I hate to bring more fuss to a semi-manufactured controversy, but our blog post “Single, Female Pastor? It’s Complicated” bears revisiting and highlighting of female pastors’ perspectives on this topic.
Why? First, you can finally read Marie Claire’s article online and thus can examine the full context of the conversation (previously all we had were illegal scans for 24 hours…and then blog posts about the topic).
Second, this blog was linked to by David Gibson in AOL’s Politics Daily and Bromleigh McCleneghan in the Christian Century…thus we’ve gotten a lot of traffic and new readers! However, the CC gives a negative spin to our blog post, indicating that we said that “prayers for the young lady are in order.” Yes, I said that, but I called for prayers that she embraces this pastoral opportunity to reach out to people like her, not that she gets her spirit checked or repented. Perhaps it’s my lingering resentment at being rejected from CC (they want “more serious essay types”), but I felt that a closer read of our actual words by McCleneghan would have been nice…
But on to the perspectives: We’ve reached 39 responses on the blog post, which places it in the top 10 most-commented articles on HX of all time. Wow. While a decent amount of it is back-and-forth between this blog’s readership and another pastor blogger, there’s a ton of comments by female clergypersons whose perspective I cannot match but can highlight a sampling:
- April C: “It is interesting that while we work so hard for the church to be a place of hospitality, female clergy often find that hospitality seldom reaches to include them (TMI moments and all) fully” (comment link)
- Carolyn F: “When I show verve and excitement for ministry, I’m called “naive.” When I make room for others in the Church, I’m asked to provide justification and prove that I am also attending to the interests of white, straight males. I am afraid that double standards (clergy and lay, women and men, young and young at heart) cause us to lose sight of the spiritual gifts for ministry offered by our many ministers and future ministers” (comment link)
- Melissa T: “What I find much more dangerous than one young woman sharing her experience warts and all, is the pervasive refusal to have frank discussions about sexuality in the Church.” (comment link)
- Em J Case: “Being a single clergy member is hard. For so many reaons. And that is true. Its hard to do what we do, and go home at night to an empty house. Its hard when there’s not enough time to date, or you have to cancel dates because of pastoral emergencies. Its hard not to have the support of a spouse. Its tough when you feel unfulfilled in the ways a spouse might fulfill you. But, its also tough to be a married clergy member. You have responsibilities I don’t have. You have to juggle two extended families and other sets of friends and support someone when you don’t have any more energy for yourself.” (comment link)
- Stephanie G: “we operate between the two extremes of ‘whatever’ and ‘sex-demonizing abstienence’ with the effect of both being that we don’t talk about it. We have not created a space to say, sex is both a human need and a sacred act of intimacy and love and it is a challenge to honor that in a way that invites God in and welcomes God’s guidance.” (comment link)
- Becca C: “I did have someone tell me that seeing a pregnant pastor made them feel uncomfortable because, you know, you don’t really want to think about how the pastor got pregnant. I also had a male colleague report that when his wife was pregnant the overwhelming response was “way to go, pastor!” *wink, wink* So maybe it’s not about whether or not *pastors* can be sexual beings, but only pastors who are also women.” (comment link)
- Christine: “Honestly, I think it probably helped to change some readers perspectives about sexuality in the church, that yes, even a pastor has sexual desires, is truly human, rather than a pedophile or repressed.” (comment link)
- Liz A: “As a Latina I grew up not seeing pictures of girls, then teens who looked like me in magazines. (Latinas ARE finally in the wider media, now- yay!) In my “world” I often feel invisible b/c I don’t meet many female clergy women who are Latina at all. Much less do I read articals by ANY female clergy in ANY main-stream magazines. So, I’m glad Marie Clair thought to include it.” (comment link)
Two comments by me:
- One of the blogs we linked to is Beauty Tips for Ministers which after our blog published they wiped their commentary of all identifying characteristics of the pastor: name, church, magazine name. While that was done in response to “friends of Wren” who asked for the whitewashing, I saw the act as dehumanizing and insulting.
- Second is that, as pointed out by EmJ, Marie Claire has a reputation for luring women into PR stunts and hit pieces. They did this a few months back with some food blogs and they seem to have done this again by their word choice in this article (Rev. Miller says the word choice of “career” was not her own). Words of caution from Brett are noted: stay away from outlets with questionable journalistic integrity.
Welcome to our new readers and your comments are appreciated.