Home dating/courtship Stop Being a Bully Over the “Purity Movement” Thing

Stop Being a Bully Over the “Purity Movement” Thing

by Kelly Crawford

I’m so tired of it. And I think it might be the elephant in the room.

So, you “did” courtship and now you see things that were off about it. I get it. There were weird versions like, “You can’t be trusted to be alone for a second with a member of the opposite sex” and “you can’t possibly be adult enough to make any decisions on your own so I’m going to tell you all the things.”

But there were other versions, like the one we took: “We had a wreck of a dating life, your Dad and I, becoming sexually promiscuous at young ages, and flitting from relationship to relationship until marriage, carrying with us so much baggage and stuff we didn’t have to carry. Because we love you, we want something different for you. So we’re going to walk a different path, together–not sure how it’s going to look, but we’re aiming for encouraging you toward purity (that’s the buzz word/bad word) and a more focused life, and then hopefully one day, you won’t have to deal with so much heartache and try to unravel it all in your marriage. Please, God, let there be something else.”

Josh Harris, author of “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” has written a sort of “I’m not sure if I believe all of this anymore” and many are gloating. “Even he doesn’t believe this crap anymore.” writes one of my facebook/real life friends. Harris has no doubt come under unbearable criticism for his book and has reconsidered its content. That’s not a bad thing. We all need to examine our beliefs and keep humility before us, willing to admit when we have veered off, and especially when/if we have led others to do so.

The thing is, the basis for what Harris wrote is perfectly good and worthy of consideration. The basis is: “recreational dating/the hookup culture is damaging.” And if one isn’t willing to admit that, then one is deceiving himself. To say that fries are as healthy as carrots sticks is just dumb.

And honestly, Josh isn’t responsible for how people handled his book. There is an unprecedented trend to take the sins of man and pin the sweeping blame to some person or ideology. I think Harris is experiencing much of that.

The in thing is to denigrate the “purity culture” because “now we see its faults and obviously who could fall for that garbage, gah.” See, now you’re the cool kid who is smarter than that.

It’s how people are handling this shift in examining our belief systems, reevaluating things (which is a good thing) and taking a hard look at why we believe what we do.

There’s this dichotomy: an “us” vs. “them” thing going on. You know, “we are the new, enlightened, cool kids who aren’t prudish and weird” and then there’s the other people who still hold onto outdated views of good ideas held by people who have fallen into sin and obviously can’t be taken seriously anymore.

(Need I remind you that we still read the book of Psalms. David’s sin did not negate everything he ever thought, believed or wrote.)

So, away with it all. The farther you can distance yourself from “those people” the more you are applauded on social media and the more “those people” look like imbeciles. Is this response really any more mature than the supposed uninformed one of the other side?

Newly added:

Another common response is, “That teaching hurt me deeply so we need to expose and beat up the teacher and my parents for buying into it.” The hurt might be real. Exposure may need to happen. But to blame with hostility is wrong.

Most of us could blame our parents, if blaming were viable and/or helpful, for “subjecting” us to the atrocities of modern dating. I seriously feel like I’ve had emotional damage from it. But to blame my parents? That is selfish and unfruitful. They were doing the best they knew to do at the time. They loved me. They can’t be held liable for every wrong direction.

So the absurd irony is that you have this new generation of parents trying so hard to help their children avoid the pitfall they fell in, trying to do better, trying to be better, and they get slapped in the face with “that hurt me and you’re going to pay.” For whatever the practices of courtship did to damage, it doesn’t touch the damage left in the wake of promiscuity, STD’s, and unplanned pregnancies. So being a product of the latter, I’m a little unsympathetic about that approach.

The thing is, we should all be mature enough to address the actual problems of whichever side is being discussed, as well as acknowledge the specific good intentions and good ideas of either side, without creating this elementary school bully tactic to shame anyone who hasn’t come to our side. Just a good ole mature discussion.

If you have some reservations or even outright criticism about the courtship model, say so. But don’t ignore the very real problem of the culture’s sexually-charged dating game that Harris was right to address. Don’t discredit his attempt at encouraging Christians to answer this dilemma in a way that honors God, even if it has faults. It doesn’t have to be a villainizing of a man and his attempts at righting an obvious wrong. Nor do we have to villainize a whole generation of parents who agreed with him and didn’t want their children to experience the devastating consequences they did.

