Can Women Speak In Church: The Apostle Paul And Women


A little while ago a forum question was posted asking if women could speak in church. The poster referred to the (in)famous First Timothy 2:12 passage. This verse can stir up a host of reactions, and I take it the poster was hoping for that. I want to look at the question from a slightly different angle, that of original language and original context. A major difficulty with this text is translation. The popular New International Version translates the text:”I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man.” and the Amplified Bible renders it “I allow no woman to teach or to have authority over men.” The meaning here is clear, isn’t it? No woman should be instructing any man in the church setting.

Paul the Apostle
Paul the Apostle | Source


But it’s all in the words, and how you put them together. In the Greek there is a word which can be translated either "woman" or "wife." The meaning depends on context. There is also a word which can be translated either "man" or "husband," same deal. When these two words are used together in a passage, they are generally translated "wife" and "husband," b/c that is most true to original meanings. When used in conjunction, these words mean a man and a woman married to each other. The words are used elsewhere in the New Testament, and when used together are generally translated "wife" and "husband." But here they are translated "woman" and "man," giving the idea that a statement is being made about male and female behavior in general, not behavior within a marital relationship.  I looked through 10 different translations of this verse on an online Bible site before finding this:” I do not allow a wife to teach her husband or have authority over him." (Common English Translation) Very different, isn’t it? One makes a sweeping statement that the entire female population is barred from teaching the entire male population. The other states a particular wife should not teach her own husband. (Interesting that the “all females subordinate to all males” translation is so popular, though not accurate.)

What was Paul driving at? In my opinion the meaning here is something along the lines of “Don't correct your husband in public." I am a modern woman, but I don't correct my husband in public or attempt to “teach” him in front of others in a church situation, or in a social situation for that matter. I think it is bad manners. Likewise, I don't like to be corrected by him in public, I don’t like to be “taught,” or talked down to, in front of others by my spouse. (We go home and let each other have it in privacy.)



So I just said that I don’t like to be corrected by my husband in public. But Paul made this stipulation on behalf of husbands, and not wives. Why? Is he unfair? Does he think it’s OK for a husband to point out in front of the group where his wife has gone wrong, but a wife needs to bite her tongue because of the fragile male ego?


I think the answer lies in the cultural situation of early Christianity. In pagan religion, husbands and wives didn't worship together; the husbands would go to the temple of Zeus, their wives to the temple of Hera. In pagan temples of the time part of worship for men was sex with the priestesses. This sounds strange to modern Westerners, but sex is a part of many non-Western religious practices, most notably Hinduism.


In Judaism, the family stayed in the same building for worship, but the men sat in one section and did all the talking, and the women could hear, but not join in the discussion. A Jewish man of the time would not speak to any woman in public, not even his own wife. Then along comes Christianity, and husbands and wives worship together, in services where all can participate. Paul says “When you come together each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, and has an interpretation.” Quite a few different things go on, and each person could add to the mix.


Try to imagine the social chaos. Neither converts from Judaism nor the pagan cults have experienced men and their wives participating together in worship settings. People did not have a cultural context for slave and free, Jewish background and pagan background, male and female, all interacting on equal footing. As modern people, we are quite practiced at interacting with all different sorts of people. Our institutions throw us together with different genders, religions and ethnicities from childhood. These people experienced the opposite. For the first time, wives have a platform to “stand up” to their husbands and publicly disagree with them. Make a statement indicating the husband doesn’t understand some point of the new religion. Undermine him in some way.


In our culture this might be just bad manners. I’ve been in Bible studies with husbands and wives undermining & correcting each other, and I find it tiresome. To me this is just another example of a couple with issues, people I would rather not be around because I don’t need the aggravation. But in the ancient world, it was a bombshell. People must have wondered if this new religion would upset the social order, where were the new boundaries? What kind of behavior was acceptable?


My own opinion is that Paul was putting a lid on things with his admonition,” I do not allow a wife to teach her husband.” Paul’s letters to the new churches reveal that these groups were prone to all sorts of chaotic behavior, not surprising in people given new freedoms. They hadn’t yet found a comfortable middle ground, and swung to extremes. Paul seeks to calm things down, to give the church an opportunity for a good reputation in the wider world. I do not think he is trying to lay down a law of male domination, devalue women, or bar them from church participation. This would go against much of the rest of his teaching.


