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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How the Teachings of Emotional Purity and Courtship Damage Healthy Relationships

There are many times that I don't realize just how much strange teaching I've had to "un-do" in my life until I try to explain them to someone else. This happened to me the other night. A dear friend and I were talking about our kids and how to help them transition from children to adults. The topic of dating and relationships came up and we started talking about my story. Sometimes it's actually comforting to me to be met with blank or incredulous stares from people I consider "normal", good Christians. It somehow validates my belief that some of the teachings I grew up with were very wrong.

I've also lately started facing the ways in which the teachings of "emotional purity", (a la Josh Harris, the Ludys, and others) have damaged the part of my brain that makes healthy relationships function.

I define "emotional purity" in the same way that popular homeschool writers have: it is the idea of "guarding your heart". Which sounds all noble and righteous and everything but in this context is really just a facade for fear. Fear of loving and losing. Fear of making the wrong choice. Fear of getting hurt. Fear of being damaged. Fear of not measuring up. In my life it meant never having a crush on a guy, never allowing myself to "fall in love", basically training myself to shut down a normal, healthy, functioning part of my human heart.

I'm 27 years old, been married for almost 7 years. I rejected the teachings of courtship and emotional purity when I was 19. But their effects have yet to leave.

There are several ways that these teachings can damage a person's heart.

1. They cause shame.

Shame because sometimes you can't help but like one guy a little more than another. Shame because that's "sinful" and "emotionally impure". Shame because it sets a standard and proclaims that you are somehow shameful if you cannot keep it. You are considered damaged goods if you have fallen in love and had your heart broken. It was Josh Harris in I Kissed Dating Goodbye and the Ludy's in several of their books that popularized the idea that everytime you fall in love or get "emotionally attached" to someone, you give away a piece of your heart. The more pieces you give away, the less of your heart you have to give to your spouse someday. He even went so far as to say that each of those former flames actually have some sort of hold on you. This has got to be the most bogus and the most damaging teaching of this entire movement. Love doesn't work that way. The more you give, the more you have. My 3rd child doesn't have less of my heart just because I've loved two other children before him. And, really, I haven't given them "pieces" of my heart. I've given them each all of my heart. The miracle of love is that it multiplies by being given.

Each person I love has "a piece of my heart"...my best friend, my sisters, my husband, my parents, my kids. It is ridiculous to suggest that there is not enough of my heart to go around.

And what view of redemption does this teaching proclaim? Not one that I want anything to do with. It is an incompetent redemption.

2. They cause pride.

Pride because suddenly you are better than everyone else. Because you have never had a crush on a guy. You have kept your heart for your spouse. You didn't say "I love you" til your wedding day. Pride in human accomplishment. Pride because you are so much more spiritual than that poor girl over there who is crying because her boyfriend broke up with her. Because your heart is whole and she just gave a piece of hers to a guy she isn't married to. Pride because you did it right, she did not. You have more to give your future husband than she does. She is damaged goods, you are the real prize.

This is exactly what happened to the Pharisees. They made up laws that God never condoned, then patted themselves on the back for keeping them, while looking down on those who didn't. This has nothing to do with the righteousness and grace of God, and everything to do with the accomplishments of man. I remember watching a video where one of the biggest names in the courtship movement bragged with obvious arrogance that he didn't tell his wife he loved her until their wedding. And I thought "how twisted can we get?" We took something as simple as saying "I love you", built a strawman rule around it ("saying I love you is defrauding") then hung it like a trophy on our walls. Job well done, folks.

3. They create skewed views of relationships which lead to dysfunction

This is where I still struggle. Where others see nothing wrong, I am suspicious of every look, every situation, every witty exchange. I am still uncomfortable hugging one of my best friends who is a guy. Because we were never to hug or have physical contact, even innocent, with a guy. Voices in my head scream "defrauder!" just by giving a friend a quick hug. I feel ill at ease sometimes even talking to other men. Oh, they never notice. Because I'm really good at pushing those feelings away and acting "normal". But I am bothered by my reaction to everyday situations. We were taught never ever ever to be alone with a guy. Because it could look bad. He could be tempted. You might start thinking impure thoughts. You might even *gasp* flirt!

I was trying to explain this to my friend and it came out sounding so....crazy and embarrassing. I told her if she was to walk out of the room, leaving me and her husband in the same room, my first reaction would be one of panic. "This might look bad.... what if he talks to me...what if someone else sees us....what is he thinking..." My second reaction, close on the heels of the first, would be a coping mechanism that I learned long ago: I calmly tell myself that "this is perfectly normal and perfectly innocent...he probably doesn't even notice me...this is a Godly man I know and trust....the only person who would ever freak out about this is me....to the rest of the world there's nothing wrong here". I then calm down, act normal, and hope nobody noticed my crazy internal battle. Cuz they'd probably admit me to a psych ward. Thank you, Josh Harris and Co. I hate this about myself! I am a strong, confident person. But the idea that I can defraud just by a look, that I could become emotionally impure just by a thought, that I might become damaged goods with pieces of my heart strewn all over tarnation, and that guys "only have one thing on their mind" and we need to help them control themselves, has truly negatively affected what should be normal interactions with my friends. Honestly, I don't get embarrassed talking about much. But this admission isn't easy for me.

Guess what? In the real world, men and women can have innocent relationships. They can talk to each other without one of them thinking there's ulterior motives. They can laugh and exchange wits and, yes, even drive in a car together without anybody thinking anything dubious is happening. They are not naiive but they are not afraid of their own shadows. Purity and integrity in relationships can be there without being unnaturally freaked out about it. The other night, I stuck my tongue out at a guy friend who was teasing me and his wife cracked up laughing. As I laughed, I felt myself looking down on the situation, amazed that nobody thought twice about it, then amazed that I DID...that I had to push away feelings of guilt because what if someone thought I was *gasp* flirting?! This is one dysfunction that I really wish I could be freed from. Maybe time is the only cure and I need to be more patient with myself. These teachings have deep, rotten roots and it takes time to pull them all out.

4. They teach us to make formulas to be safe

1 + 1= 2. Emotional purity + Biblical courtship = Godly marriage. But life doesn't work that way. You can do everything "right" and your life can still suck. You can do everything "wrong" and still be blessed. Rain falls on the good and evil. Time and chance happen to them all. People who follow the courtship formula still get divorced. Or stuck in terrible marriages. Courtship is not the assurance of a good marriage. Life is too complicated for that. Love involves vulnerability. When you choose to love, you are choosing to accept risking a broken heart. No formula can protect you. Life involves risk. Following God involves risk. He is not a "safe" God. But He is good.

God doesn't seem to like formulas. Because formula is the opposite of faith. Formula says "I will follow a God that I've put neatly in a box, to give me the desired results". Faith says "I will follow You even when I can't see where I'm going, even when the world is collapsing around me". Formula says "I will not risk, I will be in control of my future". Faith says "I will risk everything, I will trust Whom I cannot see, surrender what I cannot control anyway." Formula is the assurance of things planned for, the conviction of things seen. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). But we are afraid. So we control instead of trust. We don't take a step unless we can see where we're going. We build neat little formulas and say "THIS will keep me safe!" Then we blame God when our puny formulas fail.

These teachings need to be stopped. They were new in my generation and now I, and others like me, are reaping the fruit of them. And the fruit is rotten to the core. I'm sure those who promoted such ideas had good intentions. But good intentions aren't enough. Without Truth and Grace they can do more harm than good. Thanks to those good intentions, we are seeing an entire generation of homeschool alumni who have no idea how to have normal relationships. I have talked with literally hundreds of alumni my age, and am not exaggerating the extent of the issue. It's nice to know I'm not alone in my dysfunction but discouraging as well. What is encouraging is that most of us have determined to stop the insanity. We will not be passing these things to the next generation. Instead we will teach our children to love God with all that they have, all that they are; and to love and respect others as they love themselves.

I leave you with the words of a very wise man:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
~C. S. Lewis

Be sure to read Emotional Purity and Courtship, Part 2....

And Emotional Purity and Courtship: A Few Years Later.


  1. This is really great, Darcy.

    It occurs to me that this whole "courtship" thing really does have a lot in common with Pharisaism--"God gave us a rule (save sexual intimacy for marriage), so let's build a colossal fence of man-made rules around it (don't hold hands)!"

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  2. Amen to all of that. I can't stand Josh Harris. And all that courtship stuff is the reason the "Bible Belt" is full of pornography stores. Sexual repression (instead of plain old self-control) leads to sexual perversion.

    1. You may not like the teachings or the way that they have been implemented, but, it is sad that you speak of a man such as Josh Harris is this manner. In addition, I'm sure he has nothing to do with the porn shops, anywhere. They were there before he was born, and have probably been replaced by the 'net, today. Speak of others the way you wish to be spoken of. He is a real live person, I can attest.

  3. I love your posts, Darcy. :-)

    I used to eat up everything when I was younger, so I was really into "courtship" when I was a teen... by the time I actually got to dating age (18 for myself), it didn't matter so much anymore. LOL

    So I have a "boyfriend" and we "date". *gasp* LOL. We hold hands and we hug. We even kiss each other on the cheek. o.O LOLOL

    Sure, broken hearts are no fun to deal with, and sure, in a perfect world, no-one would have to. But we don't live in a perfect world, and broken or unbroken heart, you will STIll have troubles and trials in your marriage, no matter how "great" you started. :-P They sort of skip that part.

  4. You know, I had never thought about it like that, but you are right. I have to admit I've never been huge on Joshua Harris (though I'm sure he's a great guy). And I struggle with the thoughts that something might be seen as deeper then it is. Yet when I'm with my friends, even my guy friends, I tend not to think about that stuff till AFTER it's over. Then I stress over it a bit.

  5. Nearly two months ago, I posted something ( http://betweenthestacks.wordpress.com/2010/11/30/not-hidden-away/ ) that just barely touches on the influence the courtship/emotional purity movement had on me. It honestly goes a lot deeper than I let most people know. Like, last night, while talking to my fiance, I mentioned how some people gave me grief for holding hands with him last fall, when we'd been going out for nearly a year. He couldn't believe it. Getting flack like that totally didn't surprise me; it's that sort of thing, though, that has made me second-guess and question myself very often during our relationship. :-/

    I'm still trying to figure it all out. *sigh* For instance, to this day, I don't have ANY guy friends at all, aside from my fiance. Good girls aren't supposed to, you know. I'm not even sure I could have a friendship of any great depth with another guy, not because of my fiance, but because it's so entrenched in me that friendships with guys is wrong.

  6. I really appreciate your outlook on this. I remember when Josh Harris came out with his book. So much of what he, and others, had to say "seemed" logical. I am saddened that you have to go through all this.

  7. Whoa, can I ever relate to this.

    Shame? My family met these ideas during the biggest teen crush I ever had--I couldn't keep the Promise for five minutes. Pride? Well, yes. Dysfunction? It took me ten years to figure out how to show a guy I liked him, and I still don't quite know how to be a sister to my brothers-in-law. Formulas? Yeah, learned that one the hard way.

    Thank God, I was desperate enough to go against the ideas eventually, and my parents have a good grip on the meaning of grace. Thank God, I found the courage to ask Mr. Awesome out, and he married me.

    Josh Harris, the Ludys, and the others mean well, I believe. And when I see fourteen-year-olds that are all Katy Perry and Team Jacob, sometimes I think they could benefit with a little guidance and distraction. But loving guidance and distraction. Not an exhortation to go emotionless until the Right One beats down their daddy's front door.

    Most guys, no matter how attracted, simply won't beat down the door unless they think the girl behind it is interested. I'm so grateful to have learned that lesson eventually. I really like being married. :)

    Guess you hit a nerve. Excellent post, by the way.

  8. Darcy,

    So good!

    Funny thing, I wasn't raised in a fundamental home, just a grace-filled family who loved Jesus. I went to a purity "conference" at our church when I was a teen, couldn't quite figure out all that they were implying, and survived high school with a few heartbreaks but nothing too terrible...I went on to marry my high school sweetheart, and we were physically pure until our wedding day.

    The interesting thing, though, is the PRIDE issue. I have had to struggle with it myself. And I've also watched my parents have to struggle with it (as if they had something to do with it)...the one thing that kept them humble was my identical twin sister who chose an entirely different (and "impure) path.

    Now, as an adult, I've been asked to speak a few times on the subject of purity, by those who have known the family long enough to know my husband and I's story. And the crazy thing is...I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO TELL THOSE TEENAGE GIRLS! Well, I take that back, I have lots of ideas of what to tell them, but none that fit the "formula" called "purity" that I've been asked to speak on. So, I speak truth - my own story, but also, much more importantly, God's grace and many lessons through my life, and their lives too... So, here's the challenge for me - as a mother, and a mentor to teenage girls: how do we encourage women to be confident and obedient to God's Word to save sex until marriage, withOUT giving formulas, even inadvertently? (I once had a young woman come to me and say, "I'm going to go to a christian college, because you did, and you were able to remain physically pure until marriage." Wha??!!!)

    Again, great post,
    Resting in Him,

  9. I couldn't agree with you more!

    We need to be WAY more careful and discerning before we subject our kids to these types of teachings.

    We need to think these things through and not just agree with every well meaning program churches put out.

    I just posted a blog on how to listen to God. We need to learn to hear from God and use our knowledge because it looks like there is very little actual discernment going on in the church.


  10. Wow!!
    I love this.
    And it's sooo true, y'know?
    Thank God I didn't read hardly a few of those young Christian adult books...
    My older sister did, and she says I'm blessed.
    Although, I do still have less-extreme scars/impressions to be rid of...
    A good thing is, I'm working on having friendships with a few guys I know.
    It's amazing how it's changed my whole concept of anything concerning the opposite sex, and everything surrounding that and my future.

  11. I sure do identify with your take on this stuff. To a certain extent, I grew up on books like 'Emotional Purity' [which notably defines sharing any profound personal thoughts or feelings with a member of the opposite sex as 'emotional fornication', GAHHH], 'Before You Meet Prince Charming', and so on. I only recently read IKDG and it actually struck me as fairly moderate....which maybe says more about those other books than it does about Harris'.

    I'm not going to accuse you of baby + bathwater actions, because if Harris and 'Emotional Purity' were all there were to the courtship scene, I'd be right there with you pitching the entire bathtub out :P

    I don't think that what is commonly defined as 'dating' is very beneficial in most cases, and doubtless frequently harmful. But I don't think the response needed to be one of such knee-jerk legalism as seems to be common.
    The best I can do is share a little of my personal story: 'emotional purity' did not work for me. I don't know how much was my own fault, and how much was real problems with the system. I do know that the only thing that made me internalize the harped-upon concept of, say, modest dressing was not being eternally nagged about 'save yourself for your husband!', but instead realizing that when guys don't want to be wrongly attracted to a woman, it IS actually a struggle for them and it's rather thoughtless of me to make it any harder.

    Any amount of rules and 'suggestions' and 'hedges' is going to do absolutely no good at all if someone isn't already predisposed that way. There is, I think, only real change when a person is motivated by LOVE, be it for a brother or sister, or future spouse, or for God. I'm sure many of the people who support the ideas we disagree with really are motivated by love, but somehow it is completely failing to come through in their words and actions.

    The 'damaged goods' concept can only be hurtful and wrong. I've read books where a person's heart and purity [emotional or otherwise] is compared to anything from a piece of fine fabric to a perfect cake....take one piece out and it is damaged FOREVER. Not a heart you would want to give to someone you love....in effect, worthless. I read those books fortunately rather a long time ago. I can't imagine what they would do to a woman who did have something in her past she shouldn't have done [or something THEY said she shouldn't have done....]. I thought comparing people to goods, damaged or not, was something that went out with the Victorians. They used to be keen on euphemising a 'fallen woman' as a damaged piece of goods, I think. Now we trot out the term for who knows what: a girl who's had a crush on a boy? 'Given her heart away'? To compare the two seems incredibly foolish and insensitive.

    Eternally damaged goods eh... With a little conciliatory note tacked on at the end saying that 'Now if you've done things you need to be ashamed of, never fear, God can make you pure again! But everyone else, remember, you wouldn't want to give that fine roll of silk to someone if it had a big gaping slash in it, right? Who would feel honored knowing that it is 'almost new'?'

    Way to give the lie to the majority of the New Testament. Paul, who had controversial things to say to women if anyone did, NEVER talked about Christians being 'damaged goods'. He harped a lot on 'a new creation' and 'righteousness through faith' and 'never separated from the love of God'.

    [more to follow, word limit reached......]

  12. [from above]

    Okay back to my own story: I have usually been too busy working through the other issues raised by patriocentricity to worry much about courtship. In the last year though, I've become very good friends with a guy who deeply loves God, and who seems to have worked out a 'courtship' paradigm mostly on his own [plus the Bible...just not following Harris or anyone else, heheh]. His idea involves being free to be VERY good friends with anyone, with the upfront knowledge on both sides that the relationship is to be either open friendship, or open courtship with the purpose of finding out if marriage would NOT be advisable. [Personally I think this is not dis-similar to what I envision to be more traditional methods of 'dating'.]

    It certainly seems to be working out well. Over the past year we've become very close friends, and we both know we'd be interested in courtship with the other person when the situation allows: but there has been none of the anxiety and uncertainty that I've often experienced in relationships with guys. From a hare-brained female perspective, it is so very nice to know that if the relationship changes, we can talk about it without anxiously poking at the subject with a long stick.

    The idea is also that people should be able to end the 'just-friends' relationship without pain. Theoretically being the keyword here: I don't think there is a fool-proof way to avoid pain, nor that that should really be the overarching goal of our lives. But I think lasting hurt is minimized when communication is open between all parties.

    All this to say: feel free to throw out the emotional purity/courtship package, but I'd encourage anyone reading this to consider the motives we want to approach relationships with, and see if those may express themselves as some modified form of 'courtship', even if you call it 'open-communication intentional dating' ;)

    I was recently struck by the difference between the way my friend [and hopefully I] approaches love, sex and marriage, and the way far too many courtship advocates do. They seem to view it as a burden [with attending anxiety, grave injunctions, and warnings of Impending Doom upon the least mistake, no matter how much they may claim to treat 'God's gift' with joy]. It seems so much happier to see love as. a. GIFT.

    An important gift, one with responsibilities, but not something to be afraid of or bowed in duty to. Like any gift, the way it's treated will affect how it impacts you: but good will remain. And because the gift is based on relationship [not rules], it is flexible and nearly impossible to 'ruin'. In so many IKDG-type writings, where IS the joy? Where is the periodic amazement, the exultation in the knowledge that God designed love and marriage FOR US?

    Allow me to misquote Paul and say, let there be not worry and fear, 'but rather thanksgiving'. I still can barely wrap my mind around the awesomeness of this gift God gave to us: let's not complicate things by introducing a lot of rules.

    Thank you Darcy for continuing to post. I really enjoy your writing; thank you for letting me natter away here :)

  13. Best piece you've ever written, Darcy.

  14. Bethany, re: "emotional fornication"... that's something I forgot to mention. It should've had a whole point to itself. :P It is the idea that you cannot share any part of your heart with a member of the opposite sex, cannot be too personal or "give away" too much or you'll defraud them and become emotionally impure. What a load of crap. :P What a great way to create people who have no idea how to relate to each other and live in constant fear of messing up.

