Re: SIGATW in 1 Cor 14:34

Date: Sat Jul 05 1997 - 10:00:51 EDT

In a message dated 7/4/1997 8:59:04 PM, (Paul S. Dixon)

<<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.>>

I'm not sure I understand your perception of the problem in Corinth. Is it
(1) praying or prophesying? (2) not covering their heads? (3) both? or (4)
praying or prophesying with uncovered heads? It seems that you object to the
last. My question is if its (3) both Paul only addresses (2) in 1 Cor 11, why
does he include the comparison of these activities with men? Why does he
bring up prayer and prophecy at all if he intends to deal with them in
14:34-35. Why does he not refer to other activities that they may doing with
uncovered heads. It seems from your statement above that your putting the
cart before the horse, i.e., you are reading 14:34-35 back into 11:2-16. Your
argument would carry more wait if the issue of women's silence was discussed
before the issue of head covering. I find it very interesting that the
command for silence is in a context of exercising authority in the judging of
prophets. It seems that it would make much more sense for Paul to put the
prohibition concerning silence at the beginning of 1 Cor 11 and then discuss
the issue of headcoverings if he indeed want to prohibit prayer and prophecy
by women and deal with the head covering issue.

<<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.

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. >>

I see our problem here. It seems that you take all the generic commands as
gender exclusive relating to men while I see them as gender inclusive. Very
few of the commands in Scripture are gender inclusive. I see Rom 12:6-8 as
gender inclusive as well as 1 Cor 12-14 except when it is specifically
restrictive e.g., 1 Cor 14:34-35 with regard to judging prophets and
prophecies (an authoritative function). Thus there are prescription as well
as descriptions of both men and women obeying these exhortations.

<<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.>>

1 Cor 15:29 is a better parallel. The problem with 1 Cor 7:10-11 is that its
explicitly stated that Paul does not approve of abandonment. In 1 Cor 15:29
Paul's approval of the practice of baptism for the dead (whatever it is) is
not known. He may or may no approve of it. This is the case with 1 Cor 11:5.
Paul may or may not approve of it. However, the comparison with the opposite
situation with men in prayer and prophesy, in which it is well known that
Paul approves of the act (but not the manner) has the rhetorical force of it
is also well known that Paul approves of the practice among women. In other
words, the the force of the comparison is that Paul approves of the practice
among men and women, but not the manner in which the women were doing it (the
case with the men is hypothetical). The comparison loses force, if not
irrelevant, if women did not have this right.

Charles Powell

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