Addie ProvidenceDear Addie,

I am dating a really great guy. I like him a lot. In fact, I think I may love him. The problem is that I am attending a pretty progressive seminary, while he attends an extremely conservative one. He wants me to transfer to his seminary so that we can be together. But at his seminary, I wouldn’t be allowed to take preaching classes. I wouldn’t be able to be open about my call to ministry. So, how much of myself do I give up to be with him? Should I transfer? Our long distance relationship works okay, but part of me wonders if we really have a future together and the other part of me wants to marry him and be with him forever.

Is This the One?



Dear I.T.T.O,

Your relationship is a long distance one in more than geographical ways. “How much of myself do I give up to be with him?” indicates distance between who you are and the person you will pretend to be for the sake of the relationship. You start answering that question in your letter. For starters, you would give up a school that I assume you love, or at least like, to be with him. You will give up preaching classes, those opportunities to discover, explore and develop your gifts for communicating God’s love. You will give up a supportive community that could embrace your call and prepare you more fully for it. You may have other items to add to your giving up list.

Why doesn’t he transfer to your seminary? The fact that he wants you to move to a school that will diminish your calling, and ask you to hide the reality of it, troubles me. Even if the details of your calling are less clear than his at this point, why does he want to limit your opportunities to explore and develop your commitment to God? You are at a crucial time of preparation when God wants you to discover your voice rather than hide it. Loving you must mean loving your call, too. If your potential husband does not understand this, you are giving up too much.

When ministers marry they need to believe that their partnership will make each of them a stronger minister. Ministry marriages thrive when the couple senses that who they are together makes each of them more effective. What works wonderfully well is when each partner takes the other’s call to ministry as, or more, seriously than their partner.

When it comes to relationships, the Christian faith offers interesting mathematics. When we share joys, they multiply. When we share troubles, they divide. When we give ourselves away, we find ourselves. My hope for whatever relationship you choose is that within the constant giving that committed relationships require, you find yourself becoming more of who God created and called you to be, and never less. That is the surprising mathematics of marriage and ministry.