1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (NKJV)
34 Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. 35 And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.
For the last two weeks we have observed that one of the lessons men teach the body of Christ is stability. Men provide a sense of continuity from one generation to the next, enable families, churches and communities to weather storms by holding to what is most important, and provide others with a firm sense of identity.
Our text today, in a way, emphasizes this same point and so I want to touch upon it for just a moment. While its message about the women in the congregation is one we will consider in the future, for now I would like you to note what this passage requires of the men in the congregation. In the context of delivering prophetic oracles and judging the oracles that are delivered, Paul urges the women to keep silent in the churches. They were not to exercise judgment over the other prophets since that would be exercising teaching authority over men in the Church – a thing that was contrary to God’s law. So what were these women to do? First, they were to keep silent – since the spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets, they were to control their tongues and wait to speak. Second, when they got back home, they were to ask their husbands about the matter – or, presumably, if they were unmarried or widowed, to ask one of the elders outside the church assembly.
And what were their husbands to do? Their husbands were to teach them. And this, of course, assumes what? That their husbands were able to teach them – that they either knew the answer or were capable of getting the answer by asking someone who would know. Notice, therefore, the calling that Paul is placing upon the men in the congregation: we men need to be prepared to teach our families the Word of God. While we may not be the best theologian in town, we are called to be the resident theologian in our home. So we need to learn as best as we are able.
In last week’s sermon we read Ephesians 4 where Paul describes the function of leaders in the Church. Jesus has given leaders to the Church “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting…” (Eph 4:11,13). For an analogous purpose, our text today reveals that God has given men to families – men to provide a sense of stability and ballast not only emotionally but doctrinally as well. Our goal as men is that our families not be blown about by every wind of doctrine but stable, able to hold fast to Christ in the midst of the storm.
So, men, what of us? Are we prepared? If not, then what do we need to do to get there? The high and holy calling of manhood is set here before us today. What a privilege to be entrusted with such a calling! Let us rise to it by the grace of God.
And the rest of us, have we given honor and respect to the men in our homes by listening to them, learning from them, and seeking their wisdom? Wives, in particular, have you sought your husband’s counsel? Few things will motivate him to grow more than a wife who loves, trusts, and honors him.
Knowing that we all have failed in this regard – we men have failed to be the resident theologians in our home, we have been lazy with the Word of God; we others have failed to respect the men in our homes and have instead nagged them, or bullied them, or ignored them; let us kneel and confess our sins to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.