A Review of Claire Smith. “God’s Good Design: What the Bible Really Says about Men and Women.” -- By: Liz Lockwood

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 18:1 (Spring 2013)
Article: A Review of Claire Smith. “God’s Good Design: What the Bible Really Says about Men and Women.”
Author: Liz Lockwood

A Review of Claire Smith. “God’s Good Design:
What the Bible Really Says about Men and Women.”

Kingsford, Australia: Mathias Media, 2012.

Liz Lockwood

Women’s Discipleship Strategist

The Gallery Church

New York, New York

There are a host of books that exist on the topic of men and women’s roles in the home and church. Some are written with the purpose of wrestling with difficult texts and dissecting biblical passages in the original languages. Some are written to answer more pragmatic questions, such as, “How are men and women to relate to each other in the home?” or “Can a woman work outside the home if she has children?” It is rare, though, to find a succinct resource that engages both of these discussions well.

One of the dangers in the dialogue of God’s design for gender in the home and church is to divide the theological from the practical. In God’s Good Design, Claire Smith lays down theological soil from which practical directives for gender roles and responsibilities spring forth. The book begins with a quick glance at “The Fine Dust of Feminism” (chapter 1). Graciously, Smith states, “I do not think that feminism is to blame for everything that is wrong with the world.” This is a powerful statement, and one that allows for honest discussion between those on both sides of the gender debate. This book is not a treatise on who’s to blame, but, rather, on how to live obediently in light of biblical directives.

Tackling a few of the most hotly debated and criticized texts on these issues, the first section of the book (chapters 2-4) centers upon what God’s design for women within the church should reflect. With the example of Adam and Eve’s fall into sin as a framework, the reader is able to trace how God’s design, when thwarted, provides a slippery slope of role reversal. She points out that “the battle for women in our day is to accept wisdom in this [God’s design] and be content with it, when our entire culture has taught us not to be” (37). Ultimately, a woman’s obedience in issues of submission revolves around whether or not she believes that God’s design really is better: better when culture says it’s not, better when one’s husband isn’t leading well, and better when that woman’s desire to lead is strong. Simply put, this is less a debate about Greek and Hebrew nuances and ultimately a matter of trust in God’s wisdom.

In section II, Smith discusses complementary roles within the home. These chapters provide the bulk of the book’s content, with Ephesians 5 as the starting point. She explains how the relationship b...

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