By / Feb 15

NASHVILLE (BP) – The first season of the Ethics & Religious Liberty’s relaunched podcast primarily focuses on a highly requested topic, gender and sexuality.

Before launching the retooled podcast in the fall of 2023, the ERLC spent months conducting research and surveying Southern Baptists to learn which issues or questions were at the forefront for pastors and churches.

Lindsay Nicolet, ERLC editorial director and podcast host, said among the feedback received, “this set of issues (gender and sexuality) rises to the top.”

In a culture that has redefined marriage, thinks being male or female is something that can be changed and has no boundaries regarding sexuality, we want to equip you to be confident about what the Bible says and how to live that out.

Lindsay Nicolet

Read the full Baptist Press article here.

By / Dec 28

On this last episode in our gender and sexuality series in The ERLC Podcast, we’re going to focus more on how pastors can address gender and sexuality. We discuss how they can shepherd their people to better understand the biblical sexual ethic and how to apply that to their daily lives. 

On The ERLC Podcast, our goal is to help you think biblically about today’s cultural issues. Throughout this series, we’ve been seeking biblical answers and practical wisdom to apply to questions of gender and sexuality swirling around in our culture, our churches, and in our hearts. It’s been a joy to explore these issues with you and spur one another on to hold fast to Christ and love our neighbors.

Joining us on today’s podcast to share how pastors can address gender and sexuality is Dr. Bart Barber and Matt McCullough.

Bart is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Farmersville, Texas and president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Bart has a B.A. from Baylor University in their University Scholars program, an M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and a Ph.D. in Church History, also from Southwestern. 

You’ll also hear from Matt McCullough, pastor of Edgefield Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Before joining Edgefield, Matt helped to plant Trinity Church near Vanderbilt University and served as pastor there for 10 years. He completed a Ph.D. in American religious history. Matt and his wife are the parents of three boys.

As we discuss these important topics, you might have additional questions. We’d love to hear from you. Please e-mail us at [email protected] and let us know how you’re processing this conversation. 

The ERLC podcast is a production of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. It is produced by Jill Waggoner, Lindsay Nicolet, and Elizabeth Bristow. Technical production is provided by Owens Productions. It is edited and mixed by Mark Owens.

By / Nov 2

So far in this podcast series, we’ve learned what the Bible teaches about gender and sexuality, how the fall affects our perception of ourselves and God, and what role the sexual revolution played in where we are today as a culture. 

On today’s episode we are going to talk about how gender ideology deeply affects our personal lives. We will hear an incredible testimony from a man who has learned to honor God with his sexuality. We’re also going to hear how we can respond when someone we love struggles with sexual sin and gender confusion. Joining us on the podcast today for the first time is Christopher Yuan. You’ll also hear again from our friend Katie McCoy, the director of women’s ministry at Texas Baptists.   

Dr. Christopher Yuan is a writer, speaker, and the creator of The Holy Sexuality Project, a first-of-its-kind video series designed to help parents and grandparents empower their teens to understand, embrace, and celebrate biblical sexuality. Christopher graduated from Moody Bible Institute in 2005, received a master’s in biblical exegesis in 2007 and a doctorate of ministry in 2014. He has taught the Bible at Moody for over a decade.

We would love to hear from you about how you’re processing this conversation and what questions you’re facing related to issues of gender and sexuality. You can e-mail us at [email protected]

The ERLC podcast is a production of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. It is produced by Jill Waggoner, Lindsay Nicolet, and Elizabeth Bristow. Technical production is provided by Owens Productions. It is edited and mixed by Mark Owens.

By / Dec 16

I love this time of year. In addition to the joy that comes from having extra time off work to spend with family and friends, I enjoy the mood of reflection that comes along with wrapping up one year and preparing to head into another. One of my favorite things are “best of” lists, and because I am particularly nerdy, the lists I pay the most attention to tend to be about books. Speaking of books, I would recommend keeping an eye out for The Gospel Coalition’s book awards each December, which offer particularly strong recommendations for believers. Another list to look for each year is Russell Moore’s books of the year list. (Bonus: for 2020 he also put together a top 20 books in 20 years list that you shouldn’t miss). 

