Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Never-Married Pastor


A friend who works at CNN (and is a deacon in her large church) sent me an email today about an article in the New York Times that irked her. It centered, in part, around Mark Almlie, a 37-year-old pastor who felt churches wouldn't hire him because he was a single man, never married.

Here is the NY Times article, Unmarried Pastor, Seeking a Job, Sees Bias

Also, Almlie wrote a two-part article about his problem:

Are We Afraid of Single Pastors? (Part One)
Are We Afraid of Single Pastors? (Part Two)

Almlie writes frankly in part two:
When I press people on why they think single pastors are treated with suspicion, 99 percent of the time I get a list of fears rather than actual evidence:
“What if he’s gay?”
“What if he flirts with all the single women at church?”
“What if he tries to steal a married woman for himself?”
“There must be something wrong with him because he’s single.”
“Aren’t single pastors more likely to molest our children?”
Fear. That’s what binds these comments together. Especially the fear of human sexuality/desire. As if human desire is a monster that can only be tamed by marriage. This fear certainly doesn’t come from being bombarded by national sex scandals involving protestant single pastors! So where does it come from? It is the cockroach of prejudice creeping around in the dark corners of our mind. It’s an irrational assumption that singles lack self-control, while married people do not.
This story resonates with me. I am a 40-year-old never-married minister. And yes, one honest church directly told me that they turned down my résumé because I am single and they were looking for a husband/wife team. This is in contradiction with the Scriptures because Paul, himself single, never made marriage a qualification to be a pastor.

LET ME BE CLEAR: I very much want to be married; I've prayed often for a wife. I just haven't found her yet.