Dating a minister

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Think about titles: “Reverend” (from “revere”), “Monsignor” (“my lord”), or, in the Episcopal Church, “Father” or “Mother” (do I need to explain that one? For a while I was dating someone whom convention would have me refer to as “Mother Strickland”.

Power differentials are never healthy in relationships—but we’ll get to that. You’re going to be under huge amounts of pressure to keep the relationship secret.

Pastors very frequently begin their interactions with new parishioners by sitting down, maybe over dinner, or in their office, or in my case over email, and letting the parishioner talk about their deepest secrets. In my situation, from the beginning I told my pastor about my fears about death, family problems, and troubles with my studies.

And she would put all these secrets in a Biblical and theological perspective, and then pray for me, because that’s what pastors do, right?

The entire United States recognizes a fiduciary duty in the pastor-parishioner relationship. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

So I couldn’t tell anyone in my church about the biggest problem in my life—and that’s what churches are there for, to help you with the biggest problems in your life. Your emotions toward your church get mixed up with the emotions of your relationship.

If you’re in crazy infatuation with your pastor, you might start feeling like your church is the greatest place in the world.

Jesus loves everyone equally, and so should a pastor. But in fact, in my case, my pastor’s nickname for me was “Belovedest”.

Now, our “relationship” was kept mostly a secret except from a sort of inner circle of clergy and lay leadership.

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