ladies day but on Sunday mornings. One is Amy Bost Henegar and the other is Naomi Walters. They also have other roles besides preacher. The former has a blog where she talks about her work with women are pregnant while the latter is a D.Min. Candidate. I suggest you talk to them. There are other females in the seminaries at ACU and Lipscomb who may remain in the cofC or not. Talk to them or the faculty members at ACU and Lipscomb who are admitting females and training/mentoring them.

  22. Tiffany says:

    Dwight-actually, the gentlemen you are describing does not sound familiar. 🙂 Maybe I wasn’t clear in where I’m coming from. I’m not sitting back doing nothing waiting for the ‘assembly’ to be more open to women. My comments have been about the ‘assembly’ because that is the topic being studied-what women can and cannot do in God’s will in the assembly. What I do hope is that you and Alabama John can look back at your posts and see the double standard you are describing. I know it’s because that’s how you interpret the Scriptures, and I respect you standing on what you believe. But what I’m saying, and many others here, is that of course ministry outside of church is important! The topic here is women in ministry, and the double standard we have about that is not supported Biblically as we interpret it, and the double standard (in the name of Scripture) has repercussions many men don’t even realize. I’m trying to shed some light on that. I’ve known men who have left churches because they were not able to be edified by the gifts of their sisters and preferred to worship where the fullness of Spirit’s gifting was being used each week. We all miss out in gender exclusion. But, to be clear, I have tremendous joy in my ministries outside of the church assembly.

    Mark, thanks so much! I’m friends with them! (And many others!) 🙂 I’m actually a contributing blogger with Amy right now on a theological reflections blog on the Gospel of John with other church of Christ women in ministry. I’m in the Mdiv program at Asbury Theological Seminary and being mentored by many wonderful people there. I’m grateful so many of us have been able to stay in the church we love and still be true to our conscience. This is exactly the support many of our daughters need, so thank you for being proactive in those connections.

  23. Price says:

    Tiffany, I noticed it to… the defense of all thing men is to suggest that the majority of all Christian activities are outside the “worship service.” The defense also suggests that one is complaining about what they can’t do and fails to focus on what can be done… It’s all the same … barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen is how I’d compare the remarks.. They don’t see what they refuse to see.. One can’t pay attention to the history of biblical leadership and not see God using women. One must assume that all the women mentioned in the Bible was some kind of scribal error or something.. I’m glad you’re finding a voice.. It won’t be long before women have a much more involved role in the “service” as they do outside the service. We’ll be looking back on this period of history as the dark ages. Best of success.

  24. Alabama John says:

    Tiffany, no harm meant. Women can serve and have served the Lord since Eve.

    Just because there have been different roles doesn’t make either above or below the other.
    In nature its the same gender roles God appointed in humans.

    There are great females in the bible who we all would like to follow but God chose males for the 12 apostles and for their replacements. That to me is an example for us to follow.

    Can women preach? Go to a womans prison and see how good they can, and baptize too.

  25. Dwight says:

    Tiffany and Price, My point is that we are dissapointed because we can’t do a few things in the assembly that seem to us important because that is how we see them, but in the scope of things are small compared to what can be done. This is not a defense, but reality. The assembly is a small part of all of the saints time and life in general, but we make it the centerpiece. And then we don’t have scriptures that show women taking or given leadership positions in the scriptures in worship/ Temple/ church and any scriptures arguing for this. We can argue this is all one sided, but that is what God put forth. Men and women have different roles in marriage and in the assembly. It is not about double standards as work is work, but what we are complaining about is the particular type of work. And then there is scripture. Does keep silent mean keep silent and if not then what does it mean? We are over here saying, “Well it doesn’t mean this”, but nobody is saying what it is supposed to be saying and why state the similar sentiment twice. I am very much for opening up for doing more, but I am not going to sidestep a scriptural concept to get there.

