Joshua Harris and the ‘Purity Problem’ With Teenagers | 8/7/2019 | Staff
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“Will you remain a virgin until you’re married? That’s what disciples do.”

“Will you agree that dating is bad and that courtship is better? That’s what disciples do.”

Sex - Problem—you

“You had sex already? No problem—you can become a secondary-virgin and agree to never lust again. That’s what disciples do.”

Of course, shortcuts sometimes end in brick walls. They seem to work, until they don’t. Along the way, our box-checking mentality left us vulnerable to some bad sales pitches—like 21-year old author Joshua Harris’ book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Harris gave us everything we wanted to hear: an extreme approach to romantic relationships can wipe out the moral ambiguity that has crept into our culture, and with one checked box we can simplify our message to teenagers. The book’s skyrocketing sales gave us all the credibility we needed. But lurking in the shadows was a kind of spiritual dysfunction—like the people of God throughout history, we prefer the “lesser gods” of disciplined moral commitments to an intimate, dependent relationship with Jesus. Now Harris has made headlines after (very publicly) recanting his faith and trashing the foundational premise of his book. In a 2017 Ted Talk, Harris offers a disturbing mea culpa:

Impression - Formula - Thing - Lot - Fear

“I was religiously zealous, I was certain, and I was restlessly ambitious… I gave the impression that there was really one formula that you could follow… but probably the thing that I regret the most is that there was a lot of fear inside of me that I transferred into my writing, and fear is never a good motive: fear of messing up, fear of getting your heart broken, fear of hurting somebody else… fear of sex.”

Teenagers want to fit in. They walk into our youth room wondering, “How do I connect here without looking odd?” How many kids signed purity pledge cards simply...
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