Bring out your togas. We're going Greek today.
Sandi told the story of a woman who had an affair with a ministry partner. Kelley talked about protecting our brothers in Christ. Sadly, it's a theme we see in many churches--what happens when ministers, both men and women, aren't careful.
It surprised me to find that this is a theme God addresses.
A friend of mine sat down with my husband and me to show us what he'd discovered in the Greek when he studied 1 Corinthians 14.
This is how it reads in the English:
"As in all the churches of the saints, the women should be silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak. Rather, let them be in submission, as in fact the law says. If they want to find out about something, they should ask their husbands at home, because it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in church."
Most translation leave it as "women should not speak" in some form or fashion. Here's where the Greek comes in. Stay with me for a moment. This gets good.
Paul uses an infinitive for "to speak." In the Greek, if you want to have a subject with the infinitive (the person doing the action), you use an accusitve form (akin to our direct object, except in Greek, the accusitive is shown by changing the spelling of the word rather than changing the order, as it is in English). However, here the word that most people take to be the subject, a generic "them," is not in the accusitive form. It's in the dative form (like our indirect object). Which means technically, the verse should read "for they [women] are not permitted to speak to or in them."
In this passage, Paul isn't conveying some general principle of not speaking in church. (In fact, above, he talks about when women pray and prophecy in church, which, last time I checked, are manners of speaking.) In this passage, Paul's pointing to a specific group to which women shouldn't talk, namely the prophets.
In other words, in a passage talking about church order, about when prophets should speak and when they should stay silent, Paul seems to be remarking that if the women specifically see a problem with what the prophets prophecy, they shouldn't go directly to that prophet. No, they should first discuss it with their husbands, and together the husband and wife team could go to the prophet.
Which would protect from any shenanigans.
It could protect from anything happening from them being alone, and it could protect from any accusations from them being alone (and I hate to say this, but when egos are bruised from confrontations, it's quite possible one of the hurt parties could accuse--think Joseph and Potipher's wife).
In fact, my friend further pointed out to my husband and me that we have an example of this in Acts 18. When Priscilla and Aquilla, a godly couple who ministered together alongside Paul, heard this new guy, Apollos, speaking, they discerned that he didn't quite have all the facts. Together, Priscilla and Aquilla took Apollos aside and instructed him.
So my question is how do we honor the 1 Corinthians 14 passage?
Some of it's easy enough: in church, a husband and wife team can approach things together. But there are other questions.
What about student situations? Does a female drag her husband to campus when she has a meeting with her male professor or a male take his wife when he has a meeting with his female professor?
And what about singles? In Paul's day, singles were rarer than they are now as women got married earlier. Before they got married, they remained under the care of their father, which would mean single females could approach prophets with their father. Now, however, singles may live hundreds of miles from their parents. How do we honor this passage and protect these relations with singles?
These questions aren't all that different from the ones Sandi and Kelley raised. Kelley pointed out leaving doors open and when all possible working with numerous people in the same building. I encountered the open-door policy often when in seminary.
What about having a woman on staff or on the elder board who could be an advocate? This woman, a godly leader invested with authority from the church (or school), could be someone to whom other women could turn and with whom these women could approach men.
What are some ways you've seen this done well? Or ways you'd like to see this done well?