When should women be subordinate?

Someone knocked on my door this week wanting to explain the Bible to me. I told him that I was already a student of the Bible at which point he enthusiastically suggested that he come in to compare notes. He then quoted St Paul to me and I responded that St Paul didn’t like women. He looked shocked. I wonder if he has been studying 1 Corinthians ever since to try and work out why St Paul speaks about women the way he does.

Take this verse: “the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home.” 1 Cor 14:34-35

How can a doctrine like this stand in our modern world which recognises the importance of gender equality? If we look at the words St Paul uses a new meaning becomes apparent.

Church ekklesia literally means ‘out of a calling’ and indicates that we hear the presence of Christ within us and all our various forces (emotions, thoughts, intentions) gather or assemble in a focussed way.

Not permitted, permitted is epitrepo, epi, to, trepo, turn which Vines suggests means to entrust.

Not speaking, speaking is laleo and can mean to keep secret what we are experiencing. So perhaps St Paul is saying that we must not trust what we might speak of this new experience and so should keep it a secret.

The wife and the husband are within us and could be designated as feeling and thinking.

Subordinate, hupotasso means hupo, under, tasso, to arrange, and so we arrange our emotions under our thoughts which keep them in control.

Then, to understand more fully what has happened within our consciousness we should ask questions of our thinking in the privacy of our own home, i.e. our inner being.

What does this say about knocking on people’s doors with our own ideas about what the Bible means? Unlocking the Bible is now up to each individual. Asking the husband thoughts within us to assist us to make sense of what we read is imperative.

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