“When you are speaking in tongues in church, there must be an interpreter”, that is what some people say. For a long time I have seen believers argue about how speaking in tongues in church should be conducted.
Some say speaking in tongues in church must be interpreted while others are okay with speaking in tongues in church without interpretation. There are those who oppose speaking in tongues in church and advocate for people to speak in tongues in private.
I did my analysis and thought about verses from 1st Corinthians 14. I came up with a conclusion and that is what I want to share with you.
Speaking in tongues in church: Considerations
After careful study, I realized that the root of the problem existed long before speaking in tongues was introduced on the day of Pentecost.
There are two considerations; God’s gifts are perfect and human regulations are necessary. These two extremes are at the center of many disagreements in the faith.
God’s gift is perfect
There are believers who are inclined on the extreme that God’s gifts are perfect and they do not need any regulation. Their argument is that God can never give us a gift that causes harm.
When it comes to speaking in tongues in church, they advocate for total freedom for people to speak in tongues. To them, speaking in tongues is a perfect gift and there is nothing that can go wrong when people are speaking in tongues.
There are scriptures that support their view. One such scripture is 1st Corinthians 14:39 which plainly says, “Do not forbid speaking in tongues”.
From their understanding, speaking in tongues should not be forbidden regardless of every other factor. These believers are comfortable to speak in tongues in church, when using public transport, on the streets and everywhere else.
It is admirable how much they are invested in speaking in tongues and how boldly they stand for it.
They are the type of believers who were in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and they spoke in tongues without caring what others would think of them.
They were accused of being drunk but that didn’t deter them.
These believers don’t analyze speaking in tongues because they know it is a perfect gift from God.
Human regulations are necessary
On the other extreme, there are believers who insist that the gifts of God need to be regulated. These believers insist that speaking in tongues should be subjected to human regulations.
According to them, the gifts of God are extreme and they need to be moderated for them to have the intended result.
These believers care a lot about how everyone feels about the actions of one believer. If one believer makes many believers uncomfortable it is better to have that believer stopped for the good of many.
In terms of speaking in tongues, believers on this side of the argument insist that speaking in tongues should be orderly especially when people are speaking in tongues in church.
Some extreme believers on this side don’t want people to speak in tongues in public. To them, speaking in tongues is a private affair and it should remain that way.
They also have scriptures that support their argument. 1st Corinthians 14:27 says if anyone speaks in tongues, let there be two or at most three where each one has his turn to speak and one to interpret.
That portion of scripture goes on to say that if someone else gets a revelation, the one speaking should keep quiet and listen to the revelation first.
A big portion of 1st Corinthians 14 supports the necessity of having speaking in tongues regulated. It lays out guidelines of how each case of speaking in tongues should be handled.
Weaknesses of each side on Speaking in Tongues in Church
Weaknesses of ‘God’s gift is perfect’ side
For believers who argue that speaking in tongues should be unregulated in church, they quickly realize that human beings are very chaotic and regulation is necessary.
There are believers who speak in tongues in a manner that makes everyone else uncomfortable. They may be too loud or they may want to prolong speaking in tongues beyond what is sensible time.
Think of a prayer meeting in the evening where people are speaking in tongues. If the leader allows everyone to speak in tongues as they wish without regulation, there are those who can speak in tongues up to midnight.
While that may be comfortable for them, what will those who can’t speak in tongues for that long do? What about those who can’t speak in tongues? When will the pastor share the word of God?
Those who firmly believe in “Do not forbid speaking in tongues” end up discouraging others and the fellowship loses members. Other discouraged members may even leave the faith.
Weaknesses of “Human regulations are necessary” side
Those who insist that speaking in tongues must be regulated do so with good intentions but their actions end up quenching the power of speaking in tongues.
Speaking in tongues is a powerful gift when people are allowed freedom to exercise it. Also, there are too many variations in events that occur when people are speaking in tongues. It is impossible to have regulations for each of the events.
As a result, leaders who insist on regulating speaking in tongues limit new speaking in tongues experiences that the Holy Spirit may want to reveal to them.
Even from the recommendations of Apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians 14, people have questions about many speaking in tongues scenarios that have not been directly addressed.
Someone may ask ‘Is it right to cast out a demon by speaking in tongues?’ Apostle Paul did not address that specific case. I have witnessed a young man empowered by the Holy Spirit cast out a demon by speaking in tongues in the middle of a sermon. The young man cut short the preacher with tongues and the demon left and God was glorified.
This goes to show that there are always speaking in tongues situations that are new.
The Perfect Solution to Speaking in Tongues in Church
We can argue the whole day about the perfect balance between the two sides of the argument but there is one solution to all the arguments; a church where everyone speaks in tongues.
All these problems arise because some people speak in tongues and others don’t. Speaking in tongues is a gift of the Holy Spirit and everyone who believes in Jesus can get it and should get it.
Once everyone in the church can speak in tongues and is led by the spirit of God, everything will flow perfectly. The Holy Spirit Himself is orderly. He will know how to direct everyone in the church so that everyone is edified.
No amount of human regulations will ever be enough to satisfy everyone and leaving everyone to do as he pleases is a recipe for disaster. But with everyone led by the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues, nobody will need to tell another what to do because everyone will do what is perfect.
A church that embraces speaking in tongues and encourages everyone to speak in tongues will get the perfect solution to speaking in tongues in church.
Until next time…Peace!