On my day-off a week last Monday, Sybille and I were exploring the side streets of the Prague suburb of Karlín, when we came across this sign outside a local Czech bar. We both smiled broadly when we saw it and duly took a few photographs. We did then enjoy a quiet drink inside the premises.
A day or two later, I posted this photograph on Facebook with the cryptic comment, ‘Only in the Czech Republic….. 🙂 ‘ It almost immediately got several ‘likes’ and a number of humorous comments. But I was also asked by more than one person, exactly what I was seeking to imply by my comment.
In response I wrote as follows. ‘Whilst acknowledging that sex is widely used by advertisers to sell products, my ‘only in the Czech Republic’ comment, referred to this very blatant example of the use of sex’. I then added, ‘However, it is little more than what you can regularly see here. Only today, whilst having lunch with a member of the congregation, there was a lady across from us in the restaurant, showing a very similar amount of cleavage!’
There followed another comment, from one of my cricket playing friends, who observed that it was very interesting that I was able to make such an accurate comparison. Whilst I know the author was also trying to be humorous, he was reflecting a commonly held belief about the clergy which I’ve regularly heard voiced. It is one I wish to very thoroughly debunk – hence this post!
I wish to assure all the readers of my blog that there is NOT a third asexual gender of the human race called clergy. We are all normal human beings, either male, as in my case – or increasingly, I’m pleased to say, female. We, both men and women, live in the real world and observe and experience things, just like other human beings do.
Unfortunately, what my cricket playing friend was implying, as I’ve already indicated, is nothing new. I have an abiding memory of a pastoral visit I made very soon after I was ordained. I went to visit a young married couple who had asked for the baptism of their first child. When I arrived at the house, the mother and child were at home, together with the fairly young new grandmother – the mother’s mother. Whilst we were waiting for the father to return home, I had a casual conversation with the new grandmother during which I happened to mention in passing, a young lady wearing a rather short skirt. Her immediate response was, “I didn’t think the clergy were meant to notice such things”. 🙂
An associated question which I often get asked – ‘Have you always been a clergyman?’ – may partly explain why so many people think that all clergy must be asexual. Whilst it is nice to be asked about my background, it does seem to me that the implication behind the question is that I was somehow born with a dog collar around my neck. Let me assure my readers of the incorrect nature of that assumption too!
Like the vast majority of clergymen and clergywomen who serve in the Church of England these days, prior to training for ordination, I had a career in the secular world, latterly as Area Sales Manager for a publishing company. Whilst I came to Christian faith at the beginning of my teenage years, I wasn’t ordained until I was thirty-seven years old. It is my firm belief that my experience of working in secular employment over many years, enables me to relate to and hopefully better understand, those people I am now called to minister to as an ordained Anglican priest.
However, ordination has not changed the person who I am, nor my male gender. It doesn’t stop me observing ladies wearing short skirts or showing plenty of cleavage. And as I have previously written under point three of ‘How to be Czech in 10 easy steps‘, there is often a lot of both on view here in the Czech Republic 🙂 I may be called to be a priest in the Church of England, but I am still human and my gender has not changed – honestly!