Sheep without a Shepherd; or, What Women Experienced

Karin E. Gedge

in Without Benefit of Clergy

Published in print November 2003 | ISBN: 9780195130201
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835157 | DOI:

Series: Religion in America

 Sheep without a Shepherd; or, What Women Experienced

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The diaries and correspondence of two dozen northern Protestant women offer little evidence of a close bond with a pastor unless the pastoral relationship became a marital relationship. Despite expressions of admiration for an occasional “good sermon” or a “dear pastor,” women expressed disillusionment and disappointment when pastors failed to offer effective spiritual support from the pulpit or in person in times of need. Few reported any face-to-face religious conversations with pastors; those who did recorded responses ranging from surprise to embarrassment to frustration to outrage. Cultural constructions of gender difference imposed distance in the pastoral relationship, whether women expressed it as reverence for the minister as an “ambassador of Christ,” or inchoate resentment of masculine privileges and shortcomings, or a fear of rejection, or a troubling recognition of their own romantic desire or jealousy.

Keywords: Nineteenth-century women; Protestant; diaries; correspondence; pastoral relationship; marital relationship; face-to-face religious conversation; sexuality; gender difference; African American women

Chapter.  17903 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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