You smile, “Of course not. God is not like that.” You would be right. But as I grew up silent submission was what I “heard”, and it accomplished the same thing. Later, when our fifteen year marriage grew desperate, I knew that my comprehension was flawed.

Growing up, as my family traveled the lower forty-eight states, I had an intriguing opportunity to view other evidence of hurtful ideas: the persona of unhappy minister’s and elder’s wives. Did they “hear” what I “heard”? Was it because they were hopeless, unable to fulfill their potential, to discover the balance between submission in marriage and their own gifts? What had doctrine or the Church done to them?

Several friends sincerely questioned the basis for this Philosophy with this single verse:

“Let your women (specifically a wife) keep silence in the churches (assembly, congregation): for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also says the law.” (ICo 14:34) It deserves a response. Consider another verse: “When you come together, every one of you (every man, woman) has a Psalm, has a doctrine, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.” (ICo 14:26). All of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to women and men as God chooses and they are encouraged to use them.

God gives women passionate perspectives often very different to men. Does God give vision, ideas and gifts to women…and then frustrate them, silence them? Are women silenced giving men no other perspective to consider? Is there a counterpart perspective men need whether in marriage or in the Church?

As for the Church, God does identify men in headship roles: Priest, Pastor, Elder, Bishop, Husband, Father. Examples of these in the Scripture are all men. If men are head in a marriage (the one flesh relationship of a man and woman typified by “head and body”), it makes sense that a man who is head in marriage would also lead in the Church). The placement of men in these roles, however, does not simultaneously suppress the voice and gifts of the rest of God’s people. Indeed, the placement of a certain person in a role does not, in itself, mean the others surrounding him are not equally capable (maybe more capable) than the role player.

Ideally, the function of a head, or leader, should be to encourage, promote, protect and, when necessary, guide: “Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.” (IPe 5:3) Sadly, perhaps in an effort to prove they are the head, some have discouraged, hampered, attacked and guided in ineffective (or wrong) directions.

Equal And Opposite Roles

In the Old Testament and New, God gives gifts to mankind, (men and women) “that the Lord might dwell among them.” God is so pleased with the gifts he gives that it seems to draw His presence; he dwells among us. How amazing.

If God is pleased with the gifts He has given to all of us, women and men, do we allow them to be silenced when they “cry out” for expression from inside? (Eph 4:8 and Psa 68:18).

You are hereby challenged. Look inside, grow, become all you can be. Make all the difference in your world!


Also: is there a topic you would like to see addressed in this blog?

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  1. Virginia Knowles says:

    Lizzie, I've been reading your blog since my friend Tonya linked to it from her blog. Do you have an e-mail address where your readers can contact you?

  2. Lizzie says:


    Please contact me at this email address: SubmissionIsNotSilence@gmail.com. Eric/Administrator/Hubby will also post it on the Blog and Website.

    I'll look forward to hearing from you.

  3. Tonya says:

    Liz, you'll enjoy talking with Virginia. :)

    Excellent post by the way. I hope the women who actually believe they should keep their mouths closed in the presence of men are reading this. Of course, those of us who open them need to remember to have a gentle and quiet (not silent) spirit when we do. (I Peter 3:4)

  4. Lizzie says:

    A whole denomination was built on one verse, requiring women to keep silence in the church. "Let your women (specifically a wife) keep silence in the churches…" I Co 14:34. No man enjoys his wife overtalking him. A gentle and quiet spirit is beautiful on every woman…I love your concise comment, Tonya.

  5. Kristen031 says:

    Which denomination is that?

    I always read this verse to mean ladies shouldn't chit-chat during the service, like we often try to do even today. I picture a wife leaning over to say, "Help me remember to get some milk on the way home," or "What did he just say?" Even the "What did he mean by that?" inquiry type of question mentioned in this verse would be disrepectful to ask while someone is trying to teach, disruptive to whoever is being asked and distracting to all those sitting nearby. I think Paul's reminder here is for all of us to submit our attention to whoever is leading the service, whether a man or woman.

  6. Lizzie says:

    Kristen: If God singled out women i.e. “ladies shouldn't chit-chat,” then what about men who do. As we research the whole of Scripture and the role women play, I think this passage has to do with leadership being respected. The offices of Priests, Elders, Bishops should be honored as “Head” in the Church; "the Body" refraining from contradicting the "Head."

    As to the denomination, my mother was brought up in it and we were married in it. They are good people, but their policies toward women are as I described.

    Thank you for your comment.

  7. Kristen031 says:

    I believe Paul is addressing a specific issue in the Corinthian church. Maybe the men didn't have a problem with "chit-chat" during the service, and thus were not singled out. I don't think he is excluding men, but that the men weren't causing disruption during meetings like women were. I think it's a man's nature to have "tunnel vision" (thinking about only one thing at a time), while a woman's mind tends to reel with a hundred thoughts at once. This makes it very tempting to say what we are thinking right then rather than waiting because we may not come back to that thought later. At least this is how I am.

    While I agree that this denomination's "policies" toward women were harsh and did not consider the whole of scripture, I am skeptical of your statment that this denomination (or any) was "built on one verse". Was only one verse chosen out of the whole bible to follow wholeheartedly, all things, including the gospel, coming second? Do you know that it was in their doctrinal statements?

  8. Anonymous says:

    The statement about “tunnel vision” is interesting. I wonder, though, if the peoples from that period entertain such a concept. It seems to me that type of thinking is more twentieth century, ala Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.

    Whatever Paul might have meant by the passage, Biblical scholars through the ages have not interpreted it as “chit chat” but as “women keep silence”

  9. Lizzie says:

    Good comment; interesting perspective.

    There are many others who interpret: “Let your women keep silence in the Church…” as requiring all women to be silent in the “meeting” (which is what they call the worship service).

    The statement in the Blog ("…whole denomination was built on one verse…") was “tongue in cheek". Being properly silent seemed the most important thing for me to know as a woman in that particular church. Every time I walked in the door I felt I had to keep my guard up and my hat on (hats are a requirement as well).

  10. Kristen031 says:

    The scholars who wrote my bible commentary address both schools of interpretation (and a third that Paul might be referring to women interpreting prophesy, since that is what he wrote about in the verses prior). I did not come up with the disruption view all on my own accord, but it is apparently also a widely held perspective.

  11. Lizzie says:

    Thank you for your opinion.

  12. Lizzie says:

    Further Comment:


    Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil; God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

    My purpose in writing on this subject is to bring up cruelty to women; Some of its perpetrators claim to speak in the name of God. In some circles this control is flagrant and continuing. In writing I do not claim anything more than to have recognized it, experienced it and have embarked on a journey expose it.

    I am glad for your interest in the subject.

  13. Virginia Knowles says:

    Lizzie, I just remembered to check back to see if you replied! I will e-mail you a bit later — we are starting our home school day in a few mintues. I'm planning to include a link to your blog in my Hope Chest e-magazine, perhaps as early as tomorrow if I can get the rest of the issue together. Tonya has been a real treasure to me, and I'm glad she shared the link to your blog on hers. It resonates with so much of what I have been learning in the past year, and I'm thankful for your voice.

    I also have blogs — two of them are http://www.virginiaknowles.blogspot.com and http://www.comewearymoms.blogspot.com. My 3 home school blogs are linked from those.

    Have you ever seen http://www.thatmom.com? Karen Campbell speaks on many of the same topics.

  14. Virginia Knowles says:

    "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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