Official News Bulletin…and a Rant

As those of you who read lutherpunk know, we have recently found out that we are expecting our second child. I am thrilled about this. I love being a daddy; now that Lil’ G is a toddler it’ll be nice to have a baby around again too.

I find that the excitement is a little bit subdued on the second go-‘round. The novelty factor isn’t there. Before Lil’ G was born, M and I scoured the stores, read a tall stack of baby books cover to cover, got our hands on most of the pregnancy magazines out there and were seriously—maybe overly—informed. Now, we’ve been through it before. Much of the mystery and attendant anxiety is gone. We’re not expecting this to be a major shake-up of our life and ways of being—Lil’ G already shook things up. While this little one will be an important and precious addition to the family—the major shift has already happened.

The other reason that the excitement is subdued is because the pregnancy—though not the baby(?)—will probably make our current precarious situation even more so. As regular readers know, I’m temporarily living in the City, pulling down a paycheck while M and Lil’ G live in Philly with her parents as she looks for a job. “Temporarily” has now stretched through the summer…and it’s not been easy for any of us being separated.

The primary reason is that the job market sucks. There just aren’t many jobs out there to be had for associates. Rectors, yes, but not associates. Those who are looking for associates want people with years of experience. As a young person who obediently followed God’s call to the ministry from college, M stands to dedicate a good 30+ years of her life to the church. Furthermore, she’s got not one but two degrees from good schools and—more importantly—knows how to take the academic stuff and translate it into practical ministry. We keep hearing how churches want to bring in Gen-X and –Y folk and how we all wish there were more young people in ministry. Apparently they’re wanted—just not here (wherever it is that *here* happens to be). The people hired instead are the second-career people. I know many of them, I’ve taught many of them, I know their strengths and weaknesses as a group better than most. If I were a rector and I wanted to bring in young people with families, I would think that I would want some one of that same age and situation. Clearly I’m not a rector or vestry member in this area.

I fear that M’s pregnancy will hurt her currently slim chances for employment because after however many years—let’s just say “after one generation”—the Episcopal Church and other mainline denominations are not interested in ordaining women. Hold on—let me clarify and make plain *exactly* what I mean by that.

I know people who don’t believe in the ordination of women. Some of these people are very good, close friends of ours; some of them read this site. Most of these friends—if not all—support M in what she does even if they wouldn’t receive the sacrament from her. That’s fine. I have no problem with that—I don’t agree, obviously—but it’s not a huge problem for me. You are where you are on these things.

Individuals aside, there are organizations, church bodies, that don’t believe in the ordination of women (SBC, PCA, RCC, etc.) Okay, great. Most of them take this position because of hermeneutical choices that they have made. As groups, that’s their decision. I’m not willing to say in a blanket fashion that they’re wrong and I’m right—I don’t believe I have that much certainty. I would certainly ask if they’re sure it’s a hermeneutical decision and not just culture masquerading as hermeneutics (I’m sure they wonder the same about me). I just ask that they be consistent with their hermeneutics; if you’re reading one text this way for a certain reason, you’d darn well better be reading *all* of the text that way or the “hypocrite” word may start getting exercised. The thing is—we don’t belong to one of these organizations. Therefore, what they think on the matter has absolutely no bearing on our situation. So where do we belong?

We belong to one of the churches that says it ordains women. In this particular category I’m thinking about the mainline Protestant groups who are easily identified as the ones who put out knee-jerk political statements; if the Right says it they hate it, if the Left says it they love it. Those folks. They say that they ordain women and like to call it a “justice issue.” Hmmm. Then do they act justly with regard to it?

Last time M was down to met with the folk in the diocese where we’re canonically resident to prepare for her diaconal ordination, another comrade went down too. He was a guy. His wife was pregnant. I think they may have given him a word of congratulations; other than that it wasn’t mentioned at all. M—this was a while ago, now, she wasn’t pregnant at all nor were we thinking about it—M got grilled for at least 20 minutes solid about what would happen *if* she might get pregnant She was muchly warned against it. The board expressed themselves quite…thoroughly. I think the upshot of was that she had to get the bishop’s permission before she decided to get pregnant again.