One last point about Paul and women. Elsewhere (1 Corinthians 11) he makes another of his (in)famous statements concerning women in worship services: “If they (women) want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home.” A common interpretation states this particular group of women made a habit of disrupting the meeting by calling across the room to their husbands when they had a question, and Paul wants them to be quiet so everyone can hear. The Corinthian women probably disrupted the service, as that church had many chaotic habits. But I think something deeper is also going on. Once when I was engaged I was planning to ask the pastor a clarifying question about his sermon, and my fiancé suggested I ask him my question instead, citing Paul’s letter to Corinth. I didn’t think he would know much about the subject, but I humored him. I discovered he had more insight than I expected. After that I began saving questions, asking him rather than anyone else. It led to long talks: it lead to a spiritual bonding between us. Did Paul mean to give Christian marriage partners an opportunity for growing their spiritual relationship? I can't say for sure what he meant, but his words had that result for us.

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pstmighty profile image

pstmighty 6 years ago from Johannesburg

Yes they can and they should because God uses some of them mightily remember KATHRYN KUHLMAN! that verse of scripture has been taken out of context by many and make it to say what it does not say.

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arthurchappell 6 years ago from Manchester, England

The church of England was thrown into schism over the issue of the ordination of women as vicars - the Catholic church remains firmly opposed to the idea of anything so liberating as a woman as a priest. Timothy's words have had a major impact on religion and relationships.

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graceomalley 6 years ago Author

I think you are right, arthurchapell, that this issue strikes very deeply. I think people are amazingly unaware of how their preconceptions cause them to "interpret" passages from the bible. If a person seeks to find things in the bible to support just about anything, they can. Just takes a little ingenuity. Anyone with a concordance can pull out verses. Real moral character - that is a different thing.

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arthurchappell 6 years ago from Manchester, England

totally agree though I think morality and religion can exist independently of one another - you can just call me Arthur by the way Arthur Chappell is my full name - thanks

FriendofTruth profile image

FriendofTruth 6 years ago from Michigan

Very useful article. Thanks for the information. This does tend to be a touchy subject for some, but I like the history you gave. I agree with you, sometimes it is just about having manners and in the way you and your husband communicate spiritual matters with each other.

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graceomalley 6 years ago Author

Thanks, friendoftruth, glad you found the hub useful. I of the opinion that manners & respect solve a great deal of trouble.

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Brenda Durham 6 years ago

Very plausible explanations on a much-debated subject! Thanks. I voted it UP.

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imranhaider 5 years ago

nice dear

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graceomalley 5 years ago Author

Thank you for the up vote Brenda!

Glad you liked it imranhaider!

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Jen Buczynski 5 years ago from Buffalo, NY

I love this! Thank you for explaining the word of God. This is a passage that always catches me off guard. Thanks for food for thought.

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graceomalley 5 years ago Author

Thank you Jen, that is very nice. I know that off guard feeling. I needed to push deeper into some portions of the bible to get comfortable, and sometimes it was a long process - i hope to write more about that in coming hubs.

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jomine 5 years ago

Are you implying that your god's word is at the mercy of a translator?

Here are some translations- nowhere it is said wife. So is it your interpretation? Can anybody interpret bible as they please? Does the meanings change as time passes? Here it is specific - Women should not teach. Women should not have authority over men.

New International Version (©1984)

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.

New Living Translation (©2007)

Women should learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly.

English Standard Version (©2001)

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

New American Standard Bible (©1995)

A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.

International Standard Version (©2008)

A woman must learn quietly and submissively. Moreover, I do not allow a woman to teach or to usurp authority over a man. Instead, she is to be quiet

GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)

A woman must learn in silence, in keeping with her position. I don't allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man. Instead, she should be quiet.

King James Bible

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

American King James Version

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

American Standard Version

Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness

Bible in Basic English

Let a woman quietly take the place of a learner and be under authority. In my opinion it is right for a woman not to be a teacher, or to have rule over a man, but to be quiet.

Douay-Rheims Bible

Let the woman learn in silence, with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to use authority over the man: but to be in silence.

Darby Bible Translation

Let a woman learn in quietness in all subjection; but I do not suffer a woman to teach nor to exercise authority over man, but to be in quietness;

English Revised Version

Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness.

Webster's Bible Translation

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

Weymouth New Testament

A woman should quietly learn from others with entire submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach, nor have authority over a man, but she must remain silent.

World English Bible

Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. But I don't permit a woman to teach, nor to exercise authority over a man, but to be in quietness.

Young's Literal Translation

Let a woman in quietness learn in all subjection, and a woman I do not suffer to teach, nor to rule a husband, but to be in quietness,

graceomalley profile image

graceomalley 5 years ago Author

Jomine - Yes, I am saying that the text is at the mercy of translation.

You asked if anyone can interpret the Bible as they please. Not only can they, I am afaid that they do.

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jomine 5 years ago

Just like you did, above?

If anybody can interpret it as he/she chooses what is the meaning of such a text? Who is going to decide which is valid and which is not?

