Bible Answer

In a mixed gathering in church, may women speak?

In a mixed gathering at a bible study, may women speak up on things being spoken? Would that be going against 1 Cor. 14; 34 if one does?

Generally, in mixed groups the Bible expects men to lead teaching and to ask and answer the questions, as Paul says:

1Tim. 2:11 A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 
1Tim. 2:12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 
1Tim. 2:13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 
1Tim. 2:14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 
1Tim. 2:15 But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint. 

On the other hand, this principle may include some minor variations in practice.

Paul does give a very specific command to the church in Corinth concerning women speaking up to challenge men during the teaching:

1Cor. 14:34  The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 
1Cor. 14:35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. 

Notice in v.34 that Paul juxtaposes women speaking up in the service with women subjecting themselves to male headship (authority). Paul is implying that when the women in Corinth were asking questions, they were doing it for improper motives. The women were trying to undermine the authority of the male teachers by questioning their teaching. Their questions were not (apparently) asked in a sincere desire to understand the truth. Instead, the questioning was part of an effort to show themselves smarter than the men who taught them. It was a sinful motive.

In fact, earlier in the letter Paul described how women in the church in Corinth were taking dramatic steps (including shaving their heads) to claim equality with men, which violated God’s prescription for the church. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that Paul’s point in chapter 14 concerning women speaking in the assembly was limited to those women who spoke up expressly for the purpose of challenging and undermining male teachers. 

Consequently, we teach that it is permissible for a woman to ask questions in a mixed group so long as she does so with a genuine interest in obtaining clarification or to understand scripture better. She may ask her question publicly so long as her intentions are pure. If the questioning transitions into a confrontation, challenges or a dispute, then the woman should silence herself and expect her husband to answer her questions or else carry the questioning forward on her behalf (assuming he shares her concerns).