Non-Denominational/God talking?

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Question
I was raised catholic and then at age 19 sought a closer relationship with God.

I joined a church called the Churches of Christ. We had several rules, no women allowed to speak in service, no instruments, no interfaith marriage. I left my first church due to the fact that I was spoken Ill of. I joined another church of the same group at 26. The church was a lot stricter, the previous one was more lax.

I left after I got tired of the level of hatred. After I left I lost faith in God, and became an atheist, a few months later I met a young women who I started to ask about. During this time I started to witness what I perceived as Gods promptings. I sensed via things in the natural and other believers to pray, have faith and be patient.

After many months I think I've been prompted to return to God. I also was asking God to reveal himself to me which he did. I've been praying lately for myself and the girl I met, for our salvation, and changing of hearts.

I guess my question, is, has all this been God acting in my life? I've never seen gisions, only hints through the natural.

Answer
Good afternoon Raul.  Thank you for your question.  In a nutshell, the answer to your question is an astounding YES!

Your first Church of Christ church that you attended (and most likely your second one as well,) was incorrect in their assumption that woman are not allowed to speak in service.  The Bible doesn't imply that woman can't speak in service.  Let me explain a bit further if you will.

Paul wrote: “As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church” (vv. 33-35).

If we take this literally, it would mean that women are not allowed to sing in church nor respond when the pastor asks for comments or questions from the audience. Moreover, it would contradict what Paul said in chapter 11, where he said that women could pray and prophesy in church if they had the appropriate attire.

Common sense, church custom, and good principles of biblical interpretation all say that we should not take these verses literally—and almost no one does. Paul is not making a blanket prohibition that says that women can never speak in church. Rather, he was addressing his comments to a certain situation, and his comments are limited in some way. The question is, What are the limits of Paul’s prohibition?

The first thing we notice is that women are not the only people Paul tells to be “silent.” He uses the same word in verses 28 and 30 to tell tongue-speakers and prophets to be silent when others speak. In both of those verses, he is calling for a temporary silence, not a complete and permanent prohibition.

The word for “speak” does not necessarily mean a formal role in the pulpit.  It is a general word that can also be translated “talk.” Paul used a general word to say that women should not talk, and we have to make an interpretive choice: Was he prohibiting formal speaking roles, or talk in the audience, or something else?

Paul says that instead of speaking, women should be in submission. This implies that the Corinthian women were speaking in an insubordinate way. The fact that Paul said in chapter 11 that women could pray and prophesy, and in chapter 14 that two or three people could prophesy in a worship service, shows that women are allowed to have a slot in the speaking schedule. It is not insubordinate for them to speak prophecies; it is therefore likely that Paul is prohibiting some less-formal speaking, such as chatter or comments from the audience.

Paul says that “the Law” requires submission. There are several options for what kind of submission is meant:

a) Submission of all women to all men? - However, as we saw in previous studies, the Old Testament does not require all women to submit to all men, nor does it require them to be silent. Nevertheless, some scholars believe that Paul is alluding to a “principle” derived from Genesis.

b) Submission of wives to their husbands? - Although this command is not explicitly found in the Old Testament, the presence of the command in the New Testament suggests that it was based on Old Testament principles. Further, verse 35 indicates that Paul may have been dealing with a husband-wife problem. However, if Paul is alluding to a rule about family relationships, it would not necessarily apply to authority in the church.

c) Submission to a Roman law that restricted women’s roles in pagan worship? - Although Paul normally means the Mosaic law when he uses the word, it is possible that he meant civil law in this verse; the Corinthians would know by context which law he meant.

d) Submission to themselves? - Just as Paul told the prophets to control themselves (v. 32), he uses the same Greek word in verse 34 to say that women should be in submission; the proximity of these two uses suggests that Paul means for women to control themselves. The New American Standard Bible translates v. 34 in this way: “let them subject themselves, just as the Law says.” In this case the “law” could be either Roman law or general biblical principles of decency and order.

5) Paul addresses the problem by saying, “If they want to inquire about something…” This implies that the problem in Corinth concerning the asking of questions with a desire to learn something. Perhaps the largely uneducated women of that day were interrupting proceedings with irrelevant questions that would be better dealt with in their homes. Their fault was not in the asking per se but in the inappropriate setting for their questions.

Paul says that it is “disgraceful” for women to talk in church. This word appeals to the Corinthians’ own sense of social propriety. He is saying that church custom, the law, and social expectations all prohibit women from talking in church. The questions themselves are not wrong, for they can be asked at home, but it is disorderly to ask them in the worship service.