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graceomalley 5 years ago Author

jomine-I think the responsibility for which interpretation is valid rests with you. I urge you to not allow anyone to make this important decision for you.

With God's help, make that decision for youself.

Please do consider one thing. I am not certain where you are from in the world, but perhaps you are aware that the American Southeast is called the "Bible Belt." Have you wondered why the popularity of the literal interpretation of the bible is so concencrated in one geographical area? Something in the water?

The following direct quote may shed some light: "Slaves , be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling" (Eph 6:5) Quoting numerous passages would be pointless. If you have more than a passing familiarity with the bible you will be quite aware it supports slavery. The apostle Paul sent a runaway slave back to his master. The American South needed to defend the its horrifying institution to a world which grew imcreasingly uncomfortable with it. "We are making money from this" only gets you so far. "God says slavery is morally acceptable, let me read you a few passages" gets you alot furthur.

I cannot take anyone seriously who promotes that they themselves have the right to rule over a significant portoin of other human beings. Be they people of other races, or people of other genders. Christ came to set us free from the endless need of human beings to dominate one another, but unfortunately many use Christianity not for freedom, but for attempting to build power bases for themselves. If there were just as many Africans going around making arguments that the bible supports slavery, I might believe that this is just an interpretation which some thing logical and others think not logical. But that is not the case. Those who defended slavery from the pulpit, who spent careers giving speeches about how biblical slavery is, where 100% white. Those who stood to profit in other words.

If you want to stick to biblical literalism, all I can say is you are in bad company.

Judah's Daughter profile image

Judah's Daughter 5 years ago from Roseville, CA

Great article; it's good to find confirmation of the meaning, in context, of these passages. The Greek word 'gune' can mean woman or wife, but it certainly is not the same word as 'female' [thelu]. The Greek word 'aner' can mean man or husband, but is not the same word as 'male' [arsen].

I whole-heartedly agree with your comment above, in that if the English translation profits someone to dominate another (oppressive), it is not freeing in the Spirit of the Lord.

The Bible shows equality (i.e. being = equally = yoked) between husbands and wives also:

1 Cor 7:4-5 "The wife [gune] does not have authority over her own body, but the husband [aner] does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does."

1 Cor 7:33-34 "But a married man is concerned about things of this world, that is, about how he can please his wife, and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband."

1 Cor 11:11-12 "However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God."

Keep on standing in the truth and teaching it to those who are teachable. God bless you!!

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graceomalley 5 years ago Author

Thank you JudahsDaughter, you clearly know much more than myself about original languages, I really appreciate your details.

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Judah's Daughter 5 years ago from Roseville, CA

I hope you don't mind, but I linked your hub to mine called "Liberty for Women in Christ!" God bless you always. So glad we connected here on HP!!

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graceomalley 5 years ago Author

I really appreciate the link, JudahsDaughter!

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jomine 5 years ago

If you want to stick to biblical literalism, all I can say is you are in bad company....

Grace,A communication is a failure if it has not conveyed the meaning the communicator intended. The meaning of a book which is supposed to be the "truth" and "god's word" should be inerrant, consistent and unambiguous. When a text is any of these, people derive so many meanings, meanings which suit their particular needs. The passage in question is literally meant. It was written in a time when women was considered inferior, the source of temptation of Adam and his fall, which is conveyed in the following passages. In fact the whole bible it is like that and do not consider women equal to men. Now times have changed, women are considered equal, and people like you are free to express yourselves. At the same time you want to believe in your god too. All you can do is choose a blind eye to passages like this. But when somebody else point it out to you, you have no choice but to reinterpret the passages or counteract with other passages, and that is what you are doing now!!

Bible is a collection of myths, which tried to keep a sect together, which might have been good 2000 years before. But it no longer apply or somebody has to entirely rewrite it...But then it will not carry the authority of your mythical god.

So either accept it with all the incongruencies(without trying to justify it) or throw it out and think rationally. You can't have both together>>

graceomalley profile image

graceomalley 5 years ago Author

jomine - I am aware many think one has to jump into "an ancient text must be 100% accurate, or it must be thrown out as no good!"

This applies a "modern," rationalist, enlightenment mindset to an ancient text. The ancient world had no such framework. One cannot apply the rules of one time to another time and expect the result to make sense.

Biblical literalism, to my mind, is particularly nonsensical because it destroys all context for biblical texts. The bible has been around for so long because it speaks deeply to human beings, informs and enriches their lives.

Myself I am a postmodern thinker, not a modern thinker. Moderns are prone to tell postmoderns they need to be more consistent, think rationally, ect. It's like two cultures getting together, and finding the other unacceptable. Maybe I will write a hub about modern and postmodern people, rather than try to explain here.

