At first, I thought Paul was just occasionally chatting breeze, but I realised that it’s much deeper than Paul, himself.
First things first, this goes beyond Paul or 1Cor. 14; women being barred from public participation in church, was a practice of the early church.
P.S. I read from the YouVersion bible app, and I study and read mostly in the AMP (Amplified) version by The Lockman Foundation.
Let’s see.. the footnotes in these verses point out that Paul might have been referring to the unmarried women, as, apparently, he does in other passages, where he specifically talks about women in the church. The footnotes also say that these instructions probably applied to the unmarried women, as well, since he did not address them, separately. Another part of the footnotes also said that, the reference to women was to wives of believing husbands. It kind of implies that, the women were unbelievers. However, I don’t believe that to be the case, because that is not the implication I got from the verses, themselves.
I wouldn’t be surprised, if it turned out that, reading these passages verbatim was why they denied women public participation in the church.
More importantly, whilst reading, I asked myself if this passage could be one of the places from where sexism [incidentally] stemmed. I mean, a lot of the early Christians –and right up to the collapse of the colonialist empires– were known to be zealots. Their lives were guided by Christian doctrines; those were the standards of society, in those days. Based on the study of the behaviour of Christians in the much later part of that time frame, it can be said that they were largely “religious”, not necessarily spiritual. And, yes, there is a world of difference between “religious” and “spiritual”, in Christianity. Just think, “ritualistic lip-service”, and “spirit-led service”. Although, that is a topic for another day. Back to the matter, I wouldn’t be surprised, if it turned out that, reading these kinds of passages verbatim was why the men denied women public participation in the church, in the early days of Christianity, post- bible times.
If women were not allowed to publicly participate in church activities or ask questions, surely, their rights of engagement and ability to participate in a whole lot of other aspects of daily living must have been greatly diminished or overlooked. If their voices felt stifled in church, I don’t see how they could have felt free to talk at home, in public or in the midst of others. Christianity was everything to them.
I can imagine that the men, who had reason to feel superior to women in church, must have felt superior to them at home and elsewhere. I think it’s pretty obvious that there was a strong sense of patriarchy in the early church and among the early Christians, centuries AD. I think people carried that patriarchy from the church to their homes.
Oh, people definitely carried whatever they picked up in church to their homes because, the nucleus of society, in those times, was religion — Christianity. Politics were governed by the laws of Christianity. The law was largely based on the laws of Christianity. Homes were run on the basis of Christianity and what was learned in church. Christianity was the nucleus of society.
And of course, from generation to generation, patriarchy riding high in the clouds –everywhere in the society– must have taught boys and men that they were superior to girls and women in everything. With that as the formula, work your way through the centuries.. where are we now? Still trying to get men to understand that women have a voice that equally needs to be heard, in the church, in the streets, in politics, in the workplace, at home, everywhere!
Thankfully, it’s not all gloom. Although, we are still striving to give women a louder voice, they now have a voice, at least. Women have become prominent in the church and, even so, stereotypically, more involved in public church activities than the men are. We now have female leaders not only in the church, but also in politics, in the workplace, at the top of food chains, in different facets of society. But, patriarchy still has the louder voice. It is still the elder sibling selfishly towering over women, beneath the rays of equality and inclusion.
The practices of excluding women in the bible times were intrinsic to the early church. It was a system that worked in their time, and for a (whatever) reason (I was not alive, then). Times have changed, but has history? Christianity is not as fanatical and widely adopted as it was, then. Yet, over 2,000 years later, women are still begging to be removed from under the bus that is patriarchy.
So, the question remains: did sexism (as did slavery (topic for another day 😉)) unfortunately find some of its roots in the early church and its practices, thereby, influencing society until now? Times have changed, but has history?