I kissed dating goodbye: the final horrible conclusion

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.

I kissed dating goodbye: Chapter 12, 13 and 14 analysis

There’s a degree of repetition to this book, where certain ideas such as self-improvement prior to marriage pop up again and again, just with slightly different wording. These three chapters fall into a series of ideas that I will examine.

Self improvement during singleness:

Chapter 12 focuses on “ignoring your biological clock” when it comes to relationships and simply work on self improvement in your life and in your relationships with friends and family. He encourages his readers not to waste time pining after a relationship but instead “hustle while you wait” and built good character. While on paper this is good advice, it falls into the trap of an overall attitude of perfectionism that pervades Harris’ book.

Super serious business:

Chapter 13 ends with a poem that says only men whose hearts are oceans strong and true should dare to stand at the bars of a woman’s heart and ask to gain entrance. He also recommends people keep the entire view of marriage in mind and be ready for sacrifice.

While all this advice is great and all, I feel he falls into the trap of making the whole process seem so earth shatteringly difficult and demanding that only the best need apply. No wonder people were scared to death of the opposite sex in his culture and church!

Carefully examine a potential significant other’s character according to evangelical standards

Harris lays out a few things to examine with potential “courting partners”(I can’t think of a better term) from how they interact with authority to how they relate to God and the opposite sex. While some of his tips are good, like examine how a guy treats his mother, I find his overall tone plays into an underlying message of the book: Make sure you and the other person have it completely together before you enter into a relationship that is instantly focused on marriage.

You know, with all these requirements, it’s a wonder many in Harris’ circle didn’t just decide, “Marriage and relationships aren’t worth it!”

We have two more chapters to go. Stay tuned.

Image from Pexels.com

 

I kissed dating goodbye: chapter 3 analysis

Part 2

After introducing the “seven defects of dating,” Harris is going to suggest five key attitude changes. Let’s take a look at them and see if the reasoning behind them is sound.

No 1: Every relationship is an opportunity to model Christ’s love.

Under this point, Harris talks about a girl named Bethany who is known as a “flirt.” She goes to Christian colleges and jumps from boyfriend to boyfriend. Then she realizes she needs to stop viewing guys as boyfriends and start engaging with them as friends and love them as brothers in Christ. At first glance, this seems okay. After all, you shouldn’t objectify others. And according to Harris, Bethany is selfish.

However, you can flip this on its head and say model Christ’s love within dating and friendships. You should be kind and encouraging to others regardless of your relationship with them. Also choosing only to view the opposite sex as a brother or a sister seems to be a recipe for dysfunction within gender relationships. If the goal is to avoid appearing flirtatious, this can hinder opposite gender relationships. I have been in circles before where any girl who talked too much to boys was viewed as flirty.

In general, Harris seems to be bashing any sort of “playing the field” or “looking for a girlfriend/boyfriend.” While this can be problematic if done in a destructive, obsessive or objectifying manner, I don’t think it’s worth a total rebuke.

No 2: My unmarried years are a gift from God.

The same bad exegesis again…sigh. Singleness can be a good time for getting to know yourself and having more freedom to do other things. However, this statement is taking Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 7 about how he personally prefers singleness and applying it to some sort of ordained period of life. Yes your unmarried years are a gift from God, as is your entire life. But the Bible doesn’t give any special importance to those years, other than the practical applications Paul mentions.

No 3: Intimacy is the reward of commitment. I don’t need to pursue a romantic relationship before I’m ready for marriage.

Define being “ready for marriage.” Due to economic circumstances in this generation, many won’t have the means to get married until well into their 30s. However, Harris isn’t talking about economics, he seems to be referring to waiting until God specifically tells you who you should marry.

Wait, what? There is no real Biblical basis that God specifically ordains a spouse for everyone. There are occasions where he intervenes and helps with the process such as Rebecca and Isaac, but these are specific circumstances.

Harris does admit you will likely have several intimate relationships before you figure out God’s will regarding who you should marry. But he ends this statement by saying if you aren’t ready to consider marriage, you shouldn’t date. This mindset, however, can lead to problems. It can lead to you being afraid to even get to know someone on a one-on-one basis because you are worried you aren’t ready for marriage or they aren’t marriage material.

I can understand that dating just for the sake of dating with no future plans for commitment can be unwise, but this can be easily solved by: keeping it casual and analyzing if you are compatible.

No 4: I cannot “own” someone outside of marriage.

Here, Harris criticizes the idea of playing marriage, particularly in the context of teenage relationships. Here is where it gets dangerous, as Harris tells the story of two people named Sarah and Philip who break up to refocus. Harris says even if they had stayed together and stayed “physically pure” they still would have made unwarranted claims on each other’s spiritual and emotional life. This is a sneaky example of emotional purity, of keeping your emotions safe and buried. While this was likely not his intention, I can easily see how groups could take this principle and do some real damage with it. Repressing your emotions can lead to great damage, such as guilt over simple things such as having a crush.

In a sense, Harris is right you can’t own someone outside of marriage, but you shouldn’t “own” someone within marriage either. It’s a partnership where two people work together and agree to devote themselves to one another.

No 5: I will avoid situations that could compromise the purity of my body or mind.

This ideology is a double edged sword, as it encourages the mindset that if you leave two people alone for any amount of time, they will bang each other. Thus, people in this culture begin to believe that is true all the time, so when they are alone they bang each other. Yes people’s sexual urges are strong, but this type of mindset turns sex into the BIGGEST thing ever, and I’m not sure that it is.

If you do have certain boundaries regarding sexuality, it would make sense to lay down ground rules from the beginning. This is a-okay.

And with this, we are done with Part 1 of I Kissed Dating Goodbye.  The one thing I find strange is that so far in almost all of Harris’s stories all of the people are still virgins. But Harris encourages them to one up each other. “Sure you didn’t have sex but couldn’t you have been purer!” While it’s okay to push for better things than the norm, this type of mindset can easily slip into a form of legalism.

Join us next time for chapter 4.