Being a Woman - Who is Silent

I can’t tell you how much I DIDN’T want to write this section! What, me silent! Um.... I don’t think so. Yet, the prompting of the Holy Spirit wouldn’t go away so here I am writing about one of the things that I struggle with the most – being silent.

I have mentioned before that I deeply desire to have a quiet and gentle spirit because this is pleasing to God . In fact, if it is precious to God then it is definitely something that I want. And so in my quest to cultivate this quiet and gentle spirit, I came across other verses in the Bible that mentions the importance of a woman being silent.

The best way to begin this theme is to look at the antonym of silent, which is noisy. Noisy can also mean boisterous, unrestrained, noisy or talkative. Let us take it one step further, noisy can also mean loud, ear-splitting or deafening. Now picture a woman who tends to be ‘noisy’. Consider all these words and picture her. I know women like this; I can even be a woman like this at times. It’s ugly isn’t it?
A woman screaming at her little child is plain ugly, a woman raising her voice up to a high pitch squeal at her husband is ugly and a woman at work who acts like a dictating tyrant is ugly too. Can you visualise a loud woman who is attractive? Even the most beautiful women, who are too talkative and never shut up, lose their appeal after a while, are you starting to get the picture?

At first I found the thought of being told to be silent quite offensive but after some consideration of the alternatives I realised how important it is. The Bible is not saying that we are never to speak or that what we have to say is of no value. What the Bible is guiding us to do is to be still at times and know to speak when the time is right. Easier said than done I know!

1 Peter 3:4
Rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

Quiet in 1 Peter 3:4 comes from the Greek word ‘hēsuchios’ which means to properly keep one’s seat, to remain still, undisturbed, undisturbing, peaceable and quiet.  In other words, you will not be one of those women that have angry, emotional outbursts when they disagree with something that has been said or done. You will sit still, remain peaceful, and remain undisturbed and undisturbing. Can you visualise a woman who can’t do this? They jump to their feet, swing their arms about, loudly express their opinion with a great deal of emotions attached to it!

I have to admit that I see myself doing this at times. Yuck! It’s not pretty. I have been guilty of getting upset and swinging my arms around and pointing my finger as I express my extreme opinion about something that isn’t going my way. It’s really ugly and I wish I had never been like that.

1 Timothy 2:11-12
Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.

Silence in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 comes from the Greek word ‘hēsuchia’ which means stillness, that is, desistance from bustle or language. This verse speaks specifically concerning church meetings and is necessary so that order can be maintained. It is not saying woman can’t teach but it says that they are not to teach over a man.

Take a moment to imagine a situation in church when the pastor is preaching and every now and then a woman jumps up to correct him or add her comments. Even worse, imagine a woman teaching in church without her husband’s permission. That would put her in rebellion. There are many Bible that mention women teaching so the point here is not the act of teaching but the act of taking authority over men.

So how do we behave in church? Quietly. If you have something to say or a question to ask, a public church meeting of any sort is not the place to do it. All this is in regards to learning and teaching, please don’t go to church now and not say a single word, that would be disastrous!

The concept of woman being silent in church comes up again in 1 Corinthians 14:34. The context of this passage, and much of 1 Corinthians, is the order and structure of the church. The Corinthian church was noted for the chaos and lack of order that was rampant in that assembly and again it is the context of church meetings, to keep order in the church.

Everyone in this church was participating with whatever expression they desired, whenever they desired. Women were taking the lead in the services instead of being submissive, and I am sure there may have been cases of manipulation too, using ‘God said’ too liberally. Apparently, certain women in the Corinthian church were out of order in disruptively asking questions publicly in the chaotic services.

Don’t get silly about it and takes things to the extreme, the point to all this is to ensure that there is order in our churches and that women remain in submission to men. Having loud, outspoken women bossing men around would be catastrophic and certainly would cause outsiders not to be interested in church at all. So let’s keep this in perspective and understand these verses for what they are. The church is extremely important to Jesus, He died for her and so we should respect these simple guidelines.

Psalm 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God

Although this verse is not specifically to women I wanted to include it because it’s important to all of us. Sometimes, God just wants us to be quiet in His presence. At times He wants us to stop babbling, to stop waffling and to shut up! We pray too often for so many things that we want and we seldom listen to what He wants, am I right? ‘Still’ in this verse means to ‘cease and desist’. God wants us to shut up and be vulnerable in His presence.

Do you know how to be vulnerable? Do you know how to be submissive to men? Do you know how to be silent? Few women do. In this day and age we express our opinions too freely in church but overlook the beauty of a quiet and gentle spirit.

Join me in learning the beauty of silence. See how your arguments with your husband or boyfriend decrease, notice how your relationships with others blossom and see how you can bless your church by honouring the men with your submission.

Do you find it offensive to be silent or do you understand the importance and beauty of a woman who knows when to be silent?

The Being a Woman book and worksheets are available here

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