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Should Women be Silent?

This past week, a small furor was raised by Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston. While speaking to a elementary school group, Winston asked the boys to stand up. (The following was reported in the Tampa Bay Times.)

"All my young boys, stand up. The ladies, sit down," Winston said. "But all my boys, stand up. We strong, right? We strong! We strong, right? All my boys, tell me one time: I can do anything I put my mind to.

Now a lot of boys aren't supposed to be soft-spoken. You know what I'm saying? One day y'all are going to have a very deep voice like this (in deep voice). One day, you'll have a very, very deep voice.”

He went on to say "But the ladies, they're supposed to be silent, polite, gentle. My men, my men (are) supposed to be strong. I want y'all to tell me what the third rule of life is: I can do anything I put my mind to. Scream it!"


So, is Winston right in this comment towards the ladies (or the boys, for that matter)?

Polite, yes, and gentle, yes – at times. But so men should be as well. Our society’s ability to be kind, polite and, at times, gentle with one another is one of our great strengths. These two aspects has made living in neighborhoods, going to school, and building lives together more enjoyable.

But silent? Um… heck, no.

I’m blessed to work with a number of very strong, thoughtful, wise, hardworking women. If they were silent, our summer camp would be a great deal worse off. So would the lives of my boys. So would our schools and churches.

But don’t just take my word for it. One of the first verses in the Bible is this:

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. - Genesis 1:27

So, if both are made in His image, should one gender be silent?

I would think, having been made in the image of God, ladies should speak and create and spread joy and teach as Jesus did. This means being silent in prayer and meditation. This means teaching and arguing and laughing and singing. This even means throwing a few tables around.

Thankfully, there have been a lot of strong, assertive women in the Bible. Many have been instigators or messengers of enormous moments. The biggest, in my mind, comes at the resurrection:

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead,[b] and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” - Matthew 28:1-10

These two ladies were strong – they didn’t faint like the guards when confronted by the angel. And, they were far from silent. They were the first to see the risen Christ and commissioned both by an angel of the Lord and Jesus Himself to spread the word.

Does that sound like the bible is saying ladies should be silent? I don't think so - I think it's the opposite.

(Ok... yes, I know Paul calls for that in 1 Corinthians but his statement has been taken out of context. Please see this great article on the subject.)

One of our world’s greatest problems is that women do not have a voice. Relegated a voiceless, uneducated state, women in many countries around the world live as second or third class citizens. This has a major negative effect on the culture as a whole. (There is a wonderful chapter on this in David Landes’ Wealth and Poverty of Nations.)

This is an untenable situation and one strong men, especially those professing the love of and striving for Christ, must fight to change.

Building our boys into Christian men does not and should not take away from our young ladies. It’s not a zero sum game. We need strong men, yes, and those strong men need strong women as equal partners. Our boys have to know this and we have to teach it.

Look, I know Mr. Winston was trying to do something good for those young boys and I appreciate that aspect. But you can't cherry pick this one. He made an enormous mistake in telling the girls to be silent. I hope he's learned his lesson and have to think it’s a mistake his mom won’t let him forget for quite a while….

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