But beyond book lists, there are all sorts of end-of-year wrap-up posts floating around, from personal reflections to world news and events. One I try not to miss is from Google that compiles a video showing us what we searched for each year. So as a thought experiment, I asked myself what things I would highlight from 2020. I know what you must be thinking. Yes, in so many ways it has been an awful year. I trust that the reasons we’re ready to move into 2021 are obvious enough. But before we do, here are just a few things—some serious, others fun—that I wanted to reflect on before we wish this year goodbye.

Robert George and Cornel West

So I’ll break the rules right of the gate by acknowledging that the first thing on my list actually happened around this time last year and not in 2020. But like the arrival of Disney+, it was an unexpected surprise to help me get through a difficult year. Last December, I attended a Trinity Forum event, with an ERLC colleague, featuring an evening of conversation about the subject of friendship between Robert George and Cornel West (we wrote about it here). If you aren’t familiar with George or West, maybe the most important thing to tell you is that these men are intellectual giants on opposite ends of the political and ideological spectrum. But beyond that, you should also know that both are sincere Christians who share a deep and decades-long friendship. 

In a year of cultural tumult and racial strife, having a primer in friendship that transcends political and ethnic barriers was a gift I didn’t know I needed. George and West have significant differences on any number of important issues, the kinds of issues we so frequently blast one another over on social media. And yet these two men model exactly the kind of friendship and understanding that is so desperately needed in this political moment. No matter how strong their disagreements might be, each treats the other as an equal and always recognizes the other’s humanity and dignity.

Each one also had the humility to admit that they know they are sometimes wrong, even about things they believe most sincerely. Watching the two of them on that stage was powerful. And as I tried to grapple with questions of racial justice and fractious politics this year, I’ve reflected on it often. The good news is that they’ve taken that show on the road. You can watch a shorter or longer version of that conversation online. 

ERLC podcast

I won’t take a lot of time on this one because it seems incredibly self-serving. But one of the real highlights of my year was relaunching the ERLC Podcast with two of my best friends. In January, after months of scheming, I convinced Brent Leatherwood and Lindsay Nicolet to try something new and turn the ERLC’s flagship podcast into a weekly culture rundown featuring news, opinion, conversation, and interviews.

We’re still figuring out what we are doing, but we have had a really successful first year and we’ve interviewed some great guests. I can’t name them all, of course, but we’ve talked to some of my heroes like Jen Wilkin, J.T. English, Benjamin Watson, David French, Katie McCoy, Dean Inserra, and Bryant Wright. You can go back and catch the interviews even if you don’t listen to the full episodes. We’ve also built a great team to help us make the podcast each week (hat tip: Gary Lancaster, Meagan Smith, and Marie Delph). 

If you haven’t checked it out yet, feel free to download it in your podcast app: iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | Tune in  

Gentle and Lowly

As an avid reader, I am frequently guilty of trying to push books that interest me on my friends so that I can have someone to discuss them with. In this case, I don’t feel bad about doing so at all. Dane Ortlund’s Gentle and Lowly was released in April of this year, and every single person I know who has read it has simply raved about it. But this is all the more impressive (and wonderful) once you learn what the book is about. As Dane describes it, “this is a book about the heart of Christ” written for “the discouraged, the frustrated, the weary, the disenchanted, the cynical, the empty.” That’s a lot of us in 2020.

This year we’ve experienced the hardships of a broken world in a way we would rather forget. But whether we’re facing a pandemic or a relative paradise, every Christian needs Jesus.

I often say that Christianity isn’t complicated, but it is difficult. We live in a world that is full of sin and  sickness and pain. And this year we’ve experienced the hardships of a broken world in a way we would rather forget. But whether we’re facing a pandemic or a relative paradise, every Christian needs Jesus. And not just for “salvation” but for life. Apart from the Scriptures, Dane’s book is the place I would point you to connect with Jesus in a fresh and meaningful way. If your soul is weary or if you just want to focus upon our Savior, consider picking up a copy of Gentle and Lowly. You won’t regret it. (Shameless plug: you can hear an interview we did with Dane about the book on this episode of the ERLC podcast).