Now that she is pregnant (and without the bishop’s permission no less[!!]) I can see churches being far more willing to use the “experience” card or the “not a good fit” card at the beginning of the application process. Why? Because she may be out of work for six to eight weeks in her first year. Tell me, is this a good reason not to hire somebody?

The thing that pisses me off the most is that this church is one of the ones that proclaims so vehemently that it ordains women—but it really doesn’t want to. It doesn’t want to ordain women unless they’re willing to act like men. As long as you function like a man with breasts they’ll take you. But if you’re a woman of child-bearing years and…bear children…suddenly they want nothing to do with you. It’d be one thing if this were a secular job that involved daily exposure to radiation and toxic chemicals….but it’s not. It’s supposed to be about ministry. It’s supposed to be the church. The one that cares about justice. But they’ll make a big to-do about justice as long as it means they don’t have to get off their asses and actually live up to their fine words.

Maybe other women in the Episcopal Church and other churches don’t have this problem. Maybe I’m way off base. I don’t think so, though. To my mind this is cultural capitulation just as corrosive to the Gospel as other forms. It means that we as a church are still buying into the society that likes to sell with sex than kill the consequences. We have bought into the model—not that we’re men and women with complementary gifts, skills, and dispositions, each having something to say in the proclamation of the whole Gospel—but the model of androgynous clock-punching drones whose purpose in life is to produce and consume. In case anyone’s keeping score, yeah, I blame both the Left and the Right for their own “gifts” to this pathetic sub-human model of existence. Women’s Lib allowed middle-class white women to go to work—and to add a full day of work onto the rest of their domestic chores that middle-class white men haven’t suddenly started doing. By the same token, Corporate America’s labor-units model certainly doesn’t help. Folks, the Gospel has a strong word against this kind of culture. Where is it? Where did we loose it behind fancy talk about divestment and justice that gets really nebulous on specifics and the like? What’s the word from God on these things and why isn’t the Church reading and proclaiming it?

Part of the reason why the Church can take the stance that it has against pregnancy and against children is because, quite simply, the men haven’t been stepping up. We as guys—as daddies—haven’t been claiming our own rights to take our paternity leave and spend quality time with our new-borns. We haven’t let the Church—and other employers—know that we’re not gonna put up with this model. Yeah, there really are “family values” implications to the Gospel and I’m not talking about hating queer folk. Will this mean that employers might start seeing*any* person of child-bearing age as a potential “pregnancy liability”? Maybe. But so be it. We’re not called for the purpose of making our lives easier…

As you’ve probably figured out, part of the source of this post is my frustration with our continuing situation. But that source doesn’t invalidate anything I’m saying here. We’ve been blessed with another little one. That’s what ought to be at the forefront here. But life is never simple. It’s the complexities and turbulences that make you realize that you have to have a rock somewhere. We do have a Rock…but it’s also the Church’s job to proclaim that Rock. May it not be said of us “You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.”

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24 Responses to Official News Bulletin…and a Rant

  1. *Christopher says:

    derek,

    For what it’s worth, from a man who can’t experience this firsthand as a father or husband, muchless as a woman, I’m pissed off with you.

    Men haven’t been stepping up as daddies and husbands, and the way we model Church and the priesthood is on this neglectful model. As if it’s okay to pour yourself completely into your vocation as a priest and forget and neglect your vocations as a husband and father and caregiver and homemaker (alongside the spouse)?!. Think of all the PK’s?

    The finest part of feminism critiques this model and insists on shifting this in, from a Christian perspective, a more Gospel approach.

    As if a priest whose wife is pregnant should not be taking some time off to help when she gives birth? Yes, a full 6-8 weeks if possible! My brother (not a priest, but nonetheless) did just that, taking his two weeks of vacation to help his wife with my nephew. He wished he could’ve taken more.

