I might be late to the game on this, but I wanted to make a submission about why a few of my friends and I have been holding off on attending an ELCA seminary. Here is what we have in common: we are young, we don’t have much money to spare, we are feeling called to attend seminary, and we are committed to another person in long-term relationships, but not yet married. We have not yet tied the knot for several reasons. Like I said, we don’t have a lot of money to host the celebration of love that our families would so much enjoy. Our families may not fully approve of this person, simply on grounds of a key part of their identity. We may have given up entirely on the institution of marriage, after seeing it fail again and again, and watching the church do nothing but enforce a culture of shame.
As my friends and I tour the Seminaries of the ELCA, a time comes when we ask, “So what would housing cost for my partner and I?” Then it might get awkward, or the kind admissions representative will express her disapproval of the system.
“Well, you see, we have housing on campus for married couples, or we have individual housing options,”
“We have lived together for the past 4 years,” I reply. If it wasn’t awkward before, it definitely is now. I confirm that my options for continuing to live unwed with my partner as I attend this school are limited to living off campus, typically for twice the price.
“Yes, pretty much,” the rep says, and then we move on to another conversation. My mind wanders from what I experienced that day in courses, to how I now have to choose: 1) get hitched 2) choose to live without seminary until I maybe finally do, or 3) choose another tradition that won’t care.