That Time I Was Told The Photo Wouldn’t Look Right With Me In It

Sometime in my 6th to 7th year of professional ministry, I thought that being an ordained clergywoman wasn’t a problem for most people.  At least most educated people with moderate to left leaning theology had no problem with ordained clergywomen.

I was serving as Co-Pastor with HH at the time and we were basically taking turns officiating scheduled weddings.  It was my turn for a certain bride and groom and they were great.  We covered not only their actual wedding ceremony and their hopes for marriage, but we also spent time talking about their extended families, their dating careers, and their youthful missteps.

The week before the wedding, the couple asked to meet with me and they seemed upset.  Uh oh.

The bride was teary and the groom looked ashen.  “What’s going on?” I asked. And the bride said, “We wonder if you could find a male pastor to officiate because we don’t think you’ll look right in the pictures.”  The groom chimed in, “Yes, it will be awkward to have two women in the photos.”


I said something like, “You can ask the other (male) co-pastor to officiate, but frankly, I doubt he will do it for the reasons you’ve suggested.”  (Yay HH)  “Or I could probably find a retired male pastor in town who looks like ‘a traditional minister.’  But he probably won’t want to talk with you about the things we’ve been able to talk about.”

Not surprisingly HH was unavailable to officiate at their wedding, but the couple called me back the next day and apologized and said that I could officiate after all.

I remembered this story while watching Hasan Minhaj’s  Homecoming King on Netflix.  [Caution: language is not for young or sensitive ears.]  Seriously, it’s poignant and beautiful and real and brilliant.  Do yourself a favor and watch it.

Except for the language, I wish every high school student in the world (and their parents) could watch it.

Many of us are still worried about What People Will Think.  Oh my gosh, what if my white relatives see a brown boyfriend in my vacation photos?  What will my Jewish Grandma think when I bring home a Muslim girlfriend for Thanksgiving? What if will they think if I (a woman) take another woman to prom?

We are worried about the pictures because we want to avoid bullying/snide remarks.  Mom can cut us with a single comment.  Dad can go angrily mute for days. I could be shunned from my friend group for dating outside the norm.

My friends, life is too short and the God who made us loves us too much to refrain from including the people we love/like/want to get to know better in the photos.  Seriously.  Be true to yourself.  Hold somebody’s hand.  And smile for the camera.



One response to “That Time I Was Told The Photo Wouldn’t Look Right With Me In It

  1. Thanks for this, Jan. We watched Homecoming King last week and thought it was great. Kathryn and I both said, “If only we could watch this with church groups,” thinking there was just a little too much language. But I wonder if that isn’t a self-defeating limit to set?


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