“Let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves, just as the law says. And if they desire to learn anything, let thorn ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.” I Cor. 14:34.35.
It is so important not to lift these or any other verses out of their immediate context. First of all. Note that one of Paul’s primary concerns in this chapter was to deal with the problem of confusion (14:33) and disorder (14:40). The same verb which in verse 34 is translated “keep silent” is also directed towards some who were misusing tongues (14:28) and prophecy (14:30). It is apparent that one of the sources of confusion and disorder in Corinth was certain women creating some kind of disturbance in the assembly of believers.
We can only conjecture about the details of the original situation. Perhaps women who had been involved in various pagan religions had come to Christ and become part of the Corinthian congregation. Female deities were a part of these religions (see Acts 19:24-28) and women were often made spectacles in their rites. Such women would have had to learn to behave differently in the assembly of believers or perhaps there were uneducated women, both Gentile and Jew, who were constantly asking others out loud to explain what was going on or being taught (see verse 35). In any case, their speech was out of order!
Important evidence is given in verse 35. Paul suggested that these women learn from their husbands at home. Obviously he was speaking to married women. (There is but one Greek word to speak both of any adult female and of a wife. The reference to “husbands” in verse 35 guides us as to the usage in both verses). It is likely that the disturbance caused by these wives in part involved disrespectfulness towards their own husbands. It is also strongly suggested by Paul’s wording that they were spiritually ignorant while their husbands were well grounded in the truth. They could learn much from their husbands if they would acquire a teachable attitude.
Since apparently, according to I Corinthians 11, Paul does not object to a woman’s prophesying or praying aloud in the Christian assembly, provided she have her head covered, the reader is understandingly surprised to find a few pages later a passage which categorically orders women to keep silent in the assemblies.
As in all the churches of the Saints, the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home for it is shameful for a woman to speak in the church.” I Corinthians 14:3, 35. Some authors try to settle the contradiction by declaring that in chapter 11. Paul mentions merely the fact that women prophesy and pray in Corinth, without judging its lawfulness, since he is dealing only with the rule that women should cover their heads. They further claim that in Chapter 14, when the opportunity arises to pass judgment on the fact that women speak in the Christian assembly, he formally condemns this abuse.