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  16. Oh my. Oh my. I still have a whole lot to work though!!! To anyone still questioning, yes, it is at least as bad as Darcy says it is. Totally crippling to genuine relationships.

  17. Excellent post, Darcy. My wife and I struggled with the whole courtship/dating thing when we adopted our daughter. We ended up not only allowing but encouraging her to date, as long as the first date was a double date with us. After that, we would talk and decide whether or not more dates with the gentleman were called for and whether or not they could be solo dates.

    In this post, you articulated the main reason we didn't fall for the courtship trap. It's your #4. Christianity is not about formulas. It is about a real relationship with Christ.

  18. I like what Bethany is sharing . . . esp. this part: All this to say: feel free to throw out the emotional purity/courtship package, but I'd encourage anyone reading this to consider the motives we want to approach relationships with, and see if those may express themselves as some modified form of 'courtship', even if you call it 'open-communication intentional dating' ;)

    I strongly suspect what we see in the current "courtship" scene is a move from one ditch to another ditch. We need to strive for a middle of the road approach that is guided by God, not by fear . . . tempered with wisodm, not a reaction to bad experiences. In all things, wisdom and godly moderation! And for sure in our relationships with others, Godly love. Godly love thinks about what is best for the other person.

  19. This is an incredible article -- I found it through the Quivering Daughters facebook page. When I was 12 or 13 my mom gave me Josh Harris's book and I, being an ignorant young girl, ate it up. I had these grand aspirations of saving myself for my prince charming, and how it would be so perfect. Well, life doesn't work out that way. I began to feel guilty about being friends with guys because I would be "damaging my heart," and so I comforted myself with the notion that everyone would be so in awe of how I saved my first kiss for my wedding day.

    When I started dating at 18, I had this moment where I thought, "What am I doing? How much am I missing out on based on my pride and guilt?" So I kissed him. We're still dating 3 years later, and I don't regret a thing. We're open and honest with each other, we kiss (*gasp*) and hold hands (*gasp*). If we broke up, would I be devastated? Absolutely. But I would rather be able to look back on my relationship and know that I gave everything I had instead of holding back because of pride and guilt.

  20. I have been happily married for almost 10 years and still feel as though I have to give side hugs to my male friends at church. Sad, but true...this teaching makes you feel as though you must always be alert...never letting your guard down towards the opposite sex.

    Who said healthy, normal relationships need a guard to begin with?

    Great post and thank you for putting heartfelt words,stories and examples out in the open!

  21. Without the foundation of the Gospel, any teaching about courtship or even Responsible Dating will generate only fear and guilt in our minds -- because we can't do this on our own! Only through Christ's death for sins much worse than "defrauding," grace to save and holiness that covers our lives with His perfect life, do we have any hope of glorifying Him in our choices.

    It is unfortunate about Josh Harris' hijacking by more-un-Biblical "courtship" "patriarchy" wackazoids. His first book needed some work anyway -- and in fact he updated it later! -- but Boy Meets Girl was much better. By that time he had undergone several misfired God-honoring relationships, then his own courtship/dating (which also involved dating a newly Christian girl, whose father didn't care, while his own parents lived on the opposite coast).

    Even better, he had become involved with other strong Christians who helped him gain an even firmer grasp on the Gospel. He no longer wants to be the "love doctor" and treat mainly the symptoms of Gospel-ignorance, but instead preach Christ crucified and resurrected as his central calling.

    In 2005 he preached a great little two-part sermon called "Courtship, Schmourtship." You might be stunned -- I know I was, pleasantly so -- to hear what he's been preaching now, even lovingly calling his own church to task for pouncing on any guy who looks at a girl with some interest (whatareyourplansforher? whatareyourplansforher?) or at least furthering that connotation, and not recognizing God-honoring freedom.

    Try these direct-download links (right-click and save-as the MP3s):

    What Really Matters

    Courtship is a Community Project

  22. Mr. Burnett,
    I am very familiar with [i]Boy Meets Girl[/i], and Mr. Harris' latest teachings on the matter. I have my own issues with BMG that I don't care to discuss here. It was vastly better than his first book, but sometimes a little bit of Truth mixed with a whole bunch of legalism can be more damaging than outright lies.

    The fact is, I am from the I [i]Kissed Dating Goodbye[/i] generation. No amount of changing his teachings now are going to change the fact that his teachings THEN did a lot of damage. That is what I and others like me are dealing with. Saying "Oh, well, he changed his tune" doesn't address the issue. It sounds more like an excuse and dismissal of very real problems.

    Before I lay too much blame on the head of a then young, immature author (who had good motives, as I already stated), there's plenty of more books out there that perpetuated the shame and legalism: S.M Davis was huge on the "emotional attachment" idea; a book called "Of Knights and Fair Maidens", author purposefully forgotten; courtship books by a homeschooling family that were titled "Waiting for Her Isaac" and "The Courtship of Sarah McCain" and others I can't remember; The Chapman's books; The Bradrick's materials; The Ludy's (though their earlier stuff was pretty good); and the list goes on.

    Courtship and emotional purity, as taught in my generation, is damaging and wrong and needs to be addressed, not covered up and excused.

  23. My intent was absolutely not to cover up and excuse those issues. Instead my motive was encouragement: many authors have seen their previous excesses and are working to correct them. Again, the main motive must be to show the fruits of the Gospel, and not impose burdens that Scripture never imposes -- and even when it does, it points us to Christ, not our own effort and some hopelessness if/when we fail.

    I'm also aware of several of those other books. They have the same "it worked for me, so it must work for you too" mindset, which is both disgusting and hurtful, and worse, anti-Gospel. But their root problems are, as you put it, the worldview of mechanism: do this, and you'll get that. This exchanges what God has actually said for man-made traditions that both ignore His actual standards and deny them. Jesus condemned the you-know-whos for doing that very thing (Mark 7) and moreover, faulted them for not seeing that the very purpose of the Law was to point to our desperate need for Him alone!

  24. Excellent post that needs to be read by the many very well intentioned parents who aren't really "Quiverfull" or "Patriarchal" but just scared. Everything you write is so very true.

  25. This article is right on! I was raised much like you. Now in my later 20's and married, I still find myself incapable of knowing how to have relationships with other guys. I don't know how to be a *normal friend* to my brother-in-laws, hubby's buddies, or any men other than my husband. It's a sad struggle.

    Additionally, the more I step away from the teachings I grew up with, the more I realize how romantic relationships and marriage should be based on *love*. I realize now that when I got married, I didn't have a clue what love was. I married because it was the right thing to do in my formula for a perfect life. Now I'm learning that my relationship could and should have been begun and based on love, romance, and passion. (Not to mention friendship--I hardly knew the man I was marrying on a friendship level, I didn't know how to befriend a man!) Though I'm slowly working those essential aspects into my relationship, I've lost several years of a potentially wonderful marriage to a very frustrating marriage. All this because I listened to the courtship and emotionally-pure formulas. Somehow I think that God doesn't revere people such as Gothard, Lindvall, the Ludys, and Josh Harris in the way that so many people have!

  26. Wow, oh my word... just, wow. Thank you so so much for writing this!

    The whole topic of emotional purity and defrauding is one that has been on my mind a LOT the past 7 months. I've grown up in a family that agrees with a lot of the QF ideals, but was never very involved with due to living overseas.

    About a year ago, I became involved in a relationship with my best friend. Since then, I've heard more on the topic of emotional purity and "I love you" being defrauding than I've ever heard before! It's been really hard, hearing these things from my dad, and trying to figure out where my path needs to be. I'm an mk (missionary kid) and I have a hard enough time caring for anything, and then to have this dumped on me too?? I'm afraid to care, I'm unable to show affection, it seems to be wrong... I haunted by doubts of "what if this isn't the 'right on'? I'm ruining myself for whoever my husband will be." etc...

    To sort of change topics, I honestly totally don't get the hype about "I love you". It's words! They don't hold any special power! My dad asked my 'boyfriend' and I not to say it to each other, because "it is a promise of something to come, and that can't come right now, so you shouldn't say it because you're making promises you can't fulfill". Um, it's only a broken promise when it's broken? Otherwise it's just a promise... of hope for the future...

    Anyways, this got longer than I was meaning... :P Thank you again for your post! It helped so many ways...

  27. This is EXCELLENT! Thank you for having the courage to address this issue...not many people do despite the damage it is causing many Christian young people. Several months ago I wrote a piece along the same lines (http://ylcf.org/2010/07/emotional-purity/) though it doesn't go nearly as in depth as your piece does. May the Lord bless you as He brings you to perfection (Phil. 1:6).

  28. Great article, Darcy. Well written! Thank you so much. I read it to my daughters.

  29. For those of you who are new to my blog and would like to read my personal story of how these teachings almost made me miss out on my beautiful marriage, start here:


    The beginning of the story is at the bottom of the page.

  30. This is excellent writing. Thank you for being so open and honest. You brought up a few points I had not thought of yet. Isn't it sad that the girl becomes "damaged goods" but the boy is NEVER referred to that way?
    That implied legalism is a tough one to undo in one's life. I just posted at (in)courage about trying to escape it while trying to buy eye glasses.
    You can find it here:

  31. You make excellent points about the courtship model but as someone else stated-don't jump from one ditch to the other. As you were married at twenty you haven't experienced what a long history of dating and serious relationships does to a marriage. The other model--- freedom in dating has its own baggage. My husband and I weren't married until we were 30. We were both in many, many relationships before we met each other. Lots to overcome when we'd both experienced some beautiful times with other serious "lovers" . I used to wonder early in marriage if so and so probably would have been a better match with me etc. Yes everthing is redeemable but history impacts the present especially history of your heart and body. Affairs are plentiful within the Christian community and most of the time the affair is with a good friend of the married couple. I really believe in boundaries and modesty and not flirting and caution when spending time alone or just ANY TIME with the opposite sex. My male friendships now are all within the conxtext of my husband's friends and our families. I've had to let go of male friends that were only mine, and yes I initially missed their friendship, but my marriage is far more important. I had to remind myself that I should be nurturing this laughter and giddiness and buddiness with my husband and not anyone else. Oh indeed, I have room in my heart to love other men but I've experienced where that can lead. One and only one is meant for us. To end, I wouldn't jump to the other ditch of courtship when guiding my children but nor would I encourage a "let be what happens" approach either. Marriage at an earlier age for my husband and I would have been a good and healthy thing.There is no formula (but I will secretly pray for it for my kids!!)

  32. Be careful assuming what I have or have no experience with.

    Also, be careful assuming that just because I speak of one thing I do not believe in the evils of another. I reject the courtship model, but I also reject promiscuity. It does not have to be one or the other.

  33. Darcy, you said
    'It does not have to be one or the other.'

    SO TRUE. I absolutely hate the false dichotomy created by so many 'courtship movement' advocates, as well as patriocentrists (Andrea, I am not picking at you, btw).
    There are several fallacies common in many conservative camps which seem very reasonable until one examines them: the false dichotomy is one, bounded choice is another. It can be very difficult to argue against either: keep up the good work.

  34. Bishopswife said "this teaching makes you feel as though you must always be alert...never letting your guard down towards the opposite sex." Yes, absolutely, this has been so true in my own life and something I very much struggle with.

    Thank you for this post Darcy, you expressed so well what I have been feeling but couldn't quite articulate. (The comments have been very interesting as well.)

  35. I started a discussion yesterday on my FB page about Courting v. Dating which you can view here: http://fb.me/FOCj3L33 ) Well, a community member linked to your post and I just want to say that I am saddened to hear that this emotional purity era has produced fear, anxiety and guilt in so many Christian men and women. I am a mother of 4 children whom I hom$eschool and my husband and I encourage sexual purity until marriage which includes all acts that arouse sexual appetites. We teach this principle based upon what we've studied in Song of Solomon. We also encourage courtship based upon the premise that we will help our children choose their spouses by providing prayer, biblical counsel and approval. This is based on the model shown in Abraham choosing a wife for Issac. Finally, once our children are adults we also encourage them to seek out a spouse for themselves which is based on the courtship of Jacob.

    That being said, your post is another indicator to me why teaching strictly from the bible is the way to go. There is so substitute for the Bible: http://www.aproverbswife.com/2010/06/there-is-no-substitue-for-reading-the-bible.html

    In addition, there are many teaching about courtship that can be found in the bible. The reason I choose courtship for my children over dating is simply based on the standard English definition of each word which I wrote about here: http://www.aproverbswife.com/2007/12/courting-or-dating-is-there-a-difference.html

    God has given us several examples of how meeting one's spouse could play out. All throughout the book of Proverbs we find clear indications of what a Godly person looks like and what an ungodly one looks liked by their character. Ecclesiastes tells us that there is nothing new under the sun so we must be careful about using books and new popular teachings to tell us what God has already told us in His word. I think it's Hebrews that says "Study to show yourself approved" and this is one of the main places where Christian parents may fall short. We buy supposedly GREAT books looking for the wisdom that is already in the GOOD BOOK. Christian non-fiction books are just clif notes of the Bible which are sometimes inaccurate. If Christians are insistent upon reading books to gain a knowledge of Christ, they had better make sure they are fact checking what's written in these books against the Bible.

    Thanks for opening up this discussion Darcy. I had considered buying some of these books when my now 17 year old was a tween but decided to study the scripture and try to dissect so that she could understand Gods view of relationships.

    Thanks again.

    Excuse any typos, I'm commenting from my phone and typing so much with thumbs I hard.

  36. While you're at it, perhaps you should encourage your daughter to get a man drunk and then crawl into bed with him.... since that's the example left by Ruth.

    Or perhaps you should tell your sons to go work for a man for 14 years and then marry BOTH of his daughters....since that the example that Jacob left us.

    Or maybe they could just find wives by going to war and capturing women from the land they conquered...since that was directed by God in the Mosaic Law.

    Perhaps going out and finding a harlot to marry would be best since that's what Hosea was commanded to do.

    Forgive my sarcasm, but I use it to prove a point. There is NO "Biblical example" of how to find a spouse. The Bible is full of stories of people who found their spouses in many different ways, none of which was supposed to be prescriptive for us today. They are just stories describing what happened when. If you are going to use them as "the Biblical example", then be consistent and don't leave out people like Ruth, Jacob, Ester, and others, who did things in rather...unconventional ways and were blessed by God because of it.

    God's view of relationships can be found in all the "one-anothering" verses in the NT. That would be much more helpful to teach our children than OT examples of what NOT to do.

    1. Uh, Ruth never actually crawled into bed with him. what version are you reading?

    2. Oh thank you, Darcy. I was just thinking that. Also, Isaac and Jacob married their cousins. Um. Also, if we are going to blindly view the Biblical patriarchs as our models, we could choose favorites among our children (both Isaac and Jacob) and marry our half-sisters (Abraham and Sarah) and have sex with slaves (Abraham and Hagar).

  37. ProverbsWife...Here's the danger in modeling present actions on OT examples...

    The Holy Spirit, and it's leadership and guidance in the heart and life of a believer under the new and better covenant in Christ, get left entirely out of the equation. I fear that you're unintentionally replacing the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of your children.

    If a young man or young woman isn't prepared to make their own decisions, seeking counsel when compelled, following the Holy Spirit as it directs, they have no business being in a relationship, whether courtship, dating, or what have you.

    1. They should seek counsel always, not just when compelled to do so. After all, when one is in love, it's far too easy to be blind and overlook any red flags.
      It helps to get advice, wisdom and counsel from pastors, parents, older strong Christians etc... and certainly no harm in asking what other think of the relationship and if there are any worries/concerns/issues that I might be overlooking.

      An ounce of prevention can save a lot of heartache later on in life...

    2. Lewis, wouldn't you say that the Holy Spirit can speak to us through God's Word and through the other believers in our lives?

  38. I feel as if I could have been the one to write this post --everything you had to say mirrored my own life so closely. I am definitely on your same road to recovery. The biggest aspect of my own journey which you did not mention in yours is that all of those terrible ideas (which I'm still fighting!) also lead one to a great deal of suspicion. I am trying to take little baby steps toward *gasp* having some semblance of friendships with MALES (which is hard enough --it still feels so wrong), but I oftentimes struggle intensely with my boyfriend's *normalcy* ---he has had female friends his whole life and grew up in what I consider a properly balanced Christian home. Not legalistic (like mine, obviously), yet not liberal either... living under God's Grace and truly free, and very joyful! Anyway, it has been a long process for me to grow in trust that his every look, word, and action toward a female doesn't mean something potentially disasterous for our relationship. I still have a lot of possessiveness, distrust, and jealousy that I need to leave at the LORD's feet, but we'll get there. So, I just wanted to add that, in addition to all the points you made, I think this high level of suspicion in one's partner is another very pernicious outcome of the whole Courtship Movement.

  39. That's a very good point, Laura. This issue is so vast I couldn't possibly put everything in one post. And each person has their own wounds and their own journey.

  40. Proverbs Wife, your wholeheartedness for the Lord shines through, however beware of making the same mistake you caution against. If you are discovering what is right/best by reading the Scriptures yourself (like a Berean) and see the error of reading others' writings about the Scriptures, then why not let your 17 yr old do the same Scripture study for herself. Each individual is responsible to God by him/herself. Each needs to study to show his/herself approved. Should each not choose/marry on his/her own as you most likely did? Wise counsel and advice are welcome by many, but being told what method of courtship/dating, what Bible interpretation to apply, what age, how many children, etc... should not be welcome or encouraged. Let God be God in individual lives as He is in yours. Love your kids, pray fervently for their salvation & spiritual growth, talk to them, but let them hear God's voice, not just your interpretation of it, and be gracious to let them decide on their own. Susan T

  41. I'm the same age as you, Darcy. I read the first couple of chapters of I Kissed Dating Goodbye in the local Christian bookstore when I was about fifteen, and wasn't sure what to make of it. I told my (Christian, pro-waiting for marriage) dad I wasn't sure whether I was going to date or not.

    He replied, "What are you going to do, become a nun?!"

    That brought me back from the edge of courtship craziness, and I went on to date without feeling guilty about it.

  42. Excellent article, Darcy. As a homeschooled guy who got caught up in the S. M. Davis style of this teaching for a while, I can attest that it's not just the women who are scarred by this mentality.

    In my case, I got myself into it -- my parents had nothing to do with it. I can only imagine how difficult it would be for guys whose parents are involved with it also.

    I love your point #4. I came across a statement the other day that is absolutely relevant to this, even though the comment was actually directed at Buddhism:

    "One place [Buddhism and Christianity] do come together, though, is in the 4 Noble Truths. Love does lead to suffering--no doubt about it. One only has to look at the cross to see that. The difference is that Buddhists deal with that truth by saying, "Get rid of love," while Christians say, "Bear the suffering for the sake of the love."

  43. Wow! I read Josh Harris book about 6 months ago and it made so much sense. Your take makes for more sense! I have grown up with people who have the "Harris" mind thought about relationships and I alway thought "Isn't this kinda crazy." My parents have always wanted me to make my own choices, but guided me. I always thought that it was either dating or courting. I never understood either way of doing things. I have friends who have had boy after boy, after boy. I've seen from them that only heart-ache comes from it. But, this "don't hold hands!" thing never made sense either.
    Thanks for confirming for me that there really is a middle ground!

