By Femi Aribisala
Paul’s command that women be silent is not given by the inspiration of God. It is not profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction or for instruction in righteousness.
Christians need to ask for the origins of Paul’s injunction that women are not permitted to speak in church. (1 Corinthians 14:34). Surely, the purpose of the gospel is not to deprive women of their inalienable longstanding rights. Prophetesses in the Old Testament were ordained of God not to be silent, but to speak forthrightly to Israel. These included Miriam (Exodus 15:20); Deborah (Judges 4:4); Huldah (2 Kings 22:14); Noadiah (Nehemiah 6:14); and Isaiah’s wife (Isaiah 8:3).
God predicted that this prophetic tendency would greatly increase in the last days: “Afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy.” (Joel 2:28). This was fulfilled at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came down on 120 men and women, and they all “began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Acts 2:4).
It should be clear; therefore, that Paul’s command that women be silent is not given by the inspiration of God. It is not profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction or for instruction in righteousness. Those who insist on its adherence must be thoroughly devoid of any good sense. (2 Timothy 3:16-17). For this reason, this command is ignored in the churches.
Unlike Jesus, it was Paul who started the busy-body convention, now prevalent in the churches, of legislating specifically about women. He says: “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes.” (1 Timothy 2:9). In the main, Christian women also do not bother with this capricious injunction. They continue to braid their hair and wear jewelry and expensive clothes.
Paul says furthermore: “I do not permit a woman to teach.” (1 Timothy 2:12). Bully for him! However, the bible records that Priscilla taught Apollos a more accurate knowledge of the “way of God.” (Acts 18:26). It is not up to Paul to dictate which vessel God should use. God is sovereign, and he has been known to use women to teach his people. (2 Kings 22:14-20).
David says: “The Lord gives the command; the women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host.” (Psalm 68:11). Some bible translations have sought to hide the female factor in this verse by replacing “the women who proclaim the good tidings” with “the company of those who proclaimed it.” (KJV; NIV). The truth is that, not only are women permitted to preach the good news; they are expressly required to proclaim it.
Veiling of women
Paul says: “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.” (1 Corinthians 11:3-10).
We can see from these verses that Paul is a very muddled thinker. Only a fool would regard this sophistry as the word of God. The same man who says women should not teach now gives instructions about how they should teach. It is common knowledge that traditionally Jewish men cover their heads in the synagogue or while praying. There is no indication that Jesus did any different. So where is Paul getting all this bother from?
God created women for his glory, and not for the glory of men. He says: “Bring my daughters from the ends of the earth.. whom I created for my glory.” (Isaiah 43:6-7). Moreover, if, according to Paul, a man should not cover his head before God because he is the glory of God, then it follows that a woman should also not cover her head before a man because she is the glory of the man.
Paul says: “Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonour to him? But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.” (1 Corinthians 11:13-15).
Obviously, Paul’s command here is nothing but capricious. Since it does not come from God, he seeks authority for it in reasoning and in nature. However, it is not true that nature teaches that if a man has long hair it is a dishonour to him. We may well ask from which museum of natural history Paul obtained this phony teaching. On investigation, it is evident that Paul’s jaundiced position actually contradicts facts of nature. In nature, it is the lion, and not the lioness, that has the long manes. The male peacock also has longer plumes than the female peacock, so Paul’s reasoning is nonsensical.
It is not nature, but the barber, who keeps men’s hair short. In some countries, such as China and Holland, men wear long hair, and nature has apparently not taught them it is a shame. As for the woman, if, according to Paul, her hair is given to her for a covering, why then would she need to cover it again?
In Judaism, long hair was, in matters of the faith, more of a “glory” than a “shame.” It is customary, and not dishonourable, for a Nazarite not to cut his hair. (Numbers 6:5). Samson was a Nazarite and God told him expressly not to cut his hair. (Judges 13:5).
Take another look at this from the so-called infallible pen of Paul: “Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing- if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.” (1 Timothy 2:14-15).
This is poppycock! Surely, it is better to be deceived than to be disobedient. Adam was disobedient; therefore he also became a sinner. A woman who sins cannot be saved through childbearing. If we were to follow Paul’s weird prescription to its logical conclusion, if a woman commits adultery, all she need do is get pregnant in order to be saved through childbearing. This is clearly a most bizarre doctrine of salvation. It certainly is not the word of God. No matter how you slice and dice it, women are not saved spiritually through childbearing. Neither are they saved physically. Some, like Rachel, Jacob’s wife, die while having children.
What we find therefore is that Paul came up in his epistles with a number of diabolical precepts against women that rolled back Jesus’ redemptive examples. The tragedy of the Christian church is that, instead of following bondage-breaking Jesus, it has largely followed bondage-creating Paul.