Saying "you can't have both" - well, postmoderns are not either/or thinkers. They are comfortable in a world full of contradictions. They can beleive at the same time that God loves them deeply and watches over them, and that terribly painful things have happened in their lives.

I am yakking on, and will save it for a future hub. Peace.

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graceomalley 5 years ago Author

jomine-As I think over it, I am feeling puzzled about where you are coming from and exactly what you are expecting.

If you have looked over my profile, you will see I am the mother of a teenager, so I have some years behind me. I flatter myself that if one reads much of my writing, my many years of academic study of Christianity and personal engagement with the faith are apparent. This does not mean that you will find yourself in agreement with what I write, but it must give you some clue about the level of investment I have made in forging a spiritual life.

What puzzles me is that you seem to think I haven't considered the fairly simplistic ideas you outlined above. As a matter of fact, I did think over the implications of inconsistancies in the biblical texts, what this meant about the definition of "scripture," what it meant about the nature of God, and what it meant for myself as a follower of God. I considered at that time whether I should continue to call myself a Christian. This whole process spanned probably close to two years, maybe 18 months, it's hard to remember. I was at that time 16 and 17 years old. From my perspective as a much older person, the teenage years, and the early twenties are a great time to face questions like this - they are the questions of a person moving from the perspective of childhood to the perspective of an adult. This is when a person comes to terms with the fact that life's not fair, life's not consistent, bad things happen to good people, ect ect. It is the time when the child becomes an adult.

You mentioned that sacred writings should be "inerrant, unambiguous and consistent." Why would you expect this? Life is not unambiguous. The world is not consistant. Why would writings which intend to speak to people on the deepest level be simplistic about life? Dumbed down sacred writings would be useless.

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Judah's Daughter 5 years ago from Roseville, CA

If jomine learned to study the Bible in its original texts for interpretation, jomine would see that the Bible is consistent. It's truly fabulous to discover this in study, as you know, graceomalley.

The scriptures are originally written in Hebrew (OT) and Greek (NT). The problems arose when the Hebrew and Greek were translated into Latin (the Textus Receptus), then translated into English and, of course, other languages. Words in different languages can have different meanings, so the understanding, the 'testing' truly comes when we go to the original definitions of the original languages, then equally important, take what is written in context. Just had to put in another two cents....God bless you!

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graceomalley 5 years ago Author

JudahsDaughter - I envy you your ability to read the texts in the original. I can only look forward to doing that in heaven. But of course then many things will be clearer :)

I recently read that the term "chaos theory" means that certain systems appear random to an observer, but that is b/c the order of the system is too complex to be seen. I thought that was a good way to describe this life - it appears random because we do not understand all the forces at work.

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jomine 5 years ago


That just means you believe something and just want to rationalize it based on the bible. What is written has nothing to do with your beliefs, you just choose what you like or what suits your need. You can interpret bible literally or figuratively as you choose. You can quote or misquote (bible) to suit your beliefs. You can say that it is the problem with translations.

Morals have nothing to do with bible. You choose your morals and justify it with bible if you can, or you just ignore that, and you are doing just that.

Bible is a collection of myths and morals of ancient man. You give lip service to it and live as you choose….irrespective of bible.

Judah's Daughter

Can you translate this?

??? ????? ? ???????

?? ?? ? ?????????? ???

?????? ??? ????? ? ???????

1. john 2.22

Jesus was supposed to speak in Aramaic. The NT was written in Greek. So it was a mistake from the beginning!!

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graceomalley 5 years ago Author

jomine-Sounds personal. I have no idea why you are so angry, but I am requesting that you no longer take it out in this venue.

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Judah's Daughter 5 years ago from Roseville, CA

jomine, translating as you asked, I believe the question marks are in your heart. The answers are actually IN the Bible you don't seem to trust too much, and if you don't trust the Bible, it may be you don't trust the Author either. God knows your heart and loves you. He understands.

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Judah's Daughter 5 years ago from Roseville, CA

Hi graceomalley, I'm no expert; I'm just like everyone else. What I've learned comes from using a Strongs Comprehensive and Exhaustive Concordance, utilizing the Hebrew and Greek dictionaries. Bible dictionaries are awesome, too. It's exciting to see the Word come alive, discovering so many things that are not evident on the surface. I call it 'panning for God'! God's blessings and Spirit of love and guidance continue to be with you, sister.

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jomine 5 years ago

I have no idea why you are so angry

Can you tell me what made you think i am angry?

i was just stating facts.

Judah's Daughter

Sorry, i don't know how that question marks came. It was actually an original Greek passage of I.Jn 2.22

i'll try to post it once more. If it is still Q marks, forget I asked.

