With Valentine’s Day upon us, The Revd. Kelvin Holdsworth offers 10 tips for dating priests:
- Firstly, accept that clergy are people, just like everyone else.
I’ve met people who believed that when they were ordained, God would take away all their romantic emotions and leave them pure and holy in order to get on with saving the world. Trouble is, no-one ever told God that this was what should happen and God isn’t in the sublimation business. Indeed, a more healthy way to look at clerical life is to remember that it is supposed to be at its heart about being very much yourself and very much about living life with passion. That means all kinds of passion. Oh yes, that kind of passion too.
- Secondly, accept that clergy are people not like anyone else.
Hath not a priest eyes? Hath not a priest hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a lay person is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh?
Well no – if you tickle us we might laugh but we might also worry that someone might tell the bishop that tickling has occurred. (This applies even if the bishop is tickle-positive). If we go out for a Friday night boogie and a beer, we are probably going to enjoy it more if we are somewhere where everyone else in the gin-joint doesn’t normally see us in a dog-collar. Hearing a confession (from a third party) in the middle of a date can be a bit of a passion killer.
- Try very hard not to fall in love with anyone who claims to be celibate or who is supposed to be celibate.
Some parts of the church insist on celibacy for clerics. Not all of those clerics manage it. However falling in love with those clergy tends to be bad news for the people falling in love with them. Indeed, this situation generally seems to me to be a lot worse for the lay person in the relationship than the cleric. Here there be dragons.
- Clergy feel they can ask anything they choose to ask when on a date. Deal with it.
Oh, this one is very unfair and no mistake. The thing is, most clergy are perfectly at home in the realm of the emotions. We are used to people telling us how they feel and we are used to listening for what people are not telling us. We know the questions to ask. At best this can make us sensitive, at worst intrusive. We are used to operating the midst of the blood and fire of human relationships. There’s not much you can say to us that will shock us. This can lead to intimacy (or worse, apparent intimacy) developing quite quickly. Beware!
- You can’t compete with a vocation so you might as well collaborate with it.
- It is almost impossible to have an good relationship if you don’t meet as equals.
- If you find a member of the clergy attractive in their dog-collar, don’t be surprised if the same clergy-person is not interested in you.
- Clergy have a whole load of expectations put upon them about sex. They may not share these expectations.
- It is more likely to work if faith is a common factor.
- Don’t be deceived by their public profile and behaviour, most clergy are very shy and private.
Read them in full here.
Do you think this applies to dating women who are priests?
Photographer – Gordon Smith
posted by Ann Fontaine