J.K. Rowling makes a stand for women 

Most people know J.K. Rowling solely as the author of the world-famous Harry Potter series. Growing up, I felt like a fish out of water because I wasn’t a fan. I’m not sure whether it was my Christian convictions or just a lack of interest in the world of fiction. Either way, I didn’t realize it at the time but Harry Potter wasn’t just a popular book and movie series, though it certainly was those things. For a whole generation of kids, that series opened up a kind of alternate reality, as though Hogwarts and all its lore were actually out there somewhere. I say all of that not because there is any need to dispel the fiction of Rowling’s mythic universe, but because recognizing Harry Potter’s massive success actually helps explain her influence. 

Rowling not only wrote best-sellers, but she shaped the imaginations of a whole generation. So this summer when Rowling dared to dissent from the orthodoxy of the sexual revolution, specifically to the ways that transgender ideology leads to the erasure of womanhood, people listened. In fact, her actions caused an epic firestorm both in Europe and the United States. And as a result, Rowling was threatened and attacked with the worst kind of scorn and vitriol. She was even upbraided by stars from the Harry Potter film franchise. But even so, Rowling—who is otherwise progressive on many issues related to sexuality—stood her ground. And the world paid attention. As I wrote about at the time, I think there is something important Christians can learn from her example and her stand on behalf of women.

Standing for Uyghurs

Back in October of 2019, my boss Russell Moore posted a tweet with only two words: Google Uyghurs. Shortly before he did so, some friends of ours were kicked out of an NBA game for holding up a sign with the same two words. The reason? They were a part of a movement to draw attention to atrocious human rights abuse in China. 

For some time, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been persecuting a minority Muslim population in China. Here is how the ERLC described it in July: “Since April 2017, China has systematically detained more than one million Uyghur Muslims and placed them into what it describes as re-education camps. In these internment camps, Uyghurs are prevented from engaging in their religious practices and forcibly ‘re-educated’ to the Communist Party’s ideological standard of ‘Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.’” 

China has the largest population in the world. The CCP, which exercises total control over the nation’s government, is tyrannical and authoritarian. The CCP routinely persecutes Chinese citizens believed to be political dissidents and egregiously perpetrates human rights abuses against its own people, including minority populations like the Uyghurs. But in addition to all of that, the CCP has basically a zero tolerance policy for criticism of its regime, even from non-Chinese citizens. (Remember the backlash it delivered to the NBA over comments in support of democracy in Hong Kong?)

Here’s why this makes my list. Many times when Christians hear of a worthy cause, we do what we can in the moment but due to the many demands of our lives or our limited attention spans, we usually just move on. In the case of Uyghurs, Christians in the United States have been among the loudest and most persistent voices seeking to defend their rights and calling for an end to these abuses in China.

In addition to raising awareness, we have called for sanctions against China, spoken out about them at the U.N., and opposed U.S. companies purchasing goods that are products of forced labor in China. With every avenue available to us, Christians are continuing to stand up for a persecuted minority. And that is something we shouldn’t forget.

The West Wing and Fresh Prince

If you’ve followed much of what I’ve written, it doesn’t take long to find a reference to the TV series, “The West Wing.” I’ve been into politics since I can remember. When I discovered “The West Wing,” it felt like I had found a show that was written just for me—a serious show about politics that dismisses the darkness of shows like “House of Cards” and rises above the comedy of “Veep.” As a social conservative, I’m often totally at odds with the policies supported by the fictional Democratic administration of “The West Wing.” But even so, in most cases the show also features a brilliant character who opposes their position by making a compelling counter-argument. Grading Hollywood on a curve, I think that is about as much as I could ask for.

But more than policies, maybe the best thing about “The West Wing” is its idealized image of American politics. All of us grow weary of the political fray, of the squabbling and insults and barbs and mistruths. What we want aren’t really politicians but statesmen. We want men and women committed to public service who can rise above the fray—who put the good of the American people above party or ideology. That’s what “The West Wing” provides; not always, but overall. It paints a different portrait of politics and provides the kind of inspiration that those who work in public life need to carry out their work. 

In any case, in the latter part of this year, there was not only a “West Wing” reunion but a “Fresh Prince” reunion as well. (Don’t miss Russell Moore’s reflection on the grace in the “Fresh Prince” reunion here.) Obviously, I can’t endorse everything that was said on either occasion, but seeing some of my favorite actors together again—especially watching the White House gang read through the script of one of my favorite episodes—was truly something cool in the middle of this awful year. And that’s something I’ll take with me too.

