If you didn’t know, I’m married to a Lutheran pastor. Most people either know this or smile and nod politely but it causes some people to say some pretty *interesting* things. Here are the five most interesting ones that I remember, three that are reactions to hearing that I’m a pastor’s wife and two that are stupid things people have said because of who I am.
“So this means you can have sex, right?” This was said to me at 2003 at a visitation for a parishioner who had passed away by a co-worker of the parishioner’s son. I was standing in the funeral home next to the church in some fairly conservative clothes with my husband and his internship supervisor next to me. My response: “I really hope so.” The person walked away and I remember seeing my husband’s internship supervisor’s face turning an interesting shade of purple and his eyes almost popping out of his head. Apparently, this was one of the more interesting things he had encountered at a funeral visitation.
“Does this mean that you’re a nun?” This was said to me by a Lutheran kid at a Lutheran church camp. (I point out that it was a Lutheran setting because our clergy are almost always married.) Apparently, he really hasn’t paid attention in church because I knew his pastor and said pastor is very much married with kids who are my age!
“But you don’t look like a pastor’s wife!” One of my former co-workers said this during my second week of work when I came to work wearing my “Pastor’s wife of an LQPV Eagle” sweatshirt. (LQPV is the local high school in the area where my husband served his first parish.) Apparently, I’m supposed to be old and wear long dresses or denim jumpers or something??? I mean… I did the long dresses and skirts but apparently I don’t fit the stereotypes otherwise?
Let’s now just go into stupid things people have said to me because I was the pastor’s wife.
“You’re a pastor’s wife! You’re supposed to be holy and doing the work of God’s church!” This was said to me by a 90something parishioner in Minnesota when I told him that he couldn’t just walk into our parsonage unannounced. It had been a week since I had undergone a laproscopic cholecystectomy (“lap chole” for short — gallbladder removal) and I was walking around the upper floor of our parsonage in my sports bra and running shorts, so I was a bit panicked when the front door suddenly opened and I heard someone calling out, “Pastor?!? Mrs. Pastor?!?” Thankfully, one of our elders was nice enough to go talk to him and explain politely why this wasn’t allowed. He was more amenable to him explaining it than the 25 year old pastor’s wife.
“You’re a pastor’s wife. You can’t drink alcohol if you’re out at a restaurant.” This was said to me by one of my “special” people in Montana who decided that she needed to lecture me about my appearance and my reputation when she saw me out shopping in sweats. What she didn’t know: I never drank alcohol around parishioners and I hadn’t had a drink in probably… over a year at that point because my liver had a death wish and they had to scrape scar tissue off of it when I had my lap chole. (I’m also the world’s cheapest drunk so it wasn’t a stretch to give up drinking.) She felt that she had a duty to lecture me about my reputation and standing as a pastor’s wife which meant that she would criticize everything I did, regardless of whether or not everyone else approved of me.