INTERPRETING THE TEXTS

We come here to the immediate question of the role of women in the church, and in particular to the two passages around which the question revolves:

As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.’ [1 Cor 14:33b-35]

‘A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.’ [1 Tim 2:11-12]

We have already seen that the Bible as a whole teaches both the equality of woman and the headship of man. We have also seen that equality, headship and submission are all exemplified by Christ, and that in that exemplification equality, headship and submission take on a totally different colour than we in our human ignorance and fear give to them.

Given that Christ is ‘the truth’ and that in him ‘are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’, and that we are commanded to ‘follow’ him, his demonstration of the meaning of these three concepts of equality, headship and submission should remain in our thinking as we look at these passages.