Scream inside your hearts

So that’s my list. Well, almost. In a year of plague, where face masks became as essential as undergarments, there is a lot I’ll be happy to leave behind. But one last thing I’ll take with me is a catchphrase gifted to us by a Japanese theme park. “Please scream inside your heart” was supposed to be a clever, I guess, way to mitigate the spread of the virus while allowing patrons to enjoy rollercoasters. Instead, it just became a viral meme.

But let’s be honest—2020 has been a year of screaming inside our hearts. For so many reasons, a lot of them bad, it’s been an emotional year. And in the midst of the sadness and frustration and loneliness, or even joy and elation, when you felt those emotions, you knew you had the option to scream—at least inside your heart. And I put that on my list because unlike 2020, I doubt it’s going anywhere anytime soon.

By / Mar 25

I enjoy podcasts and find them to be a valuable part of my daily rhythms. During this season of social distancing, I think this flourishing new media can help fill the gap and get us out of our own heads.

Growing up, I remember riding in my dad’s truck to and from school listening to Paul Harvey in the morning and talk radio in the afternoon. What I loved then with radio is what I appreciate now with podcasts. I cherish those memories not for the news and weather reports but because I share them with my dad. I think I felt it intuitively then but I know now, all these years later, that it was the shared experience of a father and son with a radio host we never met, but felt like we knew, that made listening to Paul Harvey a “good day.”

Today I listen to podcasts and feel connected, especially when I talk about them with friends who also listen weekly. I tune in while driving, on the metro back when I had a commute, walking my dog, exercising, cooking dinner, and cleaning our home—something we do more often during the COVID-19 quarantine. I use podcasts to pick up news, relax for entertainment, and dive deep into the political, cultural, and spiritual issues of our day. I enjoy all kinds of shows, from interviews to monologue, investigative journalism to friendly banter good for nothing but laughs.

There are at least 850,000 active podcasts right now with well over 50 million episodes produced. If you haven’t listened to podcasts yet, now could be a great time to join the fun with the 62 million Americans regularly listening to shows each week.

Here are some of my family’s favorite podcasts that I think you might enjoy too. I’ll offer three recommendations in each of the following three categories: podcasts to inform, to encourage, and to entertain.

ERLC’s podcasts

But first, I want to be sure you know of the ERLC’s suite of podcasts, starting with Signposts with Russell Moore. On this podcast, Dr. Moore talks with guests about the latest books, cultural issues, and pressing ethical questions that point us toward the kingdom of Christ. 

Next, check out our weekly show from Washington, D.C., Capitol Conversations, hosted by me, featuring our policy team: Chelsea Patterson Sobolik, Steven Harris, and Travis Wussow. The conversations cover the policy debates and news shaping our world as we aim to foster a new way for Christians to engage in politics. 

Next, tune into the The Way Home with Dan Darling for conversations with key Christian leaders on church, community and culture. 

Finally, you don’t want to miss our newest show, the relaunched The ERLC podcast, featuring Josh Wester, Lindsay Nicolet, and Brent Leatherwood. The team in Nashville highlight ERLC content from the week and cover insights into the moral, cultural, and ethical issues of our day.

Podcasts to inform

The Daily from The New York Times: This is the standard-bearer for daily news in a podcast format. Michael Barbaro’s podcast is at the top of the charts for a reason. It’s impressive what this team of journalists do every weekday by 6 a.m. to make listening to the news fascinating.

SBC This Week with Amy Whitfield & Jonathan Howe: Whitfield and Howe are some of the top communicators in our convention of churches. Their weekly roundup of news from SBC national entities, state conventions, and local congregations is a great service to all of us.

The Dispatch Podcast from The Dispatch: The Dispatch is a new media venture built to swim against the tide of the tribal clickbait model dominating today’s news scene. This is their flagship podcast. Host Sarah Isgur is joined by Steve Hayes, Jonah Goldberg, and David French for weekly conversations on the news. They are disruptors and deep thinkers, doing real reporting from a conservative outlook.