Don’t be so weak that you have to insult the “losers” to side with the cool kids. We’re not impressed. Anyone can fling insults. Keep a balance and nod to the real problems, having respectable discussions about solutions, and sympathize with parents who are desperately trying to do a very good job at raising their children.

This goes for a lot of other subject matter, by the way.

Let’s be adults, people.

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6 arrows September 10, 2016 - 6:46 am

Excellent thoughts, Kelly. It’s a good thing for all of us to reflect on what we’ve said or written, and have the humility to say that we could have said/done things differently once we realize we were in error on something. It is dismaying that our culture is often so quick to denigrate individuals who own up to their mistakes after having a change of heart, calling them flip-floppers or discrediting everything by that person. If we have learned from our past, and see the problems caused by our previous actions, should we not acknowledge that and seek solutions?

And if someone else has taken that step of humility, as Harris has, then villainizing him and others who may have held to some of the tenets of a certain belief system does not offer any solution forward. Transparency and reasoned communication are key here. Blame solves nothing.

Keep a balance and nod to the real problems, having respectable discussions about solutions, and sympathize with parents who are desperately trying to do a very good job at raising their children.

Amen. May we act as adults, and, as Christians, continue to be in the Word, examining our beliefs in light of Scripture, willing to make adjustments in our thinking, attuned to the leading of the Spirit, always willing to walk in obedience to the Lord.

Kelly Crawford September 10, 2016 - 2:17 pm

Yes. Humility is most definitely a thing to be loudly applauded.

Deborah September 10, 2016 - 9:23 am

Who hasn’t changed their beliefs from when they were Harriss’ age when he wrote
his book?

Cindy September 10, 2016 - 10:13 am

Of the people I know who have gone with something like the courtship model, (modified to fit different situations, and not quite the stereotypical level of distrust people envision when they hear the word) all the kids are pretty well situated and well-adjusted. Of the ones that didn’t, it’s a mixed bag. I’m pretty sure there’s a rational place somewhere between never letting the kids out of your sight and letting that 22 year old man you’ve never met take your fifteen year old daughter out alone with a 1 a.m. curfew. People need to chill on both sides if they think that’s all there is.

Kelly Crawford September 10, 2016 - 12:48 pm

Yes, exactly. (I miss you.)

Halee September 10, 2016 - 11:44 am

Thank you again for being a sensible voice when I am reading a lot of nonsense elsewhere.

Kelly Crawford September 10, 2016 - 2:18 pm

Thank you, Halee.

Layne September 10, 2016 - 11:52 am

So, really we need to PRAY together as parents, as parents together with our child, about how God would like our family to go forward into a new season of having an older child under our roof/protective umbrella and yet moving toward marriage. How would God like our family to go about this? To get advise from others is fine and good, wise even. To do it exactly like any one person and family, could be detrimental. God wants relationship with us. He wants us to walk with Him. He wants to be in communication with us. He will lead each family if we reside in Him. We are the parents, we have this responsibility to lead our children, always leading them to Christ, always boasting in the cross. We have the responsibility of protection until the child is out from our umbrella. We have the repsonibility from the moment they are born to lead them to Christ, with Christ’s help of course, and thank you Jesus. So, we continue to do this even in the dating/ marriage arena. Opinions of others are secondary. We need Jesus in all seasons of life. Let us seek Him and His Word realizing that we are beggars. Beggars for more of Him, humbling seeking His help, realizing we need it amd moving forward as the parents to help our children walk in purity as Christ was pure.

Kelly Crawford September 10, 2016 - 2:18 pm

Layne–yes, yes and yes.

