1 Corinthians 14: 33-35 question

Good Morning!

I have a question regarding 1 Corinthians 14: 33-35:

33 As in all the churches of the holy ones,

34 women should be kept silent in the churches, for they are not allowed to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says.

35 But if they want to learn anything, they should ask their husbands at home. For it is improper for a woman to speak in the church.

How should this be interpreted? In reading the scripture above these passages, it seems to talk about prophesy and speaking in tongues. Does this passage only address those areas? … or is it referencing a grander picture of a woman’s role in the Church? …and if it is just addressing prophesy and speaking in tongues, why were women not allowed to speak in the church?

Please know that I am not “bashing” the scripture or saying “the Church hates woman.” On the contrary, I am trying to do more scripture study to understand my role … as wife, mother, as a Catholic … and I’m just curious how is to interpreted.

Thank you so much …in advance … for your help!!

Have a fantastic day and God Bless!

I believe looking at the time this was written is very important. During these time, the culture was that of a patriarchal society. Men were the head of everything from the household to the temple. Women were only allowed to vote in last century so some could state that we still live in a semi patriarchal society.

Viewing the times in which this was written is huge. There are female readers, altar servers…etc in the Church today.

No I don’t think Paul was referring only to prophesy and tongues - otherwise he would not have said, “if they want to learn anything, they should ask their husbands at home”.

That said - the Church reads this as being something that was practice, not doctrine. Being a practice, it is acceptable for it to change - or even be discarded.

As aidenbradypop points out, the culture at that time was quite different from what it is today and the teaching was appropriate to that time and place.


I wouldnt be so quick to dismiss this as just an outdated cultural idea, as have the Anglicans and other Protestant denominations.

The Church still does not allow women to offer the homily. Obviously woman can do the readings and lead in prayer petitions.

As teaching is closely associated with the role of the priesthood, to allow women to have teaching role during the Mass could have been seeing as leading to confusion and scandal about women priests. Of course if you belong to a church that accepts women priests, concern about women leadership roles during the Sunday liturgy is not a concern either.

Im not certain about the details of Church teaching on this scripture, but simply look at the Mass and you can see clearly that the role of women teaching during the liturgy is NOT to be taken simply as an outdated cultural norm. Of course, It is not taken literally as requiring women to actually be silent or women would not be able to sing or respond during the liturgy, let alone do the readings. Yet there are clearly some teaching on gender role during the Mass that is NOT considered culturally outdated.

This is what I have heard regarding this verse:

In the synagogues of the time (and still in some orthodox synagogues of today), the men and women sit separately. Usually the men would sit on the ground floor and the women would sit in the balcony.

The women were yelling things down from the balcony like, '‘What? What did the Rabbi say?’ And Paul was telling them that they should be quiet in church, and if they had any questions, they were to ask their husbands at home later.

I have no idea if this is really the case here or not.

Thank you everyone for your insights and taking the time to respond!!
I truly appreciate it!

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