    And as if a pregnant priest doesn’t present a host of gifts to the community? In terms of priestly imagery, isn’t Holy Mother Mary the model? How about the opportunities this presents to talk about these issues openly? Or get lay folk to step up in leadership? … I could go on…

    I’m frustrated with you, and I’m so sick of the Church blathering on about Gen X and Y when it’s clear many of these folks are just about talk. I want practice!?. And I think, as my brother’s choice, and your own frustrations show, we in Gen X and Y have some values at odds with some non-gospel values being shown by our leadership.

    I’ll keep you, M, G, and the little one taking shape in M’s womb in my prayers. I wish I could do more…

  2. Caelius says:

    Derek, there’s nothing so frustrating to me as a justified rant. You’ve hit the mark so well that I feel very sad that a guy who just has found his wife is pregnant has to live with such worries.

    1. It really burns me that young clergy are finding such a hard time getting jobs. It seems that the Church really has embraced the culture, which tends to keep the younger generations in school or in low impact, low responsibility, and poorly compensated jobs, fueling lives often filled with depression and irresponsibility. My mother always brags that she had a relatively high responsibility job at the age of 25 while she was pregnant with me.

    2. It’s not the same everywhere. My last community had a priest with two children. She was pregnant with the younger at her last parish. Our deacon was pregnant (and then ordained a priest not long after she was delivered). My present parish seems to have a priest who just came back from maternity leave. I say this not because I think your view of the situation is wrong (I think it’s generally right) but to give you hope.

    3. The last time the Church likely had large numbers of women in the clergy, the end of the world was expected to be imminent. Hence, I think bishops are going to have to be the successors of the apostles they are supposed to be and set precedent rather than look to any. But if our church says married clergy are OK [as the Orthodox do in certain cases], the pregnancy in wedlock of a presbyter should be a joy to the ordinary and the community as a whole.

  3. bls says:

    Sorry for your frustration, Derek. Blessings to you both anyway, and why not let the rest of us try to help you by talking openly about it, and forcing people to start listening?

    If any institution ought to be delighted to welcome pregnant women with open arms, it should be the Church. I can’t how a baby could possibly be an impediment to a woman doing her job in such a situation; it’s a lot easier in a Church job to arrange your life around the needs of a child, I’d think. No room at the inn, though, ironically, eh? Well, take my word for it: we can change this, but it will take time and effort. The Church’s usual glacial pace, I bet.

    I’m sorry that meantime you have to spend so much time apart from your family. Can you work your own schedule around this in any way? It’s a long commute, that’s for sure, but maybe a couple of days a week, it wouldn’t be so bad.

    I really agree about the hiring of young clergy, too; there should be lots, lots more of it. Actually, around here that is happening more and more – so maybe there’s hope for you, too. Can you widen your search net?

    And maybe go to the Rev Gals webring and ask around?

  4. Anastasia says:

    you know I’m ambivalent about the ordination of women, but I do think that if a church say it is going to ordain women, they should *ordain women* and that means accepting all the messiness that women bring like those pesky pregnancies and babies. once you’ve decided to do it, you cannot play these games. period.

  5. LutherPunk says:

    Derek –

    First of all, congratulations and many many blessings to you, the Rev, and little G. If baby number 2 is as cute as G is, then you guys are exceeding your quota!

    I am really sorry to hear that you all have been living in separate cities. I can’t even imagine. What I find even more mind boggling is that the Church has led you guys to this point. I am both saddened and angered that M, who I know will be a good and faithful parish priest, is being treated this way. She is more educated and dedicated than most clerics I know who have full time posts. I really hate this for you both. I do not think it is an understatement to say that this is an outrage.

    I am currently engaged in a debate about my own paternity leave. The synod recommends – but does not enforce – parental leave of six weeks for a birth or adoption. I did not push the issue when the adoption process started for my son, because he is 10 and will be in school when all is finalized. But I am pushing over leave when Ezel brings our little one into the world. The parish seems pretty open to this, but there are a few who are rolling their eyes. Of course, the ones rolling their eyes are the ones who made snide comments about me buying a new truck. “Looks like a flashy truck, Pastor. Wish I could afford one.” Perhaps I should tie my children to the hood of my old car. Jerks! Yeah, and I wish you had spent 10 years and $100K on your education to get a job where you are on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week, with a salary far lower than others with similar levels of education.

