Monday, March 05, 2007


“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

1 Corinthians 14: 34 -35
King James Version

The above passage is one of the reasons I don’t take the Bible literally.

And while I no longer attend Church regularly (seasonal visits don’t count) I did go to Sunday School and therefore know my Bible stories and can recite The Lord’s Prayer, the 23rd Psalm, the Beatitudes, etc.

I can even recite some of the books of the Bible — “Matthew, Mark, Luke, John….let your neighbour carry on…”

I also took some religion courses in university.

I’m fortunate to have had such a background. It has given me the ability and confidence to choose — to accept or reject certain parts of the Bible.

I do not believe it’s an “all or nothing” proposition.

Would that others had this opportunity and thus the ability to discern the good and the not-so-good from their Holy Books.

Here’s another lovely gem for your reading pleasure — another passage I do not live by.

“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
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.
For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”

1 Timothy. 2: 9-15
King James Version

Which parts of this particular passage do I object to? Oh, just about every other word. I’m okay with the “good works” and “charity” but that whole “silence” thing? It’s definitely not part of my repertoire.


Anonymous said...


This where formal religion and I part ways.

All this Men First and Women Silenced and Shamed sounds to me like historically men have been afraid of women. Otherwise why all the effort to subjugate them?

I don't think I would have lived long in biblical times...

Beth said...

trish: I like your take on this - that men fear women...

And yes, I think I would have been stoned (or whatever punishment was in vogue) had I lived then. Or maybe I would have just learned to keep my mouth shut.

Anonymous said...

So I got to thinking:

Men have always been very familiar and comfortable in the physical world. Women have always been very emotional, intuitive and can have babies thus they have an "in" with the spiritual world. This I think is the thing that men fear.

I don't want to come across as man-bashing but it is curious that men-first-and-women-second seems to be a universal theme. More so in some cultures than others for sure...but still. I can't think of any other reason.

Great topic.

Beth said...

trish: Your man/woman thing got me thinking too.
Males - fear of the unknown, fear of what they cannot understand which then leads to the subjugation of women.
(And I'm with you - not all men...not all societies...)
The books of the Bible were written by males and then "compiled" by a male. Thus, it seems logical that women would get short shrift in the "stories." And then - what a tremendous influence the Bible had (has) on the world and women's lives.
I'm going off on a tangent here - better stop!

adrienne said...

Here's what I was taught about those passages. In Paul's time, women weren't even allowed in church, so when he wrote those letters, he was taking a big step toward women's equality. Sure, they don't have much for us, now, but the idea was to include women in worship. It makes me sad that we take them out of the context in which they were written and therefore miss what he was really trying to do. You can think I'm an aplogist, or whatever, but I just wanted to state my opinion.

Beth said...

adrienne: I did quote only certain passages of Paul's Corinthians but I am familiar with and read the entire thing. I didn't get the sense that there was encouragement to include women in worship but then I never formally studied or was taught the meaning of the Corinthians. Just my own take on what I read.
And I very much welcome your opinion.

Jackie said...

For those of us that are cafeteria Catholics (take what you like from the christian menu), it is easy to just let your quoted passages go - disregarded - as so many other chapters of the Bible can be. The authors were writing for a particular audience at a time and place where what was being said had relevance. If we believe that the Bible is the word of God - we could also believe that a great deal of God's message was lost in the translation, (i.e. most of Leviticus) or we might all still be living with moral laws like "an eye for an eye". And as Ghandi said, believing in an "eye for an eye" just makes the whole world blind.

Good topic!!

Beth said...

jackie: A bit of a controversial topic, too...
I'd never heard of the phrase "cafeteria Catholics." One could also say "cafeteria christians" - and I guess I'm one. I simply cannot accept all of the Bible but it's too great a book to dismiss simply because I find certain parts not acceptable.
(I love that Ghandi quotation - used it on another post.)