The Church Marginalizes Singles Because Single Women Make a Literal Application of I Cor 14: 34, 35 Impossible

Part 6 of a series. Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four Part Five

I Corinthians 14:34, 35 is one of the passages many churches quote to say that women should keep silent in the church and not be church leaders.


The existence of single women creates a problem with translating those verses literally.


Verse 35 says that “if a woman wants to learn anything, she must ask her husband at home”.  If a woman must ask her husband if she has any questions regarding church teaching, how is a single woman supposed to grow in Christ from the teaching in church? The verse clearly says husband, not father, brother, son, other male relative, or pastor. For that matter, how can she have a voice in the body as a whole?


The answer is found in verses 26, 31, and 36.

Verse 26: How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done decently and in order.

Verse 31: For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.

Verse 36: Or did the word come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached?

In verses 26 and 31, Paul makes it clear that each person in the church is to have a chance to share when the church meets. Given that Miriam, Huldah, Anna, and Phillip’s daughters were prophetesses, it is clear that women can prophesy.

Verse 36 comes after verses 34 and 35, where women are told to keep silent. The Greek language has no quotation marks. I Corinthians is a letter to the Corinthian church. Obviously, the leaders had written to Paul about whether or not women could speak in the church. Paul quoted them in verses 34 and 35, then responded in verse 36: “No way! The word of God did not come from you [men] originally. Nor did it come to you [men] only.”


When churches use I Cor 14:34, 35 to silence women in the church and prevent them from being church leaders, they are not only denying the existence of single women, but making it clear that only married women are allowed to learn about God in the church.


Marginalizing singleness enables churches to use I Cor 14: 34, 35 to keep women out of teaching and leadership positions in the church and under the authority of men.

11 Replies to “The Church Marginalizes Singles Because Single Women Make a Literal Application of I Cor 14: 34, 35 Impossible”

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