I kissed dating goodbye: Chapter 7, 8 and 9

Harris finishes up Part 2 by relating a dream he had. In this dream, his entire life was a catalog of cards, from the good and the bad. Jesus enters his library and goes through his bad cards and then writes out all the bad parts with His blood. Harris uses this dream to encourage his readers that they are forgiven if they made mistakes in the past. Harris retells this dream in a beautiful way and it is certainly encouraging, but it reveals something a bit troubling in certain Christian circles.

Mainly, in these circles, works based salvation is the norm until you have a big, “I’m forgiven moment.” When the rest of the book places so much emphasis on “proper actions,” reminders that, “Hey Jesus forgives you and it’s not about works anyway,” tend to ring a little hollow. This type of mindset also tends to tie good Christianity with a certain generic set of behaviors, which I’m not a huge fan of. I recognize of course that your behavior matters, but some books and groups tend to make those behaviors their religion(see the purity culture for example.)

Chapter 8 kicks off with how you can start with a clean slate, and it is here that I get the impression Harris’ parents were a strong influence on this book. Harris encourages his readers to break up bad relationships with a clean break, which is good advice for any bad relationship. He then encourages his readers to get their parents involved or to pursue another authority figure if the parents aren’t in the picture. He mentions that he talks to his parents about his crushes and will ask them for help if he is getting “too distracted by a girl”

I get the sense that Harris’ parents were a big influence in getting him to swear off dating. After all, he does mention how his mother gave him a purity book in a previous chapter.

Chapter 9 is entitled “Just Friends in a Just-Do-It World.” This chapter should be entitled, “Just Repress your emotions in a Purity-Culture-World.” Harris laments the fact that so many friendships with the opposite sex quickly lead to romantic feelings. He compares it to the old commercial where a child asks an owl, “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsi Pop?” He compares the owl crunching into the pop to the moment when a friendship becomes romantic. He expresses shame at these times his friendships in high school turned into romances.

Harris gives several ways you can stay “just friends” by encouraging group settings, working towards a common goal and serving each other.  However, I say there is an easier solution to Harris’ dilemma. Harris’ church came up with a way to avoid romantic feelings. They chose not to be friends or engage with the opposite sex at all.

Harris even preached a sermon about how singles at his church were stuffy and unfriendly with each other. Read about it here.

When you place all this pressure on basic human relationships, you get unhealthy situations like this where no one feels comfortable talking to each other. It also causes issues in long term relationships, since followers cannot easily turn on their repressed romantic impulses.

Some people might say that this book is more of a personal journey than an actual rule book, but the book gives quite a different feel. Harris assumes that his readers will be joining him on this quest of rejecting dating. It reads like a pastoral book, a call to action.

I get the sense that Harris got too easily drawn into relationships as a teen so he is overreacting in this book to put up control mechanisms. However, it is problematic when you take his personal restraints and give it to someone just entering puberty. It can leaded to stunted relationships and development. I don’t blame Harris for not knowing about these possible consequences, and other groups have created more severe versions of his ideology. I will discuss the overall implications of the purity culture at a later time.

I kissed dating goodbye chapter six analysis

Part 4

The book is now beginning to explore its definition of purity in full. Harris relates a story of boys in a youth group bragging over how far they got with girls. He then jumps from there to the story of Bathsheba and argues that David took many small steps towards committing adultery from there. He draws a parallel with this Biblical story to any physical contact outside of marriage. I believe at this point the book’s advice becomes truly dangerous.

Harris argues that any form of physical intimacy is dangerous and by engaging in it, we treat that person as if we own their body. He argues we must recognize “the deep significance of sexual intimacy at any level” and not “steal those privileges before marriage.”

If you think he is going too far, he would say “That’s the point!” He argues that one should set their standards too high to avoid any sort of “impurity.” In particular he believes something like one little kiss “awakens desires we aren’t allowed to consummate.” One way he applies this is by refusing to have one-on-one dates with girls.  I find it interesting that Harris criticized dating in past chapters for setting up artificial environments but in this book he thinks he should only be with girls in the artificial environment of groups.

Harris believes that his readers will “never regret purity.”

However, if you want an example of people who have regretted his model, just go read a few of the stories on Harris’s website. When you argue for complete and utter repression, people aren’t going to be able to adjust even if they do get married.  Harris is just adding more restrictions to avoid any possibility of sex. While I can admire his determination, I believe this mindset can turn virginity into a fetish. The only way to sustain this mindset is to put virginity on a pedestal and view human sexuality in a purely negative sense, until it all can be successfully “awakened” at once.

