Last year I attended a divine service which was led by a young woman. She did it so good! She was modest and creative and brought a fresh wind in the church. A wind of renewal. Because it was the first time in that church that a service was led by a woman. Why does it not happen more and even everywhere? In some churches they are used to do it, but in Belgium that is the minority.
In connection with the position of the woman in the church, many Christians refer to a bible verse written by Paul: “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.” 1 Corinthians 14:34. We can see that Israel in the time of the old and new testament was a patriarchal society. Men decided everything. They were important, the women were oppressed. We can also see in the genealogies in the bible that women were most times even not mentioned. And Paulus continued that system. He lived and preached like it was used in his era. What he said was based on the Jewish culture of his time.
But when this bible verse is mentioned, some people mention another expression of that same Paul: “But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved.” 1 Corinthians 11:5. The first conclusion is that a woman has to cover her head in the church. But another conclusion is also possible. If it is a shame for a woman to pray or prophesy with her head uncovered, it is maybe not a shame if she prays or prophesies with her head covered. And what is to prophesy? “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.” 1 Corinthians 14:3. Than a woman is maybe allowed by Paul to do that if she covers her head. Not everyone has thought about that conclusion.
But why follow so strictly what Paul wrote to the Corinthians? Some people call that the Word of God, and that should be unchangeable in eternity. Personally I see it more as something that has to do with culture like I previously wrote. And cultures do change. We do live in a whole different country and culture and era than Paul.
Also in our country women where oppressed for thousands of years. Also here they came only at the second place. Fortunately that started to change during the previous century. Since emancipation started, women begin to have the same position as men, and I think that that is really necessary. But a lot of work still has to be done, that no women will deny. And mostly in the Christian churches much progression has to be made.
I will be very happy when one day women in the church will be equal to men. I long to see that they will lead services and preach. Women have a lot to offer, as much as men do. We need them. Without women the church is biased and poor. With the input of women we will have a healthy and well balanced church.