"??? ????? ? ??????? ?? ?? ? ?????????? ??? ?????? ??? ????? ? ??????? ????? ????? ? ??????????? ? ?????????? ??? ?????? ??? ??? ????"

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Judah's Daughter 5 years ago from Roseville, CA

jomine, 1 John 2:22 ~ not sure why you are asking about this verse? It is the truth. I hope you confess the Father and the Son, for some 'religions' do not see God as a Father, let alone One who came in the flesh as the Son. If you follow the Qur'an, this would be the case. To make this pertenant to this hub, the Antichrist does not regard women (Dan 11:37), and the way of Allah fits that criteria as well. I pray you come to know God, your Creator, your Savior (Titus 2:13).

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graceomalley 5 years ago Author

jomine-I'm afraid it is all coming out question marks, but looking up that verse is easily done.

"Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father & the Son." I'm not clear what that has to do with the discussion.

Your communication style leads me to think you are angry. Rather than discussing ideas in a respectful manner you lapse into personal attacks. You could say the same things differently, and not come across as angry. For instance, you wrote:

"That just means you believe something and just want to rationalize it based on the bible. What is written has nothing to do with your beliefs, you just choose what you like or what suits your need. You can interpret bible literally or figuratively as you choose. You can quote or misquote (bible) to suit your beliefs. You can say that it is the problem with translations."

To say this in a more even tone you might write: "In my opinion, many people have a need to beleive, and then go looking for something to 'prove' there is a god. I think many people do this with the bible. Then they decide what they want god to be like, and choose the bits of the bible that support their ideas, and ignore the bits that don't. This seems dishonest to me. I cannot support everything in the bible, and so I do not support any of it."

The above would make your position clear, without the direct character attacks. Always better to make things about yourself than the other person, esp when discussing touchy subjects like religion & politics. People will be more inclined to listen to you if you leave off insulting them.

You said at one point "These are just facts." Please realize that spirituality is a far different subject than chemistry. You are in a realm where things cannot be proven to others - things like the love of God, the comfort of the Holy Spirit must be experienced by each individual. The absense of God also - this cannot be proved, but must be experienced. Stating that you know "facts" about spiritual issues, and implying that others are too ignorant to know as much as you, just makes you sound foolish and petulant.

I am left to think some painful experience must be at the bottom of this rancor. If Christians have treated you badly, I am sincerely sorry. As a member of the offending group, please allow me to apologize.

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jomine 5 years ago


I am sorry if my style make you think i am insulting. English is not my first language, so please bear with me,

Insult is the last thing in my mind.

Now about that particular verse, the meaning is exact opposite if you translate it word by word from Greek.

Spirit, soul god are all opinions. As far as experience is considered I am in profession where experience is the last thing to be considered or not considered at all.

We have a name "Bias" which skew experiences. You will find that a Christian will find experience of Jesus, a Muslim that of Allah and a Hindu one of their many gods!

Objectively there is nothing godly or spiritual about this experiences. Personally, I had nothing about anybody else beliefs.

My parents are devout Christians, though I stopped believing in any god 10 years before, but i almost never wrote or talked against religion(for the first 9 years) except to those who came to discuss religion with me or those who wanted to know why i don't go to church. I am against religion only because people are divided based on religion. religion is one among the major factors that divide my society and turn people against each other. Religion is one of the reason for the many terrorist attacks that happen in my country.

Why it all happens because religion basically stifle thoughts. Religion is irrational( in the sense, religion is based on faith not on reason) (that is why I am not religious, but not why I am against religion). It promote faith and the gap between faith and fanaticism is narrow.

Thank you for the suggestion, I will be more careful in future.

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graceomalley 5 years ago Author

I accept your apology jomine, and wish you all the best. I am sorry for what your home country suffers with terrorism. I can certainly understand that this would make you disinclined to have anything to do with religion.

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HOOWANTSTONO 5 years ago


I find your hub and your Interpretation interesting. Usually a believer that reads the bible often, and prays about things concerning the meaning of words find themselves obeying things of the Spirit namely the Holy Spirit.

Unlike jomine indicated that the message was to woman yes it did indeed also speak to "wives", the message did not distinguish if the "woman" is married or not, hence why the bible also covers why woman "wife's" submit to your husbands as unto the Lord.

If a woman is not married then she still has to submit to God as if she was married and also behave in a certain manner to promote Godliness indicated.

1Ti 2:11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.

Eph 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

Subjection = hypotage = act of subjecting,obedience,

Submit = hypotasso = to arrange under, to subordinate

Christ the Groom and the Church the Bride as the Church submits to Christ the Head, same for the wife the Husband the Head.

Go well

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graceomalley 5 years ago Author

HOOWANTS - Thank you for the information, I always like to know more about original language, as it adds so much to understanding. Nice to meet you!

