Vodka Yonic

Vodka Yonic features a rotating cast of women and nonbinary writers from around the world sharing stories that are alternately humorous, sobering, intellectual, erotic, religious or painfully personal. You never know what you’ll find in this column, but we hope this potent mix of stories encourages conversation.

Two questions are written in gel pen under the heading “Important Questions” in my third-grade journal: 

1: Who made God? 

2: Is God really a boy? 

It’s no surprise that I ended up becoming a reverend. For the most part, this feels like my life’s calling. I love what I do. The only catch is that it makes dating … tricky. I am a queer, progressive, female minister, which many see as a paradox. I feel the need to be self-effacing about my job. I notice that my liberal friends tend to feel uncomfortable about my work, joking that Jesus is my boyfriend, or when I have to leave social functions early, that “she’s gotta go tend to her flock.” 

I prefer meeting people organically, but I wasn’t doing a lot of that while stuck inside at the height of the pandemic. I had been on a few app dates in previous years. But this time was different — I was determined to date. Still, making a profile proved difficult. When it came to my job title and religious beliefs, I didn’t want to lie, but I didn’t want to scare off potential suitors. I settled for “Director” and “Spiritual.” 

Unsurprisingly, I mostly connected with liberal agnostics. The conversations inched along until the question of work came up. “Actually, I’m a minister, haha. But a cool, progressive one who’s down with the gays.” One guy responded, “Wait, like are you in a jam band?” And another, “Like, a nun?” Some dropped contact after the big confession. One woman even watched one of my sermons online — yikes. It didn’t feel like I was gaining much traction.

Then came Sam. (Let’s call him Sam.) Sam was an attractive freelance writer who lived in East Nashville. He wore cowboy boots, chewed toothpicks. He collected records and didn’t own a television. Sam was the kind of guy who skipped school a lot growing up but still managed to make good grades. I liked Sam. Our banter was lightning-quick. We’d zing off each other with a dry wit that left me feeling refreshed. We talked books, music, family. I wanted to meet up.

But when Sam asked what I was doing on Sunday morning, I had to admit that I was working … at a church … as a reverend. 

“You’re joking,” he said. “Like … Sunday school and shit?” 

I was self-deprecating enough that he reached out the next day to ask what I had taught in Sunday school. I told him that I started by asking everyone to name a book that they would assign to everyone in the world. One guy said Atlas Shrugged. I told Sam how deeply disturbing that was to me. He agreed. Maybe I hadn’t scared him off. A few days later I finally asked him out. “I thought pastors were supposed to be demure,” he wrote back. 

“I think that’s nuns,” I countered.

We went on a hike. He grilled me about theology, asking me if I had a favorite translation of the Bible. “It has to be King James,” he said. “That’s the most poetic.” We hiked past a church and went inside. I tried not to act too mesmerized by the architecture. On the way to the car, he asked what I had going on that night. “I lead something called Theology on Tap,” I said. “A group of young adults get together at a bar and discuss theological topics.” 

“Oh, so you’re, like, a cool pastor who drinks,” he scoffed. I didn’t see a second date in our future.

Despite his devout atheism, Sam stuck around. But me constantly diminishing my faith didn’t seem to appease his adamant distaste for it. He mocked the Jesus keychain dangling from my car mirror and the framed quote from a spiritual mystic hanging in my room. He gave me a book called Mortality about the absurdity of God, which I read and liked. I sent him an article by a funny, irreverent Christian author. He hated it. 

The turning point came a few weeks in when he asked if I really believed in this Jesus thing. I tried to be vague and accommodating. “I live my life as if it’s true, yeah.” Sam shook his head. “That’s bonkers. You know, I wouldn’t have even swiped right on you if you had put ‘Christian.’ ” 

There it was. Someone who shared my wit, curiosity and progressive values had confirmed my deepest fear: I can’t be all of me when I date. Needless to say, the relationship didn’t work out. I became increasingly deflated by his constant sarcasm. He became increasingly indignant about my beliefs. 

I’m back on the app these days, finding myself in that same murky place of how-much-to-share-and-when. I’m queer. I’m a reverend. I’m liberal. Can I be all three in one profile? 

Recently, I changed my job title to “Minister,” hoping that it’s a step in the right direction. Maybe someone out there is willing to grab a beer with a “cool pastor.” Pray for me — but only if you want to. 

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