Podcasts to encourage

This Cultural Moment from Bridgetown Church & Red Church: Few podcasts have spurred as many ah-ha moments for me as this one from pastors John Mark Comer and Mark Sayers. Their insights into ministry in cities in the 21st century are precious and prescient for followers of Christ in this post-Christian world.

Pastor Well with Hershael York: York’s interviews with other pastors and ministry leaders will make you feel like you’re in his living room catching up with friends who came back to town for a visit. The conversations in this podcast renew my love for the local church.

Knowing Faith: Jen Wilkin, J.T. English, and Kyle Worley are excellent teachers linking up around a podcast table to remind Christians that our faith is not mindless or irrational but rooted in sound doctrine found in Scripture. This team in North Texas is bringing rigorous theological education to the local church. 

Bonus recommendation: A lot of churches upload their sermons as a podcast. These weekly sermons will grow increasingly meaningful as most Sunday gatherings are suspended while our country fights the coronavirus. Here are my churches’ podcasts: my home church in Lake Jackson, Texas, Brazos Pointe FellowshipThe Austin StoneCapitol Hill Baptist Church.

Podcasts to entertain

How I Built This from NPR with Guy Raz: Guy Raz is a talented storyteller who takes you on the journey innovators and entrepreneurs took to start companies that would grow to become integral to our daily lives. As America shuts down for a while, our economy reminds us just how fragile businesses really are. Now is a good time to relearn the risks and rewards of starting a business to meet the needs of real people.

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey: This is one of the podcasts on my wife's phone that I also enjoy listening to when we’re on road trips. Jamie’s show is meant to feel like you are hanging out with her friends. Chelsea tells me she enjoys The Happy Hour because in it she hears about the Lord’s faithfulness in the lives of so many different women.

Whistlestop: Presidential History and Trivia from Slate with John Dickerson: This would be one of many podcasts on my phone to fall in the category of “shows my wife is not interested in listening to on our road trips.” I love stories of American history and the quirkier the better. John Dickerson is one of America’s finest journalists. His narration in this show brings the stories of the fascinating figures who’ve lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, like Reagan and Ike, Truman and Kennedy, into full color.

By / Dec 4

In the beginning of 2019, the ERLC Podcast will run a guest series hosted by me, Trillia Newbell, featuring women throughout evangelicalism.

More will be shared about the scope and purpose of the podcast in the coming weeks, but one of the main goals is to help pastors, ministry leaders, organization executives, and more navigate our culture and think through issues and topics important to women, women's ministry, and helping women thriving in the church and beyond. 

To help me with this important task and goal, I’d like to hear from you! If you have a specific question or topic that you would like to see covered, please fill out this anonymous form. My hope is to get to as many submissions as possible.

We’d love to address some of your most pressing questions, so please don’t hesitate to share what’s on your mind. Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • “I’m the only pastor on staff at my church and have limited resources. How might I best support the women in my church who desire more events, studies, and such geared toward women?”
  • “I received an email from a woman in my church who shared that she has been sexually abused as a child. She would like to meet with me. Who do you think should be in that meeting? What steps would you suggest I take to be a source of care for her?”
  • “Some of the women in my church have formed a parachurch ministry to the women in our church but not under the authority of the church. Should I be concerned? Should I support their effort? If so, how?”

We’re looking forward to how God will use this series in individual lives and in the body of Christ. So, don’t forget to submit your question or topic here.

By / Mar 23

A preview of a new podcast from the ERLC. Capitol Conversations is hosted by Matthew Hawkins and Travis Wussow from the ERLC offices in Washington, D.C.

By / Dec 16

Questions and Ethics with Russell Moore Should a Christian listen to the Serial podcast?

Dan Darling: Welcome back to Questions and Ethics with Dr. Russell Moore. Dr. Moore, our question comes in today from Twitter. A fan of the podcast, Serial, which both you and I have listened to, has asked should our consciences bother us about this podcast given that it’s a real-life crime story, and they are obviously profiting off of this? How should we think through this? But before we get to that, I just want to know what do you think? Do you think Adnan is guilty? Do you think someone else murdered this girl?