Next up, Harris gives his “advice” to how men and women can practice his mindset. He begins this advice by stating that men struggle more with sex drives and women struggle more with their emotions. This is an over generalization. Men are just as emotional as women, they are just taught to repress their emotions, and they tend to be more skilled at compartimentalizing. Women can have just as much of a sex drive as men.

For men, Harris calls for them to stop flirting and leading on women. I agree with this in part. You shouldn’t lead people on or use them. Harris calls for men to be warriors that guard women’s hearts rather than thieves that steal them. I would argue men should just acknowledge women as people and if they want to engage in a relationship with them, not to use immoral tactics. Harris says he wants to be the kind of friend to a girl where even her future husband will say to him, “thanks for guarding her heart and her purity.”

This is weird. I could never imagine saying to an “ex-boyfriend/ex-courtship” of my wife. I would appreciate it if he respected her in the past, but ultimately as long as it wasn’t an abuse relationship, it wouldn’t really matter to me. One thing Western culture is somewhat good at is telling people not to bring their past relationships into new ones. I kissed dating goodbye argues that every relationship claims a piece of your heart, but this is simply isn’t true. You don’t have a limited amount of emotions to give. Your heart isn’t your wallet.

Harris then gives his “advice” to women, which is essentially “Please cover up so I stop getting aroused around you.” Now to be fair he does agree it is a guy’s responsibility how he reacts to a girl, but he still tells girls to cover up. So guys are called to be warriors and women are called to cover up their dangerous bodies.

In Harris’s world, the goal is to utterly crush sexual desire. Is this the right mindset? We shall explore this in greater detail in future chapters.

For now, take a look at this article. It’s a bit more even handed than the purity culture literature.

I kissed dating goodbye: chapter 4 and 5 analysis

Part 3

Chapter 4 and 5 didn’t make a lot of statements that caught my attention, so I’m going to focus on key observations from each chapter, specifically the good and the bad.

The Good

Harris argues that one should strive to love as God loves, selflessly and sincerely. This is of course a good point. We should strive to practice agape(unconditional love). Harris encourages readers to look up “love” in God’s dictionary. This is all wonderful and if we do follow it, we won’t treat people as objects. “God’s love pushes out the pettiness and selfishness which defines so much of what takes place in dating.”

Next, Harris encourages his readers to practice patience. He retells the old story of the boy who used a magic ball. Whenever he would pull the string in the ball, he would skip past boring parts of his life to get to the cool moments. But then he realized he had missed his entire life by being impatient.

Harris also mentions two stories, one of his friend who had sex as a teenager only then to get married to someone else in college. The other was of a couple who agreed not to kiss or physically touch before marriage. It seemed to work out for them, but they told him this was something they wouldn’t apply on everyone. It just worked for them. The couple had the right idea in not trying to force this personal standard on others.

The Bad

Harris once again calls for what is essentially emotional repression. He tells people if they aren’t ready for commitment they should content themselves with friendship and wait for intimacy and romance. He claims this won’t stunt their relationship since they can focus on helping other people. While this mindset might seem harmless, there is a great danger behind it. By putting so much pressure on early relationships to not develop romantic feelings, you create an environment where people are frightened to even get into those friendships. Because romance happens naturally between friends who are attracted to each other, people might try to avoid that connection in the first place.

Here’s a more reasonable statement when it comes to romance. Take it slow and get to know the person first. From there, get to know if you can see committing to this person in the long term. Now, we get to the REALLY damaging advice.

The Ugly.

The book continues to push this idea that God has a “soul mate” for you. This time he expands this idea so if you engage in short term dating relationships, you are practically insulting your future spouse. He calls for us to “do our future spouse a favor and not shop around prematurely.”

It’s interesting that this book pushes against cultural ideas but agrees with the idea of a soul mate. Disney has been preaching to us about the perfect “prince” or “princess” for quite some times(Although they have gotten a bit more realistic).  We do have an ancient idea of soul mates, but it comes from Kabballah(Jewish mysticism). When a soul is created, an angel splits it in two and gives one to a man and another to a woman. So these two are soul mates. Some people may not find their soul mate due to sin or circumstances. However, if a man or woman finds their soul mate, they should divorce their current spouse to be with that person. Divorce isn’t exactly kosher in evangelical circles.

I’m not saying Harris borrowed the idea from Kabballah, but I do think he is borrowing from lite Calvinism. The idea that God controls and ordains everything is a Calvinistic idea, so it makes sense to apply it to your romantic life. The Bible, however, does not give us any indication that God has a perfect person in mind for us. Sometimes He might for certain people, but not for everyone who gets married.

Also, there is a dangerous implication here that you are already owned by your future spouse. That’s some weird deterministic stuff that can really mess people up. Harris takes personal convictions about waiting until God tells him he is ready for a relationship and applies it to everyone. I’m not sure this is appropriate.