I was going to blog about something else today but I stumbled on this story about a pregnant female pastor here.
Apparently, New York pastor Desiree Allen is unmarried and got pregnant. she decided to come public with her pregnancy and refused to stop preaching.
In a post on her personal website Not Cinderella, she says
“After the initial shock was joy. Yet, underneath something else was lingering. Anger? No. Disappointment? No. It was pure and utter dread. Not at being pregnant. Not at whether or not I would be a good mother. What had my stomach turning, other than nausea, was me being pregnant AND a pastor. Let’s face it. The church has not had a good track record of accepting unmarried women who got pregnant. If you’ve been in church for any period of time you’ve heard or witnessed the aftermath. Shunning, slut shaming, being sat down from your position, having to go up in front of the church and confess your sin, etc. etc. No one can be naïve enough to say this type of stuff doesn’t happen in church. An ugly truth is people in church leadership have sex outside of marriage, affairs, do drugs, drink, so on and so forth. Generally, these are not considered acceptable acts. BUT I have seen many churches turn a blind eye to this behavior, because it can be hidden. Don’t ask. Don’t tell. To be pregnant is a very visible indication of a private act and for some reason provides people with more of a need to respond.”
While I commend her for her choice, as it is her life, I am not entirely comfortable about it. I wonder if this is the churchy judgmental side of me talking. I have been accused of being judgmental. Usually by people that are in denial about the plain truths in their lives. ( YES, all shade intended :))
I do agree that neither she or her child should be shunned from the church. The church should operate as a refuge for weak, hungry, homeless,tired. she should be encouraged and supported. So no, she should not be thrown out of the church BUT she should not be in a leadership position.
Yes, I agree. Unnecessary and somewhat unrealistic expectations are placed on church leaders. We hold them to higher standards that we don't hold ourselves to without realizing that they are human after all and are prone to mistakes. However, this sends a dangerous message to the younger generation. With her remaining on the pulpit, it diminishes the seriousness of her mistake. It makes pre -marital sex and unwanted pregnancies okay. "After all my pastor got pregnant and shes still preaching." There has to be some accountability. I personally feel the younger generation's perception bother's God the most. When a pastor falls it affects the congregation negatively. The foundation of faith for younger Christians not as advanced in their work with God is shifted. They consequently may lose faith in church and then God.
There are consequences for our actions even with God. Yes, there is mercy and grace but God IS also a judge. The pastor does not owe us an explanation nor the forgiveness of her congregation. It is between herself and God.
Though, I have to be frank.I am not as open minded and non judgmental as I would like to believe. I have side eyed this pastor in my mind. As if, there haven't been times in my life that I have been a hop skip and jump away from being this pastor, if not for the grace of God. Jesus, my homeboy is a shame remover.
Perhaps this will open the dialogue on how sin is treated in the modern church.
Update : I discussed this with a friend after originally posting and I am still conflicted. On one hand, if there is grace and she is forgiven, she should be able to go through her process while living her life (which happens to be a pastor.) If I am not required to withdraw from my department in church ( albeit not a leadership position) when I sin privately, why should she? I do agree that the public nature of an unplanned pregnancy always provokes a response. The leadership church feel they have to respond because this is a public manifestation of a private sin and needs to be addressed. I am more bothered by her lack of contrition in her statement and omission of any statements addressing reconciliation with God. It could have been a valuable lesson for a young teen with an unplanned pregnancy. I believe experiences are wasted if they are not shared in the hopes of teaching the less experienced generation and preventing the same mistakes.
Maybe she addresses this privately with God but as a pastor with eyes watching she sounds very much like "I am here. I got my baby and I will not be ashamed." That's all well and good for her. I don't think the standard step- down -from- position- and- get- shunned is the best response either. I think I was just looking for her to mention the painful lessons learned, advice or even Godly encouragement to other women that find herself in her position
Stay fearless folks