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I define “emotional purity” in the same way that popular homeschool writers have: it is the idea of “guarding your heart.” This sounds all noble and righteous and everything but in this context is really just a facade for fear. It was Josh Harris in 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. Pride because suddenly you are better than everyone else. I am still uncomfortable hugging one of my best friends who is a guy because we were taught never to hug or have physical contact, even innocent, with a guy. We were taught never ever ever to be alone with a guy because it could look bad. The more pieces you give away, the less of your heart you have to give to your spouse someday. my best friend, my sisters, my husband, my parents, my kids. Rather, for him courtship is “dating with a purpose.” In other words, you shouldn’t start a relationship with someone unless you are actually ready to get married and think the person in question is likely the one you want to marry.Harris condemns “recreational dating” in no uncertain terms.Many Believers think that Christians should be courting and NOT dating.Others don’t see anything wrong with modern dating as long as there are constraints.It somehow validates my belief that some of the teachings I grew up with were very wrong. I rejected the teachings of courtship and emotional purity when I was 19. In fact, I have identified several ways that these teachings can damage a person’s heart. 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. Because your heart is whole and she just gave a piece of hers to a guy she isn’t married to. You have more to give your future husband than she does. This has nothing to do with the righteousness and grace of God, and everything to do with the accomplishments of man. I was trying to explain this to my friend, and it came out sounding so . Lately, I’ve also 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. You are considered damaged goods if you have fallen in love and had your heart broken. I remember watching a video in which 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. We took something as simple as saying ‘I love you,’ built a straw man rule around it (‘saying I love you is defrauding’), then hung it like a trophy on our walls.” Job well done, folks. They create skewed views of relationships which lead to dysfunction. Where others see nothing wrong, I am suspicious of every look, every situation, every witty exchange. I feel ill at ease sometimes even talking to other men. I’m really good at pushing those feelings away and acting “normal.” But I am bothered by my reaction to everyday situations.

I don’t own a copy of Harris’ book at the moment, but given that this post is about the almost immediately after it came out.Joshua Harris singlehandedly made the word “courtship” popular in mainstream evangelical circles.Yesterday I responded to a post another blogger wrote about what she learned from Joshua Harris.The topic of dating and relationships came up and we started talking about my story. 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 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. Sometimes it’s actually comforting to me to be met with blank or incredulous stares from people I consider “normal,” good Christians. I’m 27 years old, and I’ve been married for almost 7 years. Shame because sometimes you can’t help but like one guy a little more than another. Pride because you are so much more spiritual than that poor girl over there who is crying because her boyfriend broke up with her. 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.

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