This is the last in this series titled “Rubik’s Cube Interpretation.” There will be more written on scripture interpretation as the months and years pass. It is vital that the premise behind this series is remembered. One can’t pull apart sentences, verses and phrases in the Scriptures to prove a point. Proper interpretation must be done in context of the passage and also in light of what is stated through the entire Bible. In this writing attention will be drawn to how the women’s role is viewed in the Church of Christ denomination.
In the hard core Church of Christ women must remain silent. When the church meets the women are to have no public role, except in the teaching of children and unbaptized members. This is based upon two passages (1 Timothy 2:12; 1 Corinthians 14:34). Because there are plenty of longer, well written thesis, papers and books on this topic, this writing will be kept brief enough to prove the current point on interpretation.
The Corinthian passage contains an important issue with the Greek (the original language of the New Testament). The word for woman and wife is the same word. The interpreter is to use the context to choose what is proper.
The women are to remain silent it says in 14:34, yet in 11:5 it gives instructions on what a woman is to do when she prays and prophesies when men and women are present. Oh wait, correction, in chapter 11 it is most often translated wife, not woman. Even though this is the same context and discussion all the way through chapter 14.
Paul, who was writing Corinthians, was addressing a trouble issue with three groups of people, namely, the tongue speakers, the prophets and the wives. They were out of control. This section of scripture is about order and not about putting ALL women EVERYWHERE in a non-speaking place.
Oddly, if it were about all women, where does this leave the single women OR the wives who do not have a believing husband? In order to be obedient to verse 35 I personally heard one Church of Christ woman who did not have a believing husband, say she would have to choose another Christian man, who was the husband of another wife. That is outrageous. One can learn through the context that this in no way is a blanket statement that all women, everywhere must never have a speaking role in the assembly.
1 Timothy does not concern the public assembly. Paul was surrounded by women who were teachers of men and held deacon positions (Acts 18:26; Philippians 4:2-3). So, once again, taking other passages into consideration and not pulling this Timothy phrase out to make a blanket statement for all places through all times, it is clear that women teaching the gospel in a man’s presence is not forbidden.
Specifically this passage is referring to women who are ignorant and have nothing to teach and likely to teach error, as Eve did to Adam. In ignorance she fell to temptation. This can be gleaned from the context of this passage.
One can plainly see that these two passages can be easily misapplied and misused and they are and have been. In the hard core Church of Christ there can be no woman standing in front leading singing and worship. Also in the hard core and many Churches of Christ there can be no woman giving the announcements standing in the front. In Churches of Christ we will allow the women to pass the communion emblems sitting down in their seat from side to side but not serving them from front to back. In the Churches of Christ a woman can make an instructional comment in an adult auditorium class setting while sitting in her seat but she is not allowed to make the same instructional comment from the front of the class.
What kind of messed up interpretation is this? When passages are taken out of context what will soon follow is many contortions and stretching to enforce that interpretation. It always leads to adding rules and laws that do not exist which is never a good thing.