33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.


1 Corinthians 14:34-35

"Does this mean women aren’t aloud to say anything in church?"

There are two reasons this passage doesn’t mean women literally can’t speak in church. First of all, Paul clarified in 1 Timothy 2:11-12, that  "quietness" (not speaking) is the opposite of teaching and exercising authority over a man. This is reinforced by verse 34, which presents speaking as the opposite of submission. So the word ‘speaking" in this context is simply shorthand for saying teaching and having authority. 

Secondly, Paul said this principle of silence and submission could be found in the Mosaic Law (1 Corinthians 14:34), yet the Law says nothing about a literal silence or submission of women. Since Paul was a former Pharisee (Philippians 3:4-6) he wouldn’t have made a mistake about the contents of the Law. He had to have been referring to the command that only the male descendants of Aaron could be priests in the temple (Exodus 28:1, Numbers 16:40). His point in bringing up the Law was that even the Old Covenant was consistent with men leading God’s house of worship.

1 Corinthians 14:35

"Why should women have to ask their husbands at home if they have questions during church?"

This chapter is about orderly worship in the church. Some women in Corinth were apparently interrupting teachers by asking their husbands questions during the sermon. To counter this trend, Paul made the practical command to wait and discuss the sermon after church. Although it was addressed to women because of the immediate context in Corinth, men obviously weren’t exempt from interrupting according to 1 Corinthians 14:30. The principles of orderly worship certainly applies to men and women today.

Pirene fountain  in Corinth

Pirene fountain in Corinth


1 Corinthians 14:35

"Why would it be shameful for a woman to speak in Church?"

As mentioned earlier, Paul didn’t mean women literally can’t speak in church. He used "speaking" as a shorthand way of referring to teaching and having authority. The reason Paul said it’s shameful for women to speak (teach and have authority over men) is because it goes against God’s object lesson of headship. The shame doesn’t come from her gender, it comes from what her actions would communicate. God represents himself as male and the church (believers) as female (John 10:30, Ephesians 6:25). When women teach and have authority in the church service, it goes against the object lesson and communicates that the church (believers) teach and have authority over Jesus, which is backwards. This same concept is illustrated in the marriage relationship. (1 Corinthians 11).

There’s nothing sexist or prejudice about this. It’s not implying anything about the abilities or rights of women, it’s simply an object lesson that uses gender to communicate spiritual truths. Paul assumed that the audience already rejected sexism, misogyny, and prejudice since his writings opposed these attitudes elsewhere. If men are prideful or see themselves as better than women because of their role, then they’re disobeying God’s word and are not worthy of their leadership position.