EZEH CHUMA 5 years ago

women should not teach in church, the bible was clear on that. so the person writing this article i dont know if you are support it.woe to you if you mislead others

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graceomalley 5 years ago Author

EZEH - This is a subject of much contention for sure. True enough I will answer to God in the end for my own life as well as my leadership of others (such as it is.) I have written a hub on the Judgement Seat which you might find interesting. You can find it here:

Senguin profile image

Senguin 5 years ago

Hey Grace I really enjoyed your article and am writing some biblical ones myself. One thing we have to do when interpreting scripture is to take it at face value first. God is not trying to trick us or whatever. He is trying to reveal Himself to us. It is Satan who is the deciever. I believe this passage is one of great difficulty because it shouldn't be read alone, but alongside the rest of the Bible. Many women throughout scriptures have done great things! Mary for example, but there are plenty of others as well. Does this completely explain it? No, of course not. I will keep studying this verse as i hope you and others do also.

Also wanted to note that the South in America is not the only place where horrible slave trading went on. And it still goes on today in the World, not much in the south. Slave trade that happened in the colonization period of our history and the slavery Paul/God was talking about are not even close to the same thing!

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graceomalley 5 years ago Author

Senguin-Thank you for reading and commenting! I look forward to reading your hubs.

My own opinion is that a Christian should not take scripture first at "face value." When we take scripture this way, simply reading the words for what they say, we miss the context, we miss the history, we miss the place that passage fits in the overall of scripture. One would miss the very good point that you made that Roman slavery and the enslavement of Africans were different practices. Africans were far more brutally treated by Europeans than Roman slaves by their masters. If one were to look just at "face value," one would not dig into the different meanings that the word "slavery" can have.

The difference between the American South and say, England, was that Africans worked almost exclusively on American soil, while African slaves of the British worked on the plantations of the caribbean islands. The average American Southerner saw & heard tortured, maimed, worked-into-an-early-grave-Africans. They lived among Americans. By contrast, the average Englishman and Englishwoman knew almost nothing about the mechanics of slavery. It took place far away from them. When Wilberforce traveled England to get support to end slavery, he brought with him chains, whips, shackles, and instruments of torture he bought himself, while posing as a caribbean plantation owner. The average English citizen was shocked. They had no idea the cruelty actually involved in maintaining a slave population. Wilberforce turned public opinion against slavery by showing average people the real face of slavery - they found it unacceptable. But in the American South, the people had these same facts before them, and they supported slavery. What was the difference? I submit that Southern Americans eased their consciences by focusing on biblical support for slavery. This support could only be claimed if one took the bible at straight face value. If one starts to look at the situation in the larger context of the demands of kindness and defence of the helpless required of Christians, of the low value for building wealth vs building character, support for Southern slavery would errode. Also, if one began to look at the historical context of what is the NT referring to by the word "slavery," and what are we at this time making it mean?

In communication in general, face value is only a part of what is being said. Context, history, relationship, world view, all these have a part in what is communicated. What you say, and what you are telling me, are not the same thing.

I don't see a reason scripture would be different from all other types of communication.

I wrote a hub about present day slavery, and talked some about the Christian perspective on it. If you are interested, you can read that here:


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Senguin 5 years ago

Great comments Grace. You mistook me to say only face value... face value first, then allow context (scripture and historical), other scripture passages, and other things to help us interpret the text. But if we don't begin by taking it at face value, meaning that is exactly what Paul said to Timothy. Now why would he say that? That is the question!

Thanks for your comments on slavery too. I think anyone who would try to prove slavery is good through the Bible is not thinking right!

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speedbird 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

Yes Women can and should talk in church. I believe we are in an era where equal opportunities should be accorded to both women and men in and outside the church. Very nice hub and useful comments to complement it. Voted UP and rated USEFUL

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graceomalley 5 years ago Author

Thank you for the vote & ranking speedbird! Glad you liked the hub.

CROBERTS 5 years ago

It is so refreshing to hear your views on this topic. It is so widely controversal. I am a female Apostle and from time to time it seems this is what I find myself having to defend myself against. I can only hope that the men of God, sincerely hear the heart of God, who has freed us (whom the son sets free is free indeed)! There are many women sitting on pews every Sunday, who have a great work to do for the Kingdom, but because of what their husbands believe, they will not fulfill their purpose in God! I wonder what the answer will be for those men, when they stand before God to give an account of how they held back these women from doing his will!

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graceomalley 5 years ago Author

Croberts-I'm so glad to hear you continue in the tradition of Junia and other female apostles! Many blessings to you in your work, my sister!

