Re: SIGATW in 1 Cor 14:34

From: Paul S. Dixon (
Date: Fri Jul 04 1997 - 16:18:45 EDT

Paul S. Dixon, Pastor
Ladd Hill Bible Church
Wilsonville, Oregon

On Fri, 4 Jul 1997 13:24:01 -0400 (EDT) writes:
>It seems that perhaps you are looking at 1 Cor 11:2-16 too much on a
>level and not enough on a rhetorical level. I agree there are several
>inferences that are not valid from the statement alone, but are valid
>the context and rhetorical use of the statement. What is Paul's
>purpose in
>saying " the woman who prays and prophesies with her head uncovered
>her head?" In the context of Pauline ethics it seems that he at least
>to motivate the women to behavior that is not shameful. Thus, the
>force of
>the statement is at least women should not pray and prophecy with

I apologize for my mailer. I hate it the way it chops up your response
when reply. At least it can be read. Anyhow, ...

You argue from v. 5 that it seems Paul "at least wants to motivate the
women to behavior that is not shameful." Yes, it does seem so. Then
you conclude, "at least women should not pray and prophecy with
uncovered heads." Agreed. But, that does not say if a woman prays
or prophesies with her head covered, then she does not shame her head.
This may be true, but not because of the argument here.

But, if it is true (accepting for the sake of argument), it still says
about whether she should pray or prophesy in the assembly to start with,
just that if she does so uncovered she shames her head. To say from this
passage that Paul assumes and approves of a woman praying or
prophesying in the assembly is really saying too much. It does not
logically, and it does not follow from Pauline style. Let me explain.

There are plenty of examples of where Paul assumes things for the sake
of argument, but where he does not necessarily endorse such things. I
already brought up 1 Cor 7:11 where Paul assumes the wife leaves the
husband, but where clearly he does not approve of such (v. 10). You
answer this is really not a parallel because here Paul states a woman
should not leave her husband. I don't think that has any bearing upon
parallel. Nevertheless, how about 1 Cor 15:29 (staying in the same
Here Paul assumes baptism for the dead without commenting upon it
either for and against it. We certainly cannot assume because he assumes
it, then he must approve of it. Likewise in 1 Cor 11:5 where Paul
a woman prays or prophesies in the assemby.

>Now there is a certain custom in the churches that Paul seems
>to be
>enforcing (11:16). That custom seems to be the custom of (1) women
>there heads at all times in church or (2) simply not covering them
>when they
>pray or prophecy.

I will assume you meant (2) simply covering them when they pray
or prophesy (I think the "not" must have been unintended; drat these


> Now if the issue with Paul was a
>combination of a prohibition of prayer and prophecy for woman and the
>of head coverings, your view makes sense, but it seems that the
>objection of
>bringing prayer and prophecy into the matter of head coverings in
>if 14:24-35 is to deal with the prayer and prophecy issue.

No, you got it backwards here. This is actually an argument in my favor.
If 14:34-35 forbids a woman from praying or prophesying anyhow, then Paul
deals with praying and prophesying there and has no need to address it
in 11:5 ff where he focuses on the shamefulness of it being done with
the head uncovered.

Even if the custom was that the woman's
> As far as gender exclusive commands for
>women to
>pray and prophesy, are they really necessary. There are generic
>commands on
>prayer amd pprophecy . Rom 12:6 basically states that those who have
>the gift
>of prophecy should do so according to the proportion of their faith. 1
>12-14 encourage those who have prophetic gifts to use them for the
>edification of the assembly. It seems that if Phillip's daughters were
>prophetesses and were given the gift of prophecy they would be
>obligated to
>obey these commands. You are appealing to an argument from silence,
>and one
>that is very weak in this case.

No, I am not arguing from silence here. You are. I said that there are
plenty of passages prescribing the teaching, praying, and prophesying
ministry of men in the worship service. I did not find any passages
prescribing the teaching, praying, prophesying ministry of women in
the worship service. Is that an argument from silence? For you to
infer from the above passages that women are being instructed to
exercise their gifts to teach, pray or prophesy in the worship service
is really uncalled for. They can exercise these gifts, but they do not
have to be in the worship service or with men, especially if 1 Tim 2
and 1 Cor 14 militate against such.

 The appeal to the prohibition of
>authoritative acts of speaking for women also is weak since neither
>nor prophecy is necessarily authoritative. 1 Cor 14:34-35 does not
>have to be
>understood as absolute silence and is better understood contextually
>as I
>have argued. It seems you might want to think through these issues a

Ditto, let's both think through these thing some more, and continue to be

> I think the right of women to pray prophesy can be validly
>from the rhetorical force of the context and from extracontextual

I have never argued against prophetesses, nor the exercise of the
gift of prophecy by a woman. What I have said is that we have to be
careful to recognize the difference between description and prescription.
When scripture prescribes something, then the is "oughtness." I have
not found where scripture prescribes that women should do pray or
prophesy in the worship service. Men, yes. But, not so for women.
It does seem scripture does forbid women from exercising certain
functions in the assemby (1 Tim 2) and from even speaking (1 Cor 14),
such restrictions which pertain only to women and not to men.

To argue that women should pray or prophesy in the church because
it was done in scripture (description versus prescription) has all kinds
of holes. To push this to the absurd, should we then conclude that
donkeys should speak to men the Word of God, because a donkey
spoke to Balaam?

>Happy July 4.

We're having a blast. The kids (7) are mostly grown and gone, though 3
still live here but all are gone today. First time in 28 years the wife
and I
have had a 4th alone. It's great. BTW, you'd love it in Oregon. Come
and visit us sometime (you too, Jonathan).

Have enjoyed the interaction. God's blessings.

Paul Dixon

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