  44. Awesome thoughts, Darcy. Thank you so much for sharing. This made my day.

    I'm a young man, and I'm glad that there are WOMEN that realize that this is all a bunch of crap, too.

    Even my legalistic parents shied away from this while I was a teenager, but I adopted the mindset on my own as a late teen, thinking that I was going "that one extra step" and being a Good Christian. My (ex) girlfriend and I patted ourselves on the back for trying to have such a Godly relationship.

    I'm deeply thankful that God snapped me out of that period of stupidity and pride.

    Something else that bothers me about all this stuff is the shameless gender attributes and struggles assigned to each gender: women have problem with their hearts and feelings, while men are hormone-driven sex addicts.

    This is strengthened by garbage like EVERY YOUNG MAN'S BATTLE, EVERY YOUNG WOMAN'S BATTLE, etc.

    I mean, women want to have sex, too! And men have feelings and emotions that they struggle with, hopes and dreams and desires, and hearts that are every bit as capable of being broken as a woman's.

    We, as men, are taught to "guard a girl's heart," to "protect her virtue," and all that, but why are men's hearts somehow less important? Why is our (male) sex drive seen as disgusting and something to be ashamed of?

    Anyway, men are screwed up from this whole mentality as well. I'm a virgin, and I plan on saving myself for marriage, but for years, I despised myself for my sexual desires. Sometimes I still do, but for the most part, I realize that such desires aren't sinful or dirty, at least on an intellectual level.

    Men are taught to equate sexual desire with lust, and of course, lust with sin. Thus, it's sinful to feel sexual attraction to a girl.

    So yeah ... it doesn't just screw up women. It messes with men, too, and as you pointed out, it often prevents good relationships (not just romantic ones!) from forming, and when they do, it can be crippling, or at least make things way more difficult than they would otherwise be.

  45. Part 2 - Continuing my thoughts about courtship from a male perspective, and the male heart:

    Somebody noted earlier that men respond to reciprocated interest, and that's quite true!

    There's also the obvious fact that much of what a Godly man will find attractive about a woman IS her heart. We're taught how the woman on the INSIDE matters, far more than mere physical appearance. Yet women are taught to guard their hearts and share as little of themselves as possible. I wonder who thought THAT one up ...

    But, my larger point is a continuation of an earlier one I made: men have emotional needs.

    Needs that are completely disregarded in the courtship model.

    Different men have different needs, of course, and in general male needs might differ from those of general female needs, but the overall needs for affection, respect, honor, integrity, and the like remain the same.

    The basic "love languages" (as per Dr. Chapman's theory) remain the same.

    But in "courtship," it seems that women are taught not to allow themselves to feel for a man until in a place of security to do so - i.e. an engagement or marriage. And should they feel for him, then they shouldn't express it to him for fear of the couple stumbling, or something.

    Consider this from a male perspective, as we're the ones who are taught to do all the pursuing, "hunting," etc.:

    Why would I knowingly, willingly, enter into a relationship with a girl who refused to allow herself to feel any affection for me, and, should either of us "drop the ball" and her actually begin to feel some, refuse to express it to me?

    That is so saturated with stupidity that it's astounding.

    If I'm going to emotionally invest in a girl in the context of a romantic relationship, then she'd better be willing to do the same for me!

    If I'm going to be willing to open up and be vulnerable with her, to trust her with my feelings, and grant her the power to totally break my heart by choosing to be with her, then she'd better be willing to do the same for me.

    What's sad is that that sounds selfish, but it's nothing more than fair between two self-aware, responsible adults.

    I will not mislead a girl into thinking I have feelings for her when I do not, nor will I promise a future when I see none or am unable to do so. I will not lie to her, I will not force her into any relationship or physical affection, and I will be faithful to her while I am with her. If we see no future together, then I will not waste her time, and if we do see a future together then I will encourage her to explore and pursue it with me. THAT is how I will "guard a girl's heart," and I would expect no less of her in regard to mine.

  46. Part 3 -

    We men are taught that it is our sole responsibility to pursue women while they more or less sit back and play mysterious, hard-to-get, revealing as little of themselves as possible and hiding their heart from us.

    I have no issues with men taking the lead, but pursuit is a mutual endeavor in a healthy relationship.

    If I'm interested in a girl, then I will strive to learn about her, to get to know her, to familiarize myself with her in every way I reasonably can, to try and win her heart with my sincerity and the quality of my character. THAT is how I will pursue her.

    But again, I would expect no less of her. Why would I want to be with a girl who seems to care nothing for what I think, how I feel, where I stand on issues, my past experiences and how they've shaped me into who I am today?

    And again, that sounds selfish, but it is nothing less than fair.

    During my "courtship" phase, I had a girlfriend who would ask me if I felt the desire to pursue her, and of course I did. But I also felt the desire for her to pursue my heart, even though we were taught that that is inappropriate.

    It's as if girls are on some vain ego trip - yes, women's hearts are important and beyond value, to be treasured and nurtured and pursued.

    But to think that their hearts matter, while those of men don't, is insulting.

    For such emphasis to be placed on a woman's heart, and such little on a man's, is degrading.

    Frankly, this mentality in a woman is one of the most unattractive things I've ever come across. I'm much more inclined to just move on and not bother.

    And I suspect most men would, as well.

    Is that selfish?

    Doubtless, some will say so. Chauvinist? Or Feminist, for that matter? Pigheaded? Unbiblical? Liberal? Self-important? I'm sure plenty might think that.

    But men are human beings, and human beings have hearts and souls, emotional needs, cravings for affection and support, encouragement and respect, regardless of gender.

  47. Wow, I loved your post Darcy, and I love the many very thoughtful and thought-provoking comments that follow.

    I find it very interesting that it is only parents, even parents who do not yet have grown children, that are so adamant that they know "the way" to teach their children so that their children will grow up perfectly happy, holy, and trouble-free. LOL.

    Seems to me they would do well to HUMBLY LISTEN to the hearts of those who grew up taught by similar godly parents who were also sure they were doing things "god's way". But pride takes us all, and no doubt they truly believe that your parents just didn't do things quite as right as they are going to do them, no doubt. Hmmm....

    Keep writing, and keep commenting! Hopefully other moms can learn from your experiences.

  48. So well said, Darcy! Thank you so much for writing this and speaking so much truth. I look back on so many of the "courtships" that went on in the circle of "godly homeschooled families" that we ran in and more than half of them have ended in divorce or in infidelity.

    So much for the formula.

  49. THANK YOU!! I agree with Laura, I also could have written this article, although not nearly as clearly, since I am behind you in my discoveries!
    I also grew up in the ultra conservative, "cult" lifestyle, and I also find comfort in the reactions people have to the things I was taught.
    I remember when i said to my wonderful, beautiful, loving, godly, devoted Husband, (who only has adorable eyes for me) "I don't want you in a car alone with another woman." It felt like a robot spoke from my body, and when I said it, he was SO insulted! SO crushed, thinking it had something to do with my trust of him. When I tried to defend it, I had nothing. My argument was so weak, but he, (being the guy he is) went along with it. He does sometimes ride to and from work with women, one who is a neighbor, and one who is my Bestie friend in the area. I was clinging to this "truth" but not seeing the reason, until I read this post, I was thinking it was a commandment or something, but you know what? It;s not! Who the heck cares?? My husband loves ME he is devoted to ME, and one stupid rule that insults him and makes him feel belittled is NOT going to stregthen our marraige if he follows it, or even break our marraige if he doesn't UGH! I'm taking it back today! The poor guy. :P
    ALso, i love what you said about other men. I have been feeling that, and not knowing WHY I have such a hard time being comfortable around other happily married, fun guys. Who just like to visit, who like me as a friend, who flirt a little. I am such a prude! ROFL I am having a hard time loosening up ... even saying that, my first reaction it ... harlot! OMG .... I need brain surgery :P
    Thank you again for your honesty, and insight, you have helped me greatly!! Thank you. :)

  50. I am just eating up these comments, you guys! I had no idea what kind of response I was going to get when I posted this. I am both encouraged and saddened at the same time. Thank you all so much for being as open with me and other readers as I have been with you. Healing begins with confession and darkness cannot dwell where hearts have been opened to the light.

    Alex, what you said is so so SO important!! I debate this issue all the time with other homeschool alumni, trying desperately to get across the truths about men's hearts that you just shared. I get "amen" from all the single guys and argument from all the single girls, lol.

    I am not done with this topic yet. The response, on my blog and off of it, has confirmed that. If there is anyone who has commented here that doesn't want to be quoted in a future post, please let me know.

  51. "OMG .... I need brain surgery :P"

    Hahahaha....that about sums up my thoughts on the matter. :D

  52. I'm still dealing with the pain/baggage left from reading Josh Harris at an impressionable age and believing him. The guilt, shame, the confusion are all things I remember from that time in my life. Part of the reason I'm not a Christian anymore is because I could not deal with the constant guilt; guarding my every move, feeling trapped and inauthentic. It didn't have to be that way. I am so thankful for this discussion and I hope young people will think critically about such important issues. Parents and role models: be very careful about pushing books like this. If people cannot find a place to safely learn to express and experience open, healthy sexuality, then it may get pushed and hidden into the dark corners of a church basement as it did for me.

  53. My parents had me read both of Josh Harris's books, as well as Paulsen's "Emotional Purity" and Wilson's "Her Hand in Marriage" and a couple others when I was in my mid-teens. And, yeah, it royally screwed up my relationships with girls.

    • For a long time I insisted on awkward side-hugs, thinking that a real, honest-to-goodness front-hug would make me think too much about the girl's breasts, and/or that contact with them would stir up sexual feelings in her ... or maybe just that contact with her breasts would be sexually inappropriate. Mostly I just shook hands. With girls who were good family friends. Finally a particularly bubbly friend who had been away for a while greeted me with a tackling hug, and it just about paralyzed me. When my system rebooted and I ran diagnostics, I realized I wasn't defrauded, and maybe front-hugs weren't so bad. :-P

    • When I started reading these books, I was going through the biggest crush of my life (on a girl I didn't know very well, so of course I didn't tell her about it). Of course I immediately understood that infatuation was a sin akin to lust (I even described it in my journal as "lust in a gown of gold"), and that I needed to break the crush ASAP, and that the best way to break it was to consider her my sister. That did actually work, and we became really good brotherly/sisterly friends for a long time. But... if I had known infatuation was OKAY and that I wasn't involved in some kind of emotional lust after her ... I might have asked her out and things might have been a lot different, not nearly so awkward or guilt-ridden. (We're both happily married now, to people much better for us than we would be for each other, so I'm not saying I wish things had taken THAT route ... just that the whole "emotional fornication" thing pours in tons of guilt and repression where none is called for.)

    • Thanks to Paulsen's idea about establishing definitions/boundaries for ALL guy-girl relationships, any time I started becoming friends with ANY girl, I felt the need to talk to them and verbally establish that our relationship was going to be a brother/sister relationship so that nobody's heart would be broken. Yeah. I still wonder what kind of crazy awkward creep I came across as.

    • With the first girl I "dated" (we called it a "pre-courtship relationship" ... yeah ... "it's complicated" severely understates our understanding of it :-P), I tried to do everything 'by the book'. We didn't say "I love you" (though we said "I like you" quite a bit :-P) ... we were never alone together (it was long-distance, so we were actually only physically together for three days during our three-month relationship) ... and of course neither of us fully admitted (to each other) the true extent of our feelings. Actually, we 'fell in love' with each other more than six months before we decided to 'date' — we were so busy trying to pretend the feelings didn't exist, or at least destroy them, that we didn't realize dating would be a much better route. Three months later, we decided it wasn't working, and that was the end of it. (Of course I was depressed for about a year or so ... because I'd never broken up with anyone before ... and couldn't let myself fall in love again ... and refused to ADMIT I was depressed because I was so used to repressing my own feelings.... *sigh*)

    [Wow, this is longer than I thought ... continued below]

  54. [continued from above]

    Darcy, that C.S. Lewis quote at the end of your post is one of the wisest things I have EVER read about love. I saw something on a blog once that said, "Love is giving someone the power to break your heart — and trusting them not to." Really, that's all it is. Love is trust and risk and vulnerability. That doesn't mean it should be avoided — merely taken seriously. Just because alcohol can cause drunkenness, addiction, liver or brain damage, death, etc. doesn't mean it's a sin or even stupid to consume it moderately ... just that consumption should be MODERATE. And we're hearing all over the place that scientists are discovering that a moderate consumption of alcohol is HEALTHIER than teetotalism. Once again I'm reminded of the saying, "Better to have loved and lost than never love at all."

    Yes, relationships end in heartbreak. Even the most perfect marriage will, ultimately, when death comes. Friendships are lost to distance, time, conflict, and death. If you're going to be free of heartbreak, you can't even love your own family or have any friends of either gender. It's far, far better to be HONEST about your feelings than to pretend they don't exist.

    CelticMyst08 said, "I would rather be able to look back on my relationship and know that I gave everything I had instead of holding back because of pride and guilt."

    Pure wisdom.

  55. Alex, thank you so much for your comments. Patriarchal families DO tend to teach single girls their purity ego trip is "godly". Which is why they end up waiting and waiting and waiting for someone worthy enough to court them. :-P

    Ahaha... we are so much alike Scottie. :-P

    Before I got into a relationship, I was thinking about it, and I realized... I was deathly afraid of it. :-P Like, what if it didn't work out, what if I spent a year and it ended badly, what if what if...

    Then I decided I just needed to take a chance. What's life with no risks? Absolutely worthless.

    I am still pretty reserved... Still protective (maybe overly so, though I have only been dating for a few months at this point) of my heart and feelings. But I do take into account my boyfriend's feelings as well... He isn't a man devoid of feelings, emotions, hopes and dreams. Sometimes I think he's MORE emotional than me. LOL

  56. As a 17-year-old single guy only generally familiar with the emotional purity/courtship teachings, I was surprised both by the extreme legalism that you cited these folks are purporting, but also by the level of criticism you are leveling at them. I don't think your intention is to promote the run-of-the-mill dating method that is the world's norm, but such a negative critique of the courtship philosophy leaves one like myself grasping for a middle-of-the-road path that is consistent with Biblical principles.

    If you could do a follow-up post with your perspective on what a truly Biblical approach would look like, I think that would be of even more help to young men and women like myself who want to honor God in our relationships. Because while a critique like the one you posted is certainly instructive, I think giving positive direction on what *should* be done in romantic relationships is even more beneficial.

    Just my $0.02.

  57. @David: I do hope we hear more from Darcy on this in the future ... but in the meantime, isn't the "how-to" formulaic approach exactly what she's cautioning against? There is no "three steps to a successful relationship" that works equally well for all people and all relationships (or even ANY TWO people or ANY TWO relationships)! It's about love, trust, grace, and faith.

    Some things Darcy did say:

    The more you give, the more you have. My 3rd child doesn't have less of my heart just because I've loved two other children before him. And, really, I haven't given them "pieces" of my heart. I've given them each all of my heart. The miracle of love is that it multiplies by being given.

    Each person I love has "a piece of my heart"...my best friend, my sisters, my husband, my parents, my kids. It is ridiculous to suggest that there is not enough of my heart to go around.

    Guess what? In the real world, men and women can have innocent relationships. They can talk to each other without one of them thinking there's ulterior motives. They can laugh and exchange wits and, yes, even drive in a car together without anybody thinking anything dubious is happening. They are not naiive but they are not afraid of their own shadows.

    God doesn't seem to like formulas. Because formula is the opposite of faith. Formula says "I will follow a God that I've put neatly in a box, to give me the desired results". Faith says "I will follow You even when I can't see where I'm going, even when the world is collapsing around me". Formula says "I will not risk, I will be in control of my future". Faith says "I will risk everything, I will trust Whom I cannot see, surrender what I cannot control anyway." Formula is the assurance of things planned for, the conviction of things seen. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb. 11:1).

    What is encouraging is that most of us have determined to stop the insanity. We will not be passing these things to the next generation. Instead we will teach our children to love God with all that they have, all that they are; and to love and respect others as they love themselves.

    Hope that helps. :-)

  58. Scottie is right. It is certainly NOT my intention to give you another formula or method that is more godly than courtship. Because, as Scottie pointed out, every person, every couple, every situation, is so vastly different that there can be no one-size-fits all method to a Godly marriage. Where I married my long-time best friend against the wishes of my parents, another friend married a girl he'd only met in person 2 days before; yet another dated a girl he'd met at school and married a year later; and another didn't date our court or anything....they just decided one day that their friendship had turned into love and they married. The only thing in common between all of us is that we followed God's prompting in our lives and we all have wonderful marriages. The method God uses to produce heavenly marriages is as different as the individuals that walk this earth. That's where faith comes in. The Greatest Commandments, the Golden Rule, and all the "one-another" scriptures are really all the guidance we need, all God has given us to produce healthy relationships. Adding countless rules to the simplicity of these always ends in legalism.

    Stay tuned....;)

  59. I would also say that the level of criticism I leveled at these teachings is entirely deserved. Did you not read the 50+ comments before yours? How can rotten fruits that have touched so many lives not be decried as an outrage?

  60. @Scottie Moser and Darcy: Sorry if my comment came across as looking for the perfect "formula" for pre-marriage relationships; I can see why it could be interpreted it that way, though that was not my intent at all. Rather, as someone coming from a background that has more-or-less promoted "emotional purity" and the like, reading your article, Darcy, has done much to help me understand the inherent legalism in those teachings, but left me struggling to understand what truly is acceptable according to the Bible (beyond abstaining from pre-marital sex, of course). We are called to walk in wisdom and discretion, so what level of cautionary measures should still be observed according to the Bible? Maybe I'm still just not understanding this correctly, but I don't think that just because emotional purity is un-Biblical, anything goes as long as it isn't explicitly sinful (and I'm certain you all agree with me on that, nor would I mean to suggest that what you had to say communicated that idea; I'm just trying to make a point).

    Your thoughts?

  61. @Darcy: Also, regarding your level of criticism, I was honestly not aware of the extent (and evil) of the legalism found in the courtship movement, nor of how much hurt and pain it has caused, and is still causing, to many people. Therefore, when I was initially only aware of a general and moderate form of "emotional purity," I was stunned by what you had to say, but I certainly think it is justified. I just think caution should be observed when analyzing and critiquing the courtship movement because I think there is still a grain of truth, however small, in what they have to say.

  62. My sister Sharon sent me a link to this. I am just coming out of all this teaching and seeing how bad it really is. But yes, it really is that bad. Darcy, not all single girls think that guys have no hearts. I'll go on record as understanding that guys need to be understood and have their hearts sought out too. And I am a homeschool alumnus. But this understanding has come from knowing my brother and from a long time of having the pain of wanting to get married and thinking seriously about marriage. I don't think that most girls who are taught this really think about what it takes to have a good marriage. After all "Thinking about marriage or wanting to get married before the 'right one' comes along is bad." Wow! So much to work through!

