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Some ministers took pride in exercising repressive control over "their" women, as did one from El Paso who reported,

My women don't speak [in worship]; they have too much sense and womanliness, and I am glad of it.
BS , June 22, 1893, p. 5. Others played on the emotions of impressionable young women. With "Sweet Singer Brown" singing "Beckoning Hands" in the background (guaranteed to make the
tears flow freely
), evangelist Sid Williams requested all young women who would agree to dance no more to come forward and give him their hand.
If they all keep their promises it will be a long time before the society columns of
The News
will record a successful ball in Stephenville,
reported the Dallas newspaper. Reprinted in BS , May 26, 1892, p. 2. Of course, liaisons between a preacher and a deacon's wife and/or an organist would not have become a cliche were it not for an occasional minister who extended pastoral care to its limits, marking his sure downfall. Other men felt there was grave danger short of sexual congress in the minister's developing effeminate characteristics by being around women too much. BS , December 20, 1900, p. 2. Admiration lay with pastors who remained
men among men.
A
gushy, mouthing preacher
who subscribed to the notion that
kissing the sisters was a part of his ministerial duty
was characterized as having, perhaps, a
soft heart
—for certain, a
soft head.
BS , April 23, 1914, p. 17.
Preacher brethren
were warned to avoid all appearance of such evil, BS , May 1, 1902, p. 4. but told that it would be difficult because
there are
always enough noble-hearted women whose overflowing, sympathetic souls, in the magnetism of their feminine sweetness, will just simply pet [you] to death.
BS , December 20, 1900, p. 2.

One typical response of women to their minister was to take care of him. They expressed to him—a model, dominant male, if not a deified one—the contradictory blend of nurture and respect that females accord males in a patriarchal system. As an extension of their domestic expertise, the women of a church often took the lead in purchasing, furnishing, and maintaining the pastor's house. They considered it an honor to entertain him in their own homes and laid out their finest foods and furnishings when the preacher came to dinner. An occasion like Christmas legitimated their showering him with tokens of affection—gifts marked by luxury as well as practicality. Gifts the minister from Paris, Texas, received for Christmas, 1886, included a study chair and a portable writing table, a hanging lamp

from a sister,
an elegant dressing gown from another, and a plush-covered match case. Although the family as a whole was
pounded
with foodstuffs, the wife's individual gifts were a quilt from the Ladies' Aid Society and a picture drawn by one of the women. TBH , January 12, 1887, n.p. Despite widely publicized exceptions to the rule, most ministers did not make sexual advances and were safe recipients of women's
tender ministrations.
The women were "safe" from sexual advances; whether the men's egos remained untouched is doubtable. They—like Christ—remained idealized males, objects of repressed, rather than overt, sexuality.

Ministers served as a focus for women's ambition, as well as their sexuality. They could do for a woman what she could not do for herself (yet had been taught was the highest good)—preach the gospel. Women who had been silenced could preach vicariously by supporting the preacher. In 1890 the entire salary of M. G. Trevino, the principal Baptist missionary to Mexico, was paid by Eliza McCoy of Dallas; she also supported a pastor in Pecos. Carroll, p. 674. Her motivation was identical to that behind much of the sacrificial giving of women to the church. Through their money and the ministers it paid, women had the power to serve in a way they were denied or of which they were afraid.

Marrying the minister was a way to gain even greater access to the kind of authority he wielded, but a woman who did so gave up her own sentimentalized fantasies while still having to compete with those of other women. Prior to the twentieth century, being the pastor's wife was the only religious vocation besides serving as a missionary to which Baptist women could aspire.

Like any idealized figure, the pastor was also the target of women's disillusionment and criticism.

Our preachers are not the only ones who encounter hard times upon nerves and brains,
pointed out Lida B. Robertson in a 1902 Baptist Standard article. She reminded the victimized clergymen that nurses, mothers, and teachers were subject to similar discipline and exhaustion. BS , August 25, 1904, p. 2.

On the whole, however, women viewed their attachment to the pastor in a positive light. Both enjoyed the exchange of affection and attention, typical of that sentimental age, but the interchange of women's assistance and support for the pastor's power was the important basis of their alliance. It fell short of the feminist goal of direct power, but these women were the subordinate class in a patriarchal system, and access to the primary source of denominational authority was better than no power at all. As historian Willie Lee Rose wisely noted,

Social progress of the oppressed usually begins by indirection, and allies are found wherever they may be found.
Willie Lee Rose, "American Women in Their Place," The New York Review of Books , July 14, 1977, p. 4.

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Source:  OpenStax, Patricia martin's phd thesis. OpenStax CNX. Dec 12, 2012 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11462/1.1
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