Preaching and Complementarity
Claire Smith was a feminist, who then came to faith in Christ, and eventually earned a PhD in New Testament from Moore College. She’s now a wife, mum, and a complementarian with quite a story to tell, a story she tells in her new book God’s Good Design (Matthias Media, 2012). There’s much to commend from the book, but this excerpt struck me (from pages 230–231):
I have never felt that I have nothing to contribute. Because of this, as well as being convinced it is not God’s will for me to do so, I have never felt the need to teach the Bible to men or to be a leading elder in a church. I have had to ask myself if I wanted to do so — because invitations have come — but making the decision not to do so has not been a difficult one. I realize this is not always the case for some women who say they feel ‘called’ to those ministries.
My decision has been difficult only when — if I can be brutally honest, brothers — I hear inept preaching from a man. I do not mean your average run-of-the-mill preaching, where the preacher loves the Lord and loves his word but there is something lacking in the power or passion or application of that word. I mean preaching where the clarity of God’s word is obscured, or where error is proclaimed as truth, or where the preacher preaches himself and not our wonderful Saviour. It is then that I feel the rub of the different God-given responsibilities of men and women that prevent women from preaching to mixed congregations.
Of course, I realize the pride inherent in such a complaint. And I realize it is not only women who struggle with poor preaching. But perhaps this is a good place to remind those brothers who are preachers that you serve your sisters, in a way that you do not serve your brothers, by being the best preacher you can be — because if there is no lack in the pulpit, your sisters will be less tempted to want to fill it.