Equality Vs. Submission

Q. I hope all is well. Concerning 1 Cor. 14:34-40, it speaks of women not speaking during the coming together of the church, that if they want to learn something, then by what is “also” written in the Law, they should ask their husbands. Then it goes on to say “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 how does this tie in with “for those that are in Jesus, there is no male, female, etc…”
And why, even though it is a commandment from the Lord, does it seem like a “letter of the Law” type commandment? Does this apply to a female praise/worship band leader? And how does this apply to single women?

A. Remember that beginning in 1 Cor. 11 Paul’s focus was on orderly worship, so everything has to be looked at in that light. And as you study all of Paul’s writing on the marriage relationship, you’ll see that he always differentiated between equality and submission. There’s never a hint of male superiority, either in what he did or what he wrote. In fact the entire New Testament is one of the most liberating documents ever written for women.

But from the beginning, there has been an order in creation that calls for man to be submissive to God and woman to be submissive to man. For example, Jesus is equal to God in every way, but when He became a man He placed Himself in submission to God. (Phil. 2:6-7) That’s what Paul meant by obeying the law. His point was that out of respect for God, it’s especially important for this order to be maintained in worship.

In 1 Cor. 11:5 Paul recognized that women would take part in worship, so that’s not the issue. And voluntary submission to her husband obviously doesn’t apply to single women. Paul’s instruction only seems strange to us because of the misguided notion that in order for women to be equal to men, they cannot be submissive to their husbands.

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