But I wish everyone were single, just as I am. But God gives to some the gift of marriage, and to others the gift of singleness. So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows—it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am. But if they can’t control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It’s better to marry than to burn with lust. But for those who are married, I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to him. And the husband must not leave his wife.1 Corinthians 7:7-11
- “I wish everyone were single like I am // better to stay unmarried, just as I am.”
- Then with comments in other letters like woman can’t talk in church // not allowed to teach men etc.
- It seems that Paul is a marriage and woman hater. Let’s explore this in reverse order.
Paul expressly forbid women from speaking in church and required them to be submissive in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35: “… women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” (By the way, it should be noted here that In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul was giving out the rules for speaking in tongues in church. In other words,: women were not to speak in tongues in the church service or women were not to talk while the sermon was being preached.)
In 1 Timothy 2:11-14 Paul declared: “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”
Far from hating women, Paul is doing all he can to set them free! Bear in mind Paul was trained as a rabbi and a pharisee. In Paul’s day women had little or no standing whatever. In the Jewish culture women were forbidden to learn. During the Synagogue service, they were to sit outside the synagogue where they could not be seen nor heard.
- “I would rather have the roll of the Law burned than have it taught to a woman,” Rabbi Eleazer (Talmud).
- “To instruct a woman in the law was to cast pearls before swine.”
- “It is shame for a woman to let her voice be heard among men.” Rabbi Megilla
Greek culture was no better. A respectable Greek woman was never to be on the street alone; she never went to a public assembly—much less spoke at one. The Greek language had a special word for almost everything—but there was no special word for “wife.” The same word, “gune” (γυνη), referred to either a woman or to a wife. The context was necessary to decide which was which. Wives were so unimportant they didn’t even require a word to describe their role other than generic.
Paul writes that In Christ, women are taught and instructed. They are allowed even to speak in church. In Christ women are no longer muzzled! Teaching and instructing a woman, forbidden in both Jewish and Greek societies are now permissable in Christ! Paul allowed women into the church service! This was radical! Teaching that was on the cutting edge. To say Paul is a woman hater is to reinterpret his words in the light of today’s world.
Yes indeed Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:22 “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” And a few verses later “husband, love your wives as Christ loved the church.” Oh the imbalance of it. Wives to submit and husbands to love. See Ian, there is another example of Paul fixated on the submission of woman. No, you are reading it wrong. But I won’t lead you into reading it right until we tackle Ephesians in the Gems. Here is a challenge for you. Tackle this passage of Ephesians for yourself and see what you can make of it. I am planning to do Ephesians after Corinthians.
We have just finished looking at Romans. Remember the number of woman Paul highly commended in Romans 16 and what we learned about them (Bible Gems 274 onwards)
Nine out of 29 people listed among Paul’s dear friends were women. Now is that the mind of a woman hater? It is clear that as a result of Paul’s influence as leader in the early church that there were many woman in leadership roles and teaching roles in the church.
No. Paul was most certainly not a woman hater. He is on your side ladies; give him credit for that.
My wife and I had words, but I didn’t get to use mine.Anon
Finishing my sentences for me – he calls it interrupting; she calls it communicating.Anon