Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

David K. Johnson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Julia F. Irwin, Ph.D.

Committee Member

K Stephen Prince, Ph.D.


sexuality, therapeutic culture, traditional family, conservatism


This project examines the conservative evangelical response to 1960s era sexual revolution in order to explain how and why evangelicals both resisted and adapted tenets of sexual modernity in a process that transformed the theological foundations underlying the conception of Christian marriage and sexuality. Though evangelicals and conservatives are typically portrayed as resistors to cultural and sexual change, my research reveals the ways in which conservative evangelicals agreed with key critiques of the sexual status quo in the 1960s, and deliberately worked to change Christian teachings and attitudes to keep them vibrant and attractive to postwar generations. Previous examinations of evangelical thought on sexuality has focused on rhetorical analysis and social history to the exclusion of examinations of the close ties between evangelical marital theology, sexual practice, and political activism. This project seeks to integrate all three into a cohesive historical framework that reveals evangelical response to sexual revolution as more complex and adaptive than it is typically described.

Close readings of conservative evangelical texts from 1960 to 1980 combine the long term editorial trajectory of Christianity Today magazine with ideological and theological texts from the 1960s with popular, practical texts from the 1970s to demonstrate that the evangelical marriage project was deliberate, deeply rooted in a modern hermeneutic of Biblical interpretation, and nimble in its ability and willingness to adapt changing sexual attitudes to accommodate Christian theology and practice. The resulting portrait of evangelical response to sexual revolution is more complex, contextualized, and nuanced than previous narratives.