Speaking in tongues in public is a hotly debated topic. Whenever the gift of speaking in tongues is mentioned, this subject is bound to come up. I have participated in speaking in tongues in public and made conclusions.
In this article, I will go over the conclusions I have made after practicing speaking in tongues privately and publicly.
I don’t like discussing speaking in tongues with people who don’t practice the gift. From what I have observed, people who have not practiced the gift only speak from a theoretical perspective.
In my opinion, people who speak in tongues have a stronger say on the topic than those who shout from the sidelines.
Even in debates on other topics, the testimony of someone who has experienced a matter is valued over that of someone who has only read about it.
Jesus didn’t just speak about loving us; He demonstrated it by going to the cross. Before He asked us to take up our cross and follow Him, He carried His to Golgotha.
Speaking in Tongues in Public: What I have Learned
1. There is no Law about speaking in tongues in public
I have read the Bible many times where it speaks about speaking in tongues. 1st Corinthians 14 is the chapter that comprehensively addresses speaking in tongues.
From the chapter, Apostle Paul advocates for speaking in tongues that is done in public to be orderly. As part of the order, he recommends that tongues need to be interpreted.
The challenge with this scripture is in how different people understand it. Apostle Paul recommending that tongues spoken in church need to be interpreted is not the same as banning the speaking of tongues in public, is it?
From the Bible, Apostle Paul advocates that if there is no interpreter then the person speaking in tongues should stop.
What Apostle Paul wrote about speaking in tongues in public is a recommendation. The purpose of the recommendation was to preserve order in the church.
But there are times when speaking in tongues in public and being chaotic is overlooked. This is true from the day of Pentecost; everyone was speaking in tongues in public and some witnesses thought the disciples were drunk.
The fact that the very first time we hear about speaking in tongues it happens in public and it is chaotic proves that speaking in tongues in public and appearing chaotic breaks no law.
If you think speaking in tongues in public is breaking the law, what is the punishment given to people who do it?
2. Interpretation of Tongues Spoken in Public is a Luxury
I do speak in tongues and I also interpret. There are fewer people who can interpret tongues than those who can speak in tongues.
I have been to fellowships where everyone was speaking in tongues. Could I interpret what each was saying? I could hear what a few people were saying but because of the chaos it was hard.
And that is exactly the reason why Apostle Paul recommended that speaking in tongues in public should have an interpreter and one person must speak at a time.
But then when everyone is speaking in tongues to God, what is the point of interpreting? Who needs the interpretation? For what?
In a fellowship where everyone speaks in tongues and no one asks for an interpretation, what is the problem? If people in the fellowship are comfortable to speak in tongues together and go home, what is wrong?
There have been a few times when people who didn’t speak in tongues came to a fellowship where we were all speaking in tongues and as you would expect they were puzzled.
But then I discovered that there are two types of reactions; some walk away from the fellowship and others ask to receive the gift.
I concluded that it depends more on the person rather than whether the practice is right or wrong.
When I first joined that fellowship, I didn’t have the gift of speaking in tongues. Everyone around me was speaking in tongues. I felt left out.
But towards the end of the fellowship, they asked those who wanted to get the baptism to step forward. I went and received the gift.
Since I received the gift of speaking in tongues in public, why should I believe that speaking in tongues in public is wrong?
3. Interpretation of Tongues Spoken in Public has its Time
I have spoken in tongues in public and someone has interpreted the tongues. In several other occasions, people have spoken in tongues in public and I have interpreted their tongues.
As much as I participate in public speaking in tongues with no interpretation, I have had situations where it made sense to have one person speak in tongues and someone else interpret it.
The challenge, I discovered, is balancing between when it is necessary to interpret and when not to interpret.
As an interpreter of tongues, I know it gets exhausting to interpret tongues continuously. It is more like being in a market place and trying to hear what everyone is saying.
Many times I have heard messages spoken in tongues but I didn’t go forward to say the interpretation. If I feel the message can be overlooked and I overlook it, do I sin?
If a message is serious, I usually get a prompt from the Spirit of God to let others know the interpretation.
I fully advocate for interpretation of tongues spoken in public but sometimes it is good to let people bubble away in tongues and just have fun. It breaks no bone, I assure you!
Speaking in Tongues in Public Advantage and Disadvantage
From this debate I hope you are seeing the trend; speaking in tongues in public has advantages and disadvantages.
By speaking in tongues in public, chaos and confusion is guaranteed which can lead people away from the fellowship. This is definitely not something any believer should celebrate.
But at the same time, speaking in tongues in public is a good way to make the gift public and give an opportunity to those who desire it to receive it. I have been a beneficiary of this and many of my friends are too.
In the end, the most important thing is to speak in tongues and draw people to God as we edify ourselves through it.
Some are going to lean hard on speaking in tongues in public while others will be conservative about it and only do it in private.
I will end this debate by referring to Apostle Paul when he talks about preferential matters in the body of Christ in Romans 14; If you advocate for speaking in tongues in public, you are free to do it just don’t cause your fellow believer to stumble.
And if you oppose speaking in tongues in public, don’t condemn those who do it for by doing it, they commit no sin.