In this chapter, Harris explores how to deal with people(or strawmen) who don’t agree with your conviction not to date.
Harris tells several stories of family members, students and others pressuring courtship believes to date. What is interesting is how he presents these people. For example, he describes someone named Aunt Tessi as an annoying relative that won’t leave her niece alone about her lack of a boyfriend. He says, “You will no doubt meet someone like Aunt Tessi who doesn’t care about logic, values, or biblical principles.” He also tells a story about a girl named Alisha who tried to get a boy named Paul to go out with her. He describes it this way, “Alisha’s voice and actions were not so subtle hints that Alisha was interested in him as more than a brother in Christ.”
Even those these individuals are real, he is presenting them as the main source of opposition his readers will face, not people with opposing ideas. In other words, he is presenting strawmen, not people with legitimate different ideas. Even those people who do disagree with them strongly, Harris still speaks as if they are heading down a bad road. He says, “If those people continue in relationships I think are unwise, I pray that God will show them the same mercy He has shown me. But I don’t continue to hound them; God will work in their lives when they’re ready.”
To be fair to this chapter, Harris’s basic advice is “don’t be a jerk” or wait for someone’s life to fall apart just because they don’t agree with you. He calls for his readers to be humble and to not info dump courtship rules on everyone you talk to. Harris obviously assumes that courtship is the Godly path and that those who follow its tenets must let their example be the key to draw people in.
Harris assumes that his ideas will lead to better lives, which makes sense. After all, why would you write a book on this topic if you didn’t believe it would work? The problem with this idea is that if you read some of the stories of those who were under the courtship and purity cultures, they will talk about how the ideas caused them a lot of pain and anguish. There are certainly people who have had positive experiences, but the overall culture that this book supported has caused a lot of harm.
In fact, Harris is not even creating a new subculture in this book. He is defending one which already exists. If he was creating something new, he would not have stories to tell about people who believe in courtship.
What I find interesting about this chapter is that you can see just how easily Harris’ ideas can craft a sub culture. After all, Harris states that there will be social pressure from friends and family to date. The obvious solution to this dilemma is to create a new sub culture where dating is not allowed. You can find entire congregations that follow the principles of courtship, or homeschooling circles.
This ends Part 3 of the book. We have five more chapters left to go.