10 More Reasons Why Being a Male Pastor is Better

12If you haven’t read the first post, 12 Reasons Why Being a Male Pastor is Better, read it here.

So when my wife, Courtenay, and I came up with the first 12 reasons “why being a male pastor is better”, I did not expect my little blog to get shared so widely. Many readers submitted even more reasons in the comments. Some are funny, others are heartbreaking, others will make you shake your head, still others are infuriating. Naming them all is important, otherwise they will continue to be the way of silent privilege for men in the church. You can find all submissions for the list in the comments section of the first post, “12 Reasons Why Being a Male Pastor is Better”.

Courtenay and I have come up with 10 more. The first 4 are ours. The 5 after that are our favourites compiled from the comments. Number 10 is the biggest reason of all.

1. People will never tell me “how professional” I look in a collar. In public, people are only weirded out because a pastor/priest is near by, not because my gender “doesn’t match” who traditionally wears my uniform.

2. I am never asked to be on larger church committees so that there can be a “representative man”. My role on larger church committees is never to constantly remind the group “him, he, his” are pronouns that apply to pastors too.

3, I get invited to the men’s breakfast AND the ladies’ bible study. No one thinks it is weird for me to show up at the men’s breakfast because of my gender, and it is also not weird that I lead the ladies’ bible study. Weird.

4. I can write blog posts on ‘women in ministry’ and even the nay-sayers are fairly respectful in the comments. The best part is that my thoughts about a gender, which I have no experience being and struggle to understand most days, is considered more authoritative.

From the comments on the first post. (some of have been edited or re-written to fit the style of the list)

5. My style, wardrobe or clothing are not up for public judgement. My clergy shirts by default, do not look like a woman’s blouse that I am trying to hide my maleness under. I will never get more comments about my shoes, my hair, my nails, or my makeup than comments on my sermon on any given Sunday. How I dress has never been an item for discussion by a church committee. In fact, my physical body is not the first thing used to describe me when my parishioners talk about who I am with their friends. No one tells me I have ‘nice legs’.   – Nadia Bolz Weber, Amanda Zentz-Alo, Wendy

6. No one expects me to cook or bake. I am not expected to provide cakes or cookies for the bake sale, or salad for a funeral dinner or potluck. If I do supply a dish for a church event, it is OK for me to pick up something at the store instead of making it myself. Most people don’t expect me to be a good cook just because of my gender.  – Dixie Anders, Rev Lisa Jo, Sandy

7. No one treats me like I am not well read, less intelligent or not as professional simply because of my gender. No one questions my scholarship or intellect – “Does the Bible really say that?” “Where did you read that?” – because a man would not know these things as well as other genders might. –  David Corliss

8. It is tolerated, even thought acceptable, for me to show anger. I am not prevented from being direct and passionate in the pulpit because it is unlike my gender. I can disagree with people or call out bad behaviour without being dismissed as divisive or emotional. – David Corliss

9. Most people won’t judge me publicly about my family life. My parenting skills and work/home-life balance is not publicly questioned simply because my gender is supposed to raise children. Yet, when I show openness to children, I am praised for being nurturing, not simply expected to be. I am not expected to be the Martha Stewart of the parsonage because that should come naturally to me. – Kathleen Lambert

And finally, the biggest reason why being a male pastor is better:

10. No one will ever tell me that, because of my gender, God will not call me into ordained/pastoral ministry. I am not excluded from any role in the church, simply because a biological coin toss gave me certain plumbing. I will never be told that my gender is the cause of all sin and therefore I can’t even teach the other. My gender doesn’t relegate me to “silence” in church or “submission” in the home. I will never be told that the Bible “clearly” explains (when it doesn’t) that I can’t be a pastor simply because it “says so”.

This, of course, is the ultimate in male privilege in the church. And this last one is the most aggravating for me. For liberal and progressive Christians, this is one of the ‘big elephants’ in the church. Except that, I see myself as liberal, progressive AND orthodox AND apostolic AND in keeping with the tradition of the church. Because radical equality is the theology of Jesus and Paul. Patriarchy is 1st century cultural baggage…  baggage that men still force women to carry 20 centuries later. For church leaders who claim that the bible prevents women from being pastors – it is a convenient way to exercise control and conserve power.

