Should Women Be Silent, Submissive, and Cover Their Heads?
“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
“You are a great leader.”
“You were born to lead.”
“You’re different from other kids because you have tremendous leadership qualities. From the time you were a toddler I could tell, you lead.”
These are just a handful of things I’ve said or written to my daughter, Grace, over the past 15 years. She’s extremely unique in the fact that she’s an alpha female–her temperament, that is. Grace is very loving and kind but she has a strong personality. Since she could walk and before she could talk, it was clear to me. She’s no pushover. Her will is unmistakably powerful.
Grace is resilient. Grace is determined. Grace has a drive which will set her apart as she spreads her wings and soars about her life on earth. She means so much to me. My heart swells with adoration when I think about her gifts and who she is as a person–not just as my child.
For a moment, picture me calling her into the living room, sitting her down and saying, “Listen. I know you’re intelligent, sweet, and steadfast, but if you ever decide you want to teach about God, don’t do it. You’re not allowed because you’re a female. The Bible forbids it. You need to be quiet because that’s a man’s job. Oh, and also, you need to be sure you cover your head. Scripture calls for it. Lastly, baby, when you get married, if your husband is an overbearing abusive monster who disrespects you, beats you up, is lazy, blows money, cheats on you and treats you like trash–you must always submit to him. Never talk back. And don’t even think about having any type of career he disapproves of. Keep your attitude pleasant. Be soft, quiet, and flawlessly obedient to him. Okay? This is your role as a female. It’s in the Bible.”
Seems like I would need a huge boot planted directly in my rear, doesn’t it? Yet this isn’t far-fetched according to some who claim to be “men of God.” Those who battle chauvinistic, disgusting tendencies, attempting to quote Scripture to prove the female gender isn’t equal to them. How convenient!
Before I decided to address this topic I had to tell myself, “Now Matt, keep your cool when you write about those who don’t see women equivalent to men.” So the previous paragraph is about as animated as I’m going to get. I’m still maturing in how I react to certain behaviors coming from others. Therefore I must consciously think of these men with grace even when they disrespect my Grace because of her gender. But, being graceful and loving is who I am. God remade me this way at salvation, just the same as He did all who’ve ever believed in Jesus (see Romans 5:5).
Today’s date is May 11, 2020. In the news, not too long ago, a very famous male pastor was asked to describe a very famous female speaker and author. “Go home,” was his response, with a chuckle.
Can you imagine that? This individual actually had the nerve to say she has no business doing what she’s doing because she’s a woman. He used Scripture to back up his bigotry–out of context, of course.
Isn’t it handy to misinterpret words in the Bible to match up with our egotistical dung? The reality is, there are only three instances in the New Testament epistles which could possibly back up his claim. However, in order to come to such a discriminative biblical conclusion, we’d have to ignore everything Jesus stood for, every recorded interaction Christ had with women, as well as the heart of the gospel message.
Instead, we’d have to focus on demonic doctrine of inequality, subjugation, and covenant-mixture; sanctimonious sex-classes of “keeping women in their rightful place of servitude” as on-call, baby-making sex objects. There’s absolutely no other way to come to such a determination.
A person who struggles with pompous sexism might complain to me, “Read your Bible, Matt! Women are weaker than us! Women can’t teach! Females are to be obedient, to serve, and to submit!”
Friend, I’ll agree with the first thing you said. Yes, let’s read the Bible. First, what was written to the Corinthians, in context, about women not being permitted to speak and submission. Pay special attention to what I’ve underlined as the bigot will overlook it:
For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.
Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But all things should be done decently and in order.
(1 Corinthians 14:33-40)
The first thing I’ve underlined is God is not a God of confusion but of peace. Such matters tremendously and gives Paul’s frame of reference. This entire chapter, from the beginning, he’s correcting the church in Corinth for not having controlled, orderly gatherings. He tells them how to express spiritual gifts properly, in a well-behaved, thorough, understandable manner. He then addresses another concern: women who were disrupting the group by asking their husbands questions in the middle of service.
This is why Paul said wait and ask your husbands at home. Why? So there’s not chaos, so people can learn and be edified in a peaceful environment. Imagine being in a church service or home gathering and everyone is talking, singing, speaking in tongues, and asking questions all at once. Outsiders who were visiting would think we were crazy and reject the gospel because of our disorganized behavior (see 1 Corinthians 14:23).
Nothing was coordinated or managed, it was a no-holds-barred free-for-all. This was Paul’s reasoning behind writing the aforementioned section of Scripture. Read from the beginning and it’s undoubtedly evident.
Another passage used to berate women–again, out of context–can be found in 1 Timothy 2. Look at the underlined text closely:
I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.
(1 Timothy 2:8-15)
At first glance, and if we don’t pay close attention to the details, it would seem as if Paul is instructing Timothy to forget about the Cross completely. In essence, “Timmy, just tell the women to sit down, shut up, don’t wear flashy jewelry and to have babies to achieve their salvation.”
Insane, yet some have built a doctrine on these exact ideas.
To begin with, we must understand why each epistle was written–the situations surrounding the subject matter in each specific letter. We must consider why Paul wrote about certain issues. He didn’t waste ink on random topics but penned divine wisdom referring to what each pocket of Christians were combating.
