Can women speak in church?

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.  1 Corinthians 14:34-35

            Let’s examine first what this passage does not mean.  It does not mean God sees women as inferior or useless.  Under Christianity, women were given more freedom and a greater role.  Jesus defended a woman accused of adultery.  Jesus healed a woman of bleeding.  Jesus visited Mary and Martha’s house.  Jesus helped a Samaritan woman become a believer.  It was women who discovered the resurrected Jesus.  Women were in leadership in the church as seen through Paul and his letters. 

            This section in 1 Corinthians 14 comes after a long explanation of speaking in tongues and prophecy, so possibly Paul was trying to bring some order by imposing rules in the churches if too many were using their gifts, limiting it to just men and not women.

            Another possibility could be the culture in Corinth.  Paul wanted the church to be aware and adapt to the sensibilities of the people, especially the men who may not have been open to female teachers.

            Finally, Paul could have sensed in the Corinthian church a lack of respect for men in the family and used this to correct the imbalance, giving men a more predominant role.  Without proper leadership, the family can suffer and Paul could have recognized that Corinthian women were disrespecting their husbands.