After reading Dr. Jeremiah Gibbs’ excellent post on “Women Pastors and Male Privilege”, I was compelled to add one additional category to his list of the ways male privilege is manifested in this setting.
I have been surprised at the number of people who question my role in counseling male congregants. In the almost 30 years my husband has served as a pastor, I cannot recall anyone questioning whether he should offer pastoral counsel to the women in our churches. There have, of course, been seminars and workshops on setting appropriate boundaries, and I agree completely. But there was never a suggestion that he should pass along the women who came to him for prayer or advice to a female counselor. Since we started co-pastoring together in 2009, I’ve had numerous people advise me to refer male members to my husband, even though they have come to me and not him. Interestingly, even though we are now tag-team pastors, no one has yet to say he should send the women to me.
Adding to my surprise at this attitude is the fact that it has not occurred in any other setting. When I served as principal at a Christian school and also while on the faculty at a Bible college where I was responsible for the spiritual formation program for our students, my ability to meet with and counsel fathers and male students was never questioned. In fact, I was the one who had to insist that windows were built into my office doors in both settings.
I’ve never heard a discussion about whether a female therapist should take on male clients. Why the church has such a hang-up on this has taken me aback.