    I think it is sad that many Christians simply see their clergy as hired hands. When they are happy with us, we are an asset to the community. When they disapprove, then we are a liability. And God forbid we say that we need to go home and spend some time with our family.

    Many (not all) second career people piss me off to no end. They work for years, amass a savings get their kids out the door and through college, and then whatever is left over they offer in Christian service. Guess what? God doesn’t want your damn table scraps. Meanwhile, they enter the Church’s pension systems, raising premiums for all of us. They get scholarships and grants, costing the Church money, and offer only a few years of service in return. As for those of us in our late 20’s and early 30’s, who have decades of service to offer, well, we are told to pay our dues. We are told this in spite of the fact that we are generally more prepared for parish life than people who have spent 20+ years climbing corporate ladders. Christ’s Holy Church is NOT a corporation!

    Believe it or not, I did not intend this to be another rant. I feel great anger with you at the state of the Church.

    I knew long ago, even in the midst of personal struggle, that God had called me to be a pastor in His church. And yet, I know realize that the greatest source of joy I have ever experienced is that God has also called to be a husband and a father. I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that my baptismal vows are most clearly fulfilled here. I also know that my ordination vows are fulfilled in family as well. How can I give pastoral care to families when I fail to provide it to my own family?

    Please know that the three (well…four) of you are in my prayers. May God do what only God can do! I wish you all an abudance of blessings!

  6. Emily says:

    Derek,

    I’m afraid the current conflict has made the situation in our church all that more precarious for young women clergy. Tighter budgets and conflict often leads to scapegoating those with the least power.

    I am extremely empathetic and struggling with finding that “next job” myself right now. I wish the situation were different for all of us. You’ll be in my prayers.

    But above all, congratulations on your news!

  7. Derek the Ænglican says:

    Thanks to all for your comments and encouragement. I’m painfully aware that I *never was* aware of these issues before I had a wife and a daughter. I find myself thinking about “women’s” issues (the quotes because they’re normally about all of us, not just women…) more now than I did before.

    It will be a time and we will get through it. I went early to Mass the other day to spend some time in prayer on this whole issue and at some point in prayer realized that my thoughts were drowning something out…when I stopped talking I heard the thought that this will be a time of shaping and had an image of a lump of clay being kneaded over and over.

    Was it God? Who knows…I’m inclined to think I need to buckle down for the long haul but the living situation ought to stabilize one way or the other soon; we refuse to keep this up much longer…

  8. bls says:

    Well, this is another reason to work harder to help the Church to grow. We need to get you all jobs.

    Derek, it’s definitely true that some period in life are a crucible of formation; without them, we can’t become who we’re supposed to be. I think that’s what you’re saying there.

    I’ve been thinking, BTW – but not daring to say aloud – that every time we turn around you see….um….a bunch of guys debating eveybody else’s fates. This has certainly been the case during the current brouhaha, and no offense meant to those of the male persuasion here. It’s incredibly frustrating, sometimes – and maybe just a continuing feature of the Church.

    And I have to agree it’s just as bad on the “Left” as on the “Right,” in general. This is true in most every other walk of life also: guys still hold the reins of power – and won’t let go – no matter how “liberal” they say they are.

    Ordinarily, it doesn’t bother me much. But here’s one situation where it’s a real pain in the you-know-what for everybody.

    Anyway, we’re thinking of you. I’ll say a prayer for you guys tonight, and hope you’ll be in each others’ company, at least, soonest.

  9. bls says:

    (BTW, I’m pretty sure we could do a heavy-duty shaming number on the high mucketies, over the “having to get the bishop’s permission to get pregnant” thing. If you’re up for that, that is.

    Could be fun!

    ;-)

    )

  10. Derek the Ænglican says:

    Yep, that’s what I’m sayin’…

    One of the reasons why I can’t ever see myself going Left is beacuse most of the Left folks I know talk about the ideals, then never follow through. Sure, the Right can be a bunch of heartless bastards but at least they don’t pretend that they’re not…

    Lefties–prove me wrong. Please! :-D

    Prayers are *always* appreciated.

