I had hoped to include chapter summaries of Claire Smith's God's Good Design, but between reading in preparation for a couple of book reviews, preparing for teaching, my children coming and going, and the fall colours which have beckoned to me and my camera, I haven't managed that. I am almost done the book and hope to share soon.
In the meantime, have a peek into what Smith says with regard to women being silent in the church. As a preview, let me just say that Smith is refreshing in that always takes the reader back to the word of God and reasons through it. She does not begin with how she can defend either view; she looks at the Word:
One of the obvious implications of the wider passage I Corinthians 14:26-40 is that the ability to do something does not come with the right to do it.
It is not good enough to say, "Because I can play piano I have the right to play in the band," or "Because I led a Bible study group last year, I have the right to lead one this year," or "Because I am a good Bible teacher I have a right to preach." Or to put it in the way it is often expressed, and where it is not about self-promotion: because a particular woman is a gifted Bible teacher she should be allowed to preach in church.
The ability to do something does not come with the right to do it. This is because there are greater issues at stake. What is best for the congregation? What promotes order? What does God's word say about the relationship between men and women?
I have heard it said often, "The Church is chasing women away because so many gifted teachers aren't given a voice for the gifts."
Perhaps there are some churches who do relegate women to only doing things like arranging baby showers and working in the kitchen (work, by the way which needs to be done, and serves others, and is not shameful), and perhaps there could be more opportunities. However, service is not about doing what we think we're entitled to do; it's about what will bring glory to God, and that may mean that it is done by someone else other than me. James 3:1 reminds us that not everyone should teach. Sometimes, our motives are not clear to us, and if we are more concerned that women get to teach than that the Word of God go forward, I'd say we have some re-examination to do.
This is a verse I have been thinking much upon lately, and I think it bears remembering at all times:
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! (Ps. 115:1)