Russell Moore: We have had this debate, and for those of you who are listeners, we actually had a really intense debate over this here in our ERLC offices in Nashville a week ago and another one today in our Washington, D.C., offices just this very day. And I think everybody is pretty much on our team coming down where I would expect that they would come down on this. So, Dan, I think you, after listening to this all this time, you think Adnan is innocent.

Darling: I do. I absolutely do.

Moore: Okay. And why?

Darling: I just think the state’s case is so flimsy. I think there is not any, you know, forensic evidence. I just think they are basing it on—I mean the timeline is shaky. Jay’s testimony is shaky. I don’t know. I am not saying Adnan is a guy I would want teaching my kids Sunday School, but—

Moore: He gives his cell phone and his car to somebody else and then just disappears and doesn’t remember where he was the entire day when his ex-girlfriend is murdered and then never calls her to check on her after she disappears? They have a record that he did not try to call her pager or to check on her. Who does that?

Darling: Yeah, I mean—

Moore: He’s clearly guilty.

Darling: That’s the strongest part of their case, to be honest with you.

Moore: That is the case!

Darling: I mean, the one thing that really bothers me—it’s just like I felt like there are leads that they didn’t pursue, or there are other angles. Like, for instance, you know, her existing boyfriend—it seems like they didn’t—

Moore: Her existing boyfriend has a solid alibi. He was at LensCrafters the whole day.

Darling: Yeah. I just feel like the case is so weak.

Moore: You just think he’s a nice guy.

Darling: I don’t think he’s a nice guy.

Moore: Be honest. You think he’s just too nice seeming to you on the telephone. You can’t imagine him doing it.

Darling: I just—if it was me, and I was innocent, and they had that much little evidence actually, and they convicted me, I would just like—that would be bad—

Moore: Well, but you are basing that on the evidence that they have that she is displaying in the Serial podcast. We don’t know that that’s what the jury has.

Darling: Right.

Moore: It could be—I mean they did convict him, beyond a reasonable doubt, so they could have had much more info. Now, what I would agree with you on is if I were sitting on a jury having to make this decision beyond a reasonable doubt, and all that was presented to me is what I have heard on this Serial podcast, which I’m not assuming is what the jury heard, but if that was the case I wouldn’t vote to convict based upon that amount of evidence. There are all sorts of situations where on a jury you can say I think somebody’s guilty, just on the basis of circumstance and on the basis of intuition, but that doesn’t mean that you vote to convict.

Darling: But the case is weak, yeah. And I think there’s a possibility that he is guilty but the case is weak.

Moore: Yeah, sure.

Darling: I mean, I’m open to that. He is obviously the lead suspect. So, let’s get to the question of should Christian consciences be bothered by listening to this? What do you think of Sarah Koenig and This American Life kind of doing this, taking a real story and serializing it for profit?

Moore: Well, this has caused a little bit of controversy, not in the way that this questioner is asking. I thought it was a good question to raise because it’s not something that I’ve heard anyone really grapple with previously. There has been some controversy over, for instance, Best Buy. For those of you who listen to Serial, part of the story is the question of the payphone at Best Buy. And they don’t have any evidence that there ever was a payphone at Best Buy from which the telephone call was made after the murder. Best Buy tweeted, “We’ve got everything you need this holiday season except a payphone.”

Darling: Yikes.

Moore: Yeah. And that was in very poor taste because I think Best Buy is—I think whoever did this in the Best Buy organization is just assuming that this is a murder mystery in the way that it’s easy to do. You know, we’re listening to this, and you and I talk about this case—I have a pastor friend in Alabama that I text back and forth with all the time after the new episode of Serial comes out as to whether or not—what do you think? My latest thing to him was to say I think this is going to end as a romance between Sarah Koenig and Adnan Syed because she seems to be really taken with him, so I just think it’s going to end with them breaking out of jail and going to Mexico. It’s easy to look at this, and it’s almost like you are just watching a multipart drama without reminding yourself, no, this is a real murder that was taking place. A real human being was killed, and a real human being is imprisoned. And so, I think that’s where the problem came in with Best Buy trivializing this. Having said that, I don’t think that there is an ethical problem with Sarah Koenig, with This American Life doing this broadcast, nor with Christians listening to this, for several reasons: One of them is it’s true, as this questioner says, that they are turning a murder into at least in some way a commercial product. They are selling advertisements. MailChimp is on there every time. Maybe for this broadcast MailChimp will advertize on our podcast. We will wait and see. They are making some money off of this. That’s clear. But, it’s not—I don’t think that what’s happening here is exploiting the murder. I don’t think that there is a glorification of the murder itself. I don’t think that the podcast is trying to appeal to people’s baser instincts in terms of bloodlust. I mean, there are certain genres that do that. They come awfully close to what was happening with the gladiator games that our Christians forefathers said were morally wrong. I don’t see any of that in here. There’s not a dwelling upon the darker aspects of this. I think instead what is happening is there’s a narrative that is being told that’s being walked through in order to try to help people to discern what the truth is. And so, in that, I actually think that there are some morally good things that are coming out in here. One of those is just the question of dealing with innocent people who are in prison. Now, again, I don’t think Adnan Syed is an innocent person who is in prison, but I think having the podcast working with The Innocence Project and saying what are the sorts of things you look at. How is it that people can be convicted when innocent? I think that’s a good and important issue to raise. Shining a light on it.

