Let women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted them to speak, but to be subject, as also the law saith.
Somehow, this is not as much a regular part of the liturgy as the great Chapter 13, with its
And now there remain faith, hope, and charity [love], these three: but the greatest of these is charity [love].
Women (and one priest) keeping silent, but, er...
Here are a couple of possible interpretations of what St Paul had in mind:
1. There should be no women priests or deacons; no women reading the lessons; maybe no women in the choir?
2. There should be no women chattering during the service.
Of these, (2) is probably more sexist than (1). There are other theological arguments against the ordination of women, but (2) - which was offered to me by a woman - seems unfair. Is the female sex the "chattering" sex?
Today at Mass, it definitely was. Two elderly ladies (60ish) were sitting next to me, and they spent the entire sermon conversing in loud whispers. I glanced over at one point, and one of them was showing the other a train ticket.
The next morning Andrew told his brother "We have found a train ticket."
So I decided to focus on Fr H's sermon, which was all to do with being called by the Lord. At least, until a flash of light from my left distracted me. Yes, one of the ladies was consulting her mobile phone, and showing her neighbour a text she had received.
I suspect that the text was something like "Come home at once, the parrot has caught fire," for, the moment the sermon was over, the two ladies crept out - pushing past me with a glare. Evidently, that was enough spiritual nourishment for one week.
Still, it's not only women... men chatter as well. Occasionally, I hear comments drifting over: "Excellent blog by Eccles this week. I learnt a lot from it. Really spiritually nourishing." And that was just the priest talking to his deacon while the altar servers were doing their stuff.
Of course another text from St Paul that is not often read out is where he condemns homosexual acts. Stephen Fry's assertion that he and his young friend have become "one person" by signing a book probably can't be justified on Biblical grounds.
Fry and friend. Two persons, or maybe one. Whatever.