  11. Derek the Ænglican says:

    Thanks for the offer, bls, but I’m not sure anyone would listen. Especially now with all else going on. It was a committee comment, see, and thus *nobody’s* responsible…

  12. LutheranChik says:

    As I am finding out in my own low-level involvement with the Powers That Be in my denomination…there’s a lot of political bullshit — reactionary political bullshit, too — that goes on behind all the smiley-faced, “We are such a progressive denomination.” It’s a lot like academia in that respect.

    Anyhow, baby congrats, and you all will be in my prayers. Pray to the Lord of the harvest for workers, indeed.

  13. *Christopher says:

    Oh, the nobody’s responsible bit. I just love that one. BS. That’s all I can say. If you say something as vicious as that to a young woman on her way to becoming a priest, you deserve a good swift kick in the balls.

    Derek I empathize most with “we refuse to keep this up much longer”. Though we’re in far different contexts, your story hurts and if there is anything we can do, do ask. I’m sure others here feel the same way.

  14. LutherPunk says:

    I am all for more swift kicks to the balls! I knew I liked *Christopher for a reason!

  15. LutheranChik says:

    I think I might explore this point a bit more on my own blog in the near future, but…while it’s easy (and often accurate) to point out top-down institutional sexism, there is also a tremendous problem with sexism and other bigotries at the pew level. Oftentimes it’s the recalcitrant laypeople in a parish who put the brakes on any kind of positive social change. They don’t want to call a female clerrgyperson because “We’ve never had a woman priest/pastor before…”…”What if people get mad and leave?”…”What if she gets pregnant?” — that whole gutless, mindless litany of Why We Can’t Do Something New.

  16. Annie says:

    I think it would be perfectly charming to have a pregnant priest! Think of the implications! I’m in love with the idea. And, then there is the whole virgin Mary thing (Christopher is the one who created the vision by what he wrote). I’ve always been a big “madonna and child” fan.

    I’m ashamed of our church. That glass ceiling is everywhere. It certainly is here for financial managers of the feminine persuasion. While I was pregnant with my third, I was trying to find a job. It was embarrassing. I gave up on the job hunting and focused on the pregnancy.

    Oh, congratulations, btw! Yes, the first one is the only one that we experience that mystery and anxiety about. Although you haven’t experienced it yet, we actually get to enjoy the second one more than the first, and the third one more than the second. Relaxing is a good thing.

    Annie

  17. Derek the Ænglican says:

    I remember reading somewhere, T19 I think {but I can’t find it there so maybe it was somewhere els), a story about a sudden surge in numbers ina local conservative church one Sunday. When a member asked a visitor the reply was that another local church had a supply priest–a pregnant woman–and it bothered a number of the parishioners so much that they refused to attend while she was there. Needless to say it’s a story however anecdotal that’s been on my mind recently…

  18. Derek the Ænglican says:
  19. bls says:

    That whole thread is frightening to me. It’s like dropping into a nightmare from which you can’t awaken.

    I don’t even understand what anybody’s talking about, to be honest, and actually I’m sort of grateful for that. I don’t think I want to know. I notice that the loathing of homosexuals is never far from anybody’s minds and thoughts, either. And BTW: definitely blame it on the feminists!

    Scary.

  20. bls says:

    (And that story in the previous post is so sad, really.

    But it does go to show that the human race needs a Savior at every moment, so at least there’s that.)

  21. Annie says:

    I wonder what is so difficult about being a Christian if a Christian can malign scripture to defend his own bias?

    On Titus 1:9 I laughed at the comment about the sacrificial bull! Thus, the priest must be a “bull.” I must wonder if it ought to be unblemished, then? Perhaps we should sacrifice him? From such narrow points of view, I wonder that the blood of Christ himself is insufficient for the sins of mankind?

