The word is that a cable network is planning to produce a new reality television show called, " The Real Pastor's Wives of Atlanta". An earlier spoof shows what most fear the reality show would becom (see YouTube video).
In a time when ridicule of religious faith, churches, and associated values is at an all time high, the move is not too much of a surprise. The problem is that there is no way anyone can speak for pastor's spouses. The role is as diversive as the numerous strands of American Christian faith.
The role can be explained best by a spectrum with conservative/fundamentalist groups at one end and liberal/traditional groups at the other. This spectrum addesses issues of history, theology, social views, marriage traditions and a thousand other issues.
It is not a one-size-fits-all field of discussion.
Some religious traditions view the pastor and spouse (not always a wife) as a 'two for the price of one' bargain deal. The spouse is expected to do certain leadership activities in the church/congregation.
Some religious traditions view the pastor and spouse as a single entity. They are a ministry team. They function as pastor and assistant pastor, or co-pastors/prophets/leaders.
Some religious traditions view the pastor and spouse as a 'President and a first spouse' and expect social representation, good works, and other aspectrs relected to a more executive lifestyle.
Some religious traditions view the pastor as one thing and the spouse and family as two totally unrelated subjects. The spouse is not expected to do anything but attend church and not necessarily in the church of the pastor. Worlds of work and home are totally separated to achive a more healthy and balanced home life.
How can anyone group adequately express that diversity? The truth is the proposed reality program will not try since they are apparently all wives of African American pastors in a southern city. A person from a Nazarene, Pentecostal, Reformed or evangelical background will have a different worldview and standard of behaviors than a person from an Episcopal, Preysbterian, Methodist, or Church of Christ background.
The truth of the matter is that - as the spoof video link reveals - the stereotypical catty, jealous, hypocritical, judgemental and barely Christian spouses reflects a lot more on the church than on its leaders.
Churches - the people on the pew - determine the mindset, the values,and the behaviors of a local congregation. Churches often want the pastor and spouse to be the community reflection of themselves, to do the things they are too busy to do, and value the things they have put off to a future date.
Pastors, spouses and church people are all just the same people at the core but each unique in their life. They are all people of faith who are seeking every day to live their faith, make a difference in people's lives, and be a witness of the life changing work of Jesus Christ. The real pastor's wives and spouses are more than a caricature and more than a single definition.