  26. laymond says:

    AJ said, “There are great females in the bible who we all would like to follow but God chose males for the 12 apostles and for their replacements. That to me is an example for us to follow.”

    John as I remember my bible the apostles were chosen before Jesus died for the world’s sins, as I also remember woman was made subservient to man because of sin. Do you think Jesus died only for male sins or as John said the sins of the whole world.

    If Jesus paid the price for everyone past and present, don’t you think maybe that placed woman back on even footing with man, as it was in the beginning before sin.?

  27. Tiffany says:

    One last perspective insight here, per the responses about Biblical examples of women in leadership -or lack thereof: I mentioned this in another post, but I think it bears repeating. There are two ways to approach this, and if two people are set on opposite approaches to Scripture here it is difficult to move pass the impasse.
    1. The Biblical examples of men leading as priests and apostles and Gospel writers, etc…and Paul’s directives to the churches is God’s way of overly saying that it is His will for patriarchy to be the natural order. God shows by all of these examples in Scripture that hierarchy is divinely established, and it is His will that men only have authority in the church and family. For these folks, patriarchy is established in Gen 3. OR

    2. The Biblical examples of men leading and Paul’s directives are because the Bible was written in, and events occurred, in patriarchal cultures. But this by no means we should canonize patriarchy any more than we do honor and shame or any other prominent culture from ancient times. Rather, we should find God’s will for the church and family in the exceptions to culture where God, Christ and Paul moved against culture as much as they responsibly could to encourage God’s people to live into His divine will of mutual submission. For these folks, equality is established as God’s plan in Gen 1.

    I fall into category 2. Some of you all in category 1. I do realize I’ve oversimplified, but Jay has done more than a sufficient job this week covering the details. The big point: we both love the Lord, and respect the Word. And again, thanks for even having the conversation! It’s an important one.

  28. Dwight says:

    Tiffany, I would agree with you if 2, could be proven or even hinted at, on any level that 1. has representation. But who created the Jewish culture…God. The culture of the Jews cannot be separated from God. Nor the culture of the the saints. The saints lived in a Christian culture that followed rules from God if God gave direction in that area. What we have here is us saying, well this was culture, but in reality it was God’s will or it wasnt mentioned at all. God is not vague. If God spoke, then it was from God and that is what makes it Holy. God didn’t agree with culture, culture had to agree with God. We could argue about Adam and Eve. They were punished differently, but they both were human and they both ate the same apple. There seems to no sense of fairness at all in God’s judgment, but that is the point..it was His judgment.
    We could argue that men being told to keep silent in speaking in tongues was only applicable to the Corinthians, because they were culturally more backwards and rude, but the reason is given…order. In regards to silence for women…it is submission. Culture was/is not the issue.

  29. Price says:

    It’s the WHY that matters !

  30. John F says:

    Argument about authenticity has no merit from the oldest manuscripts, any of them. May as well get out the scissors.

    When everything is said and done, Paul says, “1 Cor 14:37
    aIf anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment

    1 Cor 14:37-38
    If anyone considers himself a prophet or spiritual person, he should acknowledge that what I write to you is the Lord’s command.
    (from The NET Bible®,

  31. John F says:

    “Some would argue from the “clear” language of the passage that we must submit to the clearly stated commands of God. Of course, these same people don’t honor the even clearer commands for women to wear veils, for men to lift holy hands in prayer, or for women to wear no jewelry. And they certainly don’t greet one another with a Holy Kiss — even though these passages are stated in clear, unambiguous language.”

    If by “some would argue” you refer to my posts. . . . you do not know what I do or do not honor regarding these other passages. Yet for you it makes a convenient sub point.

    Alan’s comments about predetermined interpretation are well phrased. This passage in not like ch. 7 where pays says 1 Cor 7:12 To the rest I say – I, not the Lord. (from The NET Bible®,

    Inconvenient passage becomes uncommented on passage; or diud I miss something in the thread? “commandment of the Lord” overrules Jay or Tiffany or John.

