Won’t Somebody Please Think of the Children??!!

Annie and Helen

I’m engaged to a seminary student, and it’s slowly starting to sink in that in a few years I’m going to be “the pastor’s wife” (or rather, husband in my case). The idea of being the first lady of a church is a bit daunting, so I’ve decided I should start getting in the habit of doing pastor’s spouse-y things. I don’t want Chris to get off to a bad start just because I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing.

As my model for what “pastor’s spouse-y” things actually entail, I was going to use Annie Camden from 7th Heaven, but it turns out the guy who played the pastor in the show is a creep. So maybe I’ll go with Helen Lovejoy from the Simpsons. I think I can pull off gossipy and dramatic better than kind and encouraging anyway.

Writing a blog seems like a thing Helen Lovejoy would do – posting sanctimonious lectures that are passive-aggressively aimed at particular, but unnamed, members of the congregation (“I’m always so disappointed when I see some people checking social media on their smart phones during services”). Since it’ll be a couple years before Chris is serving at a church, I don’t yet have anyone to lecture. But I can at least practice being self-righteous and outraged.

I’m actually looking forward to taking on the role of pastor’s spouse. I keep telling Chris that I’ve been preparing my whole life for that calling. I was raised in the church, went to Lutheran elementary schools, and attended a Lutheran college. After coming out in my mid-20s, instead of doing the rational thing and becoming agnostic or atheist, like most of my gay friends, I stuck with Christianity and Lutheranism, even though the church is huge part of what makes the whole painful “coming out” process necessary. In grad school I often felt like an anomaly, surrounded as I was by godless liberal academics. Some friends would jokingly introduce me as their “Lutheran friend,” the token practicing Protestant in a community of atheists, agnostics, and a few cultural Catholics.

I even attempted to become a pastor myself at one point. I applied to seminary not long after finishing undergrad. However, on the application I made the mistake of answering the questions on personal sexuality honestly (I figured it just wouldn’t do to begin a career as a Man of the Cloth with a lie). I will say that the seminary was very gracious in their rejection, going so far as to call me in Argentina (where I was serving as a volunteer music teacher) to explain, in kindly and almost apologetic fashion, why I, as a gay man (albeit a gay man who, at the time, was willing to remain celibate), would not be a good fit for Christian ministry.

Back then, as I was trying to make sense of why I felt called to the ministry if I was so unfit to be a pastor, I couldn’t imagine a time when LGBT Christians would be welcomed into the ministry, especially those married to a person of the same gender. I am super grateful to the women and men who worked so hard to make a place in society for the LGBT community. And to those who weren’t satisfied with that, but endeavored to make a place for LGBT folks in the church too. It’s thanks to the tireless efforts of these advocates and activists that Chris is able to respond to his call to the ministry without sacrificing a relationship and marriage with the person he loves.

I think we have a responsibility to these LGBT pioneers to make the most of the opportunities they worked so hard for us to have. I know Chris is more than up to the task – he’s going to make an amazing pastor. I, on the other hand, will need to work at it a little harder – a little more Annie Camden and a little less Helen Lovejoy. So I guess that means this blog will probably entail more message and advocacy than drama and gossip. Though the latter is sometimes more fun, the former is more effective in helping make the world a better place. After all, somebody has to think of the children!!!

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