God’s Good Design – Claire Smith


I read this last year with the girls I worked with, so it’s been a little while. Before I read it, a couple of my girlfriends were reading it together who weren’t necessarily that impressed. With such wonderful reviews from many mature, Christian men, it makes me feel bad to agree that I had a few queries with it as well.

To be fair, Claire picks the most difficult and controversial bible passages about women and men in various settings and sets out to exegete (basically work out what they mean in their context) and apply them. For the most part I agree with her conclusions, but not always about how she came to them. Her conclusions don’t always match up with what she discovered in her investigation of the passage, probably because the culture is so different to ours, and because the passages don’t really paint nice pictures of what the truths they teach look like in daily life and in church life.

Looking at the passages in that much depth was helpful for me, and the way we looked at it together with the girls was to read the bible passage and work at it ourselves before reading the book chapter. Even having done that, I want to go back to those passages and work it out for myself, even to work out what my own conscience thinks about such issues. Is it appropriate for me to lead a group of young men and women in a group setting as we go through biblical material (like I was last year)? Is this book even for men to read and learn from, seeing as it is written by a woman?

I still have lots of questions (e.g. what’s the go with head coverings, what is teaching and prophecy?), which is really okay because if these passages were easy to understand for our context there wouldn’t be so many books and so much controversy and debate about them. Claire shows you why she comes to the point of views that she does, out of careful handling of the passages themselves. Part of her goal, as well, was not to go on and on but try to keep it brief and concise, yet comprehensive, which I think she did quite well for the space she had, but of course there will still be gaps and details that she didn’t get to to spend much time on.

I would recommend this book, because it is important to think about issues of women in leadership, in marriage, even what is appropriate for Christian women in the church service and in mixed groups around the bible. It’s the first book about men and women that I’ve read, and I think it does pretty well to get your head around the issues and seeing what the bible actually says about it, and what the different view points are. It’s a great book to read with other women.


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