1 Corinthians 14:18-40
What I love about this passage of 1 Corinthians is how different the actual structure of a church gathering looks from our modern day American idea of a church gathering. In America we have a pastor and a worship leader and they take the stage. Everyone sits back and listens and/or sings along. The staff are those who are saying the stuff: Scripture, prophecy, and whatnot. I have a limited experience in that I've only been an abiding part of 2 churches in my life, but I think it's fair to say that most churches operate in this way in America.
But the Corinthians, it seem, gathered together and everyone was a part of the conversation. Everyone was a part of saying the stuff: Scripture, prophecy, tongues, and whatnot. In fact Paul was trying to tell them to stop talking over each other..."I know you all have stuff to say but you need to listen to each other too!" He's combating a different issue in the church than I see today. Today I see church members with the lack of eagerness and the lack of faith to use their gifts and to take ownership of the church. We do not own the church but neither does the pastor or the worship pastor! We are all together in Christ's church.
I have heard it said that the verses about women in this passage are in the same tone as the verses to the prophets and those who speak in tongues. It is purely a matter of keeping things orderly. The fact is that women were uneducated. Men grew up instructed extensively in the Torah and were educated in worldly things as well. And so maybe the women were slowing things down because they were asking their husbands for explanations. "If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home." Nowadays women have access to education and they can in fact be more knowledgeable than men in theological matters, if they have pursued that education.
And Paul basically mocks whoever thinks that what they have to say is more important than what someone else has to say. "Did the Word of God originate with you? Are you the only people is has reached?" It has been argued that this is directed toward prophets talking over each other and even men patronizing women.
While what I have said about these verses on women may be debatable, something I think is not debatable: even if Paul is saying that women need to strictly be silent in church purely because of their sex (which would mean dramatic things for me who does not remain silent but instead sings from a microphone as the worship leader) the fact that Paul says that women should inquire of their husbands is pretty revolutionary. Paul is setting things up for women to get educated, to be an equal member in knowledge and understanding. If a woman doesn't know what the church is talking about she is invited to find out for herself so that next time she won't be confused, she will continue to learn, and eventually catch up with what the Christian men know.
(just a picture of my beautiful view as I read the Bible today)
Anyway, obviously I have a lot of thoughts on this passage of 1 Corinthians. Ultimately I'd love to see the church return to a model like this...organic and full of people using their spiritual gifts. Not just the staff. If the church operated like this we wouldn't need "a staff," and I'd love to see how that would work.