Friday, February 18, 2011

Looking for a few good "Clergy-Hubbies"

No matter what happens, live in a way that brings honor to the good news about Christ. Then I will know that you stand firm with one purpose. I may come and see you or only hear about you. But I will know that you work together as one person. And I will know that you work to spread the teachings of the good news. So don't be afraid in any way of those who oppose you. That will show them that they will be destroyed and that you will be saved. That's what God will do. (Philippians 1:27-28)

First off a shout out to my new friends at the RevGalPals blog ring. There are more women clergy out there than most people realize (I don't mean to say that they're "out there" - although I'm sure some of them probably are - aren't we all!). The Rev-Gal-Pals provide an excellent forum for conversation.

But - and this is becoming a real concern to me - even though a lot of my new friends are married, I'm not managing to make that many connections with fellow members of the Clergy-Hubby club...?

Do you want to know who reads "The Preachers Husband"? Well, it boils down to two main categories:
  • Preachers - both men and women...
  • and then - People Who Simply Enjoy my Writing. 
  • Fact is, more "Preacher's Wives" read this blog than "Preacher's Husbands".
So what gives, fellow nurturers of awesome Rev-Gals?
- Are there particular issues you need addressed?
- Are you maybe too busy serving in your faith community to read blogs?
- Are you not that interested in what you perceive as stereotypical roles?
- Are you desperately trying to keep a low profile and hoping that I'll just go away?
- Are you unsure of what it really means to serve God in this unique capacity?
- Or do you have ongoing doubts and you're simply afraid to voice them?

On the one hand, ours really is a unique calling. Then, on the other, there's absolutely nothing about being The Preacher's Husband that's not exactly the same as being The Preacher's Wife.

But what does seem to be different is the in-general willingness of Clergy-Hubbies to stand up and claim the role, and to step into being the pastor's spouse with the kind of confidence and commitment that our Rev-Gal needs.

Now she might not be so willing as her male colleagues to confess that she needs anything - even you. Because perceived need, after all, is one of those huge double-standard issues used to bludgeon female clergy. The "I-can-do-it-myself" malady is not surprising considering the barriers so many women are forced to negotiate. You can only "prove yourself" so many times before losing balance and setting up permanent camp on the toxic self-sufficiency side of the line.

Meanwhile, the RevGals' male colleagues lean heavily on their spouse for every conceivable kind of support from "prayer partner" to "amateur therapist" to "make my home a sanctuary/refuge, I need it" to "best friend" to "cheerleader in chief" and everything in between.

And there's nothing wrong with that because ministry is a tough job to pull off solo. The irony is that so many women pull off "all this and more" because they:
- A) Believe they're supposed to be tougher than the men...
- B) Live in a culture where skepticism and doubt still shadow their ministry...
- C) Don't want anyone to think they need their husbands to pitch in...
- D) Don't occupy a position where their spouse would be "allowed" that privilege....
- E) Don't have a Clergy-Hubby who really "gets" it...
 -F) Still - in their hearts - are trying to prove something to themselves....

Women are strong. Rev-Gals especially. I get it.
That said, it's still the responsibility of every Clergy-Hubby out there to love-nurture-encourage-support-serve their heart out!

Let me hear from some of you. Your voice is important.
  • Rev-Gals - please pass this on to your friends/husbands/colleagues/contacts/seminary connections. 
  • Pastor's Husbands - I need some feedback, pronto. Am I wrong about all this?
  • Church members - What's your take? Do you think female clergy are short-changed in the "helpful spouse" department?
"No matter what happens, live in a way that brings honor to the good news about Christ..."



  1. Derek,

    It took me three years to finally figure out that God was calling me -- a woman raised in the Southern Baptist tradition -- into ministry. Once I named it out loud, the first thing my husband said was, "Well I was wondering when you would figure that out!" His second was to say , "I'm calling Leigh Kammerer to see what being a minister's spouse is all about." At the time Leigh was the only male minister spouse we knew, and he obviously was of help because here we are, 20 years later! I'm forwarding you blog to my husband John and to Leigh, husband of United Methodist Bishop Charlene Kammerer.

    (Rev.) Mary

  2. One thing that is observable about you and Rebekah is to see that you both genuinely believe in the feminist ideals. NOT the pseudo-feminism of most 'high-powered' (heaven defend us from that idea being one of pastoral position--although too often it is seen that way) women who in order to get where they want to be in life, force their husbands to either be under their domination, reverse Patriarchy, I suppose you could call it. So many women in public ministry look and sound a lot like the women I know in the legal profession and in investment banking. They become hard, they look and act mannish. You only have to look at the way Presiding Bishop Katherine Schori of my own denomination acts to see what I mean by that. She's determined to prove herself 'as good as a man'.

    Whereas I don't think that's true feminist theology, nor do I think it's the biblical picture. I genuinely believe that what we need to see in the church, and in life in general is not women allowed into the top echelon of a hierarchical system, but rather a total abandonment of this idea. It's like the Church has managed to 'get' where Paul writes that there is 'No Male or Female' in Christ Jesus, so what we're going to do is turn our women into the kind of hard men that we think get somewhere in capitalist society, but has missed the bit 'no slave or free,' and totally missed the idea that Jesus taught of 'the first shall be last' in the Kingdom. The Church as the outplaying of the Kingdom of God should be the place where men and women in pastoral roles are not looking for power, for the ability to manipulate others and force their vision onto them, rather it should be a place where we are recognizing and fulfilling God's calling, and those whom are called to pastoral ministry, whether male or female need to be able to embrace who they are. I think actually we need male pastors who are more willing to embrace their softer, 'feminine' (although I think this is a false difference, personally), compassionate and above all Christ-like side. Above all else what we don't need is what too many of the women in pastoral ministry seem to be... desperate to prove themselves as good as men. The men aren't doing a good job of it, clergy abuse scandals are rampant, many male clergy are controlling and hurtful.

    But I'm just a pew-sitter (and a theology student on his feminist theology high horse)

  3. Tim, Mary - you both have left very helpful comments. Thanks.
    Tim - I plan to quote you and discuss some of the important issues you air in my next posting. So my response to you will be more complete in a couple of days....

  4. I am so encouraged to stumble across your blog. Hope ignites within. I have been looking for you...