If you wield scripture as a sword, you can use it to prove just about any belief you wish to prove.
For example ….
If you’re inclined to believe that women shouldn’t ever speak in church, quote I Corinthians and I Timothy. Throw in a little “where two or three are gathered” and extrapolate that Jesus means church, and you can keep women quiet whenever there are two or three Christians huddled. There doesn’t even have to be a man in the group; it’s an assembly, and the women should shut up, right?
You don’t have to deal with dozens of other scriptures where women are actively engaged (how many times does Paul describe a woman as “hard-working”) in the work of the church, are called “servants” or “deaconesses” and are even speaking in assemblies – though perhaps veiled while doing so – because your favorite citations take precedence.
And it’s only fair for your pet quotes to be enshrined if, contrarily, you’re inclined to believe that women must speak in the assemblies of the saints.
How can we insist that both of these seemingly polar-opposite opinions must be contradictory when we don’t have a whole picture of the first century or its church? When the scriptures issue forth from the same Spirit? When the truth is in them all?
Could it be that there are times when a woman should speak and times when she should not? And, conversely, that there are times when a man should speak and times when he should keep quiet? Is it not time to keep quiet when one is itching to speak divisive, closed-minded, hurtful, uninspired words?
Is the primary purpose of scripture to provide proof that we’re expected to do everything right, or proof that the Righteous One came because we could not do everything right?
Why is that we do archaeological digs into the etymology of Greek words when we deal with such questions, rather than seeking out the heart of God through His Christ through His Spirit? That Spirit isn’t going to say anything that contradicts His own Word.
Could it be that we get no answer to our questions because we fail to ask?
When I ponder the questions posed by the example above, I admit that I just get more questions – some of which I shared at Clarke Comments earlier this evening, and which may show up there after there’s been time for moderation:
Did Lydia do nothing but “listen” when the brothers(!) gathered at her house, presumably to pray for the release of Paul and Silas from prison (Acts 16)? Was she forbidden to pray aloud in her own house while they waited?
How about Nympha and the church that met at her house (Colossians 4:15)? Priscilla at her house (and Aquila’s – I Corinthians 16)?
Did the four unmarried daughters of Philip the evangelist (and one of the Seven) have to remain silent and not prophesy when the church assembled (Acts 21:8-9)?
Is Paul’s reference to women keeping quiet “as the Law says” in I Corinthians because the predominantly Jewish Christian church in Corinth was back to meeting in a synagogue; or because they were still meeting at a former synagogue leader’s house which had become their synagogue (Acts 18)?
If God’s intent is for women to keep silence, why did Jesus make His resurrection known to his closest disciples through the witness of women? Should they have kept quiet, too?
If you wield scripture as a plowshare, you can use it to plant a seed of faith just about anywhere you care to sow.
Is that a joy and privilege that God has reserved only for male Christians?