If you’re familiar with popular Christian literature, especially on the topic of relationships between the opposite genders then I’m sure you have an idea of where this blog is going by the title above. For those who are not affected by the recent blow to the Purity movement, allow me to enlighten you.
In 1997 a book by the title of “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” hit the Christian book market. In this book the author, Joshua Harris discusses his opinions on how one should handle their interactions within relationships, between both males, females and God. Many strong Christian families grabbed a hold of this book and ran with it hoping that it would save their children the heartache and pain that often comes with poor choices in this area. As a result, the Purity moment was created by which my generation was strongly affected.
Recently Joshua Harris has publicly renounced his teachings and his faith as a whole. Leaving his family, faith, and career, Joshua has turned his back on all that he once held as absolute truth. Such a drastic transformation from such a strong leader has caused many in the Purity movement, and Christianity as a whole to question what they believe in.
This questioning is one that I have experienced, however, it came about many years before Joshua revoked his beliefs.
Growing up as the pastor’s oldest daughter, the pressure to be perfect was a heavy load that I was constantly aware of. This pressure was not placed on me by my parents but instead by the rest of our congregation and society as a whole. As a PK (pastor’s kid) I was expected to know the perfect prayers, the right bible verses and the correct answer to every situation in life. The problem was that this just wasn’t true.
I was just a normal teenager trying to figure out life and myself. In those moments when I didn’t know the right answers or the perfect biblical solution, or worst when I found myself doing things I knew I shouldn’t, it caused me to question everything I believed.
You see, my beliefs were based on my ability to perform. I had the perfect to-do-list of everything a “good Christian” should do. Yet even with this list, I could never reach that expectation of perfection, which meant that there was either something wrong with me or God.
I remember laying on my bathroom floor sobbing my eyes out as once again I questioned my faith, my worth and my God. We all have our own “experiences” in life, and this was mine. As I lay on that tile floor I heard a voice as clear as if it were in the room with me, “You’re not the one who comes to me. I came for you.”
It was at this moment that I began to understand how Christianity truly works. We can never be “good enough” to reach God. He is the one who reaches out to us. God wanted me just the way I was. There was no list of thou shalt and thou shalt not that he was hanging over my head. Once I understood this I was able to have a relationship with my Lord instead of constantly trying to please him and others. It was then that I could open up my heart and allow Him to work in and through me. It was then that I learned that the power to resist that which I knew was wrong was not of my strength but was something that he enabled me to do.
To tie this back to Joshua Harris; Kissing Dating Goodbye is not an evil wicked book. However, when people take it and turn it into a to-do-list thinking that in a sense it can save them, the results are disappointment, heartbreak, and anger.
I have personally seen this in the lives of many of my friends. Girls who were so scared to speak to a guy in fear that they might develop feelings for them leads to thoughts such as “I’m not pretty enough for him to notice me” and “I’ll never be good enough”. Boys struggling with their natural drives and thoughts constantly beat themselves down for not being able to block out these feelings.
Here’s the deal. Love is a choice, not a to-do-list. If you came home to your wife, kissed her, told her you loved her and handed her flowers, then processed to pull out your checklist and check each item off, your wife would feel anything but loved. Doing something because you have to is not love. Kissing Dating Goodbye hurt so many people because it was a list and not a choice.
The Bible says that a relationship between a man and woman is the closet picture on earth of the relationship between Christ and his church. It would stand to reason therefore that a romantic relationship should be molded after how Christ loves the church. This is a love with no strings attached, no unattainable expectations, and no to-do-list. These are all the things of the Old Testament law which is exactly what Jesus came to replace.
Regardless of your opinion on dating vs. courting, the method has nothing to do with the result. There have been many young adults who lost their purity while wearing purity rings and successful marriages that came from couples who kissed before their wedding day. The list is of no use if it’s not a choice. Love is not love if there is not a choice.