Darling: To me, that was one of the more helpful broadcasts when they talked to The Innocence Project and figured out kind of what they look like. To close, I think a good question would be what do you think podcasts like Serial and crime shows, what do you think it says about our desire to see justice in the world? That seems like it’s a natural human desire, right?

Moore: I think there is a natural human desire to see justice. I also think that there is a natural human desire to recognize what Proverbs says, which is, the one who justifies the wicked and the one who puts condemnation on the innocent, both are an abomination to God. Now, I think that is exactly—that intuition is there where you say that if you have people who are guilty of murder going free, there is something wrong about that. So, when we are listening to this podcast, we are like—we are sitting here thinking to ourselves who killed Hae? because we know, even though we don’t know her, most of us, we have never met her or even heard of her, something awful and morally wrong happened there, and there ought to be an accounting for that. And then on the other hand, there is this sense of people who are innocent shouldn’t be in prison. So, you are thinking through. No one’s thinking well, who cares if Adnan is innocent and he’s in jail. We are saying if he were innocent, and he is in prison for the rest of his life, that’s morally wrong. So, I think there is that intuition which of course as Christians we believe isn’t just about morality. It’s also ultimately about the gospel because Proverbs uses that language, he who justifies the wicked is an abomination to God, and then turns around in Romans, chapter 3 and 4, and talks about the God who does what? justifies the wicked. So, how is God not an abomination to himself? That’s Paul’s argument is that in the cross he punishes sin—every sin is accounted for and punished. So he is both just and in the life of Christ, who is innocent before the tribunal of God and righteous before God, he is the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. So, if I were talking to a non- Christian friend right now who is interested in Serial, I would want to talk about that and to say why does it matter if Hae is murdered? We don’t think this is a serial killer (no pun intended). So, we don’t think that there is a danger out there of anyone else. It’s been since 1999 since she was killed, so why does it matter if the person who killed her is brought to justice? And then by the same token what does it matter whether or not Adnan Syed is imprisoned and spends the rest of his life in jail? I mean, he was stealing from the Mosque. You know, he’s not by any account, he’s not a choirboy. And I think we all have that law written on the heart that would speak to both aspects of that, which then just needs to be developed into, well, why do you think that? Why does that matter?

Darling: That’s a good word. This could really provoke some good conversations with unbelievers about justice.

Moore: And I think the other part of it that is important is, you know, we are going to listen—this week is the final part of this season of Serial, and those of us who have been listening to it have been saying for some time it’s either going to wind up with just a shocking surprise turnaround, or it’s going to end up in a real disappointment if we go through listening to this. So, I think there’s this longing for resolution. We want to see things wrapped up. And I think that is rooted in a sense that we all want our individual stories and the story of humanity to be going somewhere, to have a coherent narrative.

Darling: This is why the crime shows always wrap it up neatly at the end of the hour. I mean, we all want to see that.

Moore: And that’s the problem that Sarah Koenig has is when you are dealing with real life you can’t wrap it up neatly in this life.

Darling: Well, that’s a good word. Thank you, Dr. Moore. And thank you for joining us for Questions and Ethics with Dr. Russell Moore. Again, if you have further questions that you’d like us to address, email us at [email protected].