    I was just quitting the church over the other controversy as I thought this one had been settled thirty years ago. I ranted again. I’m shamefully willing to rant. But perhaps I should refuse to take communion among those so full of pride, so wicked that they cannot follow the first two commandments.

    Annie

  22. Sarah Dylan Breuer says:

    As a fellow female unemployed church staffer, I’m very sympathetic to your family’s plight, and I wish as a society that we made it easier for ALL parents with family-friendly laws and generous family leave policies (for those caring for an ailing parent as well as those caring for a newborn child).

    I have to say, though, in response to your saying:

    “Folks, the Gospel has a strong word against this kind of culture. Where is it? … What’s the word from God on these things and why isn’t the Church reading and proclaiming it?”

    … that one of the texts that should be brought to bear in the discussion is Matthew 19:12:

    “There are eunuchs who have been so from brith, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.”

    … and another is Paul’s discussion of marriage and sexuality in 1 Corinthians 7.

    Some people choose to have and care for children, and as parents they take up their cross, follow Jesus, and give their all to raising their children as disciples (which hopefully includes service to the world as well). Some people choose NOT to have children, making themselves “eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom” so that they’ll have more time, energy, and freedom to go wherever God calls them and care for other people’s children.

    Both sets of choices involve sacrifice. Couples who choose to have children are giving up some degree of freedom, perhaps some progress in their careers, and some things that they might have been more able to afford if they were childless. On the other hand, having children (especially within marriage) is one of the things anthropologists call “redemptive media” in our culture — “redemptive media” being those things that people in a given culture do to be seen as good, respectable, and successful. Think of it this way: do you know ANY parents of adult children who are pressuring them NOT to give them grandchildren? There are certain things that, in our dominant culture, people feel sorry for you if you haven’t done by the time you turn 45 — graduate from high school and hopefully college, hold a steady job, own a home, get married (or at least a life partner), and have children. With children comes a greater degree of respectability in our culture.

    People who choose not to have children (or not to pursue fertility treatments, surrogate parenting, or adoption, if those procedures are even available to them) often have an easier time moving if a new job or a stint in seminary requires it, and don’t have to worry about finding child care during evening meetings. Sometimes they have more money to spend than they would have if they were parents (and sometimes they pledge the extra money to the church or give it to charity). They give up the blessings of parenthood, though, and get a lot of grief in our culture. As someone who doesn’t have children of my own, I often get told (including in church settings and during the ordination process) that it’s an indication that I’m selfish, and that I’ll never be a good priest if I don’t become a parent. Personally, I think of my not being a parent partly as a result of circumstance (I did not want to be a single parent if I could avoid it, so I wasn’t going to adopt, go through IVF fertilization, or something else if I was still single), and now that I am settled down with a partner in a home that we own, I still wonder whether God might be calling me to be one of those “eunuchs for the kingdom.” I see that choice as a very real and substantial sacrifice, but I also know that it would be MUCH harder for me to spend so much time doing things like the ‘Count Me Faithful’ youth gathering at GC 2003, the young people’s retreats I lead, and the countless coffees and ice creams with other people’s teenage sons and daughters if I had children of my own to think about and care for.

    I think the Roman Catholic church has got it wrong in REQUIRING clerical celibacy, but I think that one point in their theology behind that — specifically that, as in St. Paul’s case, a person who lives in Christian community but does not have a spouse and children *can* (is s/he has the gifting for this — if not, having a family is FAR preferable to a lifetime of frustration) make a person more available to love the world, and to make the real investments of time and care in people in need who aren’t biologically or matrimonially related.

    I hope your wife finds a job soon (and I hope I do too!). I hope that she doesn’t get ruled out for positions just because she’s going to have a child. I also hope that I don’t get ruled out for any positions because I DON’T have a child (I’ve been warned that this will probably happen). It’s just as unfair to assume that a childless priest won’t be able to bring in families with children as it is to assume that a priest who’s young won’t be able to provide effective pastoral care for elderly parishioners. It’s unfair to assume that a clergy spouse will function essentially as an unpaid staff member, and it’s unfair to assume that a single priest will spend her every spare hour toiling for the church and not having anything like a personal life.

