Is anyone still reading?
This is a great verse to raise the hackles of our inner Eve and has been the starting point for much contemporary argument. But the silence and submission are not the real shocker in these verses. Many years ago, I heard Dr. Philip Ryken, now president of Wheaton College, comment on this passage by encouraging his listeners to turn their eyes momentarily away from what is prohibited here and take another look at what is directed.
The prohibition (women are “not permitted to speak”) is what Paul calls the practice “in all the churches of the saints.” He wasn’t saying anything radical. But when we look at the rest of the verses, and what is commanded there, we discover something truly unusual:
Theology is for girls.
The Spirit, through Paul, is telling the world that women can (and should) be theologians. How radical these verses must have been to the church at Corinth! God is commanding women: if you are curious about the Scriptures, about theology, about Biblical studies and systematics and hermeneutics and Hebrew; if you want to know more about Me—go and learn. Study up, ladies! (And, in a side application: husbands, you better hit the Scriptures, too, because your theologian wife is coming, and she’s got questions!)
All Christian women should be theologians. And just because, in ministry, we often live with a degreed, licensed and ordained theologian, it doesn’t mean we’re off the hook. We each must be diligent students of God Himself.
The temptation for me is to be lazy. I skip class in the school of God because I figure I can always look at my husband’s notes. I don’t do the reading because I hope Rob will tell me what I need to know for the exam. I passively defer to my Theologian in Residence.
That’s why I love I Corinthians 14—it reminds me that the books I read, the sermons I hear and my meditation on Scripture are all required items on God’s theology school syllabus. Whatever I do at home or in ministry, I do as a theologian.
Friends, from one sometimes truant to another: get yourself to school. The Lord requires it.
_______________I had these verses in mind when I made the (online) acquaintance of Marian Greene. She is a fellow pastor’s wife and girl theologian who blogs at Uprooted and Undone. We “met” when I wrote a comment disagreeing with her take on the Law. Marian and I do agree on the big stuff but thought we might press on another on (“as iron sharpens iron”) by exploring a topic of theology in two perspectives. Next Friday, we’ll both post about the impact of Adam's sin and link to each other. You are invited to read mine, read hers, add your thoughts, and go ask your husband.
Because, after all, theology is for girls.
UPDATE: Marian and I posted a new "two perspectives" post on 10/14/2011. Check it out: God's Promises (a perspective)