Sex and The Single Pastor

I had originally decided to hold off writing about this subject until I had time to talk to a couple of pastor friends, but I decided not to wait.  This morning, as I was doing my daily reading, I noticed Jeremy Smith had a new blog post up.  Jeremy is Methodist pastor and, since I almost always agree with him, I think he’s a good one.  Today, he was talking about a Marie Claire article, “Confessions of Single, Female Pastor”, about a twenty-seven year old woman who is a pastor at United Methodist Church in Alabama.  Unfortunately, the article isn’t available online at the moment so you’ll just have to get by with what you learn here and on Jeremy’s site.  In the article, Rev. Miller talks about how hard it is to be a single, female pastor today.  From an almost non-existent dating life to men who believe she should be barefoot and pregnant, life is not easy for girl preachers.  Hard, yes; but she’s not giving up.  On her calling or having a life.  Impressive young lady if you ask me.  I thought it was a very good article and would open conversation on subjects that need to often get shoved behind the curtain.

Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with me.  Some folks were upset by the use of the word “career” in reference to Rev. Miller’s vocation.  That’s kind of silly, if you ask me.  I mean we’re talking about the intimate details of someones life and you quibble over calling the ministry a career?  I think that’s a smoke screen, however.  Because, the real hot topic here is sex and, as we all know, Christians suck at talking about sex.  We’ll only talk about it when we’re backed into a corner and have no other choice and, then when we do, we get it wrong.  Just like we did in Rev. Miller’s case.  Our sister in Christ is talking about something she’s struggling with and instead of being offered assistance or, at the very least, a sympathetic ear, she’s castigated for sharing too much information.  One blogger said, “This article is not just a case of unfathomable TMI. It treats deeply personal, profoundly intimate subjects in a cavalier way that I think shows a staggering lack of judgment. It insults one of her parishioners and breaches trust and confidentiality in that pastoral relationship…This is not how young women empower themselves. Do you hear me, young ‘uns? Learn this fast and learn it well: over-sharing to this extent is not the way to achieve our shared goal of humanizing the clergy. What you are doing by providing salacious details on your sex life to the media is not empowering yourself or making clergy or Christian life more hip and relevant.” Sadly, that’s probably the nicest part of the entire entry and comments.  Since when do we respond to our brothers and sisters troubles with snark and a superior attitude?  Almost as bad is this from another UM pastor, Chris Roberts, “In the end, this article seems both self-absorbed and self-serving. There is a narcissistic tone in which the author wants the reader to sympathize. Of course, I did. I do. However, the United Methodist Church offers a tremendous health care program with great mental health benefits. Should Rev. Miller desire to discuss her love life, perhaps it would be better expressed and processed with a mental health professional. This is not the right venue to discuss these matters.”  Yeah, sweeping it under the rug is the way to deal with this subject.  As long as our attitude about sex is that it’s shameful, bad, taboo or simply not something to be discussed in “polite company”, it’s going to continue causing problems.  It’s high time we stopped such puritanical practices and embraced it, warts and all.