    Twist or turn or twirl — Paul’s commandment from the Lord is Silence — Shame

  32. Dwight says:

    Hey, I can cut and paste and delete and rearrainge with my computer. There is no scripture that is safe when I want to put forth my will. Highlight and click. Easy.I will then have my own version and it will abide my rules. I am still working on creating my own God, my own heaven and path to it, but I’m sure I can do it.
    Why is important, but we don’t need to know it. When Jesus said to the apostles, “Follow me”, did they ask, “Why and what is in it for me? What are your qualifications? Do you have dental?”
    Faith is the driver based on trust. The apostles were told many things and even so they didn’t understand them all and yet they went along with this vagrant that was hated by his own people.
    True, Jesus did miracles and yet even then they didn’t always see Him as fully God.
    We can question ourselves, but once we start questioning scripture and seeking to defer from applications we moving from God to us. They were written for our betterment and not to chain us with trivial pursuits at God’s amusement.

  33. Alabama John says:

    laymond, as far as salvation, I believe women, percentage wise, are way ahead of men.
    Does that make men want to have babies or other women things to be equal, I don’t think so.
    Each has their own task to do.

  34. Tiffany says:

    “The culture of the Jews cannot be separated from God.” I certainly hope this isn’t true, or I need to listen to a lot more Barbara Streisand… Really though, historical, literary and cultural context is key in any interpretation endeavor. It’s clear you and I approach Scripture quite differently, and thankfully, God’s core message of love and salvation rings clear for both of us.

  35. laymond says:

    AJ said, “Does that make men want to have babies or other women things to be equal, I don’t think so.”
    Is that what Paul was saying to Timothy, when he said women will be saved by childbearing ?
    Men will be saved by preaching the gospel, women by childbearing.
    By the way what are those other woman things you speak of, if it don’t include preaching the gospel. ?

  36. Dwight says:

    Tiffany, I am talking the culture as you read from the scriptures of which God made laws. God made laws on every part of the Jewish life…moral laws, social laws, medical laws, religious laws. God’s laws formed the Jewish culture when God spoke and made laws. There were many things that God didn’t make laws on such as farming, how many children, but when God spoke they were supposed to follow them and this was their base. The Jewish culture was supposed to be inherently different from the gentile culture as marked by many things in relation to God.
    In regards to the scripture the bible is its own best commentary, meaning that if we have to pull from external sources to verify or explain scripture, then we all are lost and can’t believe a word of it. While there is much discussion on how not to apply I Cor.14, there is none on how to apply it or what it is trying to say. And if we can’t apply these verses, then why must we apply any of the writings in I Cor or II Cor. or Galatians or any of the other letters? Maybe we don’t or we just pick and choose the ones we want.

  37. Alabama John says:

    Laymond, women praying to God for their men is number one in my book. Nothing can compare to a virtuous woman.
    In war, it used to be from the beginning all those fighting were men with a few exceptions we have heard of like Joan of Ark and that is just like in nature when a rooster will sacrifice himself to save his hens. Seen it many times. No misunderstand Gods creation hierarchy with all other creatures like we want to twist someones way or political advantage with fellow humans.
    We humans can learn a lot about God and His preferred methods by observing nature. The bible is just a very small part of it. Look around there is a lot Gods is telling and showing us.
    God created it all and we are just a small percentage and part of what He set up..

  38. Johnny says:

    Just an observation, I have heard the exact same logic used to defend slavery. God didn’t forbid it, he gave instructions in the OT on how to do it, Paul sent a slave back to his owner. Therefore slavery is ordained by God and should be practiced humanly.

  39. Jay Guin says:


    My response to that argument is today’s post in the comment that mentions Webb’s Slaves, Women & Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis.

  40. Jay Guin says:

    John F,

    If I’m in error regarding your practices regarding the veiling of women, etc., please correct me. If I’m right, well, then I’m right.

