Even While Apologizing, “Purity Culture” Advocate Joshua Harris is Screwing Up December 19, 2018

Even While Apologizing, “Purity Culture” Advocate Joshua Harris is Screwing Up

Joshua Harris, author of the infamous pro-abstinence book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, has been involved in an apology tour of sorts to address how his teachings about purity have caused harm to many people’s relationships and marriages.

To that end, he recently produced a documentary called I Survived “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” featuring interviews with people who grew up on Harris’ ideas that dating was preparation for divorce and only courtship was acceptable before marriage.

NPR addressed some of the content of that documentary:

In the documentary, Harris talks with readers around the world — many of whom say the book sent them harmful messages about their bodies, sexuality and relationships.

With some life experience, Harris said he began to rethink some of the words he’d penned at such a young age. One pivotal moment was a sex abuse scandal that rocked a church he was involved in leading in the Washington, D.C., suburbs several years ago.

Harris himself was not implicated in that, but he said he should have done more to encourage a victim to report the abuse to authorities.

“That was the first time that I started realizing, you know what? You can have good intentions, and think you’re making good decisions, but the effect in people’s lives can be very different than you’d planned,” he said. “And that’s the first time that I started thinking, ‘Maybe there are problems with my book.’ “

While some of the interviewed couples said that saving sex for marriage helped them not get “distracted” and allowed them to focus on other important issues while dating (ahem, courting), others said that the book made them fearful of relationships. That’s why some readers are in their thirties and still single, without a dating history, and without the ability to even know where to begin one in a healthy way.

Harris has since requested his publisher to stop printing the book along with others he’s written. But not everyone is convinced that his repentance is genuine.

Author and blogger Elizabeth Esther, who appears in the documentary, said she regrets taking part in it given how they manipulated her interview. What they didn’t show in the film, she says, suggests he still has a long way to go in terms of repentance.

As we wrote earlier, Harris took some big steps in acknowledging the damage he caused. He deserved credit for that. But he still needed to say his approach was wrong and harmful. It seems clear now that he’s not going to do that.

Maybe for the next phase in his apology tour, Harris should just abstain from using his mouth. It’s a lesson he of all people ought to understand.

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