    I guess I’ve rambled enough, but I’ll put it concisely: the job market is tough all over. Your wife may be hearing rumblings that some parishes won’t consider her because she’s pregnant, but other people are hearing rumblings that parishes won’t consider them because they don’t have children, or because they’re young, or because they’re middle-aged. I think your family’s situation says a lot more about how tough the job market is at present than it does about the Church, or the Episcopal Church, wanting clergy or female clergy not to have children; societal pressure still is on men AND women to marry and have children — in many cases, even if they don’t have emotional and spiritual resources to offer a child, and end up outsourcing WAY too much of their childrearing to teachers, coaches, clergy, and church volunteers.

  23. LutheranChik says:

    We have quite a large number of female clergy in my rural area, in Episcopal, Presbyterian, United Methodist and UCC churches — considering how socially conservative this area is. I think it’s a matter of desperation — female clergy are the only ones willing to do hard duty up here in Terra Incognita;-), and the congregations wind up reluctantly calling them. But in at least two of the churches I can think of, the female clergy have really turned around moribund little congregations and made them “happening” places.

  24. Gracious Light says:

    Sorry, I didn’t reply to this one earlier. I was on vacation.

    This one really chaffs my ass. To be honest, one of the reasons Sooz and I have not had kids yet is because of this very issue. We have both known women who were asked when they were planning on having children and when tehy said soon, they were denied ordination because of an inability to itenerate. How horrible is it to put off having children out of fear that you cannot do what you are called to do.

    On top of that, I have heard decision-makers in Methodism complain that women clergy are ‘invested in for a lifetime of ministry’ and then they work a few years, take a few years off, work a few years more, take a few years off. The rationale of being leery of such women is that it is more financially astute to invest in a man or a woman who is not to have children (but aren’t there always fears that she is a lesbian, then?). But our polity allows for both maternity and paternity leave (Paid!). It doesn’t make sense.

    Isn’t it funny, the church wants children in the parsonage/ manse/ rectory but they do not want their clergy to be pregnant?

    And for a church to not be willing to hire someone because they are pregnant… isn’t there something discriminatory about that? Aren’t there laws about that?

    But I have to let the other shoe drop. Personally, it upsets me when women see their primary function in life is to be a baby factory on the one hand and at the same time treat my life’s calling and vocation as if it is something to pass the time. Some women are in the Junior League, others volunteer with the PTA, others decide to go to seminary and be a clergyperson in their free time. Isn’t there a degree of having one’s cake and eating it too? I must say I resonate with Christopher on this one. To embrace feminism and then and turn around to impose an archiac gender-role division of familial responsibilities on men when its time have kids in wrong. Just as I will have to be both a full-time clergy and a full-time Dad and a full-time husband one day, so will Susan have to be a full-time clergy, a full-time Mom, and a full-time wife.

    While I agree with what has been written here that first order of understand is as a child of God, secondly as located within my family, and somewhere down there as clergy, when rubber hits the road that calling is not diminished simply because Jr. comes into play. I know I’m sounding like a pig but what if I come home when the as-yet-not-conceived-hypothetical child is 2 and say, “Dear. I quit my job today. You have to go find a parish full-time. I’ll tkae care of Jr. until (s)he goes of the kindergarten.” It sounds a bit weird doesn’t it? Is the weirdness simply because I am a man?

    Don’t hear me wrongly. I fully embrace the ordination of women. I think to not do so is putting on huge blinders about what Scripture says regarding instructions of how we are to live together before God, how Christian community is ordered, and what it looks like. Furthermore, I think that clergy marriage is a good thing. But I think that churches have to realize that in todays world, where two income families are the norm (and not a bad thing!) clergy cannot delve all their energy into the church like some type of neo-romantic hero. We used to laud clergy who sacrificed everything for their job. We laud them still, but the ones who aren’t as slick are getting defrocked all over the place.

    Enough about my rant.

    I know I owe you a phone call. Congrats on the baby. Y’all remain in my prayers as job-stuff gets sorted out.
    Anyway, enough about my rant.

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