Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Decent Order of Grace - Part 4 - Separate Forums

Since we are on the subject of decent order... what about this verse...

"Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church." 1 Cor 14:34-35

Wow. Our modern secular society loves verses like these. Some might say 'Where is the equality?' or 'See, The Bible promotes a male chauvinism that is outdated.' After all shouldn't we disregard a literal interpretation and go with a softer more culturally relevant approach?

But, In truth this verse is a great verse and much can be drawn from it. Yes, We need to understand the culture of the day but like the rest of the scriptures no alteration are necessary.

It is clear Paul is not saying women should be silent and subservient oppressed little slaves who have no voice. Paul previously gives guidelines for men and women and the correct forms of public communication.

"Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head" 1 Cor 11:4-5a

Silent here in the same word used for the translators in 1 Cor 14:28 and it meant to be covered and to speak 'in turn.' It is the same word used here for secret:

"...according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret (Sigao - G4601) since the world began" Rom 16:25b

In those days women sat on one side of the room and men on the other. Apparently the women's side was turning into a free for all during the message where there were outbursts all manner of grandstanding.

If we are pursuing love and have the Gospel as the primary focus there will be an order in the assembly and people will give honor to the speaker so that the message can be heard. We want the visitor to hear the Gospel. We need to hear the teaching.

As for the 'be under obedience, as also saith the law' part some conservative commentaries quote Gen 3:16 for this:

"Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you." Gen 3:16b

But, the book of Genesis is not the law Paul is referring to when he uses this Greek word in other places. Is he referring to Leviticus. Lev 18 forbids men to witness the nakedness of women in different roles. Aunts, daughter-in-Laws, mother-in-laws etc. It says in verse 18 it gives special instructions about sisters and marriage so that sisters will remain covered and be able to have a loving relationship. Jacob and his marriage to sisters is a great example of the trouble that this kind of interaction can cause.

Paul is making reference the the difference between a home life and a public life. It is a man's duty to cover not only his wife and family but to never uncover another woman or see 'the nakedness' of other women. The shame of public exposure should not be present in the Church.

If you have ever been at a public question and answer type gathering and someone asks a question like 'Is it right for a man to refuse to get a job after three years? The person with the hand raised in a woman and the guy sitting next to her is a fellow whose eyes are downcast. When that happens you see the value of this verse. A percentage of the people who heard that question will continue to think that man is a deadbeat whenever they see him.

Or the reverse. The hand is a male hand and the question is, 'Should a man stay married if His wife defrauds him? Poor wife. She has been uncovered, and publicly at that, it was just done in the form of question. So sad. That conversation needed a more private forum.

I don't expose my marriage to the Church. I cover my marriage in the Church and have private discourse between husband and wife while also having hospitality for the Saints. God is a God of peace not confusion. In other words in is not anything goes but order is not kept primarily by prohibition. Peace and the pursuit of love is the forward momentum that keeps people.

Gracious order rids us of multiple personalities and social masks but it encourages an order that provides a covering for people. It creates forums where people have dignity and sense the great worth they have as human beings. That means levels of privacy.

Dirty laundry aired and spread out in the public arena is never edifying. Pastors and leaders can talk in private with people and what would have been mortifying becomes edifying.

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