Saturday, August 7, 2010

336: Women Shouldn't Speak in Church

1 Corinthians 12-14
"...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 Corinthians 14:34-35

Chapter 12 starts with Paul explaining that everyone won't have the same spiritual gifts. Some will speak in tongues, and some will be able to heal, while still others will be able to prophecy. Interestingly, Jesus says that those who believe will receive all these gifts at once (Mark 16:17-18). The plot thickens, though, because this is one of those sections in Mark that the NIV says wasn't there in the first manuscripts. Is fake-Jesus, or makes-up-random-shit-Paul a more legitimate source of truth?

Chapter 12 ends with a long section about all believers being one part of the body of Jesus. All believers, says Paul, are different, but they are all exactly the way that God wants them to be (that they may fit into the body of Christ). This is obviously why the idea of people being born gay is so abhorrent to Christians.

Chapter 13 is about love. Paul says that all the gifts of the spirit are useless without love. What he has to say about love is relatively famous (it's quoted in several bad romantic comedies, and thusly requoted on Facebook ad nauseam), I'll quote it:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
I certainly can't criticize the message, and I can see why it fits so well with a romantic comedy (even though Paul isn't talking about romantic love). But I'd like to compare Paul's ideal love with the love of our "all loving" God.
Love is patient: I wouldn't call God particularly "patient". But the argument could be made that he was "patient" with the Israelites, even though he rather seemed to enjoy killing them off. The real question is, what does patience even mean to a timeless being? Can something be patient if it can't experience time?
Love is kind: Of course, one would need to properly define "kind" before you could make an argument for or against God's kindness. But I would hope that we can all agree that killing women and children for the crimes of others doesn't qualify. Or how about leaving Adam and Eve to the temptation of the serpent, thereby dooming all of humanity for the rest of time. That doesn't sound very kind either.
Love does not envy, boast, and is not proud: This is where God really begins to fail. The God of the bible is, as he admits, a jealous God (which I think is a pretty solid synonym for "envious"). God boasts of his wonderfulness almost constantly in the Old Testament. And God is certainly proud (otherwise he wouldn't boast so much). In fact, I am unable to find but a couple books of the Old Testament that aren't God constantly boasting about how wonderful he is. This may be deservedly, after all if you create the universe you probably deserve to boast a little. But surely the point Paul is trying to make is that you don't boast even if you deserve to, everyone can boast about something.
Love is not self-seeking or easily angered: God is the epitome of self-seeking. He created mankind that we may worship him constantly. God, at least in my opinion, is easily angered. Even if he's not easily angered, when he does get angered he ends up killing off entire societies.
The last, and best, one I'm going to talk about; Love keeps no record of wrongs: Again, God is the epitome of keeping records of wrongs. Humanity is still being punished for Adam and Eve's wrongdoing.
Someone please explain to me how God is "all loving". God doesn't even meet the definition of a little loving (according to Paul).

Paul ends chapter 13 by saying that there are three things: faith, hope, and love. Among these, love is the greatest. How is this true? If you are only full of love (with no faith or hope), God will have no qualms about throwing you into an eternity of hellfire. The same can be said about hope. Why wouldn't Paul say that faith (i.e. the way to eternal salvation) is the greatest?

Chapter 14, for the most part, is about Paul explaining how the gift of prophecy is greater than the gift of speaking in tongues. Paul explains that speaking in tongues really doesn't get you anywhere, because nobody has any idea what you're saying. Prophesying, on the other hand, will gain you much more followers. Even though Paul says speaking in tongues isn't very important, he doesn't pass up the opportunity to rub in how great he is at it: "I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you".

The last part of chapter 14 is about orderly worship. He says at most three people should speak at one time (this is "orderly"?). Paul then says that all women must remain silent in church. If they have a question about anything, they should wait till they get home and ask their husbands (who somehow have the answers to all life's questions). This is because it's disgraceful for a woman to speak in church. I've been to church, this command is not followed at all.

This command, of course, seems ridiculous in modern times. But it's in the bible. Why aren't churches following this like they do the abolition of homosexuality? I've heard several explanations for Paul's abolition of women speaking in churches, ranging from "this command was only for the Corinthians" to "it really just means that women shouldn't interrupt in church". It's very clear that Paul is giving general guidelines for how a church should be run, not specifically a Corinthian church. And the second argument just isn't in the bible. Paul clearly says that it's disgraceful for a woman to speak, at all, in church. Can we call the bible, or at least Paul, outdated yet?

