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Episode 510: The SBC Report and Rethinking Sexual Ethics with Christine Emba

The independent report about the cover-up of sexual abuse within the Southern Baptist Convention has been released, and it’s far worse than anyone expected. What does it mean for the SBC and American evangelicalism in general? And Phil asks if there’s a difference between engaging in godly cultural transformation and fighting a culture war. Was William Wilberforce a culture warrior? And when are we really seeking change, and when are we just virtue signaling?

Then, Kaitlyn welcomes Washington Post opinion columnist and editor, Christine Emba, to discuss her new book “Rethinking Sex: A Provocation.” After interviewing dozens of young adults, Emba concludes that evangelical purity culture has problems, but so does the secular message of sex positivity. Instead, she draws from Christian theology and tradition to propose an ethical framework that goes beyond consent alone. Plus, Phil refuses to be concerned about an invasion of aggressive jumping worms.

News Segment:

0:00 - Intro

3:07 - Jumping worms

9:36 - SBC Report

32:06 - Culture wars or transformation?


48:32 - Faithful Counseling

Interview with Christine Emba

“Rethinking Sex: A Provocation” -

“Consent is not enough. We need a new sexual ethic.” -

49:41 - Christine Emba intro

52:00 - Book background

54:28 - Misdiagnosing the problem

58:30 - Purity culture versus uncritical sex positivity

1:04:14 - Interviews within book

1:13:35 - Dating app culture

1:24:28 - Willing the good of the other

1:29:12 - Credits

Resources mentioned in news segment:

“Southern Baptist leaders covered up sex abuse, kept secret database, report says” by Sarah Pulliam Bailey (The Washington Post) -

“Southern Baptists Refused to Act on Abuse, Despite Secret List of Pastors” by Kate Shellnutt (Christianity Today) -

“This Is the Southern Baptist Apocalypse” by Russell Moore (Christianity Today) -

“The Gift of Pain” by Paul Brand and Philip Yancey -

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I enjoyed Kaitlyn's interview and the questions it raises. There's no doubt that purity culture left little room for those who weren't able to live up to its standards, and that left many feeling like they didn't matter. It's good that we're moving away from that, but what is our goal now? Emba's book is admittedly a secular book targeting those for whom sex is a bygone conclusion, but as Christians shouldn't we still be shooting for a higher standard? So often the pendulum swings in the opposite direction--we need to correct the excesses of purity culture without abandoning all of reasons it came to be in the first place.


Eric Peterson
Eric Peterson
May 27, 2022

If you are fighting for your own rights and interests, then you might be a culture warrior. If you are speaking for others who have no voice, or defending those who have no power - even when is at the cost of your own rights and interests, then that looks to me more like “considering others better than yourself“ and doing “for the least of these.“


May 26, 2022

Really loved the culture war convo. I wrestle with that - what is being prophet-like, and what is just adding to outrage culture. Like we made this (ironically started right before the SBC news broke) - is there a way to better avoid this becoming just another shout of anger online (although I think we should have a healthy anger at these cover ups), but turn it into a way to lead people to healthier solutions?


Well said. Katelyn hit it right on the head - there are people involved in the abortion debate that are much more interested in keeping the fight going instead of solving it. If by some chance, it gets solved there are a lot of people that will be out of work. I think Mothers Against Drunk Drivers did it the right way. They changed the culture first and then the changes in the laws followed. Before they existed, peoples attitudes about drunk driving changed a lot. The laws were passed almost as an afterthought.


May 26, 2022

I really appreciated this episode, particularly the conversation parsing out the difference between a group like the Clapham Sect and modern culture warriors. My question, though, is how do we persuade a culture that is in an echo chamber? How do we be an effective Neo Clapham Sect? In the conversations I'm having with my friends who are deep into Trump Christianity, there's a starting place of distrust of anything outside their accepted echo chamber. And a 1-hour conversation with me is not going to have the persuasion of 3 hours of Tucker Carlson.

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