    Gloria (sister of Sharon and Anna)

  63. As far as the concept of "emotional purity" goes ... pardon my French, but I think about 95% of it is bullshit. The remaining 5% is just common sense — love = risk, trust = vulnerability, don't make an investment that you'll regret losing. Love freely, love deeply, but don't love rashly. Don't be stingy with your love, but don't be so reckless that your heart is broken by the most mundane things. Pour yourself deeply into all your friendships with guys AND girls, and don't worry about whether each person is "The One for you". Just love. And when you feel that maybe this person IS "The One" ... don't stake your eternal happiness on it. Proceed with thoughtfulness and seek counsel from godly people you trust. And when your heart is broken — and it will be — learn and move on. Hurts will heal, and you will be the wiser for it. :-)

    /my 2¢

  64. Very well said. Thank you.

  65. Darcy, Joanna, & co., I'm glad you appreciated my comments. :)

    However, I accidentally omitted an important sentence near the end of my "part 1":

    "Men are taught to equate sexual desire with lust, and of course, lust with sin. Thus, it's sinful to feel sexual attraction to a girl. And since we're taught to define ourselves by our sexuality, which is filthy, that leads to all sorts of legalism, self-loathing, and the like."

  66. I was directed to this post by a friend. I was never involved in the courtship movement, but in some ways I tried to adopt some of its ideals, and this was comforting and helped me clarify some things. Thank you!!

  67. David...If something isn't sinful, yet one treats it as off-limits, or, by default, as sinful, that's where a cycle of formulaic thinking and legalism can gain a foothold.

    The bible doesn't speak, at all, about dating in any manner of instruction. Nor does it speak about any other means of finding a spouse (or just spending time with a significant other) in any instructional manner.

    Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. If we humans could ever get a solid grip on those two, everything else will fall into place.

  68. David, I think you are right to ask, "If not this, then what?" Some people will not have answers for you. Don't stop looking. When I was in college, I asked half a dozen men whom I respected for their wisdom, opinions, stories, and experiences. It felt a bit awkward, almost like formal interviews. But nobody else was telling me what to expect in relationships, in the job market, in managing my finances, and so on. I needed it, and they gave it, and it shaped me. I didn't do exactly like any of them. But I certainly took a lot from each of them.

    I would offer one piece of advice as you consider relationships, and it goes against what a few others have said here. Be prepared, when you begin dating someone seriously, to abandon all other close friends of the opposite sex. You may not lose them entirely, and you may not lose them forever, but be willing to give them up if you decide you love this one woman enough to marry. She may feel jealous or challenged, even by an off-handed reference to the girl you dated in Sweden on study abroad. If you care about her enough, you will withdraw; you should not be pledging your heart to her on the one hand and inciting jealousy on the other. It has been years since I made any reference, positive or negative, to any of my ex-girlfriends (and I have a few) in my wife's presence.

    Expect that when any of your great female friends marry, she will cut back on time and intimacy with you to be focused on her husband. If she doesn't pull back, you should.

    Each time I dated, it was because, given all that I knew about me and enough about them (which now I see was rather little), I was willing to go deeper and see if it would lead to marriage. I saw no red flags, and I saw this woman as someone I could both pray with and have fun with.

    And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7.

  69. Hi Darcy! I had no idea when I found this blog post, that you are the Darcy I knew years ago! I sent a link to your post to my dear friend Meggan, and she told me who you are! You knew me then as Robin McKerracher, and we taught at a character seminar together in CdA, ID! I found your WONDERFUL blog post through another blog I was reading (don't remember which one right now... I am reading so many!) and I have to say I can't agree with you more! I also feel that the unbiblical, legalistic teachings on "courtship" and other things, did far more harm than good. I am sad now that I helped to mislead so many others down that path! I even wrote an article on courtship for a little magazine when I was 18! Learning to grow in GRACE (not through works!) and learning the errors and false teachings I grew up with (even though my parents had the best of intentions, of course) has been such a journey. Especially recently, I just cannot get enough of books and blogs and true stories of people who came out of similar backgrounds to eventually embrace a real relationship with the Lord, full of love and grace! (instead of endless lists and rules!)I met my wonderful husband three years ago, (we DATED!!! GASP!!! And we kissed before we were married! Double GASP! Though I made him wait until we were engaged, lol.) and he is a daily example to me of unconditional love and the grace of God.
    Thank you again for having the courage to share the truth, Darcy. God bless!

  70. Robin! Wow, it's a small world. :P I have always wondered what happened to the people I knew way back when. It was really nice getting back in touch with Meggan...we have a lot in common. So glad to see yet another person who has found the Living, Grace-filled God. :)

  71. Araaaagh, this post is spot on! I grew up reading the Josh Harris, Eric and Leslie Ludy, etc books and I pretty much threw the baby out with the bathwater when I got older (something I do regret) because I just couldn't measure up. It's all just way too complicated and, you're right, you just come out of the whole thing feeling guilty. But I felt guilty for not espousing those views. I thought I was "sinful" somehow for not subscribing to those viewpoints. Thank you so much for your post.

  72. Darcy, I want to say thank you for sharing openly about this. I haven't actually seen anyone really pry open this topic before, and it's good to read this perspective.
    I'm not 100% convinced that we don't suffer some sort of emotional damage if we go through countless relationships that don't work, or crushes over and over. The Bible does say to guard the heart because it is the 'wellspring of life'. That verse was not necessarily talking about romance, as we need to guard our hearts from many things, but I think romance can be included.
    As has been pointed out in a thread on HSA, crushes are not necessarily sinful (unless they become an idol), but they can be dumb, if they're going to go nowhere or we're chasing after someone we could never marry. If we can avoid those as much as possible, (without being legalistic), then that's great.
    If I have children one day, they will be raised to appreciate and nurture good strong friendships with boys and girls of all ages. They will not be allowed to 'date' until their parents agree they are ready, but in the meantime they will be encouraged and supported, and not made to feel ashamed if they 'like' someone.

    I can see many people are not fans of Josh Harris or the Ludys. I think we need to remember that both of those people have a 'messy' past, so to speak. They are speaking from experience, and have adapted this into a formula, which, as we know, is not perfect, and should not be the formula for everyone. However I have seen acquaintances of mine starting to treat relationships as something that doesn't need much of a commitment, especially if they're overly confident they'll find another girl, if this fling doesn't 'work out'. How sad... This can only come from 1. lack of a relationship with Jesus, and 2. a reduced comprehension of the importance of commitment and respect for their partner.

    Sorry, I'm rambling on!!

    I wish I had time to read all the responses to your post Darcy. Thanks for sharing everyone!

  73. I think you've hit the nail on the head, especially on the pride part. That's very common. I don't think most of the problem (most, not all) is Josh Harris' fault. Some of the teachings are his, but some of them are really freakish hyper-conservative patriarchal families' additions to his teaching. I think his points about "don't date till you're somewhat close to getting married" and "be considerate of the other person/don't play around with their feelings" are both good.

  74. I don't know if anyone has told you this, but you should write a book on this subject. Purity is something I am super passionate about and that I realize young and older girls/women are not doing a good job applying to their lives. However, the ways of purity out there that you touched on are doing more harm than good. Girls see the formula and when they can't apply themselves to it or it doesn't work they throw purity out the window.
    Thanks for all you said!

  75. This hit home for me.

    My sister managed to meet all the goals of emotional purity only to end up in an abusive relationship.

    As a teen I was sexually assaulted at a church function and felt as though no good Christian man would ever want me. I had to abandon the rigid teachings of emotional purity to be able to heal. Now I have a wonderful husband whom I love dearly, more than I would have if I had not had other relationships to show me just how much to appreciate him.

    Thank you for helping others see the light!

  76. Hi Darcy, I read your article and understand where you are coming from on most of it. Would you please read this and let me know your thoughts on it? I am on HSA as Dyrand and Mae. Thank you and God Bless, Dyrand

    1. A couple years ago, I was part of a site that some of you may be familiar with. ChooseCourtship.com. It was a website created by Joshua Harris to allow teens who were ready for marriage to find other like minded singles and form friendships with them. However, nobody on the site actually formed these friendships because they were afraid to start a relationship with anybody of the opposite sex. So, Joshua Harris saw this problem and created a short video clip on the site explaining how people are misunderstanding the biggest point in his book. RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE OPPOSITE SEX ARE GOOD AND NEEDED!!! He stresses that point throughout IKDG, yet we are all blind and can't see it!
    Here is a quote from IKDG: [i]...I do believe that guys and girls can have life-enriching, non-romantic friendships. In fact, it's important that we do. [/i] JH was not against interaction and relationships with the opposite sex but rather for them. He realized that it was important in order not to be that person who doesn't know what to do when someone of the opposite sex wants to talk to them. Hannah was spot on when she said we should be reading books with our brain still intact, and not just reading as if we are blind.
    2. I also wanted to get one other thing straight. When Joshua Harris, the Ludy's or any other writer says something, we have the option to believe and act on it. I hate hearing people say that I read something and it ruined my life! No, you read it and decided to make it your life. No body can simply write something and make you believe it. YOU must accept it and make it your belief. If you make it yours, than you might as well stop blaming writers for leading you astray, and start blaming yourself for the way you believed.
    3. Another thing I can't stand, is when people start to stereotype courtship! Courtship cannot be stereotyped!!! It just doesn't work! The word courtship is merely a term many people tend to use. Here is what courtship is: Courtship is starting a relationship with the opposite sex and pursuing marriage in Biblical purity! That is ALL it means. The rest of the equation is up to YOU! Nobody can define what your relationship should look like, except YOU! Every relationship looks different. You get to decide whether holding hands or kissing is right for you! God never says it is wrong to do either. We decided not to and are thankful we did. We didn't do it to look better than everyone else but rather because we wanted to make that first time on the wedding day special. That was simply our preference.

  77. "He stresses that point throughout IKDG, yet we are all blind and can't see it!"

    . . . Are you being sarcastic?

    If not, then ask yourself which is more likely: that an entire reading audience simultaneously went blind, or that he didn't stress the point nearly much as he thinks he did?

  78. I think anyone that bad about getting his "real point" across shouldn't be writing books. :P

    As I re-read these books now, I see so many contradictions it's crazy. He says stuff like "I'm not saying dating is a sin..." then has 7 reasons why dating "isn't God's will" or "isn't God's best". His books and the books of others who have written about courtship are full of false teachings, contradictions, and harmful ideas.

    I'm really tired of hearing "it's not the formula that's the problem, it's the people following it". A sorry excuse to defend a teaching and the people teaching it.

  79. I appreciated many points in this post... it's sad how so many parents have taught their children to cower in the 'avoiding all male contact until you're married' ditch. I have been extremely blessed to have parents who taught me that having guys for friends and having crushes were okay, but just to be careful not to take them too far. They trusted me, and didn't grill me for teasing or hanging out with my guy friends, which I feel grateful for, considering the experiences of some other not so fortunate ladies such as yourself.

    Human beings were never meant to be non-emotional: it's in our make-up and it's how God intended us to be. That said, I don't think we should flirt with the other ditch and encourage any young people to have unhealthy relationships with guys. We do not live in a day and age where the issues of lust (and even the ones as big as fornication) are to be trifled with. It's extremely easy in the avoidance of one ditch, to swing heeavily the other direction and take lightly the admonishment in Song of Solomon 2:7 "I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the does of the field, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases."
    One of the reasons the first ditch exists is that all too often parents are blind to the differences in protecting their kids from the world, and in preparing them for it. Being protected from it, means you're avoiding it. But being prepared for it, means you can confidently and Biblically approach possible temptations of our day; preparation then, in essence, is protection.

    I feel so aweful for your reactions to some situations, but I can't help feeling that the reason your reactions were that way, was because you were trained to look at every situation involving a guy, by looking at yourself first. Which isn't always a bad thing, as long as you're looking at God before that. So I think it's important to remind every young lady that a relationship with a guy is never about her, or him: it's about God and what He wants for their relationship, their life. It's easy for any young lady to over-analyze every action of both themselves and the other person, so I think it's a good reminder to not worry about how any one person will see or judge thier actions, but to look at the broader picture of 'God's will for my life, and not my own.' This isn't so much an action you do every time something comes up: it's an attitude and a mindset...

    Hope that all makes sense, and thanks for the post!

  80. This is the most crap I have ever heard! I can't believe you are coming up with these idotic ideas and telling people that its true! I read both books when I first had a real interest in a guy when I was 15 (he read them too) and they were a great help. we decided we didn't know if it was gonna work out and we didn't want to get all emotionally attached to each other and then find out that we disagree on something very important, like having kids or not and how many. So we started our relationship with a simple friendship and got to know each other to see if this was a person we could even marry (cause if it wasn't, then there is no point in getting into a relationship)and talked about all of the stuff some married people don't talk about until they're married and then get divorced. we talked about alcohol, smoking, kids..etc and after we got through all of that and saw that and that we agreed on it all we were already falling in love, and by that point I believe it is okay to let yourself get emotionally attached, its been a year and a half and we are both 17 and are so very much in love. we would die for each other. We plan on getting married in 2012. What you are saying is just going to lead people to countless broken hearts, cause they will get emotionally attached immediately instead of focusing on more important things and then, they kiss and blah blah blah, but then they find out that they have different religions.. well, there goes your first kiss, your husband can't have it, you gave to some guy you don't even care about anymore. Great job, you are really gonna help people that way. not.

  81. I read both of Joshua Harris' books and I didn't get the messages that you did. I think that a lot of the points you made came from other sources combined with the Harris books. I saw throughout his books, especially his second one, an emphasis on our heart attitude rather then on a list of rules. I was actually pleasantly surprised. I came at the book with a bias against it. I expected much more legalism then I read. Btw, for anyone who wants a great book on purity without a heavy dose of legalism I highly recommend the book Sex 180. It treats dating as an acceptable possibility but challenges Christian young people to examine their motives for dating. It speaks of our heart instead of our outward appearance.

  82. To Anonymous @ 10:09:

    Since you are obviously so much more experienced and older and wiser then the 100+ commenters here, and since you apparently ignored all the other posts on this topic, and since you are too much of a coward to even sign your own name to your insults, I have nothing else to say that would matter much.

  83. Judi, yes, I actually agree with you there: there's much worse books out there then IKDG. My post is really talking about the teachings themselves, the whole movement, and I did name a few other authors in the post and the comments here. But I think the reason that the focus of the discussion is on Harris' books is because of how popular and well-known they are.

  84. I read portions of Harris's book as a teenager, each time wanting to 'get it' so I could be 'pure' like all of my "friends" at the church youth group-- but it made absolutely no sense to me and seemed utterly ridiculous in many ways. I didn't buy into it, and I am glad. But just rejecting this point of view lead to being called a "slut" by other Christians, when I dated someone for a couple of weeks. I was told no man would want me because I had "given myself away" -- apparently no sex required!

    To Anon above, there is definitely a point in getting into relationships if it doesn't lead to marriage. You learn about yourself, the other person, how to interact with each other, and develop a bond of friendship even if it doesn't always lead to walking down the aisle. Are the only relationships worth anything, are those that lead to a state of matrimony?

  85. anonymous 10:09...Broken hearts can also result from putting excess stock into unproven, culturally-driven emotional theories, which you're doing whole-heartedly.

    People with a lot more life-mileage on the odometer than you have been openly sharing what they've learned through their experiences in this comment thread. The wise course of action would be for you to listen to them.

    Don't just accept religious propaganda. THINK.

  86. Anonymous (17 years old): You are certainly passionate and of strong of opinion. Love and grace to you. Please go back and re-read your comments -- in the most objective way that you can. It is difficult when writing to be passionate and not come across meanspirited. You aren't the only one that struggles with that -- even here. That is why I rarely comment (only twice in 2 years).
    I don't want to spoil the surprise (or be condescending-- as in "listen to me because I'm older")--but the biggest problem with a relationship with your future husband will probably not be an issue of whether you agree on having children or how many. It will be in loving another person, flaws and all, through disappointment in them and in yourself and doing it day after day after day. It's a wild ride -- it takes tenacity -- it takes faith -- it takes laying down your expectations -- it takes grace and although the "how-to's" by others can provide some insight -- your journey, decisions and the gospel played out in your life is going to be as unique as you have been created. I don't think you are going to get this now -- I bet all of the commenters here shudder to think how they would've responded to this post when they were 17. But maybe one day something you read here will resonate.
    I'm going to sign myself as anonymous just like you -- because I'm on a journey too -- and I've got a strange feeling that this 40 something-year-old girl may blush at this reply in 20 years or so.

  87. There is something constructive I'd like to say about this part:

    "well, there goes your first kiss, your husband can't have it, you gave to some guy you don't even care about anymore. Great job, you are really gonna help people that way. not."

    Nothing is beyond God's redemption. Nothing. And that is one of the reasons I'm so passionately against these teachings. Because they give lip-service to God's forgiveness, but in practice, they don't actually believe or teach it.

    My husband kissed many girls before he met me. I do not feel cheated at all. At all. Because nothing could take away from the precious and special gift of OUR first kiss. Even if something could, is not our God the God of restoration? Of making all things new? Life isn't about avoiding pain because pain is unavoidable. Any teaching that promises avoidance of pain is lying to you.

    Our pastor, at every wedding he does, always loves to say "You may now, for the very first time, kiss your bride". Because he says that no matter what those people have done, that kiss at their wedding WILL be the first time the Man kisses his Bride. All things have become new. THAT is redemption; THAT is what walking with God is all about. I follow Him, not because He can save me from the pain of life (though I'm sure in His mercy He does do that), but because WHEN I fall and experience the pain of life, He can pick me up, clean me off, and make me whole again.

  88. oh, So I can't insult, but you can tear apart people who wrote books trying to help people and society? I did NOT get the message you did from those books. And I'm upset cause you are leading people astray telling them 'its okay not to give your best to God, you can mess up every once in a while if you want, cause he will still bless you'
    God wants your BEST. and The people who wrote those books are just trying to help you give God your best, in every aspect of life.
    (and as far as signing anonymouse, I always sign anonymous cause I'm 17 and don't trust the interent, for good reasons. I could have put a fake name if you would have liked that better.)

  89. And in defense of the books. They say SEVERAL times that they KNOW nobody is perfect. They do not expect perfection, but a lot of people, including you, think that people in courtships are aspiring for perfection, and sometimes thats true cause people will say they are courting but are really doing it for themselves. Courtship is simply a relationship that is centered around God and to explore and see if God created us for each other, or not. and if it's a no, and if you are consistently leaning on and trusting him for an answer, God will soon show you one way or another that it isn't meant to be, and you can walk away from the relationship without a broken heart, without big regrets, I mean ya, it still sucks it didn't work out, but you didn't give anything to this man that you couldn't get back (like trust, and very dear secrets, in some cases your virginity cause some people get so sure that they are right (instead of listening to God)they give everything away). The whole idea of emotional purity is to keep you and your relationship with God first. So that you aren't incredibly, depressingly hurt over a break up. So that you can focus on building a strong friendship without emotions getting in the way, because, face it, when emotions enter the scene, they cause you to do things without thinking or praying. and with your whole formula thing, Why exactly is it wrong to strive for a biblical courtship? I agree with the fact that, you do not have to have a biblical courtship to have a godly marriage, my parents and several other are good examples of that, but ask anyone of them and see if they will tell you it was easy. they will definitely say no (I'm not assuming, I know this for a fact, from talking to people, I don't spout off information without doing my research). One of the ideas of courtship is to make it easier for you and your significant other in the future (whether you get married to each other or not) cause you will always pay for your mistakes at one time or another. Joshua harris and the ludy's are simply just trying to help you AVOID making mistakes, obviously you can't avoid them all, I will admit to making several, but they are just speaking from experience and trying to help you and your relationship with God and your significant other, one of the ways being, keeping your parents involved, which I have tried my hardest to do cause they know, much better than me in several aspects because they have age and maturity that I do not, and they help to keep you accountable to yourself.

