I haven't read the book pictured here, or the widely popular She Can't Even Play the Piano
. I throw away the denominational fliers I get for "pastor's wives" retreats. When we started in this whole church planting adventure, the thing I was most horrified by was that I would be a pastor's wife. Of course I was reacting to stereotypes and my limited experiences, but whatever a pastor's wife was - that was not me.
I didn't want my life, my personality, defined for me by others. I didn't want to be merely what others expected me to be. I am myself and being a "pastor's wife" should do nothing to change that. It helped that Mike and I are ministry partners doing this church planting thing together. I'm not just some invisible support beam that arranges the coffee behind my mask of unfaltering allegiance to every word that drips from my husband's mouth. We plan together, make decisions together, and share responsibilities like preaching. As a person I am going to have questions and doubts and am not going to hide those because I am a pastor or pastor's wife. When I think something is full of crap, I'm going to say that. I have no interest in being told what mold I'm supposed to be fitting into. I think the mold is stupid to begin with. (how's that for a thoughtful critique).
But apparently, the struggle to maintain a personal identity is a major problem for many pastor's wives. There are numerous books on how to be a good pastor's wife (or at least on how not to go insane as one). Most of them focus on how to be yourself while being the person everyone expects you to be. Did they ever stop to think that it is because of whacked out advice like that that women are reading those sorts of books at all? And of course, everyone's favorite go-to guy for sexist quotes, Mark Driscoll, has even suggested a few things that will help make a pastor's wife's life easier and less stressful. He writes -
"What can be done to help the pastors' wife?
* She needs a clearly defined and guarded role.
* She needs some help with the kids and house.
* She needs some help getting to and from church on Sundays.
* She needs a designated parking place.
* She needs a handful of safe relationships with other godly women.
* She needs to choose her own friends and define her own relationships.
* She needs to see her first jobs as Christian, wife, and mother, not free hire for the church."http://www.theresurgence.com/md_blog_2007-07-17_death_by_ministry_part_10
Wow my own parking place at church, that would really make my life easier. And to be allowed (within my protected and guarded role) to choose my friends! What am I - a grown woman or a kindergartner? Maybe it would have helped if he had added to the list - "She needs to have a husband who doesn't say that a pastor's sexual sins are the fault of his wife not looking hot." But that might be asking too much.
These books and this advice is so condescending it's embarrassing. Sure the stereotypes and the expectations have caused problems, but I would think that allowing a women to be herself would be more useful than defining and restricting her role more. It's a messed up system, the whole church culture is a messed up system. We've created this ultra-ritualized pageant where people are expected to act in certain roles. It would be amusing if it wasn't so very sad. So do I have a point here? I don't know. Just that I refuse to be labeled with any of the expectations of being a pastor's wife. And that I feel sorry for the women who are confined by that role.
Labels: Church, Gender Issues