    Regarding predetermined interpretation, I don’t see where you are in a position to judge since you’ve not be along for the ride as my views have changed. As I relate in Buried Talents, the first few times I taught this material in Bible class, I took the traditional view. It wasn’t until around 1995 or so (I was born in 1954, so I was about 41 I guess) that I changed my mind. And I changed my mind largely due to the realization that Gen 3:16 is a curse and not a command. (I felt like such an idiot for not having seen it sooner.)

    As we say in these parts, I really have no dog in this hunt. I get to teach and exercise authority and speak regardless of how the debate turns out. I changed my mind because my theology was bad. But not easily. I’ve read everything from Behold the Pattern (several times, actually) to the work of Catherine Kroeger — and all points in between. I subscribe to the Gospel Advocate and the Spiritual Sword — and I can argue the other side far better than most of those who disagree with me, because I was once on the other side arguing.

    So assume what you will about me, but I did not start my study of the role of women with a predetermined interpretation. On the other hand, nearly 20 years later, there aren’t many arguments I haven’t already heard — which is one reason I so enjoyed the interchange with Randy. I ultimately was not convinced, but he forced me to relook at the text and rethink it’s meaning — and every time I do that, I’m blessed.

    I should add that about the same time I saw the error in my Gen 3:16 understanding, I became sufficiently involved in my church’s campus ministry to see the emotional ruin so many young college girls reared in the Churches of Christ suffered from their treatment back home. Low self-esteem doesn’t begin to touch it. And countless girls came through our ministry after suffering abuse at home from fathers who used the Bible to destroy their resistance.

    No preacher intends this result, but it is in fact a consequence of what we sometimes teach and how we teach it. I’ve seen it far too many times. It really and truly happens that our preachers create an atmosphere that supports abusers.

    That hardly makes you or any other reader here an abuser, but please be careful that your words in defense of what you believe cannot be misunderstood as justifying male domination over women. I don’t know how we teach that men “rule” women without encouraging abuse. And now I’m kicking myself for not saying this sooner — but it’s a very real and very serious issue in our churches that gets very little publicity. We hide it. But it’s going on, and we need to watch our language with the greatest of care and be clear about just what “submission” we think women owe to men.

    This is one reason I am always careful to point out that the text speaks of wives submitting to husbands, not women to men.

  41. John F says:

    Well, Jay, you are mostly wrong about my practices. I’ve been known to share a holy kiss (do you need some names?); I’ve been known to lift hands in prayer (but not high for “show”); my wife is more than modest in her appearance and demeanor, and would wear a veil in a heartbeat if I so asked, which I have not. I would be happy to share some research I’ve done on the veil, including the Graeco-Roman expressions through coinage and more. The over riding narrative (and the expressions in practice) of scripture is male spiritual leadership — which we men as a whole have failed miserably.

    There likely is no Bible doctrine that could not be attacked in a similar fashion. Really, was not the death on the cross just a cultural expression of redemption? The reality must be something more appropriate to our current cultural understanding.

    My point about interpretation (hermeneutics) is that “How you go in determines where you come out.” The “Attitudes and Consequences” by Homer Hailey is as relevant today or more t=so than ever before (and no, I do not agree with him on everything. I have sat at the pedagogical feet of some of our brothers who teach a “new” narrative theology,, and I’ve seen and am even now seeing it fail to being unity and love and mutual submission — while tearing congregations apart.

    Tiffany said, “The exception makes the rule.” Really, under that understanding nothing remains — we don’t need baptism (thief on the cross) or the church (just a cultural expression of community).

    If we meet, I would be please to greet you with a holy kiss. Yes, the posts make me think, which is good, but I am largely reaffirmed in my dedication to the apostle’s teaching; after all, It was Christ who told them how to “do church”
    Acts 1:2-4
    . . . after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. 3 To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.

    We ignore their teaching at peril.

  42. Johnny says:

    Jay, my post was not clear, I was not supporting slavery just stating the position of some who use the same methods as those who believe in the silence of women.

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