Jeanine 5 years ago

Very nice read Grace, most of what I know about this God, is personal, I read this book you guys gave me and the most interesting thing to me is, there are many meanings and things for me to learn within each verse... kinda fun to read someone hear who said interpetation doesn't matter, when most of what we all read is someone's opinion of what it might say... I did take some of it at face value... "Like God is Love" and He so loved me he send His Son... those words make me weep... I think Paul had some issues about women... but love His writing, changed the entire face of Christianity, with one simple note... Christ is our circumcision... wow talk about being inclusive... I love those things because if allowed for everyone to know Him... I believe you are right in that it makes us closer to wait and speak to one another... besides if you are a man... you have been receiving instruction from a woman all your life... your mother.. so only the dumbest of all of men, would think that one day, he surpasses her thoughts and goodness she has in mind for Him... I often wonder how she faced standing there at the cross... knowing He would be there for years... how she must have had to prepare... how many conversations had she had with the Father pleading for Him to find another way... if not for woman... how would Christ have continued to plead and finally say.."not my will be your own" did He learn that submission from His father... probably, but he learned to practice from His mom... sure enjoyed the read

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graceomalley 5 years ago Author

Jeanine - I think you make a very good point that men spend so much of their lives being instructed by women. Teachers are almost all women until you get to high school. One doesn't hear much about it, but I wonder if this causes some pent up frustration for young men - if part of growing up for them is finally knowing more than women, finally getting out from under the teachers. Then learning to reconnect with women as peers would be the next step, though I suppose some never make that step.

Jeanine 5 years ago

I am intrigued with your statement, "I suppose some never make that step"... reconnecting with women as peers, especially young men, as they try and achieve equality. In society, also in the bible, business, all continue sending triggers for the young male to be the man that he is expected to be. Which is not a natural state for a young boy who has only been loved by his mother and women teachers for all of his childhood. Psychosis can occur and give root to many disorders that we see today in our lives as well as in religions around the world. The obvious fear factor is great, womens rights are almost non existent in Islam, finally teaching the young boy the woman who gave him life and every ounce of love she has had in her being, is truly less valuable than all of his male friends, no matter how uninformed they may be... go figure...

In Christianity, although Christ is the great liberator of women and the treatment of women much less severe, the results are basically the same.... don't speak unless spoken to, the man is the head, so listen to him, we want you to teach our children but then step away... although she is the first to tell her son of a God, hold him as tenderly as a God and the primary teacher of who and what God is... interesting to say the least... repulsive at worst... for the mother

If this hypothesis were explored as true, and I believe it is true, one could easily see where men might not make the leap to being equal in maturity of the spirit, rational in basic thought patterns, and generally having enough knowledge to be dangerous but not enough to solve complicated emotional trauma to his side of the population, there by also disrupting the natural equality of the two genders... leaving one frustrated and looking for someone to blame for the bumpy ride, such as "it's Eve, it's her fault we are not in the garden"...

If you were going to stop a young talented, gifted student, how would you do it? First of all you would tell him his support system is weak and create a distrust within his own spirit that He is smarter than all his advisers at this time... who amongst us have not seen the small boy taking advantage of his mother... who has not said; "oh he'll never grow up, about the grown men we know" yet we allow it to happen...

If for some reason young men do not make the trip to equality, then you have great gardens of discontent, giving a place to grow, fear, hate, and distrust... if the young boy does happen to embrace any of these along the way to maturity, his path is altered instantly... ANGER the twisted side of passion... results being no respect for the woman he loves the most... throwing him into an entirely new environment... one that is dangerous to his spirit as well as his emotional structure that she has so willing worked on all his life...

Something this simple, could give foundation for an array of emotional, spiritual and eventually physical challenges... and worse, the mother who has grown accustom to taking the abuse from her son… so she can and often does become a candidate for abuse from her husband… tragic… when you think, it’s all done in the name of love… or in the woman’s case… for our love.. of man…

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graceomalley 5 years ago Author

jeanine - i can really identify with so much of what you are saying. The conflict between deep feelings of love for a nuturing parent, and signals that that parent is not respected in society, and if the boy wishes to be respected, he must break with the mother.

Personally, i don't think humanity breaks down into: females are emotional, men are logical. Men (and boys) have deep and powerful emotiions. What they usually don't have is verbal facility in explaining their emotions, i think not even to themselves.

How boys develop into men is a great mystery to me. I'm watching this with my now 16 year old son. I wrote a hub about it (also talking about some of the domestic abuse of my childhood) called "My Son Becomes A Man."

Jeanine 5 years ago

I have three sons and it is a mystery... and I'm aware that men and boys have very powerful emotions...