  90. (Pt. 2) You do NOT have to have them in your relationship to have a godly marriage but it helps A LOT to avoid unnecessary mistakes. And with a courtship you decide what your boundaries and rules are going to be (with help from parents and your pastor). and one of the decisions we made was not to ride in the car together, and this reason was simply because, it isn't necessary, and we would be avoiding temptation, cause whether you can handle it or not, it is still a temptation, cause you are alone, young (i list that as a reason because younger people often make bigger mistakes than if you were older, mostly cause you haven;t learned from experience). That is why me and my "boyfriend" have decided to not ride in the car alone unless we had no other choice, and we almost always do. We are just avoiding temptation.
    it is the same way with touching, you pick your boundaries but must be aware or what things may be TOO big of a temptation.

    I really appreciate the fact that J.H. and E & L. L. took time to write those books so people could read them and hopefully have a better life, better relationships, and a better relationship with God. You don't HAVE to apply EVERYTHING they say to your life, its a book, you get to pick and choose what you want to take from it but don't get mad at them just because a few things they said, you didn't agree with.

    I hope this helped you understand the courtship view a little better, if you just push this aside that would be foolish, cause you can't just decide something like this and not be open to other peoples opinions. At least you can see from the point of view of someone who believes in courtship and its "rules". I am not only in a very amazing succesful courtship right now, but my older sister did it and she is married and they are glad they made the choice of doing courtship. I don't know who you talked to that skewed your view of courtship so bad, but I think you should be a little more open and not just close up with your decision.

    I apologize for my very first comment, it was a little bit rude, I was just a little bit upset cause you just TORE apart my beliefs. And because of that, I'm trying not to do the same to you, but rather, tell you what I believe in hopes you will at least think about it.

  91. Ms. Anonymous,
    My first reply was short and sarcastic because I have no respect for people who get on mine and my friends blogs, insulting and name-calling, while hiding like a coward behind anonymity. These are teachers and older people who should know better but also know that if the people they taught could see the things they write, they'd lose their credibility. I have no problem with dissenting opinions and debate, but people need to own up to their beliefs. I am thankful that you came back and wrote more of your perspective, because that proves to me that you aren't one of those others that I mentioned.

    You said a lot of things that I addressed in my other two posts on the subject (this post was only 1 of 3). I'd encourage you to read the other two.

    We are told in the Bible to "test all things, hold fast to what is good and to "test the spirits, to see if they are from God". That is what I am doing here. I am not "tearing apart" anyone. I am testing the spirit of their teachings, holding them to the standard of logic and scripture. As believers, this is our responsibility, to be discerning. Where we find error or false teachings, we need to speak up about them. "Declare the truth in season and out of season". That is what I do on this blog.

    You obviously haven't read much of my blog. You say "I don't know who you talked to that skewed your view of courtship so bad"....girl, I LIVED it. My own courtship story is on this blog. Read it. Read the post that comes after this one. It is nothing but story after story of people I know and love and how these teachings damaged their lives. There are over 100 comments on these posts of people thanking me because they feel the same say and they thought it was just something wrong with them. I have received e-mail after e-mail of people who were in tears thanking me for exposing these damaging beliefs. WE ARE THE FRUIT OF THEM. I didn't make this stuff up. I LIVED IT.

    to be continued....

  92. Everything you described about how "courtship" works, is also how dating can work. Those are just words that really don't mean much anymore. All of my friends who are believers and who date follow those things you talked about. "Dating" doesn't have to mean "entering into short-term, meaningless relationships without intent of commitment". This is also on of the problems I see in IKDG. It's called a "false dichotomy", meaning presenting only 2 choices when there are actually more then that. The truth is that it doesn't have to be dating v. courtship. You can date with the intent to marry and with good boundaries and morals. You can court while being deceptive and manipulative, and never intending to follow through. THE SYSTEM IS NOT WHAT MAKES OR BREAKS A RELATIONSHIP. I personally know two women who went through "perfect" courtships. I mean, they did it by the book. But the guy was lying all along, pretending to be something he wasn't. He didn't show his true self until after they were married, when he suddenly became an abusive jerk. Both of my friends are now divorced, single moms. Courtship didn't save them because a formula cannot save you from pain. I have a guy friend who went through a "perfect" courtship...they followed all the rules and had a beautiful wedding. 9 months later, she left without a word and her parents mailed him the divorce papers. He was devastated. They'd done everything "right" but the system still didn't save them from traumatic heartbreak. Because it can't. It promises to, but can't live up that promise. Because, as I stated, faith is what pleases God (Heb. 11:6), faith is what God gave us to live our lives by, not formulas. Not "if you do x, then y will happen". You won't find that in the Bible.

    to be continued....

  93. You said:
    "And I'm upset cause you are leading people astray telling them 'its okay not to give your best to God, you can mess up every once in a while if you want, cause he will still bless you'
    God wants your BEST."

    First of all, where did I say that it's OK to not give your best to God? Can you quote me on that?

    I submit that I never said such a thing and I certainly don't believe it.

    Second, where in the Bible does it say that "God wants your best". Can you find me a scripture that says or implies this idea? You might be surprised where that leads.......

    Third, where in scripture does it say that if you kiss someone you don't marry, you aren't "giving God your best"? Where does it say that if you have 3 courtships before you finally find your spouse, that you haven't "given God your best"? Where does it say that if you try and fail you aren't "giving God your best"? And where does it say that someone who "gives God their best" is better than someone who barely makes it? See, in that one statement, you are making so many assumptions about God and life that just aren't true and certainly aren't in the Bible. I challenge you to read the scripture and re-think where these ideas of yours came from.

    I'm sorry if you feel your beliefs were "torn apart". But to be honest with you, that is a very good thing and you should pray that it happens often in your life. What good are the beliefs that we have if they cannot stand up to scrutiny? My beliefs have been torn apart so many times in my life, that it doesn't bother me anymore. I know that if what I believe is God's truth, then they will still be standing after a storm. But if they crumble under opposition, then they needed to crumble because they were wrong. I hope you take what I and others have written here, and weigh it very carefully against God's word "Test all things, hold fast to what is good"

  94. Hello Darcy, I am the so called "boyfriend" of the "Ms. anonymous" to whom you just responded too. I would like to take the opportunity to clarify on a couple of her points that were (It appears) misconceived. First of all, I agree, we agree that it is not the word ("courting" or "dating") that makes or breaks a relationship, or defines how it operates. It is the heart attitude, and the intentions in the relationship that will make it out to be how you want it to be. And when you talked about your friends, that did everything "right", did you mean "right" as in, they didn't touch, or hold hands, or kiss, or ride in the car alone, or do any of that stuff. Or do you mean it in the sense of where they followed Joshua Harris's (and the like) books to the key etc etc.? Because there is a HUGE difference. The focus, in any relationship, should not be on the touching and stuff, either for it or against it. If your focus is on the touching (focusing on trying not to touch, or focusing on the more "romantic" parts of a relationship) then that is the only part that is gonna go anywhere. If you focus on trying to build a relationship with the other person, a strong, intimate, compassionate relationship, then you won't even have to worry about any of that other stuff, because it won't be your goal. If you are focused on growing your relationship, solely strengthening your walk with God and your understanding of the other person, then that is what you are going to get. You get out of a relationship what you put into it. But even if you do this, it still isn't foolproof, there are people out there that will still divorce you and all of that stuff after it's all "said and done", cause a lot of people just plain don't care. It's sad, but it's true, and there's nothing that can be done about it. All you can do is prepare yourself the best you can up until that point. Not prepare for a divorce, but if you are spending the months/years before that splitting your trust in that "significant other" and God himself, then when the human fails you, there is still someone you can lean on for support (God himself). And as far as our beliefs being "torn apart" that is not entirely what she meant either. I have not been swayed by your post, in fact, quite the opposite is true. I enjoy hearing others beliefs and learning about them, I know how it feels and how important it is to "challenge" others in such a way. Not out of hatred, or cause your trying to win or be mean. But everyone needs to be challenged every once in a while, to re-affirm why they believe, what they believe. It is "conflict" like this that really makes us think about our opinions and how they could be better, or (in cases like this) it just re-affirms out thoughts that what we are shooting for is already what's best for us. So when she said "torn apart", pretty much all she meant is that you could have been nicer when you were talking about the courtship, and that we are a little offended that you think so strongly against it, not that we are even remotely swayed in our beliefs.

  95. This is going to be long. Please be patient. As a homeschooling mother of three daughters (two are married after courting, the youngest is currently involved in a courtship that, though occasionally bumpy due to the involvement of several sinners, [parents included] is progressing nicely) and grandmother of five, I am reading all of this with much interest. And a fair amount of dismay, as well.
    I am still waiting for expressions of graciousness, longsuffering and humility, while slogging through mountains of bitterness and emotional tales of woe. Don't get me wrong.....I am truly sorry that there are well-meaning parents out there who seem to be taking extreme measures to "do it right" with their children. My husband and I make our own share of mistakes in the process. Please understand that it all has to do with this crazy little thing called love, as in: We love our daughters. Women are indeed the weaker vessels (I Peter 3:7), and as such need a certain amount of protection. Perhaps it is what parents think they are protecting their daughters from that gets skewed in the translation. Many people from my generation went through what could easily be described as "dating hell", drifting in and out of "love", suffering incredible pain, and tolerating inappropriate (and often sinful) emotional and physical relationships resulting in lifelong "baggage." Is it any wonder that these same people want a better experience for their children? Praise God for the healing forgiveness of our loving Savior!
    Titus 2 tells us older women to teach the young women to be sober (serious, not wild, not heated with passion), to love their husbands (passion and the marriage bed being a good thing), to love their children (training them in obedience to the Lord), to be discreet (prudent, circumspect, cautious), chaste (morally pure, virtuous), keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. This is a very tall order that I seek to take seriously. Again, I am a sinner saved by the grace of a merciful God through the sacrifice of Jesus.

  96. My husband and I were not believers when we got married almost 30 years ago. We were saved after 4 years of marriage, when I was pregnant with our first child. We have been learning and growing ever since, desiring to do what's best for our family to the praise and glory of our precious Savior. It grieves me when I see the harm that overzealous obedience (what we think is obedience) can do to a person's life. But it's nothing that God cannot work out for good (Romans 8:28). You are bringing up important issues and generating a lot of discussion and debate, not only on your blog, but on Facebook and in personal conversations, as well. For that, I thank you.
    My concern is that in the midst of your posts, I am not seeing anything even remotely resembling obedience to the fifth commandment. In other words, I am looking for the honor and respect due to your parents. Are they aware of these posts? Do they know what you are writing about them? Have they given permission for you to detail your saga, portraying them as overbearing, unfeeling, legalistic dictators? If they already know and are okay with you sharing this with the world, I wish you would have acknowledged that from the beginning. If you have, and I have missed it, I apologize.
    All that aside, another concern was the lack of evidence of a repentant heart on your part. You lied to your parents about seeing Sky. You refused to share your heart with those who loved you best (aside from Jesus, Who already knows your heart), fearful of what the response would be. If you truly trusted that this was God's will for you, why should you be afraid? The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe (Prov. 29:25). How would your parents write their story about your situation?

  97. My heart goes out to you, Darcy, and the emotional pain you think you have suffered. I understand your desire to warn others of the "dangers" you perceive. But I'm wondering why in the midst of your story you did not take the time to "one-another" your parents, as well. While you are quoting scriptures about love, devotion and honor, I saw none of it directed to your parents. Where are they in this equation?

  98. I smell trolls.

    I smell people so sold out to a religious culture that they can't see clearly and need to belittle the abusive situations and experiences of others.

    Susan...I have no respect for a single word uttered in your responses. You clearly have NO understanding of the psychological impact of the lifestyle you've chosen for your family on children. With many of the women who've shared their experiences, Darcy (and I) know much more of the story than might be proper to print here. It's pretty sorry of you to come here and make the demands you are of the abused, and frankly, if you're not ashamed of it, I'm ashamed for you.

    My heart goes out to you, Darcy, and the emotional pain you think you have suffered.

    What a poorly worded load of BS.

  99. In other words, I am looking for the honor and respect due to your parents. Are they aware of these posts? Do they know what you are writing about them? Have they given permission for you to detail your saga, portraying them as overbearing, unfeeling, legalistic dictators?

    An adult, independent of her parents, needs their permission/approval to post her account of the relationship she had with them as a teenager?

    Forgive me for thinking ill of my elder-and-obvious-better ... but this is beyond ludicrous.

  100. Susan in Elk Grove -
    As a daughter, I can look back and see that my parents' experiences impacted their desire for their children to have something better. I am sure the same is true of many other posters' parents. But this does not justify going to the other extreme, which many of us have experienced.

    It is clear from your posts that you believe Darcy and many of us are twisting our experiences to make our parents look bad. Exaggerating. Is it any wonder that many of us are expressing such frustration when the only reaction we have received is one like yours? Patronizing and insulting? I was shocked at your rude comments about what Darcy "thinks" she has suffered. You have not walked her in her shoes. You do not know what it is like.

    Even further, you have no idea what else Darcy and other posters may not be sharing. Many of us have difficult home situations, even abusive ones, that we are hesitant to share in public. So many Christians seem to make quick judgments about others and their situations, their lack of "respect", and how they ought to fix their situation. But they have no idea what it is like. They have no idea what happens behind closed doors. And they are quick to assume the worst of the one who stands up against her parents or (or husband, in some cases).

    Please show some compassion, willingness to listen, and willingness to recognize you may not be seeing the whole story when you see someone discussing the difficulties of their home situation/growing up years/etc.

  101. Susan,
    I was going to give your comment a fair reply. Until I got the end. Now I just have one question for you: do you make fake apologies and hypocritical statements of compassion to your own children, like you did to me? If so, then you have worse problems than figuring out if I honor my parents or not.

    You have called me and my friends liars, exaggerators, rebellious, and bitter. You hold to the same double-standard that many of your religious friends do: parents are innocent until proven guilty, and their children are guilty until proven innocent. Nothing I say to you, whether in my defense or in accusation of you, will matter in the least. Might I suggest before presuming to "Titus 2" another woman, that you learn what it means to love without hypocrisy and to consider your children and their hearts above your own religiosity.

    Dissenting opinions and kind discussion are welcome here. But insults and accusations disguised in smooth-sounding "more-righteous-than-thou" Christianese will be deleted from now on.

  102. Darcy,
    I rarely comment on the internet. So, this is is somewhat unusual for me. I actually know Susan in Elk Grove. She hosted my wedding shower to my husband, when we finally got married after courting for 3 years. She is a wonderful, godly woman who raised 3 wonderful, beautiful, sweet, godly daughters. I know parents make all kinds of mistakes in raising their children. I know I have with my daughters already. But I can't think of any Susan has made. She is truly wonderful. She examines things by the Word of God, and you would do well to listen to her advice.

    I wanted to say that I suffer from many of the same things a lot of these posters have suffered from. I am awkward around guys who are not my husband, I don't like to be in a room alone with a guy, don't like to ride in a car alone with a guy, find I am unable sometimes to show my excitement just at the fact that my husband has arrived home from work that day (even though that is the happiest moment of my day). But I cannot blame the courtship model on this. I certainly can't and won't blame my parents for this (it has nothing to do with them), Josh Harris (whose books I have only barely skimmed), or God. I take all the blame. I am a shy and reserved person by nature. That is the reason I am like this. To blame anyone else is wrong. And I think that's where a lot of these commenters and you are wrong. You want to blame others for your wrong assumptions about courtship or how a relationship is supposed to be. Courtship can, and is, a wonderful thing. To have the parental oversight in this area is truly freeing. I know they had my best interests at heart. I know they were looking out to make sure the man I was befriending and getting to know was a good match for me. ANd they were looking out to make sure I remained pure until my wedding day. It was a wonderful experience for me, and I hope with all my heart that my daughters willingly follow in my example someday.

    But something about this comment thread concerns me. In one of the replies you wrote to a reader, you said you were afraid to believe, have faith in, or even trust God. If so, why do you call yourself a Christian? This is what Christianity is all about. If we can't trust God, who can we trust? No one, because I am sinful and will always let myself down. My friends and family are sinful too. God has told us in His Word that He will never leave us or forsake us. He also says that He clothes the lilies of the field. How much more will he care for his little ones? Everything in our lives, God brings to us for our good. Even our relationships. Even courtship. And if it turned out bad (in the short-run), it's probably because we weren't truly obeying God when doing it. We were probably trying to follow our wants and desires above His Word.

  103. And if it turned out bad (in the short-run), it's probably because we weren't truly obeying God when doing it. We were probably trying to follow our wants and desires above His Word.

    Or, it possibly turned out bad (in however long a run) because others guided us wrongly and we, in our youthfulness and zeal to follow God, got kind of messed up in the process.

    God doesn't bring bad into our lives. This fallen world does. God can and does use the bad, but I cannot serve a God would deliberately brings bad into my life when I'm trying to serve Him.

  104. "In one of the replies you wrote to a reader, you said you were afraid to believe, have faith in, or even trust God. If so, why do you call yourself a Christian?"

    Because my state of salvation isn't based on my good works. Because I am not a hypocrite. I admit that I have seasons of doubt and sometimes anger against God. I sometimes doubt He exists and if He does, that He cares about me. This doesn't make me less of a Christian then it did Peter when he denied to Lord, or Thomas when he didn't believe in the risen Christ, or any number of good, Godly people who have struggled through doubt in God. According to your standards of "christian", not very many people would make the cut. You must be perfect. Congratulations. I am not so perfect. But I am His. And that is enough. I don't think He's threatened by my frail, imperfect humanity. I will be sincere, even if I have to admit some major imperfections. I will not pretend to be a super-christian. I am extremely, painfully human. "But God, who is rich in mercy....."

    As for Susan, if she is as kind and loving as you say, then her posts would've spoken for themselves and you would not need to defend her. "From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." Instead, she insulted, patronized, and used righteous-sounding language to say that we're all disrespectful, rebellious liars. That I will not tolerate on my blog.

    This blog is dedicated to talking about and sometime painfully exposing false teachings and spiritual abuse. We are all responsible to "test all things, hold fast to what is good". That is what I do here. I also use my story and the stories of others as examples of bad teachings and their fruits. If you don't like it, I would suggest you read elsewhere. I'm not going to stop anytime soon. Because I, too, am a mother. And I refuse to perpetuate the things that negatively affected me onto my children. But first, those things need to be brought to the light, identified, and exposed. God "desires Truth to be show on the inward parts", even the ugly parts. My readers here feel the same. We are all striving to find balance from very unbalanced pasts. So this is a place where we are honest and sincere and talk about things that make others uncomfortable. And I don't apologize for that. My walk with God and journey to healing is real, raw, painful, joyful, genuine, bloody, ugly, beautiful, and sometimes shocking. It resonates with many people who read here. So I won't be stopping anytime soon.

