the 15th of January

So in a sense we made it, we got to a milestone in that from today , the 15th of January H__ could have her own church, a church in which she is the minister and I am officially the ministers wife.
This could happen soon or it could be in another year, it may not happen at all but it theoretically could happen, she is someone ready to be called. What does that mean? What lies ahead?
I don’t think it’s been an understatement to say that I’ve been completely dislocated by this whole experience of moving to somewhere that was in some sense chosen by people I don’t know, it was something that I was prepared to do but I never really settled and if truth be told I liked living in Dublin. Belfast has been a struggle,perhaps I resented different things too much.

I never really liked Belfast even when I was a student in Queens, I know lots of people love it but we just haven’t gelled at all. And I’ve been a nightmare to live with, I’ve withdrawn from people and being unemployed (or strictly speaking self employed) means that I’ve been hermit like.

So part of me wonders what the next move will be like? What will happen now that we’ve more of a say in our options? Yet also we’ve also less options because there are some churches that disagree with women ministers and won’t be interested. The major fear is that our next move will be as hard as this move was. That freaks me out. I’d like home of sorts, not just a house. So 15th January, you’ve been marked, a little stone alter of blog words has been left. Exile was tough, I want a home.


the big one – married to the minister no.4

…except it’s not my last post as I nearly forgot the most obvious difficulty about being married to woman who is a pastor namely that many good Christians think that only a man should be leading a church and teaching men. Some people very obviously believe it is a sin while with others you aren’t sure what they are really thinking but suspect they think the same but won’t say.

I’ve thought about this many times but maybe not as many times as a man in my position might have been expected to.
The main reason is something of what I’d mentioned in the first post.

The traditional role of a minister has been built up and inflated out of proportion to what it actually is and should be in my opinion. It is seen as the key position, the most important position in any church as if that church should call a duffer then things start to go wrong.

It would be silly of me to say that they’re is not some truth in that as if you’ve a minister teaching things that just aren’t true (like Roman Catholics can’t be saved for example or that you shouldn’t enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two) then things will go wrong.

But at the same time there is too much emphasis and prestige placed around the minister/pastor/vicar as the leader of a church. Their position matters too much.

Because it is seen as the key position the debate about whether women should be in the position of church leadership takes a more prominent position than maybe it should and is blown out of proportion.  Some people seem to think that if we don’t get this right they’re won’t be a revival and we’re off to hell in a hand basket.

Again I’m not saying it isn’t important to think about these issues but perhaps there are more burning, pressing issues out there to be getting our knickers in a twist about? What about injustice or encouraging people in their work and dealing people who have no hope?

Which is why I’ve not thought about it that much. At the end of the day we don’t have to answer to anyone but God. And I live with the evidence and the evidence is everything you could possibly want in a pastor and more.

Besides often the debate isn’t really about the question of women in ministry but how Christian’s should interpret or read the Bible. The debates and fights for truth over issues like this aren’t about whether ____ would be suitable as a minister but over the authority of the Bible and how we should interact with it. The issue over homosexuality as well is maybe more about how people read and treat the Bible than issues of sexuality. For some Christians I know it is very important that life is black and white, right or wrong with no room for shades of grey and things that don’t really matter that much. They like to major on the minor’s as my friend Trevor used to say.

Many Presbyterians I know and have known will insist that the Bible is literally true and that if you don’t submit to it’s authority, even the difficult bits you are sinning.

S0 when Paul writes in a personal letter to one man that he’s doesn’t permit women to teach in church it seems fairly obvious to them that applies to all women from then until now. But does it?

They’ll talk about Greek words and context and arguments from Genesis and this and that while forgetting that the ordinary man on the street just doesn’t care.

They just want to know that if they’re mother is terminally ill someone from the church will come and visit and pray with them. They want to know that someone cares for them when they’re struggling with life. They want to know that someone is praying for them or that if they loose their job it will be OK.

Again I’m not saying that it isn’t important or a vital position but it doesn’t seem to have sunk in that all people occupy an important and vital position in the scheme of things.  The teachers, bin men, farmers, Tesco workers all have a ministry and matter as much as the minister.
Put simply there is too much emphasis on the role of the pastor and what he/she does or doesn’t do.
There is too much expectation and pressure with the position and by default with the family of a minister to be something more than an ordinary pilgrim struggling with things as much as the next person.

What would happen if a minister got up on Sunday morning and said how they really had been that week?
How they are struggling with addiction, or clinically depressed, or had been having huge fights with their spouse?
How they didn’t trust God as they are sick of having no money to go on a simple holiday or to buy a new car?
How they struggled with family members or struggled with pornography or said the church should be  welcoming but didn’t really like anyone?
How they had lied that week or were greedy, how they had thrown the sermon together at the last minute and didn’t really believe the words they where saying?

The list goes on and on yet it seems to be a matter for most if not all ministers to suck it up every week and be expected to churn out an inspirational sermon whether they feel like it or not, even whether they truly believe it or not.
It is their job and much like you would get the sack if you didn’t turn up for work on Monday morning and do your job so the church minister is obliged to do a sermon whether they feel like it or not.

The disconnect is hard though isn’t it?
If all the stuff someone like myself has been taught in church over the years is true then this Jesus stuff should be life changing and we should be whole people.
If we’re fundamentally doubting inside but saying things on the outside that sound good and correct surely that doesn’t mean we’re whole people at all.
Isn’t that why Jesus hammers the Pharisees in Matthew 23?

It’s hypocritical.

As a spouse how can someone help their husband/wife to be a whole, healthy person if  their job and the expectations of the job put them on some type of treadmill that doesn’t allow them to be a whole, healthy person?