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 10

In this chapter, Harris is going to tackle the idea of “guarding your heart.” In the process, he misinterprets the word “heart” in the Bible and encourages emotional repression(whether intentional or unintentional).

In this chapter’s opening story(almost every chapter I have read starts with a story like a sermon), a woman named Jessica develops her own standards of courtship, and Harris describes her as like, “a modern day Moses come off Sinai with the Ten Commandments.”

Jessica easily casts off the affections of bad boys who wear Metallica t-shirts and have bleached hair, but once she goes to a Christian college, she finds it more difficult to deal with those sexy Baptist boys, or how the book puts it, “godly handsome men” who are clean cut. Jessica becomes confused regarding her feelings and her standards.

Harris then argues from this example that we need to keep our heart(emotions) tied to a chair and put under close watch, because our hearts are deceitful. He contrasts our hearts from our minds.

The problem with this argument is it doesn’t fit the biblical definition of the word heart. When Harris uses the word heart he is thinking of emotions, much like how Disney tells us to follow our hearts.

The Bible defines heart as the center of both our emotions and our intellect. It is the central object that moves us. When the Jews would talk about someone lacking insight, they would say, “That person lacks heart.” The heart is the “center” of us that determines our thoughts, feelings, intellect and desires. So when Proverbs 4:23 says guard your heart, it is speaking about guarding who you are as a person, because who are you will determine how you speak and act. It is not talking about some kind of mind/emotions dichotomy, nor it is speaking of emotional repression.

In modern terms, it would be something like, “Examine yourself carefully because the person you are deep down WILL come out.”

Harris moves forward  by addressing three pollutants in our hearts: infatuation; lust; and self-pity.

Harris makes a claim that infatuation can become idolatry when it replaces God as the chief longing of our hearts. He encourages readers to not feed into “fantasy” when you are attracted to someone, which leads to infatuation.

I both agree and disagree with his sentiments. I agree that we should not put others on a pedestal and expect them to complete us or allow them to take God’s place as the center of our lives. HOWEVER, the Bible is also quite clear that Adam wasn’t complete with just him and God, so God made him a woman because “It is not good for man to be alone.”

Infatuation is a natural reaction that ensures humans stay together long enough to make a baby. The honeymoon phase, as it is popularly known, is a period of infatuation. When done in moderation, it is a good beautiful thing. However, because infatuation naturally fades, there also needs to be something more than infatuation to keep the relationship going, whether that be a deep spiritual commitment, maturity or a conscious decision to love each other even when you don’t like them right now(a la Relient K).

Moving along to lust, Harris defines lust as any type of sexual desire that God has forbidden. For Harris, this is any type of fantasy regarding a woman, including a future spouse. Once again, I am torn on Harris’ definition. On one hand, we all know fantasy can get out of hand and lead to fetishes, objectification, etc.

On the other, it is difficult for me to get a clear understanding of the Biblical idea of lust. The basic idea Jesus seems to present in his parables is that desires lead to action, so lust for another man’s wife leads to adultery. Song of Solomon always presents a great deal of sexual desire, some of which may not be within the realm of marriage.

The NT, as I see it, applies the golden mean standard of Greek thought to sexuality. In Greek thought, the golden mean was the key middle ground between pure abstinence and consumption, whether that be with sex, food, work or anything else. For some activities or emotions, the golden mean might lay more heavily on the side of abstinence or consumption. The NT uses the golden mean standard when it argues to ignore teachers who teach that marriage is wrong but also to avoid orgies and sexual excess. Even when Paul argues his case for singleness, he admits it’s his own opinion, not God’s opinion.

Jewish thought also varies on sex. Some admit that sex outside of marriage is bad, others claim that it is not bad persay, but just not as good as unmarried sex.

That being said, let’s move on to the final point: self-pity

I agree with Harris that self-pity is problematic, as it leads people to be unsatisfied with their lives. We all know someone who is desperate for a significant other. We should not be so focused on finding a significant other that we miss the value in being single. This is one point that I do give Harris credit for.

At the same time, I have seen others dismiss people’s very real emotional problems as just being “self pity” or “over sensitivity.” We should recognize the difference between self pity and real emotional issues.