  105. Sharon...Please don't be so naive as to place procedure, formula, and the efforts to sanctify/purify the flesh (such as courtship) above the people involved. Whether you realize it or not, that's exactly what you just did. Masking it behind good intentions, sanctimony, and fluent Christianese doesn't change that.

    It isn't Darcy's fault, nor the fault of the women who shared of their experiences in the series Darcy published, that you and Sharon have chosen a legalistic, spiritually (and often emotionally - as witnessed in the stories of these women) abusive lifestyle.

    Please stop blaming God for the failures of human formula and ideas. If God is behind the courtship model where adults are concerned, I renounce my faith. Utterly and completely. I'm not being facetious.

    I know it would unravel your world and shake your foundations to learn that all of these ideas and formulas that you've built your lifestyle and faith on are bogus - but they are. That's why you, and Susan, came here to defend it. You'd rather blame the people involved than to sacrifice your lifestyle, because it just couldn't possibly be that you've surrendered your heart and mind to a gnostic system of faith, could it?

    If you can't separate your Christianity from your lifestyle choices, then that would appear to be a problem, because your lifestyle choices just might be your Jesus.

  106. Sharon - the last part of your comment is very concerning to me. A God that has no room for questions, for fear, for struggles is not the God I worship. If God cannot walk with us through the hard times and if He rejects us when we struggle, how is that a God who truly cares for His children? Who wants what is best for them? I almost wonder if that is reflective of parental attitudes toward children within the patriarchal movement and the extreme rejection many adult children have faced when they questioned their parents and made different choices. =/

  107. To the other Sharon:

    You are idolizing Susan if you think that she never made any mistakes with her children. And for the record, YOU are not the judge of whether she has made mistakes with her children. God and her children are. They are the ones who have lived with her. Perhaps she really has done well. Or perhaps she hasn't. Only God and her children know for sure.

    Also, best intentions never guarantee that no harm or evil has been done. The child who puts rocks and dirt in the lawn mower's gas tank because he thinks those things are good fuel is still damaging the lawn mower. So does putting water in the gas tank to try to get rid of the dirt when Daddy wasn't happy when he discovered the damage. The boy certainly had the best intentions of pleasing Daddy, but his actions were still hurtful.

    I can totally believe that my parents and other parents had the best intentions. That doesn't mean that what they did had only positive effects on me and others.

    And, by the way, parents can actually have evil intentions toward their children. It does happen sometimes. Abuse is real. And often hidden very craftily. If you always blame the "rebellious" child, you could easily be overlooking some very important facts.


  108. Darcy -

    I have some comments I'd like to make, but for the purpose of sensitivity, I'd prefer to e-mail you. Would you mind providing your e-mail address? If not, I understand.

  109. My comments were too long to post here, so I wrote a response here:



  110. Anon,
    my e-mail is in the "about me" section here.
    Just for the record in case others missed it too:
    I welcome all e-mails but may not be able to reply right away.

  111. seperateunion I tried commenting directly on your blog but I can never remember my google account password!
    Thank you for your balanced response to Darcy. You disagreed without being disagreeable or ugly like some commenters were. I completely agree with your assessment of the Harris books. Your summary of the real problem in the "courtship" movement is right on. I'm terribly saddened by the overbearing legalism coming from Phillips and others in that camp. It's a shame that so many parents in an attempt to protect their kids swing to far in the opposite direction. It sounds like you have a wonderfully balanced approach to relationships. I hope I'm guiding my teens towards an equally balanced approach.

  112. Salve,

    An interesting post, it's actually the first time I've ever heard someone speak against Emotional Purity/Courting. I blogged my disagreing reply here:


    I'd love to have your response to my response (preferably via blog post not comment) if you would like to continue discussion of this issue.

    Dominus Vobiscum

  113. Jackson,
    I hope you read the next two posts here so you can see that I'm not the only one speaking out against these teachings.

  114. Jackson...The problem with your response is that you're speaking entirely from theory, not from experience. I'll take tangible experience over theory any day of the week. Second, it seems that you're allowing interaction with other very inexperienced, and where these issues are concerned, naive people to shape your opinions and views.

    If you have to rationalize or discard the factual accounts of what these beliefs do in the lives of others in order to continue to hold these beliefs in the esteem you do, you're starting the battle on the negative side of zero, because the belief system - and the emotional/pseudo-intellectual attachment to it - has replaced the God it supposedly points toward. If the humanity involved isn't more important than the religion, the religion has ceased to have anything to do with God.

    You really have no idea what any of the alternatives are actually like, and until you do, it doesn't make a lot of sense for you to carry the flag so proudly.

    Why do Cowboy fans hate the Redskins? Because they're the other team. That's the genuine extent of it. From that simple criteria, an entire scenario forms exclusive to the minds of Cowboy fans. The Redskins coach is a lousy bum and an indecent human being, the Redskins players are not just awful players, but detestable people, Redskin fans are the most clueless and classless group on the planet, et cetera. Many Cowboys fans come to genuinely believe these things.

    I'd encourage you to think long and hard about that last paragraph.

  115. Lewis,

    p.1) Yes and No. Yes, I've never been married to learn first-hand how this works out there, or even known someone there. And No, I have had experience, mostly from careful observation over the past several years of friends and more recently of my self. And to gain more interaction with others from my traditional circle of interaction is precisely why I'm talking with you now.

    p.2) I do not discard the facts of the accounts, I re-evaluate the understandings and conclusions that have been formed from them.

    p.3+4) Ad. Hominum. Also, you imply that I don't or am unable to view a situation dis-passionately, which is untrue. I have carefully cultivated the ability to consider situations from a dis-interested point of view. And with *very rare* exceptions I always think and never merely accept. (Yes, I'm quoting you.)

    p.5) I'm unsure what you think I should rethink. . . I've thought long and hard for years about everything in my post, though (as the last paragraph states) I freely will accept any critique based in sound reason that you or others might have to offer. My wife will be affected by the choices I make now, and I take that very seriously.

    Dominus Vobiscum

  116. Jackson...Don't read this with the notion of intended malice in my words. There isn't any. I'm just a straight shooter with little in the way of pretense.

    What you should rethink is if you're seriously searching for truth or if, at this point, you've planted your flag, isolated your environment from the opposition, closed your mind, and just want your side to win the argument. (The Cowboys/Redskins analogy - I've seen it overtake a LOT of people in my lifetime, particularly fundamentalist Christians with a political interest)

    Your preference for venue of this "discussion" - blog post - demonstrates a bit of a political, be seen-esque investment on your part, almost as if you WANT to argue it and have the argument noticed. The debate is loooooong over for most of us. We've lived this nonsense and we've been deeply bruised by it. We don't need to win an argument to feel better about what we've experienced or believe...or to justify it.

    You've associated yourself with some very cultic, fringe groups (rebelution and such), so the "ad hominem" label doesn't hold a lot of water. A person would be foolish to not take those things into very heavy consideration. Frankly, I have trouble seeing beyond those things on your blog, because I know that every position you take will be filtered through the VF lens. Some free advice you can take or leave - If you genuinely seek truth in all things, run away from the VF crowd as fast as you possibly can. You'll never find so much as a small measure of truth there.

    If you've thought meticulously about all of this for "years", yet Darcy's article is the first you've ever seen which speaks against this movement, I'd hope that you'd be able to see that, at it's very best, your view on these issues is naturally biased and not anywhere close to educated. This is why I question the responsibility of your desire to promote it. This also speaks to the closed and cultic intellectual environment around you.

    I can't help but be suspect of your genuine motivation here, because it seems you discard hard experience and factual account in favor of "sound reason", something you're setting yourself up as sole arbiter over using debate club rules or something similar. If you were still in the process of arriving at these decisions, it would've been much more responsible to wait until you've arrived to write an opposition response to a "survivor" who bears the scars of these beliefs. Don't think so highly of your own intellect that you place your cart squarely in front of your horse. You're not quite ready to be the next Constitutional Party Presidential candidate, and I hope you don't want to be.

    It's pretty clear that you've already made your decisions. I'm sorry that you're unable to see that.

    Make sure you aren't surrendering your mind, because I fear you are.

  117. I'm scarred from too little protection, not over protection. I chose to lose my emotional purity and letting down that caused me to nearly lose my physical. Just sayin', so don't jump on me please. :)

    Lewis, just interested as to a few points.

    If the debate's long over, why's it carrying on? And...weren't you guys hurt enough to try and "rescue" someone from the opposing viewpoint?

    I think Jackson's probably saying that this is the first active thing he's seen against emotional purity. There certainly have been no lack of second hand ones seen in books and so on.

    Yes, I'm a Rebelutionary, but I'm not taking either side. I make my own decisions. And don't label all Rebelutionaries as one gang. We're all very diverse people.

  118. We aren't debating, Janie. There's no debate.

    You're being dishonest with yourself if you truly believe you haven't taken a side. You did so when you became a "rebelutionary". Take a non-VF approved view of the issue and see just how welcome your diversity will be in the rebelution.

  119. When there are two opposing viewpoints, it's rare there's not a debate...

    By a Rebelutionary, I joined the forum and I intend to do hard things - things not normally expected of teens.
    They would't condemn me. They won't approve, but they won't condemn. I know that from before. I was a solid-core feminist, and the Rebelutionaries I spoke with didn't kick me out or in the teeth. They just prayed for me.

    As for the sides, I took a stand for emotional purity at age 14. I became a Rebelutionary at 17. Just for the record...


  120. Lewis,

    Ad Hominum refers to trying to dis-prove something by saying the advocate or creator of it isn't qualified. Instead, you should dis-prove what they are saying.

    So far, you have only said that I couldn't know what I'm talking about, (in addition to some fluff, and personal--though mostly un-necessary--admonitions to think about my own bias.) you haven't shown me why what I said was wrong. Which is what I was asking for. If you really are concerned for me personally shoot me and email (Jackson*GJXHosting.com). Again, you've only discussed me and why I shouldn't be trusted, not my beliefs and why they shouldn't be trusted.

    Yes, I would like it to been seen, by my peers and mentors, because I want feed-back on my beliefs. That though, was a relatively minor reason for my request. Mainly I prefer the better formatting and encouragement toward long-form *writing*. (As opposed to long hard-to-read comments written relatively hastily.)

    No one needs to win an argument, what we need is others to bounce ideas off of. Particularly those who tell you both that you are wrong and *why* you are wrong. Everything is naturally biased, that's why I'm talking to you and not just my usual circle of peers and mentors.

    I have to make decisions, because what I decide to do with my relationships with the girls around me depend on my having made a decision. I'm no fool though, I have every intention of re-considering my views, and to aid that I recruit your experience and thoughts in this matter.

    Dominus Vobiscum

    P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, Jane and I are close friends. :)

  121. Jackson,
    Ad Hominum isn't saying someone is disqualified. It is attacking the character of someone in order to make their argument invalid. Though sometimes ad hominum isn't a fallacy, in instances when a person's character, actions, motives, beliefs, etc. are relevant to the topic at hand. This would be one of those times. We're talking about experiences here...that's what these posts are about. The experiences and fruits of certain teachings in the lives of those who believed and lived them.

    As for your post, to answer you I would just be repeating everything I've written here and I have no desire to do so. If you have specific questions that's fine, but I have neither the time or desire to write a blog post that I've already written...3 times. From reading your blog, you and I have vastly different worldviews and would just talk in circles around each other. Not a profitable use of our time. You're welcome to continue the discussion here and maybe check out Lewis' blog. He's been writing on the same topic for a few posts now.

  122. I'm not interested in debating your ideas, Jackson. I don't need to debate. I know what life has taught me, and I know of the lack of scriptural basis for these systems. I'll talk to you about whatever you'd like to talk about, but this isn't an "iron sharpening iron" issue for me. I know where right and wrong are.

    I don't think it's responsible of you to promote the ideas of emotional purity and courtship given your lack of personal experience, life experience in general, and the cultic groups that have influenced your opinions. This isn't a personal slight. It's just reality. In my line of work, I don't take studio/studio musician advice from people who have no studio/studio musician experience. By default, they aren't qualified to give it.

    If you want to find opposing ideas, the post right after this one gives you raw experience to gauge your beliefs by. There are any number of websites that would oppose your ideas. I'm certainly not bashful about my experience and opinions on my own blog. There's a plethora of writing there on courtship, patriarchy, dominionism, and the like. But I don't debate there. In fact, I hardly comment at all anymore. My writing either speaks for itself or it doesn't.

    If you're genuinely searching for the truth on these matters (and are still malleable as you suggest), you'll get there sooner by reading rather than writing, or by listening rather than talking, and you can avoid leading someone down the wrong path in the process. Ask questions when they're necessary and think critically about everything you read and hear. Don't go for the theory, go for the substance.

    You're a smart guy. Be certain where you stand before you stand.

    Janie...If you've already taken a stand for emotional purity at age 14, and that stand still holds, then you've taken a side on the issue. And why would they pray for you? For being a feminist? Feminism isn't a sin to my knowledge.

  123. "And No, I have had experience, mostly from careful observation over the past several years of friends and more recently of my self."

    Observation is not experience, it's observation. I can observe people play a sport all I want. Sure, that gives me theoretical knowledge about what works and what doesn't (from a general standpoint), but it doesn't make me good at that particular sport or allow me to really understand what the athletes have to deal with.

    Theory is great and all, but when theory meets reality, it often fails.

  124. But surely theory is better than facing it with complete ignorance...


    It collapsed at 16 and for two years I experienced porn sites, bad relationships and self harm addictions...that's where my experience of no emotional purity left me...

    Feminism isn't a sin? How so? I agree with women having the right to work and vote. But as far as I can see, feminism in its strongest form in no way equates with what the Bible teaches as a role for women...

    But the point still remains that they wouldn't condemn me if I chose to take that side.


  125. Janie, I think if you'll read the other posts on this topic, you'll see that no one here who believes that "emotional purity" (as defined previously) is damaging is therefore promoting promiscuity, emotional or physical. That is a false dichotomy that is very prevalent in these teachings.

  126. Janie...The experience you're describing goes considerably deeper than "emotional purity". Those are self-control issues, not emotional purity issues. SELF-control trumps theory, formula, and everything else. Regardless, I'm sorry for the wounds you received.

    Re: Feminism...I don't believe the bible teaches role-playing.

  127. If you're mature enough to be in a romantic relationship, you're mature enough to not be approaching it with ignorance.

    Sure, theory is great, but it doesn't trump experience. So, when you're trying to argue from a position of not having any experience, the people with experience aren't exactly going to take your theoretical models seriously.

    Of course, on the flip side, we have to be careful that we don't take experience to the point where we think that our personal experiences define the whole of the issue for everyone else. Anecdotal evidence only goes so far.

  128. Lewis,

    "I'm not interested in debating your ideas, Jackson" This has become evident, you've only told me what is obvious to any thinking mind (and has been obvious to me for years). You say to listen rather than write, what you are ignorant of though is that I do listen, constantly. This writing is from the excess of my listening and thinking about what I've heard.

    You say to ask questions when necessary, yet you have refused to answer the underlying question that I've been asking. Why am I wrong? You're a smart guy, if you're truly interested in protecting others you would of perceived that.

    In short, you've only told me why no one should take my word as proof of my theories. (Something I certainly have no intention of anyone doing.) Rather than telling me why my theories are wrong.


    Observation is indirect experience, the next-best-thing. Assuming you know enough about what you are observing to correctly formulate it into theory and practice. The thing is, I am an athlete in this sense, I do play the game (though not for very long), and am able therefor to understand what the athletes I'm observing are having to deal with. And if I don't know, I will later.

    Theory is required before one can act, to act with out a theory is to act without thought.

    Trying to keep one's Emotional Purity is exactly so that you don't approach a romantic relationship until you are mature enough not to be ignorant. Rather than approaching with ignorance and getting burned.

    Any experience will fit within a model or theory, the point of theory is to understand why experience happens as it does and to be able to make better decisions in the future.

    Dominus Vobiscum

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  130. "Trying to keep one's Emotional Purity is exactly so that you don't approach a romantic relationship until you are mature enough not to be ignorant. Rather than approaching with ignorance and getting burned."

    But that is not how emotional purity (not sure why you feel the need to capitalize it) is taught by many. You are never mature enough to handle the responsibility of partaking in a relationship until, hey look, you're married. That means you're responsible now. That type of thinking is putting the cart before the horse.

    As to the discussion of theory, obviously theory isn't useless, as I've already pointed out. But it's still not experience, and when you lack experience and only have theory to operate on, no one is going to care much about what you have to say because they have experience on their side. I'm not about to go to a professional sports coach and tell him how he should do his job. He'd laugh me out of the office because I don't have any experience actually doing his job.

    As I said before, theory is great until it hits reality. You can make all the plans and theories you want, but it doesn't matter a lick, because a lot of what you think you know changes the minute it gets put to the test.

    I lost my "emotional purity" long ago, and I am not damaged goods because of it. In fact, I'm currently in a very healthy relationship. I made stupid decisions, but I learned. There is no formula for safety, and I would probably be much less mature than I am now if I hadn't been allowed to make stupid choices and learn. One of the downfalls of emotional purity is the fallacy of thinking you can protect your child from the outside world. Not only does that framework fail (you can never fully protect someone from the world), but without having learned how to deal with the world, your child's growth will be stunted.

  131. Jackson...One last time...If you want to know why I, and others, believe you to be wrong, reread Darcy's post, then read her two posts that followed this one. Go to my blog and read. Go to Quivering Daughters. Go to Under Much Grace. Go to any number of the blogs I link on my sidebar. I think I can speak for the rest that we have no desire to spend significant amounts of time talking past each other. Just read the blogs. We've no desire to break down each sentence of every post you might publish and tell you why it may or may not be wrong.

    Long story short, if someone wants to view themselves as "emotionally impure", they're senselessly demoting themselves to "damaged goods" status. God doesn't judge people on their emotional purity. That being the case, it's self-defeating and legalistic for people to do so, even if they only judge themselves. If someone wants to live in fear of their potential sins, they need to check their relationship with Christ and make sure it's a healthy one. It wouldn't hurt to read Romans 8, either. If you tie emotional purity to maturity, you stunt the maturation process, giving yourself sensless extra weight to carry that amounts to a whole lot of nothing in the long term. It's a free country, though. Do what you want.

    For the record, I can't directly "protect" you from anything. I can sound the warning siren loudly - as I do on my blog. Regarding or disregarding it is your choice.

    I'm not gonna address this any further here.

    Maybe it's time you were completely honest about why you're here.

  132. *Is signing off till the Weekend to get neglected work done and to think through all this*

    Dominus Vobiscum

  133. I just noticed this blog entry and a lot of good discussion. I am glad to see people discussing and analyzing the merits of courtship and "kissing dating goodbye" than just blindly accepting it. One person called it a "fad" where during the fad it was promoted more in some groups than even Christ.

