Women speaking in the assembly . . . is it proper?

pauls writings women Oct 04, 2018

Women speaking in the assembly  . . . is it proper?  

There is no distinction between men and women in their fellowship with Yahuah, however, as we interact with one another there are subtle distinctions and rules we make up.

Let's consider women, and what Paul is accused of saying about their participation.

Paul seems to make a statement that sounds very discriminating against women:

"As in all the congregations of the qodeshim*, women should remain silent in the assemblies.  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 assembly."   1 Cor 14:32-35 (*qodeshim, set-apart ones, translated "saints", would be all Israel of Paul's day, who met together for fellowship).


  What "law" is Paul speaking of here?  There is no such law. I've not found any TORAH prohibition which forbids women from speaking in a group-study of Torah.   Could it have been an Oral Law (Talmud) tradition that clung to this Pharisee of Pharisees?  Possibly, but there are more likely possibilities.  Every scholar's commentary on this subject, stumbles in the dark to find a shred of evidence in Torah against women speaking, so the "law" which Paul seems to be citing about women not speaking could be a social norm in that time and place.   To Paul (or whoever monkied with the text) it may have been "disgraceful" for a woman to speak in the assembly, but he also seems to be using the word "law".  The Greek word "law" in this sentence is #3551, NOMOS  -  and generally is defined as LAW.  However, it can mean principal, norm, or rule.   In a given life-setting, it could be a rule or principle to wear a toga and go barefoot into an eating establishment.  That would not be acceptable today in certain areas of the world.  It should be clear that people can't pick and choose which Commandment to obey, but Paul's writings are twisted constantly to say what people want to hear; to negate a Commandment or make new ones.   Paul doesn't have the authority to ADD or TAKE AWAY from the Torah, yet in practice that's exactly what we see people doing with his writings.

When Yahuah declares we are NOT TO WORK, but rest on the seventh day of each week as He rested, many people dodge obeying this and explain it away.  But, when Paul declares that women are NOT TO SPEAK, even though Yahuah didn't mention it, THAT RULE THEY WANT TO ENFORCE.

 No one is sure about Paul's marital experience, but we assume he was single for the latter part of his life. He spoke of the other apostles having wives. Most would rather take advice on marriage from someone who has been married, and preferably from someone who is in a successful relationship.  In the Scripture quoted above,“they should ask their own husbands at home", "they" would be women in the assembly. They would also have to be married in order to have "husbands at home".  Paul doesn't assume that any woman in the assembly would be unmarried if we take this verse to its logical conclusion, yet in other places he clearly recommends "singleness". His personal advice can be different from yours, or mine, and yet we can still accept one another. One person may want to wear a hat, another may not want to wear one -  no need to freak-out. What if you brought your girlfriend to a fellowship and she asked a question? We need to remember to see things from Yahusha's point of view and be gentle and tenderhearted toward everyone.

  What we have today that we know as the "gospels" and letters of the earliest disciples of Yahusha were all passed down to us through what is known as the "Alexandrian Cult".  These were early "church fathers" such as Origen, Augustine, Chrysostom, and many others.  It started during the second century with Marcion and Irenaeus.  They chose what was "in" and what was "out" -- and they fiddled and tweaked what was accepted, but you'll have to study about that for yourself.  From what they passed down to us in the Greek today, which only dates back to the 4th century at the most, Paul would apparently forbid women in the assembly to open their mouths; I want to hear the Voice of Yahusha no matter who it is that is speaking.  Some "leaders" prefer that young children and babies be kept out of the assembly, to minimize the crying and disruption.  I vote that we accept all, and let the women speak, answer questions, and like it - like the male lion is doing in the photo above.   I recognize what men have done to this planet.  I also recognize the blazing intellect that my wife has.  If I were to have to live without her wisdom, I'd be in serious trouble.  As of August 18, 2013, we've been married for 40 years.  She learns things from me, however it's a 2-way street in our house.

Here's a few Scriptures concerning how women are to conduct themselves as wives and among the believers:  Acts 21:5, Ephesians 5:22-28 (probably the very best), Col. 3:18, 1 Tim. 3:11,
Tim 5:1,2, 1 Pet. 3:1-6, Titus 2:3,4

 These were penned by an unmarried man, and yet they are VERY good advice.  Paul may have had some traumatic experiences with the female species, because he recommended that single people remain so, as he was.  This advice goes against not only the normal pattern of every historical society which have all been based on the family unit but is also very different from his own culture.  Rabbis, Luite priests, and practically any average man of Paul's time would have been an oddity (STRANGE, FREAKY) if they were unmarried.   

  The topic of "celibacy" is against the Command to "be fruitful and multiply", given directly from the Voice of Yahuah to men at Gen. 1:28, 8:17, 9:1, and 9:7.  In fact, the word "celibacy" is not found in the Scriptures  -  check any concordance.  If it is a good thing, and Yahuah would have us be celibate to serve Him better, why did He not tell us or instruct us?   Those who may seem to read it into what Paul taught in his letters have 2 possibilities to decide between.  Either the idea of "remaining single" was figurative language and simply misunderstood, or it was ADDED by Catholic monks to give legitimacy for their own vows.

 Paul's "orders" to not allow women to speak in the assembly is one that causes a great deal of confusion, but when we assemble to study together, it's the women that seem to bring the most to the sessions.

  In the context of the verse quoted above, Paul was discussing the details of how to conduct and maintain order in the assemblies.  What Paul may have meant was he didn't want "women-talk" in the assembly, or the clucking, gossiping, and prattling that often is seen at common family gatherings or social affairs.  But, men are equally capable of being "boisterous", so that needs to be toned-down also.  Our gatherings are moderated and led, but everyone has the opportunity to speak to the whole group, as it should be.  

