My first reaction to Chapter 15: Principled Romance contained a lot of four letter words. I’ll just focus on this chapter, as Chapter 16 doesn’t really have much new to say. Principled Romance lays down Harris’s philosophy for courtship(Spoiler alert: it’s mostly horrendous)
Harris states that although the Bible doesn’t give us a one size fits all formula, he has some steps he considers “God-honoring.” It goes from friendship to deep friendship, to purposeful intimacy with integrity to engagement. He states that romance is like driving a car. You wouldn’t drive it super fast in the city with a friend next to you, so you should be careful with romance and consider its effects on other people and your relationship with God. This is all well and good, but then Harris gets into his ACTUAL advice:
First, mainly do group things to get to know each other as friends. Because clearly, everyone is an extrovert and no one could ever hide their true identity in a crowd.
Second, avoid expressing romantic feelings while exploring each other as friends. He literally says, “Don’t take it into your own hands by flirting,” as if somehow God is immeasurably displeased with all but the most level headed romance. Harris tops himself with the ludicrous claim that you will never regret waiting to express your feelings.
Are you kidding me? This is a MASSIVE claim to be made by someone that’s barely out of his teens. That’s not even mentioning how easy to it is disprove this statement. Just talk to anyone who missed their opportunity for a relationship because they wouldn’t reveal their true feelings.
Third, blow things way out of proportion. Harris tells a story of Jason and Shelly who obviously like each other. Instead of expressing their feelings, Jason writes a 9 page letter to his uncle describing her and asking if he should date her.
Jason’s uncle then gives him a series of over the top questions like: Can you support her? Are you ready for marriage? Have you spoken to your pastor? Words can’t express how stupid I find this. WHY DON’T YOU TALK TO HER YOURSELF NOT YOUR PASTOR. IT’S NOT LIKE YOU’RE GOING TO GET MARRIED AFTER ONE DATE.
Oh wait, this is I kissed dating goodbye I’m talking about… Moving right along!
Fourth, make sure you are absolutely prepared for every facet of marriage before you even date.
This is idiotic advice. How are you supposed to be prepared for marriage when you don’t even know how to take a woman/man to Applebees?
Fifth, make sure you know everything about the person. Examine them closely: from their character to their spirituality to their financial habits. No one would ever break under such examination or just lie.
It gets worse when we get into Harris’ advice for the actual courtship.
First, he recommends you basically tell the girl that you are asking for permission to win her heart in this big dramatic scene that sounds like an engagement.
Second, he recommends you basically make yourself the whipping boy of her parents. He literally says you should invite her parents to ask pointed questions about your spirituality, finances, maturity, etc. Tell all about your activities you will do with her and how you plan to win her hand, etc.
My simple response to this is, in my personal experience, this plays into the hands of controlling and abusive parents. It puts you under the thumb of narcissists who want to control their daughters.
Third, he adds some sexism in the mix by saying the guy should make the first move and you should talk with your girl about gender roles and such. As always, the pressure is always on the guy to win and protect the poor innocent girl who needs to be controlled by her parents.
Finally, Harris ends by arguing that you will never regret saving up passion for marriage by not engaging in anything physical of any sort. The problem with this argument is that it isn’t necessarily true. Just ask some of the women who grew up in this environment that suffer from severe sexual dysfunction that can at times make any sex literally physically painful.
Harris’s standards are a recipe for fear and disaster. Let’s just summarize all of his requirements for one date, shall we?
- Repress your attraction and refuse to express romantic intentions.
- Get to know them in group settings and examine them closely in every way.
- Wait until you are absolutely ready to marry them.
- Chat with your pastor, her parents, authority figures.
- Ask for permission to win their heart.
- Get approval from parents.
With all these standards, just by asking someone out on ONE date, you are basically asking to marry them, bang them and have 15 kids with them.
Stay tuned for my final thoughts on the book.