    I have a blog that critiques Josh Harris's "kissing dating goodbye" book:


    Some of my thoughts about Harris and his book is that Harris is quick to point out the problems he sees with dating but is silent about the problems "kissing dating goodbye" has caused. This includes problems he has observed at the church he is Sr. Pastor of. Harris may have given a few messages to that church acknowledging the problems but hasn't admitted them somewhere like on his blog where a large crowd could learn from.

    My experience is that "kissing dating goodbye" teaches singles to AVOID relating with those of the opposite sex vs. learning HOW to properly relate. Any church group I have seen that teaches something along the lines of "kissing dating goodbye" typically has singles that are almost "afraid" of those of the opposite sex. In these groups even older adults in their 30's act like scared young teenagers around those of the opposite sex.

    Another point is that "kissing dating goodbye" might be more appropriate for teenagers but typically is taught as applicable to all ages.

    I thought what one person shared on how "kissing dating goodbye" has this mentality that it worked for me and thus must work for you is a sad but true analysis of the book.

    Now that "kissing dating goodbye" has been in practice for a period of time it is obvious that it doesn't guarantee nor does it automatically deliver what it supposedly promised.

    Thanks again for posting this. I still have a number of comments to read through.


  134. Steve,
    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a note! Yes, this blog entry took off and went more places then I ever dreamed. :) It's provoked some really good discussion around the Blog-o-sphere and is still my most viewed post to date.

  135. Darcy

    Thanks for the welcome.

    One thing that really shocks me about Josh Harris and his book is that the church where he is pastor had been practicing "kissing dating goodbye" for almost 30 years when Harris wrote his book. At that church KDG had caused various problems and thus Harris should have known about these problems. Despite his should have knowing this, he chose to write a book that pointed out all these problems with dating that he saw but no acknowledgement of the problems KDG has and can cause.

    I don't totally dismiss all that is presented in KDG but know sure know it isn't nearly as perfect or better than Harris book leads on to believe. It is sad that people like Harris can't admit the problems to where this approach can be more fine tuned and properly applied.


  136. With all due respect, this is what I think. I've tried dating and it left me broken. Then I met God in my brokenness and He taught me a lot of things. Please listen, and tell me what you think.
    SHAME: THIS is where you throw out the legalism while keeping the rules to keep your heart safe. God WILL give you grace because He knows that you'll mess up, but that doesn't mean that you should go and put yourself in the path of a broken heart. It will break in other ways enough, you don't need to add that kind of broken heart to the mix. It slows you down in the race of faith. Emotional purity DOES NOT MEAN that you condemn others. If you are, that's the COUNTERFEIT for the real thing and somebody's got some confessing and changing to do... but just because God is a God of grace and mercy (HALLELUJAH!) doesn't mean that it's healthy to play the dating game.
    PRIDE: If it's causing pride, quite frankly that doesn't mean that you should drop the rules and run in the same direction that the rest of the world is, but you should, instead, REMEMBER THE HEIGHT FROM WHICH YOU'VE FALLEN. THAT, in and of itself will be a sure-fire way to knock down that pride.
    SKEWED VIEWS OF RELATIONSHIPS AND DYSFUNCTION. I think that's something that she needs to take to God. perhaps it's a danger if you try for "emotional purity" too legalistically, but don't think that IGNORANCE means bliss. Actually, I think that the way most people go into relationships - ready to give their heart away - is what causes skewed views of relationships. people don't KNOW what relationships should look like most of the time because they don't understand the way guys and gals work together. Does that make sense?
    FROMULAS=SAFE. I don't believe in such a formula, and I don't think that a good test of faith is pouring out your heart to someone who isn't bound to you before God (married to you) is a good way to test your faith. I think that's foolish.

    I'm finding that "emotional purity" means to WALK WITH GOD, not set up rules for yourself. Believe me. I didn't initiate this. God did. It's a challenge but I love Him all the more and I can't wait to meet my husband the way God wants me to meet Him. FIRST I need to learn to walk with God and love Him, becoming the woman that He wants me to be, and then I'll be able to see the right man. I don't have to try and fail because that's plain just a distraction in the race of faith. REAL FAITH. The world is falling apart as it is without ME falling apart because of more broken relationships.
    I don't have a problem with hanging out with guys in a group, I actually think that's healthy. It teaches you what godly men look like and what godly men... don't look like. But that's not what "emotional purity" says no to.

    does this make sense? do you have any questions?

  137. Anon: here's what I've observed about relationships and walking with God:
    You can pray as much as you like that God will put you with the right person and that your relationship will glorify him. You can follow all the rules and seek to glorify him, and you can, with as much certainty as possible, believe that your relationship is from God.

    And it can still fall apart.

    Were you wrong in some way? Did you make a mistake? does the heartbreak mean that you were in some way not pleasing God?

    No. Because God never promised to preserve us from heartbreak. God never says in the Bible that if we follow him with all our hearts and seek to honor him in our relationships and marriages, that we will not experience the pain of those relationships falling apart. Any relationship, following any formula, dating, courtship, whatever, can fail, because every relationship involves sinful people. Even relationships involving sinful people who are trying their hardest to please God can fall apart without one or both of them doing something sinful in the relationship. Maybe it's God's will for your relationship to fail, so you can learn and grow and become a better person because of it.

    That's part of the problem with the emotional purity movement; it implies that if a relationship fails and hearts get broken, then clearly somebody was sinning. That's just not the case, and it invites us to condemn those whose relationships fail, which is basically just kicking someone while they're down.

    I was so angry with God when my relationship failed, because all the "signs" I had seen pointed to it being God's will. But maybe God's will was for me to get my heart broken, so that I could grow. That's why emotional purity is bunk. It's not a mistake or sinful to simply love someone, and you can heal COMPLETELY from a breakup. It wasn't wrong for me to love him. I did nothing that compromised my standards.

    What does it even mean to "give your heart away" anyway? Are you referring to having sex or in some way compromising your sexual standards? Or are you referring to taking a risk and loving someone, even if that means there's a possibility you'll get hurt? I'd say the first is sinful, yes. But the second is life. Love means taking a risk that the person you love will in some way betray you, because you trust them. In a sinful world, there is no such thing as love without risks.

    It is important to be wise about who you love, though. Nobody is advocating anything different.

  138. For my part, I'm glad my parents never fully advocated the courtship approached. They gave me books about it and claimed that that was what they wanted for me, but by the time I was old enough to get into relationships, they had run out of steam on that count. And frankly, I'm glad.

    Having parental approval of the man I will eventually marry is extremely important to me, because I love and respect my parents and I know they want the best for me.

    But I'm also very, VERY glad they're willing to let me choose for myself, because their idea of what is best for me and my own preferences are very, very different. Were it there choice, they would settle me with their church's music minister back in New Mexico, where I grew up.

    But they have let my future and my marriage be my own choice, and allowed me to follow the Lord's leading for myself.

    This has led me to be a missionary in Japan. Around 60 miles away from the troubled Fukushima power plant. Volunteering with a relief organization on my days off, and teaching English and sharing the gospel as my everyday job. I am being a powerful witness simply by refusing to abandon my students out of fear.

    See, the problem with the courtship model is that it makes it seem like the best thing for every young woman, the thing God wants the most, is for her to get married, and that it is a parent's duty to protect and shelter her until they can hand her off to a man.

    That's so narrow, and leaves no room for God to use a young woman in any other context, such as sharing the gospel in a country where thousands of people have died.

    It's insulting, because it implies that a girl can't follow God as a single woman, but rather has to wait for her father to pick out some "worthy" young man for her to follow. If he wants to be a missionary, she can. But she has to wait for him, and until her dad finds him, she has to "stay under her father's authority," which makes no sense.

    If you really love your kids, you'll let them grow and figure out who God wants them to be, rather than forcing them to follow some jacked plan that you think is best for them. And you are not loving your daughters by suppressing their freedom to follow God under the guise of "protecting" them.

  139. Anne W, your comments are perfect! Thank you for taking the time to share those thoughts, they are really important. And my prayers are with you as you minister to the people of Japan.

  140. Hi Darcy! This is my first time over here on your blog- i got linked over from Recovering Alumni:-) I loved this post- and your writing style as well- and definitely agree with your basic idea here.

    I do have a question about this statement from your first point:

    "Love doesn't work that way. The more you give, the more you have. My 3rd child doesn't have less of my heart just because I've loved two other children before him. And, really, I haven't given them "pieces" of my heart. I've given them each all of my heart. The miracle of love is that it multiplies by being given.

    Each person I love has "a piece of my heart"...my best friend, my sisters, my husband, my parents, my kids. It is ridiculous to suggest that there is not enough of my heart to go around."

    I guess I'm a little confused about how you might pair that idea with the reality that breakups hurt, and when we become emotionally attached to someone in a romantic relationship, it's difficult when that bond is broken. Personally, I do believe there is a need to use discernment in how we enter into and act during romantic relationships so that we aren't constantly allowing ourselves to be deeply hurt over and over again when/if they end. Respectfully, I think your comparison to your love for your children, sister and parents is not really appropriate here- there is a huge difference between the love and attachment someone has with their blood relatives and the kind that grows in a romantic relationship.

    I'll lay my cards on the table and say that I have been through more than one really intensely painful breakup, and I guess I think it is important that we don't allow ourselves to become totally emotionally attached relationship after relationship, because it's not healthy and not God's will for us to be constantly hurting over broken relationships. Does this make sense? I'm really trying to understand here!

  141. Hi, Lisa!
    I really don't think that what I said and what you said are mutually exclusive. Of course breaking up can be terribly painful! But just because a break-up hurts doesn't mean that your capacity to love your spouse is lessened. It doesn't mean that you've given away a piece of your heart that is gone forever and you now have less to give your future spouse. It doesn't make you damaged goods. THAT is the idea that I am speaking against. I don't believe love works that way.

  142. I want to comment on one of the most appalling, hateful, disgusting parts of this whole "purity" thing: the unabashed use of the word "defraud." It needs to go away permanently.

    Before modern U.S. fundamentalists got hold of it, the word "defraud" meant "to promise something in a contract and then not deliver." Yes, fundamentalist Christians in America are the ones who decided to apply this to a man feeling sexual interest in a woman. But look at what new meaning is infused into the situation. Men's lust becomes the fault of women. It becomes even more perverse and horrible when we read about children who are dressed "modestly" so as not to "defraud" men. Because their existence in some way that a man finds arousing is a binding promise to fornicate. Jesus wept!

    It is never the fault of the men. Their sin becomes something for other people to tiptoe around. And if they sin anyway, it's not their fault, the poor, poor men; they were defrauded.

    Jenny Islander

  143. I was talking recently with a guy who buys into the whole "don't date, just be friends, because breakups hurt!" mentality. I told him that I could show him half a church full of young women who are hurting because no guy ever asks them out, and they don't seem to have any chance for a happy relationship with a Christian man.

    He looked surprised. I hope I gave him some food for thought.

    Where does all this "don't do anything that might hurt" garbage come from, anyway? It's self-defeating, and it's ANYTHING but Scriptural! Where does Jesus say we're supposed to avoid pain at all costs?

  144. Wow, it's been a quarter of a year. Sorry. :P

    (Oh, and I've changed to using my real name online, Kyle Johnston, instead of my former pseudo-name Jackson)

    I had some free time and came back. And, nothing new has really been said. I still stand by my original reply to Darcy's article (Now hosted at: http://kylejohnston.net/2011/02/in-defense-of-emotional-purity/). I've yet to see anyone even begin to address the points I brought up. (If anyone does wish to address my concerns, email me: Kyle@KyleJohnston.net)

    Ultimately protecting one's heart, and the romantic attachments you form is not a sin. You will not answer to God for this, and really I see no reason for any one to answer to men [mankind] for this. (Excepting while you are still under the authority and direction of your parents.)

    Still, I think that to consciously wish to protect your self (and others) is good to do. If your consince tells you that to do something is wrong, then by doing it you make a choice to sin, for the issue is the choice not the action.

    If your consince has no qualms about something such as this (i.e. something lacking specific Biblical direction. You'r still sinning to Murder even if you have no qualms about it.) then do so in the freedom you have as a believer.

    Seriously, there's got to be more useful things we could be doing than discussing so heatedly the process by which you can find your future spouse.

    Dominus Vobiscum,
    Kyle Johnston

  145. Oops, I never responded back here!

    I agree with what you said in your reply comment, Darcy- that we don't become damage goods or lose our ability to love others fully, but I guess your post made me think you were basically lambasting the whole idea of using discernment in entering relationships (this is probably because of your overwhelming attack of terms like "guarding your heart" and "emotional purity.")But I agree with your overall point, so I think we'd probably be arguing semantics at this point:-)

  146. Yes yes YES! I've recently come to the same conclusions of you, especially about the "pieces of your heart" line - it's such BS! Thank you for speaking out on this!

  147. ...thank you so much for posting this...

  148. Wow... Thank you for this.
    ***God doesn't seem to like formulas. Because formula is the opposite of faith. Formula says "I will follow a God that I've put neatly in a box, to give me the desired results". Faith says "I will follow You even when I can't see where I'm going, even when the world is collapsing around me". Formula says "I will not risk, I will be in control of my future". Faith says "I will risk everything, I will trust Whom I cannot see, surrender what I cannot control anyway." Formula is the assurance of things planned for, the conviction of things seen. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). But we are afraid. So we control instead of trust. We don't take a step unless we can see where we're going. We build neat little formulas and say "THIS will keep me safe!" Then we blame God when our puny formulas fail.***
    You hit the nail on the head. I grew up in ATI and in the "I kissed dating goodbye" era as well.
    I used your post on my own blog today. Thanks and major hugs to you, my friend! =)

  149. I've enjoyed reading your blogs and views on things. I grew up in a rather legalistic realm centered on Gothards teachings. My parents eventually left the institute but I read Harris' books and several others when I was 12 or 13, was taught about protecting my heart and not letting my emotions rule etc... I started dating a guy about 2 years ago and it's been a constant struggle, when things get tough I just shut down, it's like I quit feeling and I want to walk away from the relationship because it's so painful to care and feel. It helps to know others have gone through the same thing. Thanks.

  150. This is good. I grew up in ATI, and read all the books on emotional purity, and still struggle with that outlook on life. I dated someone in my early 20s who I knew wasn't a good choice, but was trying to break away from the things I'd been taught growing up. It became an immoral relationship, as I was able to justify a lot of things, trying to balance out the trash I had been taught. I admit that ultimately I made decisions that I knew were wrong, but I feel like a lot of them were because of frustration I felt over the things that I had been taught. Wanting to prove to myself that I could date, and kiss and hold hands and stay pure. It was in pride, and even though I'm out of that relationship, I still struggle with the balance.

  151. Thanks for this post Darcy! Because of your thoughts, I'm inspired to write my own blog entry about this in the future. I especially loved your point about giving pieces of your heart away. I read "When God Writes your Love Story" while I was recovering from a broken relationship. I was really inspired by the idea that if I "guard my heart", keep myself pure, then I'm going to have the best relationship with "the one". I honestly think that Harris and the Ludys meant well with their books, but its dangerous to assume that just because you followed a certain formula, you'll have the perfect relationship. The nugget of wisdom that I got from those books was not that we can actually assuredly "prevent" bad things from happening, but that we should put God in the equation of a relationship instead of just thinking about the standards of the world (good looks only, money only). I totally agree with Lisa Marie up there when she said that we should still use discernment before entering a relationship. When I read that a couple in Harris' book got divorced, it really made me reflect on my own views about "Godly relationships". Marriage is not an the end goal of a relationship. Knowing and Loving God more is the end. All our relationships are still anchored on our relationship with God. If we forget God along the way, no "dating formula" that we ever followed can save us.

  152. Great post, Darcy.

    This is a topic I wonder about, sometimes...At 27, I'm starting a very good relationship. And I'm very thankful that my earlier "crushes" and so forth didn't work out...What if they became relationships and I'd missed out on this great man?

    I'm not saying that to defend any emphasis on purity, though -- I think that the Harris/Ludy/etc approaches are, quite frankly, bunk. Emotional purity sounds nice in theory (protecting oneself means that you're "preserving" something, right?), but it doesn't actually hold water. The idea that a marriage relationship will emerge out of nothing sounds pretty, but doesn't have any substance; after all, how will someone know how to relate to a spouse if they only relate to the opposite sex as a child or sibling? (And, no, "observing" doesn't count; there's only so much you can get out of watching other people do things and never having even the basic experiences involved.)

  153. I never really cared for Joshua Harris' first book "I Kissed Dating Goodbye," and quite frankly never really got through the whole thing. I could spot legalism even at 16 years old. However, I really enjoyed "Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship" and all the Eric and Leslie Ludy books. I was one of those teens who MIGHT have done sexual things with a guy if given the chance. I was very emotionally needy and I was certainly never shy around boys. I had no problem writing long love letters to them declaring my feelings. Luckily, God protected me in that time of my life because had one of the boys not been an honorable gentleman and decided to play on my naïveté and take advantage of me, I might have compromised my purity because I was the most boy crazy teenager you could ever meet. I didn't see it as a good thing at the time, but now I'm glad that none of the boys I liked back then returned my feelings. If they had, I don't know what my story would be today. The Ludy books changed my life. They helped me to find a man of godly character and what that looks like. (I was liking boys for silly, childish reasons back then.) The Ludy books also helped me be patient and wait on the Lord. Because of "When God Writes Your Love Story," I never feared that I wouldn't get married one day and I faithfully waited for the right one to come along. When he finally did, it was almost as though I knew right away. I had previously committed to their suggestion (it was never stated THIS IS GOD'S WAY but as a suggestion) to save your first kiss for the wedding day. However, after six months of engagement, we had our first kiss and I really don't regret it at all. I'm positive the Ludys NEVER meant for anyone to have shameful feelings and I do remember pages and pages being dedicated to addressing those very issues. "If you feel ashamed for sexual sin, there is forgiveness," and I'm pretty sure they never said flirting was wrong, but leading a guy on is. Also, the Ludys do not cause pride, YOU cause your own pride. Pride is one of those sins that is very personal, and has nothing to do with anything anyone else said. Thanks for your time, I did enjoy reading this, even if I respectfully disagree with your stance on the Ludys' books.

  154. I think you nailed it! Those sort of feelings. I am your age I guess, yet have never married. Not because I don't want to, just haven't met the right guy. I've come to the conclusion that no matter how people try, there is NO formula for relationships. Each one is unique.
    I grew up in a church that pushed those books on us and taught courting. My parents didn't care if my sister and I dated, they trusted us, but so many of my friends who had purity rings didn't follow through because their parents forbid them to date, and then they snuck around their parents. Just made things worse.
    I had to work through a lot in college realizing it WAS ok to being "just friends" with guys, to hug them, that they didn't think i was flirting...just so many mindsets I had to undo, and I still feel like I am undoing. It's frustrating and difficult to figure out what exactly it is, but I like your Pharisee analogy.

