To be honest, this seems to get a lot more attention as a man’s sin. Men – with their visual-driven minds – are warned against the danger of this sin repeatedly. And we know lust exists in the church. Perhaps you’ve seen the articles and blog posts urging women to dress modestly so as not to tempt their brothers in Christ.
But today I’ll let you in on a secret. Women struggle with this sin, too. Even in the church, though perhaps not as you expect.
Theocrush – the unofficial term to describe the attraction women develop for a theologian.
I know, my husband thought it sounded crazy, too. (And yes, that led to somewhat of an awkward conversation).
A “crush” may seem like a blast from your grade school past, but a quick look at grown women swooning over Ryan Gosling or Brad Pitt, and you’ll realize these are quite real for adults. Remember all that hubbub over the horrible movie, Magic Mike? Yeah. You get my point.
But how do we get from a movie star to a pastor?
Not Limited to the Pulpit
With the increase of social media we are no longer limited to the pastor preaching to us on Sunday mornings. We have access to pastors around the country and the world. We can watch them on video. We can hear them on podcasts. We can chat with them, ask questions, get answers and guidance.
While there are most certainly downsides to this, most have found this to be a blessing. When we don’t want to bombard our pastor with a ton of questions, we have a slew of other clergy available to help.
None of us believe pastors seek celebrity-status — at least not in the Lutheran church — and none of us want to bestow celebrity-status upon a pastor. Yet this status may not have much to do with intent of either the pastor or the laity. It simply happens. We tell ourselves “He’s just a pastor, just a sinner, no different, no better than I”, yet then we may find ourselves giddy if they take the time to answer a question or reply to an email.
Not All About Looks
Now before you all take this post to insist pastors should let themselves go and look like slobs — as if your wives would let you leave the house like that anyway — I must point out it’s not all about appearance.
Yes, my husband also wondered how one could find the vestments attractive.
What attracts women, though? A chiseled jaw, six-pack abs, and a dashing smile? Maybe for some. But for many it’s confidence and intelligence. It’s leadership and strength. It’s conviction and fortitude. It’s steadfastness and security.
And who best displays these qualities – or at least should – than pastors.
Add some nerdy cuteness, and some women stand no chance.
What’s the Big Deal?
Our society may respond to this with “what’s the problem?” In a culture where we’re raised with encouragement to plaster our walls and computer screens with images of hot celebrities, it can be easy to brush this aside as harmless. But we in the church should know better.
Beyond the obvious issues of potential idolatry of the pastor or being so distracted by attraction we don’t hear the Word being spoken, I see the biggest danger for married women, replacing their husbands with the pastor.
We need our husbands to be taught and encouraged to be that strong spiritual headship in our families. We need our husbands to be helped through any theological insecurities they may struggle with so they can be the confident spiritual leader in our marriage.
And then we women need to let them lead us.
It is wonderful that we can turn to pastors in our churches and online with our questions, but I see this exacerbating a disconnect in marriages. We may often bypass our husbands to go straight to our pastors, denying them the chance to lead us in faith. We may unknowingly cut our husbands out of our spiritual life, rather than letting them take the reins.
Pastors — thank you for all you do, for all the time you invest, and please don’t let this deter you from continuing to minister to women directly. Please continue to build up the men in your congregations, helping husbands and fathers to be the confident leaders we need.
Men — step it up and own your role. If you’re doing this, awesome – keep it up. If you know you’re slacking, stop, and seek guidance. Your pastors are there to help you.
Fellow women — continue to ask questions of your pastors, don’t let this keep you from letting them minister to you. If you are married, support your husband as your family’s leader in faith. But don’t listen to the world that tells you this is “normal” and therefore “okay”. Lust is sin, even in the form of a minor crush. Repent. Be forgiven. And repeat as necessary.
I must note no scientific polling was done to determine how great an issue this is for our sisters in Christ. I simply based this upon what friends have discussed and confessed to me, and what I, myself, have experienced.
Vanessa is an Army National Guard Wife and working mom of two kids. She writes about faith at Hearts On Guard, where she encourages readers to know what they believe and why. She is currently editing her first novel about a military wife’s battle to survive mysticism, and her husband’s struggle to save her faith while deployed.