Pastor’s note- I met TK online and, since then, I’ve enjoyed lively discussions revolving around her writing. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I don’t, sometimes I get into discussions with her readers through the comments.
Although we share some things in common (Nerds unite!), we also have a lot of differences. I enjoy those.
I hope that you’ll welcome her first guest post here on our church blog. If you don’t agree with her, feel free to comment. Just be kind. If you do agree, by all means comment.
The Millennial Girl Who Dreamed of Being A Female Catholic Priest
“Who here ever considered becoming a priest?”
Growing up, the few men joining the priesthood was a big issue. It was said half of Catholic priests would retire in 10 years and we didn’t have enough people entering seminaries to replace them. This priest, who also asked women how many had considered becoming a nun, was trying to highlight the issue. Many people over the age of 40 raised their hands, but few under the age of 40 had considered either occupation.
I sat in the congregation with my parents as the priest asked these questions and almost raised my hand. I wanted to be a priest.
Something in me knew raising my hand was a bad idea. People would stare and my mom would shove my hand down. Yet, I loved God and loved discussions. I had watched my uncle, a Catholic priest himself, give homilies and help people. That’s what I wanted. But, I couldn’t. I was a girl.
This moment didn’t break the camel’s back, as they say, but it did create a small crack in the foundation of my religious ideas. I have been lucky to grow up in an era where women can be teachers, doctors, astronauts and prime ministers. The world was mine and I could be anything I wanted, except a priest. In that moment, I knew there was something unfair going on in that church.
As I grew up, the lack of gender equality in the church, among other issues, continued to bother me. Many of my friends were strong Catholics and, when I discussed this with them, they tried to tell me women have equal positions in the church. I’m sorry, but being a nun or a deacon’s wife is not the same as being a priest, cardinal or the pope.
Birth control and condoms are wrong and sinful, says the Catholic church, but do women get to in weigh in on that rule? The only reason a marriage can be officially dissolved by the church is if you petition the pope for annulment. I’ve been told you must prove one or the other did not marry for love in order for that to be accepted. What about spouses who beat their partners and/or children? What about spouses who say they’re in love but don’t contribute to the family?
I’m not saying any of these things should be changed, but certainly women deserve a say, a real – cardinal level say.
Millennials are leaving churches by the droves and people are worried. While it’s common for young people to leave church for a while, I’m under the understanding many come back once they start a family. Apparently, that isn’t happening as often anymore. People are worried for the souls of the youth.
Few people have discovered the golden egg in this world where more and more people are defining themselves as non-religious. Many people who dislike religions still consider themselves spiritual. Many even like Christian ideals. The fact is, millennials are not losing faith in the divine, they’re losing faith in religion.
Let’s not get those two things confused. God and religion are not the same thing. Religion is meant to worship God, to grow our relationship and make us better people. It is not actually God. In the end, that is why I left Catholicism. I want to be treated as an equal. I want to be treated like I can do other things in life than give birth to babies and still be a valuable member of a congregation. Hardest of all, I want to be able to disagree, to say my reflection on God and spirituality has led me to a different answer, and still be accepted.
My boyfriend frequently listens to the Christian radio station on his way to work. We hardly ever attend a religious service and have some key beliefs that are different from mainstream Christianity. Even so, that doesn’t mean we believe in nothing. It means there is not religion that reflects what we believe.
Millennials are leaving churches, not faith.
I really don’t have a concrete answer here, but I don’t think people need to fear that young people are running from God. They are running from religion and there is a big difference. Millennials tend to be an accepting bunch. We have gay friends, friends who have had children out of wedlock and most of us are not virgins. Not one of us feels like that makes us wrong, sinful or dirty. It makes us different.
We are men and women, gay and straight, virgin and sexually active. We don’t ask for people to agree with us, but we do ask for respect, equality and dignity. Give us a religion that makes us feel like part of a family and not the black sheep of a perfect family, and you’ll start to see Millennials trickle back to church congregations.
Author Bio: TK is a lover, writer and nerd extraordinaire. She is well known for asking hard questions about society, religion and culture at ChapterTK.com. On January 1st, she started a second blog dedicated to her many nerdy interests at TickledTK.com. In addition to her blogging efforts, she is writing her first novel and somehow managing to cram that all in while working a full-time marketing job. Don’t worry, though, TK always has time to answer comments ^_^
This message was posted by Dr. David Powers and the crazy religious wackos at Kapow. You can always find us at www.drdavidpowers.com. Thanks for reading!