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.
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.
This is another one of those verses that people look at and feel like the Bible is telling women to 'sit down and shut up'.
I think, in this case, context is important. It can't be said that women are not permitted to speak at all in the church, because, in this same letter, in Chapter 11 (which I talked about earlier), women are instructed to cover their heads when they pray or prophecy. So, clearly, women were and are permitted to speak in church. However, it has a 'place'. Just like *any* layperson speaking in church does.
Do people in your church hollar to one another across the room? Throw paper airplanes with notes? Do they? If they do, you have a problem in your church. Whether or not you believe in the Real Presence, you go to church to worship God. And that *should* demand your respect and therefore respectful behavior.
Anyway. Back then, women and men had very prescribed roles and places in the Jewish faith (according to my understanding.) If you look at the layout of the Temple, the women had a separate 'court' where they stayed while the men were permitted further in and therefore closer (though still far away) to the Holy of Holies.
This same separation was kept in the synagogues. Even today, in some Orthodox Synagogues there is a women's section and a men's section. It may be a simple, women on one side, men on the other, or a balcony room for the women, but they are separated.
So, you have Christianity arising out of Judaism, where the men and the women sit, at least, on different sides of the room. Because, in Christianity, lay men and women are equal, basically, *everything* changed. Women were being called to interact in their new faith in different ways. And they had questions. The men, at that point, were better educated (for the most part) about Torah. They understood, better, the connections between their Jewish faith and Christianity.
I think the women had questions, and had been told, 'there is no male or female in Christ' and there was confusion, as the people were learning. And I think that, in Corinth and probably some other places, there was some disruption - maybe women yelling over to their husbands to ask a question. Maybe just talking amongst themselves (and we all know how disruptive it is when the 'audience' of anything talks amongst itself. They can't hear the speaker.).
And the Church in Corinth wrote to St. Paul, asking for advice. I think that gets forgotten, sometimes, that there was a letter *before* any Epistle. One asking questions. We don't have that. We don't know, exactly what the issue was. Whatever the exact problem was, St. Paul's answer was for the women to keep silent in church, and consult their husbands later. It was the tradition (little 't') of the time. Even so, I'd rather *nobody* spoke in church unless there was call to do so. Responses to the prayers, chanting, singing hymns, yelling 'fire!' if a fire breaks out. Important things. Church is *not* the place to discuss what you did that week. Most, if not all, churches have coffee hours afterward. Discuss your lives then. You're in church to worship, not gossip.