At 1 Cor. 14:26, Paul tells us that when we assemble, EACH ONE has the ability to speak; then a few verses later states that the women can't speak!   You can't have it both ways. It seems Paul wanted orderly conduct in the assembly, and at that time it may have been his experience to see women standing in groups speaking loudly to one another, and not paying quiet attention to the men speaking.  We simply don't know his reasoning. What if Paul had said it was his opinion that MEN should not speak in the assembly, but should rather learn from their wives at home?   If a woman believer has an unbelieving hubby, wouldn't you suppose it would be normal for her to teach him?  We teach our children IN OUR HOMES, as the Torah instructs  -  yet people often find themselves carting-off their children to hear someone else teach them.

"What is the outcome then, brethren?  When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation.   Let all things be done for edification". 
1 Cor 14:26

Here's 2 witnesses from Scripture:

At Exodus/Shemoth 15:20, Miryam "the prophetess", the sister of Mosheh and Aharon, went out before the assembly of all Yisrael with "all the women", and they lifted up their voices in praise, and with dances.

A similar thing happened at Judges/Shophetim 5, where Deborah sang before Yisrael and Yahuah.  There are many other examples we could use, but all we need is the minimum of 2 witnesses.

"Then you will know that I am in Israel,  that I am Yahuah your Alahim, 
and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed. 
'And afterward,  I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on My servants, both men and women. I will pour out my Spirit in those days.   I will show wonders in the heavens and on the Earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke.

The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood  before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Yahuah.  And everyone who calls on the Name of Yahuah will be saved; 
for on Mount Tsion and in Yerushaliyim there will be deliverance,  as Yahuah has said, among the survivors whom Yahuah calls. 
Joel 2:27-32

  Yahusha is recorded speaking to a "Samaritan woman" for most of Yahukanon chapter 4.  If this woman could address the Creator-in-flesh, Yahusha, converse with Him, then why do we imagine that women are not able to address others (regular human beings) in an assembly?  There is a cultural blockage now, and there was then; notice that Yahusha's own talmidim thought it to be inappropriate that He be engaged in a conversation with a woman:

"Just then His disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman.  But no one asked, 'What do you want?' or 'Why are you talking with her?'"  John 4:27 Note the argument below, based on "the body of Scriptural law", (whatever that may be).

Here's a quite simple, and I feel correct, view on this topic from Barron:

RE: Your article "Women speaking in the assembly" 

Almost all people lock onto the upsetting phrase "They [women] are not allowed to speak, ..., as the law says", but cannot find it in the Torah.  Actually, it says, "They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission as the law says."  Submission is the Torah issue here; speaking is the local application.  The Torah says this in Genesis 3:16 - "and he shall rule over you."  Don't forget 1Peter 3:1-6.

Basically, if the husband instructs his wife to remain silent in the assembly, then it is certainly disgraceful for her to not submit.  (Just as we submit to Messiah).  If a man allows his wife to speak in assembly, then she can speak freely, and it is not a violation of Torah.  Presumably, the Corinthian assembly followed some Jewish traditions that segregated the women and children in the synagogue, such that they remained silent (or whispered among themselves) while listening to the men's questions and discussion.  Our American traditions are far different since we married folk sit together and naturally encourage each other to join the discussion, and then have difficulty understanding Paul's culturally-distant application of Torah. 

I'm enjoying your articles.  Thanks.

Here's one opposing view taking the view that women are "property", with my comments following:

Dear Lew,

 You say there is no "law" against women speaking in the assemblies.  However, I think you are disregarding the body of scriptural law, which makes it clear that a wife is the property of her husband.  He pays a bride price for her to her father.  She becomes the property of the husband, as are the children of the marriage.  It would be very disrespectful for these servants, the women, to be usurping the authority of their master’s in public.  After Eve was deceived by Satan, God placed her under the authority of the man.  A woman's natural place is in the home as homemaker, as in Proverbs 31.  It is a shame for a nation to have women in position of authority.  It is a shame on a husband for his wife to be running her mouth in public assemblies.  No place in scripture is a woman given the authority to give a bill of divorce to her husband.    ~ name withheld

Lew responds to the idea of the "body of Scriptural law":  

Calling a wife "property" in the way a despot might refer to itis probably an extreme view of the idea.  A marriage is more than one person "owning" another, but is a voluntary giving

of oneself out of loving motivation.  Scripture tells us that the woman's body is the property of the man, and that the man'sbody is the property of the woman.   They "belong" to one another, and in fact, are no longer individuals, but the same body.


If a loving, unselfish approach is maintained toward one another, both will seek to please the other and their joy will become maximized. If the man is a tyrant, and is offended if his wife speaks to others who love Yahusha in a gathering, he's the one with the problem.

I didn't buy my wife from her father.  If that means we aren't properly wedded in Yahuah's eyes, are we to go to a man or institution to get the proper permission and their blessing?  

My wife came with no "dowry" either.  It's a good thing we Natsarim aren't "policemen", empowered 0to say who is and who isn't doing everything perfectly, according to the "body of Scriptural law".

This is how the Talmud, and the "traditions of the fathers" found their basis  -- interpretation.

Adam didn't buy his bride, but he did make a "contribution" of sorts (his side, or "rib" area).  

I can't teach people to obey something that isn't in the Torah, but was  invented by men to control their women or put them in a lower status  with men.   Paul himself tells us that there is no distinction between men and women with Yahuah, so if they speak it only "offends" the tyrant, not Yahuah.  Why bring women out into public at all?  In the despotic regimes where Islamic laws are set up to keep women in a low status as slaves or chattel, they cover them from head-to-toe so as to not see them.  The next logical step is to make them completely disappear, and the only thing we'd ever see or hear would be men.   That sounds like a real bummer, and a seriously bad plan for society to me.   ~  brother Lew



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