For this manuscript, Timothy was facing some serious concerns in his local assembly. His group was at war with an angry, quarreling women’s lib movement; females who wanted to overtake the congregation. Some historians claim the women were worshipping the fake goddess, Diana.
This branch of the ecclesia, because of these feminists, weren’t exuding any self-control, modesty, or wearing respectable apparel. In that culture, at that time, braided hair, gold and pearls were viewed as licentious, rebellious accoutrement. Look at it this way, imagine if we had countless bikini-clad women entering our church gatherings today–it would be distracting. Such would be on par with those whom Paul was writing about.
These females were also saying it was Adam who was deceived first in the Garden, not Eve, because Adam was an idiot; the original transgressing sinner. “A woman would never do something so dumb!”
To make matters worse, they were claiming the ball-and-chain family life wasn’t beneficial to their cause. For this reason Paul said childbirth saves them. As in, a peaceful, dignified life as a Christian wife is God’s desire for them. Just start from the beginning of the chapter to see the big picture.
To digress even further, if we’re going to look at this verse about childbirth saving a woman as literal, then forget about preaching Jesus. Just preach sex instead. Do you see the asininity in such a contorted thought? Birthing a child has never caused a person to be saved, so that’s obviously not the meaning.
The bottom line is, these women wanted to teach and exercise authority over the men. Not equal to, but dominant over. In this letter, Paul is fueling Timothy up with truth so he can gently debate such terrible heresy. He isn’t establishing new sexual discrimination of women. After all, the same author wrote this to the Galatian church:
“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
We are all one! This is the message of Jesus Christ which describes the Body of Christ! Just read the Messiah’s own words as He prays for the disciples and mentions us!
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Wow! That’s so beautiful! Jesus is praying for us! He’s saying that we may be one! You and I, dear Christian! He said by becoming one He’s giving us the glory! I repeat: HE GAVE US THE GLORY! This flies in the face of the legalist who barks, “Give God all the glory, not yourself!” But Christ said the opposite! He already had all the glory! He’s God! He wants us to have His glory too! We do this by caring for one another as brothers and sisters! Not by saying anyone is greater or lesser! We enjoy and express the goodness of God by loving each other as the Father has loved Jesus!
I could explode with excitement!
Okay, I’ll calm down…*ahem*
…Now, before I put a ribbon on this devotional, I want to touch on one more passage many have used to harm women. In 1 Corinthians 11, there’s a section about a woman covering her head. Supposedly, if she doesn’t cover her head when she prays or prophesies it’s dishonorable. First of all, this proves that women can speak because that’s exactly what prophesy means in the New Testament letters–speaking, not future telling. Hebrews chapter 1 informs us, since Christ came, future telling is now over. All the Prophets of the Old Testament were future telling about the coming Savior. Now that He’s here it’s His Spirit who informs us of everything, not crystal-ball readers or prophets for profit. John even tells us this in the book of Revelation, to not add to anything (see Revelation 22:18-19).
But anyway, in 1 Corinthians 11, the head covering is not a doily, cloth, or burka. It’s their actual hair. Verse 15 gives the complete context:
“but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering?” (1 Corinthians 11:15)
Again, we must keep the culture in mind from that time. Women with long hair were identified as being committed to a husband, whereas women with shaved heads were viewed as prostitutes. Just the same as provocative clothing is used for women-of-the-night today, back then the culture perceived shaved heads as, “I’m available for purchase.”
We could put head coverings on a Satan-worshipping woman and pile them ten feet high, this would never cause her to be right with God. Such demonstrates the truth: no head covering causes righteousness. We’re only righteous by grace through faith! By our new birth into the family of God! (See Ephesians 2:8-9, John 1:12-13, 3:6-8, 2 Corinthians 5:17,21).
So today, my friends, know this: God doesn’t base our value on our gender but on His great love for us. I’d rather be taught by a woman who knows the love of God than by a man who doesn’t. There are so many talented women whom God wants to use in great ways! In fact, Jesus chose a woman to be the very first evangelist! (See John 4:4-30). The Kingdom of God is here! The Kingdom of God is not patriarchal or matriarchal but oneness in the love of Jesus Christ!
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, thank you for revealing the truth about just how important females are to you. In my heart, I already knew this, but you’ve taught me so much through your Spirit and Word. I now know that women aren’t simply supposed to submit to men, but we’re supposed to submit to them too. It’s a mutual submission of love and respect. We’re equal and I’m thankful for that. Today, I pray for my daughter, Grace. You know she’s not a wallflower because you made her this way. As she lives her life and expresses who she is, protect her, guide her, and continue to empower her with your love. I know you will, Father. Remind her every day of just how gifted and important she is. Remind her how much she means to me, too. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. So many of the early church leaders got it all wrong about women. Females were used as scapegoats and that’s not okay. This twisting of Scripture, sexist teaching, has been passed on from generation to generation in many churches. I ask that you begin to dilute this hellish ideology of women being inadequate. Infuse the truth into the minds of those who struggle with gender discrimination. I also ask for you to strengthen the battered and worn women who’ve believed the lies of religious ogres for far too long. Empower them through your Spirit to STAND UP and be who you’ve recreated them to be in Christ! Through Him, they are courageous! Absolutely courageous! Amen!
This devotional is from my upcoming book, The Christian Identity, Volume 3. Check out my other bestselling books here!