How do you feel when someone tells you you can’t do something?
This passage is a passage all about worship. But somehow, it has been used through the centuries to oppress women, who have been told that they should keep silence and not use the gifts God has given them to have any authority over men. Scholars have disagreed many times over what exactly Paul was meaning when he wrote verse 11. He might have been speaking into a particular dispute in the church at that time, and he might not have wanted a pushy individual to take authority that wasn’t theirs. Different churches have dealt with this in different ways. Some don’t even let women read from the Bible in a public setting (and are happy to have female Sunday school leaders?) and others at the other end of the scale have rejected the truth of the Bible as the word of God because they struggle to believe God would act in this way. Somehow, I suspect the truth lies in the middle.
But this is a passage about worship. Let’s not forget that. The church is instructed to pray for others – for the leaders of the country to bring about peace. Prayer shouldn’t be about competition to see who can pray the loudest and the longest, but should be about people lifting up their hands together as friends asking together for God to work. Women shouldn’t be focussing on what they look like rather than on God. And the various bits of jewellery they are wearing shouldn’t be what makes them beautiful – rather they should have beauty coming from within, from living lives of worship to God.
When we do this, then everyone wins. Peace is a good thing and it pleases God, who wants all people to come to know him. No matter who should be keeping quiet or not, it is also clear that we have all been saved through childbearing – Mary bore Jesus to set us free and to rescue us.
Lord God, thank you that you came to set us free. Help me worship you with all that I am, and not to let anything get in the way. Amen.
Why not continue to worship God in song?