But institutionalized patriarchy is not faithful to the over-arching theology of the New Testament. It is not faithful to the way Christians have understood how we interpret scripture as a community and with our greatest theologians including Thecla, St. Augustine, Julian of Norwich, Martin Luther, and now Pope Francis. It is not faithful to the witness of Sarah, Miriam, Esther, Ruth, Mary the Mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Junia, Phoebe and all the others who preached the good news.

For those who want to keep women out of the pulpit, it isn’t about being faithful – it is about the fact that being a male pastor is “better”.

For more on women in ministry check out – 12 Years a Slave – Why Women should be Equal in the Church

So what do you think? What points still could be added to the list? Share in the comments!

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37 thoughts on “10 More Reasons Why Being a Male Pastor is Better”

  1. Male pastors who are also married to ministers also never have to hear, “Oh, so you’re a pastor too! Did you hear that, they are both pastors?” Or, “Well, good for you!” They will also never become an instant “celebrity” for being a minister of their gender in their particular denomination while visiting somewhere! I was once introduced than entire restaurant by a waitress who had never met a Baptist Female Minister before!

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  2. We had an Anglican priest who was a woman in our church growing up. We called her Father Carol. I never thought it was weird. Now I wonder what it was like for her.

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  3. Great lists! Appreciated the insight. We are a clergy couple, too, and it’s a unique world to be in, isn’t it! I’m going to share these lists with my text study group tomorrow. It should be fun! Blessings!

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  4. im wearing my clerical collar at work all the time (for several reasons). right across from where i work is a grocery store. i often go there to get coffee or lunch. and one day the lady at the till asked me “are you a Sister?” and i answered “no, im a Father” …

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  5. I was and will never be referred to as “the golden boy” as some of my colleagues are referred to and even refer to themselves as. Thank you for this well written article and its predecessor.

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  6. Erik, thank you so much for both of these articles. You’re naming things that women have been calling out for years, but it’s nice to know we’re not crazy for thinking it.

    Maybe it’s because I’m still in seminary and wildly optimistic about my future ministry (adorable, right?), but I’d love to see a list of reasons why being a female pastor is still pretty awesome. I think that as a female, I bring a fresh voice to the pulpit that people can’t ignore. I’ve also seen female priests (I’m in the Episcopal Church) find creative new ways to lead because they can’t rely on the old-school assumptions on authority.

    Just some ideas because I know my life has been enriched by women priests who somehow didn’t get disheartened.

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    1. I can think of a few:

      People are often delighted by Advent sermons about Mary’s pregnancy preached by someone who’s actually been pregnant.

      Women dealing with women’s health issues are often more candid with a female pastor, including one they’ve never met until she preached that morning.

      There is someone to identify the obvious elephant in the room when everyone else present is male and reluctant to say words like “rape” for fear making their male colleagues uncomfortable.

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  7. #10 is THE issue. I recall saying to a gathering of clergy tha nobody calls into question the validity of Holy Orders for the men in this room … and generally getting blank stares back at me.

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  8. Thank you Eric. There are a few people I would love to share this with, but I am afraid my wife would be blamed for being more divisive than she already stands accused. Good words that give me some hope for a future in the church.

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  9. I’m LCMS and look forward to someday having women pastors. When it comes to personal problems I always prefer talking it over with another woman. When I need spiritual guidance, I just sign up for a Bible study — the extra time in prayer and reading is helpful as well as the class time. It’s a time to leave the personal or spiritual problems at home and then return refreshed.

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  10. These posts are excellent, Erik. Thank you for writing them.

    I was the female half of a clergy couple for quite awhile. My spouse and I noticed that no one ever asked him at the church door after the service where the children were or who was looking after them. No one ever questioned whether he should continue on in ministry when each of our children was born. His fitness for ministry was never described as conflicting with being a father. Heck, he was even welcome to leave the baby in the church nursery during the service despite never being able to take a turn working there on a Sunday morning.