  155. It sounds to me like a lot of this stuff you grew up with was good advice. Maybe the problem is people were legalistic about it, and it sounds like you were, too. I was legalistic about rock music and certain other things like that from a church I went to in middle school, so I can relate. some of the courtship stuff makes a little more sense, and it's find as long as you are taught not to be judgment of other people who dont' follow the exact same path.

  156. Thanks for your honesty! I am 53, and I am married, and I feel guilty too when I am alone with a man who is not my husband. Especially if it is a friend's husband...whoa.......haha
    But, you know what? There is a happy medium!
    Believe me!
    There is something to the thing about being hurt, and your heart getting hard. Josh Harris didn't make up "guard your heart, ..." God did.
    So, there is wisdom in it somewhere, and that is what we have to find as we seek God, and then when He shows us His meaning of it...we apply it! He will weed out what is not of Him.
    Maybe as the above post says, there is some legalism to it...take ROCK, for instance. Does not our spirit reject songs that push sex, drugs, violence, abuse? Then why do we have to have a rule about it? Just follow Jesus and your conscience will be clean. Turn it off because your spirit is rejecting it...you know what I mean.
    Also, in my many years on earth...I have never been able to have a boy "friend"...they always ended up liking me...no matter how much I was not at all attracted to them. Boys responded to friendliness...not as flirting, but just being open and nice. So, is the rule, don't be friendly and nice? No,but, I what's a girl to do?? God bless you...but, when your kids are dating age, please don't go to the other extreme...they will need you to be a wise parent.

  157. I read this post for the first time a few months ago and had to return to it again. I agree with it more and more as time goes on.

    My situation is a little different as I am a mom to teenage daughters and raising them in a church that has a very conservative view of these things. The girls are so critical and are always policing each other and gossiping about whether or not someone else is flirting. It's so weird and unhealthy it just drives me batty. Not only can the girls not just have a normal friendship with a guy, but they are so judgmental and snarky toward each other they don't have true loving friendships with other girls.

    I think by the rest of the world's standards we are pretty conservative. My oldest is courting (she is 20) and the boy talked to her father before they held hands. He has a good car and a job but he isn't financially quite ready to get married and we are thought down on because we let them court before he had the money for marriage (and a dowry). We also let them be friends and do stuff in groups up till the time he was ready to court. Quite shocking.

    Now my second daughter is almost 16 and I tell her she can bloody well be friends with whoever she likes but she gets constantly gossiped about and called a flirt. I want my daughters to have friends and to know different kinds of people. I don't want them to only know how to deal with other homeschooled girls. I want their world to be bigger than that!

    Before I had teenager daughters I read some of these books and thought we would follow their teachings, (I was an adult convert and in the beginning thought any teacher that identified themselves as Christians was to be trusted. Especially if they looked like they had a happy family on the cover. :P) but when my oldest daughter was a teen I started to look at it a little more closely I started to back off from them. At first I felt guilty for going against so many people in our church but as time goes on and I see more of it I am more sure I am right. It's a toxic, weird teaching and results in a toxic weird church life.

    When you first posted these posts they were all over the mom's facebook pages as so shocking and I did point out to them that I thought you had some good points. But they are so ingrained. Mostly I just keep quiet and go home right after church rather than stay and socialize. It's weird that this extra-biblical teaching could so monopolize a church, but I know our family is treated differently because we don't adhere to it.

    Anyway, I thought you might like the mom's point of view of it all... Or maybe I just wanted to get it off my chest. It's so weird.

  158. Anon.,
    Thanks for your comment! It IS weird. And not natural or healthy at all to live that way.

    I'm sure my thought did seem shocking to many homeschool moms. This article has been reprinted several places is remains my most popular post ever. But I think these mom need to hear from my generation just how much "bad fruit" these teaching produced. I know they sounded good to our parents, but WE are the fruit of those teachings, not them. WE are living with the effects of unnatural relationship drama. WE are working through the hang-ups these teachings caused. Our parent's generation would do well to listen to the voices of those who lived this way. We aren't rebellious teenagers....we're in are 20's, 30', and some 40's, most of us parents ourselves. These problems we've shared seem "shocking" because these aren't the fulfillment of what the courtship movement promised. But we ARE the reality. And I sincerely hope that more parents that are lured by the promises of this movement read more article like mine and consider the evident fruits before trying to conform their children to a method that is harmful and faulty.

  159. thanks so much! I've heard the lolly pop/sticky tape theory and just thought that was the way it was... and through 19 years of marriage, I have always regretted giving away so much of my heart, believing that this has made it impossible to really "stick" anymore, to be truly emotionally close to my husband... Sure we have all our issues to deal with, but this gives me HOPE!!! :) I feel like a light has been turned on for me! And more importantly, I have a lightness and HOPE as I think about my 3 young teenagers and the joy they can have in healthy relationships as I make sure they have some perspective and are not conned into thinking that these messed-up teachings are not the actually the "Bible Truth!"

  160. oh wow; this is fantastic. i go to a church that very much advocates the whole courtship thing, and though i love my church for many other reasons i've been VERY uneasy about those particular teachings for a few months now. now i see why! if my christian friends want to give me flak about the way i handle relationships, i'll try and use your reasoning to help explain myself.

    also, you didn't mention this, but i really feel the "courtship" system is very degrading to women (oh, I'm male BTW). it seems like... the women just have to sit around, waiting and pining for a guy to take "initiative," and then they go out with him and as long as he doesn't totally suck they just go out for a few months then "DTR," then later get engaged and married and it just seems so formulaic and passionate. and i can't help but wonder what the woman thinks about it, since it seems the entire relationship only exists because the GUY was passionate about her and "pursued" her. like the girl is a commodity for the guy to try and "get." is this sort of how it is, or am i just imagining things?

    1. Spiffy,
      If you want more stories, there is a Part 2 with testimonies from many many people who went through this. http://darcysheartstirrings.blogspot.com/2011/01/emotional-purity-and-courtship-take-2.html

      Check it out. It only confirms what I've written here.

  161. Part 1 of 3:
    Wow... this is a lot! Grab a snack and something to drink if you're planning to undertake this massive comment ;)

    I've tried to carefully consider this blog post and the various responses over the last week in light of the Gospel since a friend first shared the link on Facebook. I wanted to respond immediately, but knew I was probably not going to be able to do so without sounding like or actually being a jerk to someone or another. So, after some thinking, discussion with Godly women who came from various backgrounds, and remembering the many relationships I've had where a "Godly man pursued a Godly woman, by Godly means" (I will ALWAYS respect those brothers in Christ for protecting me from sexual sin and for not promising me marriage or forever when that wasn't God's will) and also remembering the ones where sadly, I chose to deny God's good boundaries for me (meaning, I sinned and denied clear Biblical commands against sexual sin) and pridefully decided I knew better than God what true love was, just to realize yet again that I should've put my trust in my good Father... And after all the promises I ended up single again. And yes, I do wish I had never even kissed any of those guys, but Romans 8:28 gives us this encouraging reminder (which of course is not a license to sin): "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Thankfully, I am satisfied in my current singleness and know that I am clothed in Christ, redeemed from my sins, and my salvation is sealed in Christ--a seal that cannot be broken! AMEN.
    Sorry, lots of rambling, but here's the best response I can give, which is not meant to be an argument against anyone, but encouragement for all!!

    The dichotomy of being in control vs. giving up control. We are to rest and trust in the Lord, acknowledging that it is in Him we live and move and have our being... He is the Creator, Sustainer, Provider. Yet, we are to be self-controlled.

    Psalm 27:14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
    Proverbs 16:9 In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.

    Galatians 5:22-23
    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
    2 Peter 1:5-7
    For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

    Then of course there is the Biblical instruction to guard my own heart, but also to love and serve others and not lead them to sin. No, dating is not laid out in steps in scripture, but we get wonderful words of Life that should influence how we date/court, work, serve, or are a friend to someone... or even how we should respond when we're perceiving ourselves as an enemy to someone (whether a person in close relationship, the author of a book, or someone who comments online).

    My heart- Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
    Someone else's heart- Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
    (Ok, seriously.. that one kicks my butt a lot and is so humbling. I fail miserably so often, but am encouraged that my worth isn't in my performance and also that, as it says in Philippians 1:6 "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

  162. Part 2 of 3:
    God doesn't leave me where I'm at, but is growing and perfecting me in grace. Some days I just think, "When will I stop being such a jerk?!? Can't I just be completely loving all the time?" yet I'm dropping f-bombs while alone in my car as I'm being impatient and disapproving of others' driving, or I'm holding bitterness, maybe complete hatred, against someone instead of extending grace when Christ gave Himself up for me while I was STILL HIS ENEMY and could not deserve anything good!). Can we stop for a second and just say, what a good and LOVING God!! What good motivation to proclaim the merits of Christ instead of my merits that are really just a mess!

    Concerning ways to be self-controlled or even to love others well, it says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 "...we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." I never paid much attention to this verse til I was 25, but then I started to take it seriously. At first, it was really tiring to think about my thoughts, but it became easier and more "natural"... A difficult or maybe horribly freaking awful situation would arise and I would think, "How do I WANT to respond right now?" and compare it to "How does God want me to respond?" It's pretty easy to start spotting what is sinful vs. what will result from trusting in God's goodness. Once again, I mess this up pretty often, but I have found it to be such good, Biblical wisdom that has helped me to be less of a jerk in relationships and has literally prevented me from destroying 2 friendships. Thank goodness for the Holy Spirit and the ability to take our thoughts captive and to see just how sinful we are, but how much greater is God's grace, and acknowledge that "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." 2 Peter 1:3

    One thing that has really struck me in all this, is that we are each accountable for our own actions, including pride. Of course, teaching something crappy equates teaching something crappy. We all have an effect on someone, and we all botch things up quite royally, quite often. We can blame our parents, our country, book authors, anyone... but in seeing Christ face to face, we likely won't be saying "It's so and so's fault that I did this." The problem is SIN. We each are born sinners, we each continue to sin, and we have all fallen damnably short of the glory of God. The only reason any of us can see our own sin or that our spiritual eyes become slightly more open (though we still see so dimly), is because of God's good mercy and revealing that to us. Sure, I've been taught a lot of things that aren't good, but Christ tells us to love as He loved, to forgive, to feed His sheep. We can consider a teaching and discern that it is right, wrong, has some truth or no truth... but we cannot hate someone for teaching it and say that we love God: "If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen." 1 John 4:20.

  163. Part 3 of 3:
    How JUST it would be of Christ to hold everything against us that we have done, but he DOESN'T and that should humble all of us! The very comments we're posting here are affecting someone. By God's grace we can choose to build up and to remember God's Word as it says, "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted." Galatians 6:1. Finally, concerning enemies, Jesus said: "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." Matthew 5:45. Also, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12. Battling against each other accomplishes little, but we can encourage each other in God's word and know that Love doesn't ever fail :) I am not saying at all that we pretend something is the right way if it's contrary to God's word. But I do believe that we can share knowledge of a teaching that has caused problems, trust that God is highly capable of changing hearts and still love the people who taught it. A lot of us probably will be able to look back in 5 years and see, "Wow, my understanding has changed so much concerning ______." And we have all given advice or said things that we could look back on and feel ridiculous for.

    Some roomies and I used to sit and just think about God's incredible ability to grow us within Gospel-centered community and ask, "How would I have handled this current situation differently if it had happened a year ago?" We couldn't talk about that without becoming SO thankful in realizing that God was changing us in good ways. God's grace is at work in all of our brothers and sisters in Christ. I think of the poet John Donne sometimes and am grateful for the work God did in his life. He started out writing poetry as an Atheist who proudly showed it throughout his work, denying God and worshiping sexual sin. Later, as a believer, he wrote wonderful poetry that glorifies God and has encouraged many. We could be bitter against him for his earlier work, or we could be thankful that somebody didn't write him off. How much more should we try to love, encourage, and help to point towards Christ, our brothers and sisters in Christ? God is big enough to heal wounds from imperfect or poor teaching, and help us love and pray for the people that have taught us. Whatever our background, we are still going to feel awkward or frustrated by situations in this world because of the sheer existence of sin and people's desire to be their own gods, full of rules for our twisted “perfection” that help us to (falsely) judge ourselves as better than others. The only one we should be comparing ourselves to is Christ. And we FAIL, absolutely. Thank goodness, yet again, for the provision of Christ as an atoning sacrifice on our behalf. Because of Christ, we are MORE than conquerors and we are equipped to love each other and be about the business of showing Christ to the world and one another :)

    Well, I'm sleepy... This comment is more jumpy than I intended. If I've offended anyone or misunderstood or taken something posted here out of context, I am sorry and please forgive me and all the other people that have frustrated you in the post, books, or comments! If the Word of God has offended anyone, then amen, that means the two-edged Sword is working and God is the perfect one to answer our prayers and supply us with "grace upon grace" and call us His children. Much love. Peace & God bless!

  164. Darcy, (Part I)

    I'm a 50-something Dad with a family. Allow me a few reflections, not directed at anyone on this thread.

    It's not an easy thing to be a father in today's world.

    To where shall a Dad turn for balanced teaching on such things as nurturing a grown (but young) son or daughter through the challenging, important, and often confusing time of choosing a life's partner? I want to be there to guide but not control, protect but not isolate, counsel but not command, correct but not crush. These are all desires and self-cautions I hold.

    I have read all I can about matters of the heart, romance, marriage, success and failure in the Bible. I have read many Christian authors, some of whom I agree with, some I disagree with. I agree with the many posters here who reject formulae. I too reject any easy formula. As one poster here alluded, formula is the antithesis of faith.

    There are Biblical Principles which are wise to follow. To follow a principle is not the same as following a formula.

    Personally I find that when I've adopted Bible Principles it begins to push me away from some traditions of the surrounding culture. "Casual Dating" is one of those social traditions that I find unprofitable for the man or woman of God. That does not automatically put me into the "Courtship" camp of any one Christian author such as Ludy or Harris, although I've read their books and like a lot of what they say.

    In the same way that many of the posters here are eager to not be defined by a formula, I would encourage the readers to also not be too quick to recoil from teaching which rejects the modern convention of casual dating, or even of committed dating without any parental involvement.

    In our home I have used the word "Courtship" to describe our practice of parental counsel, guidance, and discussion for our young adults who seek a mate. We could use a different word I suppose. I chose this word over 30 years ago, long before the plethora of modern books were written on "Courtship." So maybe they are borrowing the term from me? LOL

    I also want to uphold the values of sexual purity and emotional integrity without making formulae or idols of them. BTW these are lifelong values both before and within marriage. The fact that a Christian author writes a book about these things, and makes some errors, or maybe comes from a legalistic standpoint, does not invalidate the concept.

  165. (Part II)

    There are some rules I advocate in "Courtship" yet ultimately these must be accepted by the free will of my children in order to be of any worth. It is folly for a father to cage young people against their will, and it will fail anyway.

    I read with sadness here of some young people who have been taught that you cannot hold a discussion with someone of the opposite sex, or that you cannot remain in a room for a few minutes with the same while someone steps away. This seems like legalism to me.

    I have made mistakes in the courtships of some of my children, yet they have married happily. There are things I will do differently in the future courtships of our remaining single children. I'm just a man working out my salvation in fear and trembling, and learning these things as I go, and as the Holy Spirit gives me light and wisdom.

    To parents I would say don't look for a rigid formula, but seek the heart of God in all things, but also don't be afraid to step forward and exercise godly counsel and leadership in the lives of your children. Be convinced in your own heart, from your own study of Scripture, and time in prayer, of the the right path. When we stand before the Bema Throne on that Last Day we will be held accountable for what we did and did not do. We own that, and cannot point the finger of blame at any Christian author, no matter how popular or credible they seem to be.

    To growing or grown children I say, don't be quick to characterize your parents as rigid ideologues conforming to a formula just because they might enjoy a book by an author you don't prefer, or because they use a term like "Courtship" or "Purity." It doesn't necessarily that they have adopted some author's formula just because they use a popular buzzword. Don't reject the involvement of your parents in your selection of a mate, especially if your parents are genuine in seeking your happiness.

    Thanks for reading,

    Ron from Colorado

    1. Amen, Ron!! Great advice to parents and adult children alike. I couldn't agree with you more. May God Bless you!

  166. Ron,
    I just saw your comments (I just had a baby and life is crazy, as I'm sure you know!). Thank you and I appreciate your comments and the spirit in which they were posted. :) It's so nice to hear from someone my own dad's age who doesn't just get on here and yell "you bitter, rebellious children!!!!" lol.

  167. A broken and contrite Heart, I will not despise. The rules and controls of religious movements destroy any sense of imagination. Living under the rules of man made law and calling it good is a crime. The destruction is often not noticed until you escape the prison walls and see what bondage you have actually been living in. Where ever you are in a Christian Church, leave it for 6 months and see how you think after that....You are not "backsliding" you will be living in the freedoms you deserve.

  168. I had a relationship based upon this and the damage that was done is deep. I still can't form relationships 2 years out of it all. Josh Harris, the Duggars all of them promote abuse and know it but don't care whatsoever.

  169. I think part of the problem is that we have a generation of kids who suffer from dysfunctional homes and broken families and then we throw in a mix of books which offer a "you-wont-get-hurt-if-you-do-this" formula. When we are in such need of healing from relationship pain, it is easy (especially at an impressionable age) to think that "waiting" (or shall I say, avoidance) is better.

    But if we are wounded from relationships, wouldn't it also make sense that healing comes from relationships? What if God is big enough to bring restoration through innocent exchanges from men and women he puts in our lives?

    I was a home schooled teen when I read Harris and a plethora of other pages. I bought it. It brought alot of shame and fear. Now 29 with alot of relationships past, I am over it. Its why I wrote my own book. The title?

    I Kissed Waiting Goodbye.

    Darcy, I would love to send you a copy. My email addy is Miss.CassandraAnnSmith@Gmail.com

  170. Thank you for writing this! I wrote a post about the whole "giving your heart away" garbage on my own blog. I also read your post about "i used to be you" on modesty. I think we have a lot in common. I'm doing a blog series about my journey away from legalism and I'd love it if you would come by and read some of the posts. I think you can relate to a lot of them!


  171. Purity is not at odds with God's word. Pre-marital sex is. Be cautious of how to proceed with courtship/dating? Yes. But be cautious of generalizing one's experiences as well. Others may fully embrace the idea of purity before marriage and courtship, and their decisions and experiences may not reflect your own. I appreciate your perspective, but particularly disagree with you that pride can be assumed of all who believe in courtship (you may not have intended to generalize, but your words "they cause pride" are stated as fact.)

    I come from a very liberal experience, where I chose whom to date, and I decided which boundaries to set for myself. I can only speak for myself, but I can say, in retrospect, that loving guidance and boundaries agreed on with my parents, would have been MUCH healthier for me than leaving me to call the shots. I regret giving pieces of my heart away (and yes, that does happen for some of us). And I have many other regrets as well, all based on my freedom to explore and decide for myself.

  172. Re-reading this after a long time...that CS Lewis quote reminds me so much of the (wizard)fairytale JK Rowling wrote for her 'Tales of Beedle the Bard' ; The Warlock's Hairy Heart If you've never read it, give it a shot. It's a perfect illustration of the quote....

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  174. Courtship makes it difficult to interact with the opposite gender at work because you always think they're never good enough.

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