Thursday, March 5, 2009

1 Corinthians 14 -- Women

In this chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul looks at the use of spiritual gifts, in particular the gifts of speaking in tongues and prophecy. More over, Paul instructs on their use in the context of the a gathering of the church. A simple rule to follow, it is builds up the church speak, if it confuses the church, don't speak. The portion I want to focus on has more to do with gender issues.

In this chapter Paul makes one of his famous proclamations regarding women in the church. The basic quote is that women should be silent in church. Many people have read this an thought they have been faithful to God in applying this teaching with great rigidity. The problem is when a person reads all of the writings attributed to Paul, we get a different picture. Even in Corinthians where the letter is initiated by the people at Chloe's house church. Other places in scripture tell of women leading the people of God when the men were fouling it up pretty good. An argument could be made that Mary Magdalene was more than a follower of Jesus, that she was studying under him to become a Rabbi. So what is Paul's issue?

The short answer I have no idea. I am however convinced that we cannot take a few verses and pluck them out of context to create an overarching rule. Followers of Jesus must invest the time in studying the whole story, not just certain parts. In the case of women in the church, the time has come to read the whole story, and move forward with grace and humility.

Paul often gets a bad wrap when it comes to issues related to women. If we read a verse here and there it is justified. If we read all of the work a different picture emerges.

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