It is not clear whether “as in all the congregations of the saints” introduces this topic, or concludes the previous one. In the other places Paul appeals to the practice of other churches, it is at the end of the discussion (1 Cor. 4:17; 7:17; 11:16), and it is redundant to have “in the churches” both in the introductory clause and at the end of the same sentence. "Let the women…" is a typical Pauline start to a new paragraph. However, this does not seem to affect the interpretation of the verses. Either way, it seems that other churches were already doing what Paul wanted the Corinthians to do.

Next, let's address the "no instruments" rule of your previous church.  I understand that some Protestant churches prohibit the use of musical instruments in their worship services. What is the specific biblical basis for this practice, or, if there is no specific biblical basis, what is the principle behind this practice? Is it an issue of mixing musical instruments with vocal music? Can they have one or the other, but not both? Which churches follow this teaching?

The first comes from Greek Orthodox tradition. I can't really speak to it directly, but a quick Google search turned up a result indicating that it might have more to do with history and wanting to separate themselves from pagan worship. But there's likely a lot more to it.

The other is from the churches of Christ. To understand this, you need to know something of their history. The churches of Christ descend from the Restoration movement of the mid-1800s. This was a movement that strove to throw off all of the excess structure that had arisen over the years since the 1st century and restore 1st century-style worship. The primary means of achieving this goal was through a very careful and strict interpretation of scripture. "Innovations" from known historical patterns of the first century should only be permitted when there is a clear case for them, shown either through direct command, example, or necessary inference.

The reason for the return to 1st century worship was a reaction to all divisions, and a desire to fulfill the Lord's prayer "that they may all be one." It was a drive for unity, and one part of this was to push away anything that a true seeker might possibly see as contrary to scripture, and hold up only those things that meet an exceptionally strict criteria for doctrinal purity (the other two parts are congregational independence/freedom and an strong emphasis on individual study). Don't knock the process too hard, as it met with some success... this is one of the few major groups to begin it's history as the result of a merger of a few smaller groups, rather than as a split from a larger group, and was the only group in existence at the time to make it through the Civil War without dividing over the issue.

The command to sing praises is interpreted to mean that music in worship should include everyone as a participant... that if the music portion of your service consists mainly of just a few performers or even a choir, while the majority of the congregation is only listening (even if this is the effect rather than the intent), you're doing it wrong. The entire congregation should take part in producing the music. Instruments are seen as counter-productive to this effort, as history shows they have a tendency to take over and dominate the performance to the exclusion, rather than inclusion, of audience participation.

Remember that this group comes out of a movement whose goals were to restore 1st century worship styles. We do know from historical documents that the earliest Christians, without exception, did not use instruments in their worship. At all. In fact, it's already the third century before we find examples of any instrumental accompaniment. Again, sorry, no reference handy. The information in this answer comes from a study I did long ago. It's possible there were forces other than doctrine driving this: for example, funds, fear of persecution if louder instruments gave away a secret service, or simply modeling congregational worship after Jewish synagogue worship (which also did not use instruments).

While I do believe the Church of Christ is awesome in many ways, they also have a lot of faults.  And besides, God is your God...not the church.  God prohibits us from following doctrine just because "our church does."  The Catholic Church often taught this back in the dark ages and taught other Christians that all theory and doctrine came from the Pope...which is of course wrong.  God teaches us to "study for ourselves, and to hold on which is good;" not to take doctrine at face value or to sign a church contract on what you should be allowed to think or believe.

I honestly wish you and your woman the best.  Perhaps God has called you out of these former churches to put someone or something in your life to help you grow.


Pastor Michael,  

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Michael Hockaday

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I can answer almost anything Biblical related. Salvation, Hell, Heaven, Prophecy, End Times, Jesus, Creation, The Flood, Israel, The Church, Spiritual Gifts, etc, etc. The list is endless. If you're unsure on how to intrepret any area of the Bible, I'll be happy to help you out. Even better, I'll provide proof. When I study the Bible, I STUDY it. Don't be shy...ask away.

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As young as 18 years of age, I was preaching full length sermons in church. I spend a lot of time studying the Bible and have been for many years. Presently, I regularly type out full length sermons on the World Wide Web. I also regularly put inspirational material on Facebook, Twitter. MySpace, and on several other sities on the Web...including Google.

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Diploma in Biblical Studies - Liberty University Certificate - It Is Written (online Bible Discovery series.)

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