What are we supposed to make of the Bible passage that says women must be quiet in church? Pastor J.D. Greear of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, tackled this topic in the most recent edition of his “Ask Me Anything” podcast.
“Why does the Bible say that women must be silent in the church?” a listener named Justin asked. His question refers to 1 Corinthians 14:33-35, which says:
For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people. Women should remain silent in the churches. 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 church.
J.D. Greear Explains a Difficult Bible Passage
J.D. Greear began his answer by pointing out that the Bible contains some “troubling” passages—even the Apostle Peter thought so.
In 2 Peter 3:15-16, Peter writes:
Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
“So if Peter had a hard time understanding,” said Greear, “it doesn’t surprise me that there’s some things in our New Testament that we’re like, I’m not sure what that means.”
The Corinthians passage is concerning to some because at face value, it sounds as though women should never speak in church under any circumstances. There are believers, in fact, who interpret it this way.
Greear, however, said, “Paul is clearly not saying that a woman should never speak in church. How do I know that? Well, for one thing, just three chapters before this one in Chapter 11, Paul gave instructions for how women were to speak and pray and prophesy in church.”