Question: Does 1 Cor. 14. 34 apply to all meetings when brethren are present?
E W Rogers, Oxford
Question: Does 1 Cor. 14. 34 apply to all meetings when brethren are present or is there any justification for the idea that some meetings are not distinctly church meetings and therefore outside the scope of this command?
Answer. I suppose what people mean by a church meeting is a meeting when the church is gathered together and, though all are not present, it is a meeting at which all are supposed to be present. Therefore, conversely, I presume that a meeting which is not a church meeting is one convened by a section and is not open to all the church but only to a section of it. While a multiplicity of this latter kind of meeting is not desirable, it is apparent that in certain circumstances such meetings may be allowable. It, however, cannot surely be right that the general principles of the New Testament may be set aside at such meetings. The phrase “in every place” in 1 Tim. 2. 8 would seem to imply that the men should lead in prayer and the sisters should be silent in every place where men and women are present together, although it be not a church meeting. There are certain basic principles which apply at all times; they are unalterable. Seeing that the injunctions of 1 Cor. chapters 11 to 14, and 1 Timothy 2, are based on those unalterable principles, why should we not adhere to such injunctions because the gathering is not a full church meeting? The woman’s head is to be covered because her head is the man. This latter fact can never be altered; it applies at all times. Therefore, her head should be covered whenever men and women are together before God. Likewise the woman was first in the transgression: that is an unalterable fact and for that reason silence should be observed: she is not permitted to lead. The imposition of the restriction of silence should be unalterable where both men and women are together for spiritual purposes.