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“As in all the churches of the saints, women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says.”
Probably every Christian woman is familiar with this verse from 1 Corinthians. Or perhaps with a similar verse from 1 Timothy, which states that no woman can teach or have authority over men but must instead keep silent.
These and other verses have been used as the basis for countless arguments that women can’t be leaders in faith communities or be allowed to preach in church. They have even been used to justify excluding women from positions of authority in civil society.
But these ideas seem to contradict much of what Jesus taught and modeled in his earthly ministry. They even seem to contradict Paul’s own instructions in other letters. So how should we approach those verses in the Bible commanding women to be silent and submissive? And how should we regard the fact that in our churches today women serve as lectors, teachers, and worship leaders? Are contemporary Catholic churches disobeying the Bible? What is the church’s real teaching on the role of women in faith communities and the world?
In today’s episode of Glad You Asked, hosts Emily Sanna and Sarah Schueller talk with educator, scripture scholar, and award-winning writer Alice Camille about this controversial passage in scripture.
You can read some of Alice’s writings on the Bible, and learn more about this topic, in these links:
- “Does the Bible really tell women to be silent in church?” by Alice Camille
- “What is a ‘house church’ in the epistles?” by Alice Camille
- “The Bible is far more than history. It is legendary,” by Alice Camille
- “Jewish Women in the New Testament,” by Amy-Jill Levine
- “Dr. Amy-Jill Levine on the Bible, Women and Violence,” by Dr. Lo Sprague
- Canon 766: Lay Preaching
- About Alice Camille
Glad You Asked is sponsored by the Claretian Missionaries.