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.