I would never have known Josh Harris’s name were it not for this book and his elevation based on it.Even though I didn’t see myself as his primary audience, I and others like me reaped the consequences of his work. I was always an avid book reader and since I took my evangelical faith so seriously, I wanted to learn all I could about dating.As a teen, Joshua Harris’ 1997 book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, played a fundamental role in shaping my perception toward dating, love, and romance.
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The approach Harris offered was a way forward that bypassed the physical possibilities.
It seemed safer: who wouldn’t trust their parents to have a say in their husband?
The wider teaching also undermined a relationship I had toward the end of college.
It actually had potential and we had a lot of intellectual, emotional, and sexual chemistry but I felt I had to break it off before we “got into trouble.” So I felt pressured to be guarded.
I remember seeing the cover, and thinking how cool it looked, tipped fedora and all.
The sepia tone seemed romantic, and maybe, when you’re an awkward, depressed teen, that’s all you need to convince you of purity culture: it seems romantic.
In the wake of its publication, churches held purity conferences, purity balls, and had teens take purity pledges.
My own parents vowed that their children would never date, we would court, as laid out in Harris’ book.
The US church was afraid of sex and sin, and so we became afraid too. Even in the black churches that I attended, this book was widely read.