The Evangelical Sexual Marketplace: An Ethnographic Analysis of the Exchange and Conversion of Erotic Capital in an Evangelical Church


  • Robin Willey



Since the development of the early church, sexual ethics and the regulation of heterosexual relationships have been integral parts of Christian religious practice. Evangelical Christian communities are no exception to this pattern of regulation. In particular, this article makes three key arguments regarding Evangelical sexual practices. First, heterosexual relationships and marriage have become one of the most important (if not the most important) aspects of Evangelical religious and social practice, surmounting both Baptism and the Eucharist. Second, those in the Evangelical sub-culture tend to find several qualities more or less attractive in a potential mate, some of which differ from those outside the sub-culture. Finally, within many Evangelical churches a defined social space—a sexual marketplace—exists where individual agents exchange and convert this commodity, among others, to attract potential marital partners. The author derives these conclusions from the ethnographic observations and interviews he conducted while attending an urban Canadian Pentecostal Church in 2009 and 2010.