Preston Sprinkle’s strange interview with Sheila Gregoire and Rebecca Lindenbach

This article originally appeared at Baptist News Global on April 13, 2023.

Ten days after defending his decision to endorse Josh Butler’s controversial book about Jesus, marriage and sex, Preston Sprinkle released a Theology in the Raw interview with Sheila Gregoire and Rebecca Lindenbach where he continued to prioritize the perspective of men. But this time, his line of reasoning parroted the assumptions of purity culture and echoed the claims of rape culture.

Sprinkle’s comments became so absurd, especially in the second half of the episode, that they prompted New Testament scholar Laura Robinson to say her husband “just about curb stomped” her phone and had to walk away “because he has elevated blood pressure and I don’t want him to have a stroke and die.”

Preston Sprinkle

To be fair to Sprinkle, the conversation ended with some hope that he might change his perspective on some of the issues discussed. In an interview about the episode with Baptist News Global, Lindenbach said she was thankful for the opportunity to talk with Sprinkle and hopes he “continues those kinds of conversations with other women who are speaking out.”

Robinson, who tweeted extensively about the episode, agreed. She wrote, “I listened to this podcast today. It made me really mad.” Then she added, “I think, given the note it ends on, there’s a real possibility that host Preston absolutely did learn something and reevaluate his thinking” despite “saying some weird stuff.”

That said, the claims Sprinkle made and the ignorance he demonstrated throughout the episode were extremely problematic, especially coming from someone who heads the Center for Faith and Sexuality.

Surveying evangelical women

Gregoire and Lindenbach originally surveyed 20,000 evangelical women about how their beliefs affect their marriages and sex lives. The results were published in their book, The Great Sex Rescuewhich was featured by BNGNow they’ve surveyed another 7,000 evangelical women for their upcoming book, She Deserves Better.

In their interview with Sprinkle, Lindenbach noted: “This book, She Deserves Better, is about figuring out how do we raise girls to resist toxic teachings. … We want to raise the next generation of girls to not need a great sex rescue. That’s our goal. Our goal with books like She Deserves Better is to make Great Sex Rescue unneeded because our girls will be getting the good messages from the beginning and have been sheltered from the damaging ones, even before they had time to take root.”

The evolution of purity culture

One of the difficulties with discussing purity culture today is the conversation has evolved to a place where people can claim to be against purity culture while using the same assumptions and disguising their theology with different branding.

“People can claim to be against purity culture while using the same assumptions and disguising their theology with different branding.”

Lindenbach explained: “A lot of people are saying things like, ‘Yeah, purity culture is bad. It’s the thing right now to say with your words that ‘we don’t believe in purity culture anymore. We don’t believe that girls’ value is only in what they do with their bodies. No we don’t believe that,’ except that when you actually look at what they teach, they use different language. They use different words. But it’s still there.”

Her words about the consistency in priorities and assumptions, combined with a denial of embracing purity culture, become the blueprint for how Sprinkle handles the rest of the interview.

Continue reading at Baptist News Global.

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