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Pollyannalana 5 years ago from US

This is really a very heavy subject and agree with you and I also feel you holding back. I do believe women in that time were to teach women and children. There is also discussion about men wearing long hair and i have heard many people use that...what they fail to do is to go on with the scripture where it says, but if there be any argument about it, we have no such custom. My husband have stopped going to churches that put down young men with long hair or wear sunglasses in church. That pastor will be accountable for those souls and i personally can't keep my mouth shut about God and Jesus and I don't feel one bit condemned. I am not gearing to be behind a pulpit and I just put the word out there, if it helps a man find salvation I don't think God will chastise me for that and i know I certainly am not going to hell. I admit I prefer listening to a male Pastor and I do believe God meant it to be this way but it doesn't mean women cannot open their mouths and teach or bring things to light of interest. It is so near the end perhaps everyone should!

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graceomalley 5 years ago Author

Pollyanna-Thank you for reading and commenting. You bring up an interesting point with the long hair on men. The early church tolerated a great range of behavior - Paul said Christians should not give each other a hard time over whether to keep the Sabbath day, and that is one of the ten commandments. Given that Paul allowed Gentile believers to skip one of the Big Ten - I think that means Christians have a great deal of freedom.

If a church condemn one's hairstyle, I think they have too much time on their hands.

Michael Lydon 4 years ago

Let's go through 1 Corinthians Chapter 11...

3 But I would haue you knowe, that the head of euery man is Christ: and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God.

TRANSLATION: It's a simile of sorts. "The head" is Christ. "The woman" is man.

4 Euery man praying or prophecying, hauing his head couered, dishonoureth his head.

TRANSLATION: Don't cover up the head of Christ when one has Gift of Prophesy or is praying. Rather instead, SPREAD THE WORD!

5 But euery woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head vncouered, dishonoureth her head: for that is euen all one as if she were shauen.

TRANSLATION: Man, on the other hand, has a whole lot of dishonorable (to God) rules that man has made for himself. Religious babble of judgment is offered. Shame, questions of rules, justifications and Babel-speak of "everybody has their own beliefs" is enforced. Babble.rabble.dabble men go on blathering rules such as women having their heads covered. Where's God at in this? Dress codes and rules first! God comes second.

6 For if the woman be not couered, let her also bee shorne: but if it bee a shame for a woman to be shorne or shauen, let her be couered.

TRANSLATION: If the man wants to wear a pink dress and cluck like a duck and the woman wants to wear a hat, THEN SO BE IT! If the man or woman wants to chant some "meka heka hi meka hiney ho AMEN!" before and after spreading the Glory of God, THEN SO BE IT! These things are not important to God.

7 For a man in deede ought not to couer his head, forasmuch as hee is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.

TRANSLATION: Man spreading the Glory of God ("in deed") spreads the Glory of God and ought not cover his head which Chapter 11:3 tells us is Christ aka "the head"; and furthermore, to cover up that head aka Christ would be to dishonor "the head" aka Christ (Chapter 11:4).

You still with me? Furthermore, man (aka "the woman" in this simile) is the glory of Christ (aka "the man").

Are the supposedly sexist verses melting away for you yet?

8 For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man.

SIMPLE: Christ is not of man, but man is of Christ.

9 Neither was the man created for the woman: but the woman for the man.

SIMPLE: Christ was not Created for man, but man for Christ.

I'm going to skip down to 1 Corinthians Chapter 11:16 now...

16 But if any man seeme to be contentious, we haue no such custome, neither the Churches of God.

TRANSLATION: The rules of man, the shame offered, and judgments offered are not Holy, nor is this the way that Holy carries on.

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graceomalley 4 years ago Author

Michael - This is a very interesting way to look at that passage. People tend to like rules I think, perhaps it makes them feel safe, but the rules do have a way of coming back to suffocate a person.

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Aiysha17 4 years ago from UK

Very helpful indeed! Thank you! :)

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graceomalley 4 years ago Author

Aiysha - I'm glad you liked the hub! profile image 4 years ago from upstate, NY

Very informative and well written hub! I believe the male domination of society had a substancial impact on the bible translators. The prejudices of the day often affected the words they choose to use. Words interpreted from the Greek or Hebrew often had a wide variety of possible meanings, thats why context is so important.

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graceomalley 4 years ago Author

wba - I definitely agree that the bible is veiwed through a lens - and when a person has a certain worldveiw, their translation can say as much about them as it does about the original passage. I favoe what some call the 'panoramic' veiw of sacred texts, where one looks at the text as a whole, also historical information, cultural info, and so forth. Another words, look at the whole panorama of information, not one small thing.

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Ronald Hall 3 years ago from Richmond, Virginia

Who can Argue with the Word of God? i know i can't smile

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graceomalley 3 years ago Author

Ronald - I never argue, I just discuss :)

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