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  11. As a woman in ordained ministry, I’m guaranteed to hear 2 different comments after I preach.
    1. “I heard everything you said”
    2. “I just can’t hear you.”
    These comments may seem contradictory, but they usually stem from the same place. Folks are either shocked, or uncomfortable that I don’t sound like a man, have a man’s voice, or us traditionally male styles of public speaking. I actually have a very loud voice, and know how to project, but these comments suggest is often more about the listener, and her or his perceptions, than it is about my voice or delivery.

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  12. I’m a female seminary student at a seminary very encouraging of female pastors (we’re Baptists down here), and cannot express how glad these posts have made me.

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  13. In every church I have served, people left the church before I even arrived! One woman who left my current church said, “There is nothing a woman can teach me that I don’t already know.” I was recently told, “A man’s voice is more soothing when people are struggling.”

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  14. Having grown up in the church my whole life, I am really struggling right now with the issues my Pastor wife has to confront constantly. I can really appreciate the desire to take some wood out back to some of these foolish people. When my wife breaks down and tells our children don’t ever become a Pastor, that is a hard pill to swallow!

    Thanks for your post! Keep banging the door. Perhaps one day it will be broken down.

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  15. I can honestly say in my short journey as a pastor and the longer journey to accept that God has called me to be a pastor, I’ve met and experienced both sides of this issue. I actually have the official pamphlet distributed by the LCMS on why women cannot be pastors. I’ve been publicly put down for my inability to be a mother and how that has a bearing on my pastoral presence. On the other side of the issue, I’ve been accepted and upheld as a Servant of God.

    I definitely prefer the second over the first, but do acknowledge that as long as we see a separation in the roles men and women can aspire to, then there will always be this kind of division.

    On a sociological scale, ironically we see the upholding of men as the ideal ‘figure’ of a pastor comes back to the mothers and grandmothers – the tradition bearers – who inform and teach the traditions to those coming after them. It is those eyes who need to be informed that no matter who is in the robes, the clergy shirt, or sitting next to a dying person, God is still present.

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  16. Thanks for your comments. Another one to add to the list: If I want to have a chance at being respected as a pastor who is both young and female, I must wear my collar every day, even if I am just in the office. My experience is that since men gain respect more easily, they have the option to wear a collar less frequently if they desire.

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  17. I officiated a wedding once where an elderly woman came up to me afterwards and said as she shook my hand: “I just had to come and see it for myself. In all my life, I’ve never seen a wedding presided by a female pastor.”

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  18. When people find out I’m a pastor, I constantly get the question, “Is your husband in ministry too?” He’s not. He’s not even Christian. But I’m pretty sure that if our roles were reversed, he would never be asked that question.

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  19. BEING SINGLE. As a single female cleric, I often get asked what’s wrong with me because I’m single. Dating isn’t great; often it’s nearly impossible. I’ve had dates literally walk (run?) out, even mid-date, once they learn that my “I’m an Anglican priest” isn’t a joke. My single male colleagues have not had this problem, some even have the opposite problem (oh you’re a priest! You should take me out sometime!)

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    1. I know that my wife had similar experiences in her single life. I can’t say that I had women under 80 fawning over me, but I don’t think being a male pastor hurt my dating prospects much. Thanks for sharing!

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    2. A priest DATING? It sounds absurd, like a set-up for a joke, and how could it not distract one from shepherding the flock? I think the Catholic Church is right about the whole priestly celibacy thing.

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  20. As a Roman Catholic woman discerning priesthood in the RCWP, I can only thank you and your wife for being so open in sharing your insights. I’m sure the impact far exceeds your expectations! I will cherish these posts throughout my own calling and ministry. Thank you again.

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    1. Turn back! Don’t do it! You have been deceived by a spirit of rebellion! There is no such thing as a Roman Catholic “woman priest”, just like there is no such thing as a “man nun”. If you continue on this path, the Church will excommunicate you!

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  21. I am new to your writings and I have to say I love this and the previous post. While I am not a clergyperson, I retired from a predominantly male career field (air traffic control) after over 26 years and could apply the sentiment of each item to my own experiences. Early in my career a wise female supervisor (only 9% of the management workforce) said we would all stop talking about females in the field when the numbers increased to the same percentage as the general population – 50% or so. Perhaps.

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