I wrote a booklet a few years ago called "Why Wesleyans Favor Women in Ministry." The Wesleyan Church added some prefatory material and printed it. You can still get copies of it at cost from the denomination or download a PDF of it here.
Since a lot of people don't want the electronic version and a printed version requires a little work to get, I've decided to self-publish a slightly different form of it under the title, "Why the Bible Favors Women in Ministry." This aims to be about a 24 page booklet like the first one, which of course remains available from HQ.
Since I write better in public, I may reshape some of it here:
You wonder if there would even be any debate over women in ministry if it were not for two verses: 1 Corinthians 14:34 and 1 Timothy 2:12. I imagine there would, because sometimes we fight for certain positions more because of our traditions than because of the biblical texts themselves. But if you are looking for a smoking gun against women in ministry, these are the verses everyone will mention.
Of course neither of these verses are actually about women in ministry. We will look at 1 Timothy 2 in a moment, but we can start by saying that 1 Corinthians 14 has absolutely nothing to do with the issue. It's not even close.
Let's assume for the moment that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 were actually in the original letter Paul wrote to the Corinthians (it is not certain they were). They say, "Let the wives be silent in the assemblies, for it is not fitting for them to speak but let them be subject as the Law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is shameful for a wife to speak in an assembly."
These verses sound rather damning when you rip them out of context. On the one hand, we should probably point out that they have to do with husband-wife relationships, not with women ministering to men in general. When the Greek word gynē (“woman,” “wife”) is used in the presence of anēr (“husband), it usually refers to wives in relation to husbands rather than women in relation to men in general. The word “to submit” reinforces this impression (14:34).
What is a little puzzling about these verses is that 1 Corinthians 11 has already assumed that women did prophecy in Corinthian worship (cf. 11:5), which of course required speaking in the assembly. There, Paul doesn't feel any need to justify the idea of women praying or prophesying in worship. He assumes it as something that regularly takes place.
In fact, the whole idea of wives needing to cover their heads in worship is exactly because Paul wants them to be modest in the presence of men who aren't their husbands, including God and the angels, who are putatively male. Paul is walking a careful line here. He is assuming that, in the age of the Spirit, women will have spiritual messages from God like men. But he doesn't want to undermine the marriages of the Corinthians either, and the head covering helps keep the balance between the two principles, which have come into conflict.
In this light, whatever 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 means, it cannot be about women speaking spiritually in worship. Otherwise Paul would contradict himself. He would assume that women prophesy in worship only to forbid it later in the same letter! Accordingly, we can’t use these verses to argue against women in ministry.
Whatever these verses were about, they weren't about women speaking for God in worship, not if they are original. They must have been about disruptive speech. The verses assume that wives were asking questions in worship, questions they should rather ask their own husbands at home (presumably rather than other people's husbands). The verses thus have nothing to do with women ministering. They have to do with preserving marriages and keeping order in public worship...