Christopher Hitchens gave his first interview since his diagnosis. If you don't want to sit through the whole 9 minutes, fast forward to the 8 minute mark (if you want to watch more than 9 minutes, hit the link at the bottom for the unedited interview).

There it is, there will be no death bed conversion. Even if there is a deathbed "conversion", Hitchens himself is denying that he would ever say that in a lucid state of mind. Maybe now I'll stop getting Google alerts every day with random people just sure that Hitchens is going to find Jesus.

(via CNN [full interview])


  1. @Bryan,
    "Is fake-Jesus, or makes-up-random-shit-Paul a more legitimate source of truth?"

    How about fake-Paul? Because much of 1 Corinthians was probably interpolated by later Xians anyway, including the verses you are citing.

    1 Cor 12:3. Somebody in Paul's church was prophesying, "Jesus be cursed"? It sounds like he has a lot of work to do. Or this was a later addition meant to counter Cainite Gnostics in the 2nd c.

    1 Cor 12:31a-14:1. This digression about love is a likely interpolation. Note how Paul first talks positively about prophesying in chapter 12, then denigrates it in chapter 13, before picking up the thread of the conversation from chapter 12 again in chapter 14 (14:1b paraphrases 12:31a).

    1 Cor 13:3. "surrender my body to the flames." This late interpolation is a reference to Proteus Peregrinus who self-immolated in the early 2nd c.

    1 Cor 13:8. A later orthodox author is trying to stamp out prophesying and speaking in tongues (and Gnosticism), by having Paul declare those things would soon end. Prophesying and speaking in tongues were dangerous because they allowed unpredictable new teachings to arise in a community. Church authorities preferred to rely on the more easily controlled scripture.

    Note that chapter 13, although ostensibly about love, is really about speaking in tongues, prophesying, and gnosis. V. 1 criticizes speaking in tongues, v. 2 criticizes prophesying and gnosis, v. 8 criticizes all three, vv. 9-10 criticizes prophesying and gnosis, and vv. 11-12 continue the idea that these are imperfect, childish, and temporary stopgaps.

  2. You don't understand that everything you said that the Bible says that God is you proved it by the Old Testament! Jesus died to make a new covenant with us by forgiving us and saving us! You have to understand and ask God for wisdom, not just reading Bible and interpretending like you want to!!
    God bless u!!!

    1. I have heard this "new covenant" argument before, but you still use the old testament when you need to repress a homosexual or justify slavery (which it was use for such until the end of the Civil War)!

    2. Not only the old testament speaks against homosexuals but the new testament as well, the book of Romans

  3. wow really nice informations thank you man I have bookmarked your blog it is very informative blog.

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  4. I don't think that you have done your proper research on this passage, and are taking it out of context. If you were to study the context behind what Paul is saying, things may become a little more clear for you. The bible can be difficult to understand at times. However, if we take to the time to study and become familiar with the situation in which the person was speaking about at the time, it would be much easier to understand! I have questioned the bible many times, but once I spent hours researching, I was able to properly grasp the situation at hand.

    1. I think there is a vast difference between spending hours researching the bible, and spending hours talking yourself into believing that it says something you want it to say.

      Paul, or whomever it was that wrote these verses was, at the very least, a misogynist.

    2. The immediate context of verse 36 changes the entire meaning of of the text you quoted in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. Verse 36 in the KJV is "What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?"

      All ancient texts are difficult to understand at times and shouldn't always be taken at face value. Understanding what Paul is saying here would be better understood with some quotation marks in the passage. Paul is quoting a law in the Corinthian church. It was not God's law and cannot be found in any of the OT texts concerning as such. Paul quoted their law and followed it with his own words and his reaction to that quote in verse 36.

      Verse 36 makes it very clear that Paul was not in agreement with this so-called law. He was reprimanding them for suppressing women and in doing so suppressing half of the image of God.

    3. This isn't an ancient text, though, is it? Its's supposed to be the word of your god! His divine mandate to humanity via inspired writers!

      So if we can't take it at face value, then your god is either impotent, imbecile, or imaginary.

  5. ah sweet biblical bullshit! nothing better to read when you want to prove yourself that people are stupid :)



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