So, today is my Lime Green Friend’s 50th Birthday!!!!
A fitting day to share my review of her newest book, Lime Green: Reshaping our View of Women in the Church.
I am grateful for Jackie’s thoughtful work on this topic and also
find myself closer to the lime green section of the color wheel than light pink.
Jackie engages in the gender conversation with sensitivity, truth, and profoundness.
Happy Birthday My Dear Friend!!!!
Lime Green: Reshaping our View of Women in the Church
Dr. Jackie Roese
Reviewed by Amy N. Felt
October 20, 2015
Lime Green embraces the creational diversity and continuum of spiritual gifts graciously appointed by our Maker for the good of his kingdom. While the audience in focus is “women who serve Jesus in any capacity in conservative faith communities” (xiii), I concur with Scot McKnight’s foreword that males in power will also benefit from this insightful work (xi). However, to the author’s target audience, the vulnerable behind-the-scenes perspective of Dr. Jackie Roese will evoke a full range of emotions, as in her story, we find ourselves and somehow feel more known. The confusion, frustration, and denigration experienced by many women in ministry stands in sharp contrast to the fact that “we desperately want to serve Jesus with every fiber of our being but aren’t sure how to go about it” (xiii).
It is a popular “spiritual” trick to prefix the word “biblical” to a title (e.g. “biblical womanhood”) and then unkindly wield the new weapon as if the battle is internal to the body of Christ. Lime Green takes issue with this errant assault and offers an honest revelation that “we have ideas and ideals about what a Christian woman is supposed to be like, and when a woman doesn’t fit into those ideals, we feel unsafe” (xvi). Sadly, those of us whose coloring is a little more lime green side on the color wheel than light pink become the casualties of “friendly fire” as those in power seek to maintain the familiar status quo. Roese’s personal story fleshes out what it is like to be lime green in a predominately light pink conservative Christian environment. Drawing on the majestic expression of Psalm 8, Roese presses us to ponder how one color, gender, or narrow list of characteristics could possibly to justice in glorifying God’s limitless beauty (xxi).
Through her colorful (no pun intended) life experiences, Roese beautifully reflects the tension that serving Jesus is messy and difficult juxtaposed with the hope and celebration that this deepens our awareness of our dependency on Jesus (25). Further, she engages reality by frankly admitting, “Saying yes to Jesus comes at a cost. And yet, even the costs come with blessings” (28). She speaks with painful truth, yet gratefully leaves naiveté behind.
As women consider their life pursuits in ministry, employment, relationship, and parenting, a one-color-fits-all approach to womanhood causes “confusion, insecurity, and competition” (30). One of the great strengths of Lime Green is the bold assertion that “when Jesus said, ‘Follow me,’ he wasn’t doing a cattle call. Not everyone walks the same path. Every life is unique” (30). Yet, in some church contexts, women unknowingly stumble across “invisible trip wires” as we seek to serve Jesus (43). However, we have a bold example in Luke 10 as Jesus ennobles Mary to break the social norms of the day and adopt the posture of a disciple at the feet of her rabbi (44).
Like the “blessed alliance” coined by Carolyn Custis James, Roese does not take an antagonistic view of men, but rather welcomes a unified, pedal-to-the-metal approach to kingdom work. She rightly proclaims, “Ministry is not a competition; it’s collaboration. Too many people need Jesus for us to spend time on sibling rivalry. We need everyone in the battle using everything they’ve got right where they are to advance the kingdom” (48). I could not agree more! To this point, her illustration of dredging Gilbert Lake (69) is worth the price of the book, but I will not give away this gem here (do read it though!). Continuing on, Genesis 2 demands our recognition that genderedness is about more than just marriage, “It’s about man and woman in community, male and female acting as a royal priesthood, ruling and subduing the whole earth on God’s behalf – together” (58).
Roese’s retelling of her first moments in the pulpit of Irving Bible Church is mind-blowing and captures all of your senses. The details of the pressure of the mounting attacks in the press, the insensitive preoccupation about her wardrobe choice, the vicious comments about her family, and even the need for a bodyguard all serve to reveal the complexities for women in this challenging calling. Sadly, some are distracted by the complementarian or egalitarian litmus test. Pressing women to declare their loyalties and then unjustly declaring them orthodox or heretical based on this simplistic binary antithesis is a nonstarter (99). Shouldn’t our litmus test be the Gospel (100)? When the household codes of Paul are utilized as theological grounds to subjugate women, God’s dynamic movement toward oneness is obstructed and flourishing is flattened (106-107). Scot McKnight propels the conversation stating, “We no longer have to live under the conditions of the fall where we emphasized otherness, but rather we can live under the conditions of the new creation where the emphasis is oneness” (109). Whenever shalom is broken, we hear the cry of our Savior (109). Lime Green is a work of gender shalom, oneness, and an unswerving pursuit of God’s kingdom work.