I wonder how many women have been called to preach the Word of God, but are silenced in a church because "women are not supposed to preach".
Here are some of the popular Bible verses used to keep women from preaching in the church:
Women should remain silent in the churches.
1 Corinthians 14:33b-35 "The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. (NASB)
The entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 14 is about having order during the worship service so that people will not be distracted from worshiping God. It addresses speaking in tongues, prophecy, and doing things orderly so that the Lord will be edified. When it says "women should remain silent in the churches", it is not talking about preaching. It doesn't say exactly why Paul said this about the Corinthian women. Maybe they were disrupting the service, questioning what was being said, or trying to get attention on themselves. Paul's reasoning was based on a localized cultural issue. Paul also tells the entire Corinthian church to keep silent if there is no interpreter to tongues - 14:28 "But if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. (NASB) Silence is mentioned again in 14:30 " But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent."(NASB) During this chapter, Paul doesn't refer only to women when he talks about being silent in the church.
The Message Version of the Bible explains 1 Corinthians 14:34-36 this way. "Wives must not disrupt worship, talking when they should be listening, asking questions that could more appropriately be asked of their husbands at home. God's Book of the law guides our manners and customs here. Wives have no license to use the time of worship for unwarranted speaking. Do you—both women and men—imagine that you're a sacred oracle determining what's right and wrong? Do you think everything revolves around you?"
Women are not to teach or have authority over men.
1 Timothy 2:11-15 "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And 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."
Paul was concerned about the Ephesian believers turning to false doctrines and religious beliefs. In 1 Timothy 1:3 Paul is telling Timothy that the Ephesians are not to teach any other doctrine other than the apostle's doctrine. In 1 Timothy 1:4 Paul wanted Timothy to make sure that they didn't get into other beliefs, since Ephesus was a center for different false religions. These other religions, in Ephesus, were being led by women and they involved sexual orgies. The women were deceiving men and drawing them into these false religions. This probably is why Paul had concerns about the women taking over in churches. Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:11 that he wants the Ephesian women to be submissive to the church leaders probably because of the current situations in Ephesus at that time.
The Message Version of the Bible explains 1 Timothy 2:11-15 this way "I don't let women take over and tell the men what to do. They should study to be quiet and obedient along with everyone else. Adam was made first, then Eve; woman was deceived first—our pioneer in sin!—with Adam right on her heels. On the other hand, her childbearing brought about salvation, reversing Eve. But this salvation only comes to those who continue in faith, love, and holiness, gathering it all into maturity. You can depend on this.
Ministers are to have one wife.
1 Timothy 3:12 "A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well."
Since the church leaders in Ephesus at this time were men, this verse refers to the deacons as husbands. Paul wants male church officers to be committed to their wives. He is saying that polygamy is not allowed. This verse was not meant to exclude single men or women from serving as preachers in the ministry.
If women aren't suppose to preach in churches, then we need to find the appropriate Bible verses to back up this belief. The above verses do not apply. They were written to deal with different issues and addressed to the early Christian church in Corinth and Ephesus.
I did not write this post to promote feminism or to dishonor men. My purpose was to prove the fact that these verses do not provide Biblical evidence to keep women from preaching in churches. It's important that we don't twist around the original meaning of verses to fit our desired beliefs.
Just like men, women need to seek God's will for their lives. They need to do what He is calling them to do. Does this mean that women should go against the popular cultural views of the church in order to obey God's leading?