Jump directly to the content
Let Pastors' Wives Do Their Own ThingTLC
Let Pastors' Wives Do Their Own Thing

Let Pastors' Wives Do Their Own Thing


Feb 8 2013
And please ignore the ones on reality TV.

TLC, known for Sister Wives and 19 Kids and Counting, has added a new outrageous piece of real-life drama to its roster: The Sisterhood, a reality show that follows five pastors' wives in Atlanta.

The women are all megachurch stars-in-training, in outfits that belong on Real Housewives and attitudes to match. Like in many African American churches, they refer to themselves as the "first ladies" of their congregations, and fame follows wherever they go.

I suppose it was inevitable. Reality television has commoditized girls who compete in pageants (Toddlers and Tiaras), young men and women looking for love (The Bachelor), and pregnant teenagers (Teen Moms). The phenomenon of a pastor's wife — and a Southern one at that — was probably ripe for the filming. It's an incredibly sad thing.

It is an antiquated and strange notion to view a woman as an extension of her husband's occupation. Yet for some reason, we insist on doing this with pastor's wives. There are websites, conferences, and resources galore for pastors' wives, as if they signed up for some kind of apprenticeship when their husbands became pastors.

There is no other occupation — besides, perhaps, being the actual First Lady — in which a spouse is so defined by what her husband does. I cannot think of a single instance in which a woman was expected to give up her gifts and calling in service of her husband, the dentist. Or lawyer. Or plumber. But a woman who is married to a pastor will inevitably face expectations about her role in the congregation that have nothing to do with how she is gifted by God.

(I am using "he/him" pronouns here to talk about pastors. I realize, with great excitement, that more and more women are becoming pastors. The problem I am addressing here, over pastors' wives, is mostly related to men in the job of pastor.)

In a white paper entitled "The Role of the Pastor's Wife: What Does the Bible Teach?" Leschenne Rebuli and Kevin Gary Smith write, "the Scriptures do not in any way define or prescribe the role of the pastor's wife." They then go on to make a case for inferring a framework for her role, looking at passages such as Ephesians 5 and Proverbs 31. I don't agree with all of their conclusions, but they do reference what Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians 12 — namely, that all Christ-followers have spiritual gifts that they must pursue in the journey toward honoring God:

Support our work. Subscribe to CT and get one year free.

Comments

To add a comment you need to be a registered user or Christianity Today subscriber.

orSubscribeor
More from Her.menutics
Don’t Call Me Out at Your Wedding for Being Single

Don’t Call Me Out at Your Wedding for Being Single

The church can model a more inclusive community, one that doesn’t divide over marital status.
Why Google and BuzzFeed Need the Church

Why Google and BuzzFeed Need the Church

When big corporations make big moral decisions, where is the church’s voice?
Timehop Helps Me See God’s Providence

Timehop Helps Me See God’s Providence

How a social media app reminds me of God’s faithfulness in my life.
How Grandparenting Redeemed Our Family

How Grandparenting Redeemed Our Family

This Father’s Day, I celebrate my parents’ choice to move close to my kids.
Include results from Christianity Today
Browse Archives:

So Hot Right Now

I’m a Woman Who Got Kicked Out of Women’s Bathrooms

Our zealous policing of gender norms can have unintended and hurtful consequences.

Twitter



What We're Reading

CT eBooks and Bible Studies

Christianity Today
Let Pastors' Wives Do Their Own Thing