Saturday, March 13, 2010

1 Corinthians 14:34-35

The traditional King James Version of these two verses is extreme and has hurt and confused many peoples' understanding of the general role of women:

"Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church" (1 Cor. 14:34-35).

Joseph Smith changes the word "speak," in both cases, to "rule," in the Joseph Smith Translation/Inspired Version of the Bible. Also, the Greek word translated as "silence" can also be translated "tranquility" or "peacefulness," according to my Greek lexicon. According to the footnote, the Greek word translated "obedience" should be translated "submissiveness." Finally, my personal interpretation of the word "learn," based on context, is that is applies to Church government--meaning that if the Bishop's wife disagrees with Church or Ward policy, or, for that matter, if any spouse has ideas, counsel, encouragement, or concerns about the way their husband or wife is performing their calling, they should discuss it with their spouse in private.

So, here's my personal (not doctrinal) interpretation of that scripture, with the changes in italics:
"Let your women keep the peace in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to rule; but they are commanded to be submissive, as also saith the law. And if they will learn (or change, understand) any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to rule in the church" (1 Cor. 14:34-35).

Note that this scripture repeatedly uses the phrase "in the church." Not once does it make a comment about the differing roles of father and mother in a family setting. It seems clear to me that, in the formal organization of the Church, men should and will be more prominent than women--not more important, but more prominent. (Since it is Church doctrine that the simplest Sunday School teacher or nursery leader is just as important as the President of the Church, just with a different role, "for without the feet how shall the head be able to stand?) However, in the patriarchal order of the family, husband and wife have equal authority and power. If one gets a revelation concerning the family, the other has the right and responsibility to know whether it is a true revelation.

3 comments:

ddabling said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ddabling said...

I would go even further to interpret the word RULE to mean PRESIDE.

Michael Reed Davison said...

I agree. Since I posted this three years ago, I've found some more scriptures on presiding, and it's not very similar to worldly concepts of power. Church government requires inspiration, unanimity, patience, and love. (See D&C 107 and 121)