What Silence Really Says

In the olden days, God set up a system the feminists are none too pleased with.  Nonetheless, it existed, and it was described in Numbers 30.

The gist of the system was that two types of women couldn’t make vows or pledges without being given the okay.  First, unmarried women were checked up on by their fathers (Numbers 30:3-5).  Second, married women were monitored by their husbands (Numbers 30:6-8).

We can argue about why God arranged such a system or about how unfair it is that men didn’t have to run their vows and pledges by anyone before making them (Numbers 30:2), but that’s not my ax to grind.

Instead, I want to look at a powerful idea in verse 14.  Continuing to describe the husband’s authority to nullify the wife’s vows and pledges, the Lord gives these instructions, “Her husband may confirm or nullify any vow she makes or any sworn pledge to deny herself.  But if her husband says nothing to her about it from day to day, then he confirms all her vows or the pledges binding on her. He confirms them by saying nothing to her when he hears about them” (Numbers 30:13-14).

That last sentence got me.

How many times have I found myself in mixed company – believers and unbelievers together – and a touchy subject came up – religion, politics, ethics.  And how many times have I kept silent while vocal unbelievers proclaimed falsehoods as truth, or wrong as right?

We keep silent for a lot of reasons, and I am not saying there isn’t wisdom in keeping silent sometimes (Ecclesiastes 3:7).

But we must beware of what our silence communicates – agreement.

Perhaps this shouldn’t be the case.  We shouldn’t assume that just because someone doesn’t proclaim their dissenting opinions on everything that they agree with us.  But just because this shouldn’t be the case doesn’t mean it isn’t the case.

I would say that most people assume that silence = agreement on any given subject.  That is certainly the case in Numbers 30.  The husband confirms the wife’s words by saying nothing about them.

What are we confirming when we say nothing about _____________?

What do people think we are confirming when we say nothing about _____________?

We have to be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading to discern when it’s time to be silent and when it’s time to speak. And when it’s time to speak, we have to speak the truth in love.

2 thoughts on “What Silence Really Says

  1. That last qualifier is very helpful. Jesus remained silent when asked if he claimed he would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days (Matthew 26:59-63). And there is His warning not to cast our pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). But sometimes when we are silent it is because we are fearful of how we will appear to others. Your challenge is very needed.

  2. I agree with Randall and Kelly. But sometimes it is often difficult to speak up and disagree with some of those who proclaim falsehoods as truth simply because I know they are trying to get a rise out of me. And sometimes, they are deliberately trying to provoke an argument. I have one such “friend” who is a member of a different denomination who frequently tries to bait me into debating his so called “Christian” doctrine versus mine. Moreover, this person will not settle for agreeing to disagree. Rather, he tries to force his theological difference down my throat. It has gotten to the point where I rarely want to talk to this person, because of the inevitability that he will attempt to steer the conversation back towards the differences of our beliefs. Hence, sometimes I think it is wise to remain silent in order to keep peace.

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