Rachel September 10, 2016 - 12:36 pm

I read “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” as a teen and it changed the way I viewed having a relationship with the opposite sex. It caused me to question my motives, my readiness, etc… and press the pause button on dating (having a boyfriend). A couple years later, however, I was confronted with a serious relationship that could possibly end in marriage and felt stuck. It just so happened that “Say Hello to Courtship” had just come out and I had just read it. I liked Josh’s take on the subject. He even had a list, I believe, of things to look for in the pursuit of finding the person you want to marry. Though I didn’t hold strictly to every suggestion in the book and didn’t always have a chaperone along with us on dates – yes, we dated – intentionally – as people who planned to get married and already knew each other as friends for several years, the intent of the book stayed with me and the man that I did end up marrying. We just celebrated 14 years of marriage, have adopted one little boy and are expecting our 6th baby (which makes 7 kids!). As our children are growing we are having those discussions over how we will teach our children to handle relationships especially in their older teen/early 20s years when actually meeting and marrying your spouse is a real possibility and not just a game. Wisdom. We will be praying for wisdom for each individual child, our boys, our girls. We will share our love story of getting to really actually know each other through friendship, not just putting on our best faces for a date. We will share our struggles and blessings and things that helped us and hindered us along the way. While the children are very young we will likely discourage them from any relationships considered serious or “committed”, such as boyfriend/girlfriend until we feel they are the age that is ready for an actual commitment and we won’t just lay down rules. We will explain the concepts behind them. I’m sure it won’t all go perfectly, but we will pass down what we learned through our time in our generation and pray that God guides the hearts of our children to Him.

Kelly Crawford September 10, 2016 - 2:22 pm


You’ve described what I think all of us want for our children, even in our feeble and imperfect efforts. I think Harris’s book was nothing more than a different and positive look at another options besides the only one parents felts like they had. I applaud him for the motivation, even if it has flaws.

Lisa September 10, 2016 - 2:09 pm

Thank you Kelly, for saying what needed to be said on this subject.

Kelly Crawford September 10, 2016 - 2:23 pm

I appreciate that Lisa.

Annette September 10, 2016 - 2:15 pm

There is SO much I can type right now but I’ll leave it at THANK YOU for writing so much of what I’ve been thinking lately.

Kelly Crawford September 10, 2016 - 2:16 pm

Annette–I appreciate your saying thank you.

Kim from Canada September 10, 2016 - 4:08 pm

So often, people take situations like “courtship” and jump on board without studying the scriptures for themselves – without discussing the consequences of HOW we teach our children, not just WHAT. I have seen successful courtships in many young couples – but they have all had variations based on individuals. I have also seen young people go down in flames when they say they want to follow a courtship plan but do not have a biblical conviction for the same.
Like the Bereans of old – study and show yourself approved…
(P.S. I liked the book from Josh Harris, but it was just a book)

Kelly Crawford September 10, 2016 - 5:01 pm

Perfectly said, Kim. I’m not sure how to process this “victim generation.” They yelling at VERY loving parents while our parents and grandparents suffered real abuse and never say a word about it. I’m just puzzled. And I know there are some who have experienced real abuse. That’s what makes this so complicated. But I know PERSONALLY several young adults who have turned on parents who tried to give them the world. I just do not get it.

KD September 11, 2016 - 5:56 am

I think I must live under a rock. What is this book you are all talking about? What is the “courtship model”?
My oldest child has just turned 13 this year so I don’t have to start worrying about these things just yet, but it is good to be prepared.

Kelly Crawford September 11, 2016 - 5:57 pm

Hi Kelly,

Ha ha, no, not under a rock, just not in the homeschool community where this is a common topic.

The book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, is sort of the forerunner of the trend away from modern, conventional dating. Harris attempted to spark a new conversation that, I believe, at the heart was a sensible argument that young teens who aren’t ready for marriage shouldn’t be going through the motions of dating/physical sexuality/emotional attachments that recreational dating encourages. That really, it’s a bad idea. Marriage can suffer when one or both spouses have had strong emotional and/or physical relationships to several people before their spouses. That also the idea of “I’ll stay with you and love you until I don’t want to anymore” and then off to the next person, fosters a sense of “disposable feelings” that don’t serve well in a meant-to-be-monogamous marriage.

The counter-idea is that when young adults are ready to embark on the journey of finding a spouse, it’s makes sense for parents to be involved in counseling and praying for their children (assuming they want the help). Courtship has many different faces. For some, a guy interested in a young woman would approach her father first and ask if he could pursue her. THe idea behind that is it saves her from being hassled by guys she’s not interested in and it narrows down only the serious intentions. In some models, the couple has a chaperone to dispel temptations common to young people who spend lots of time alone. For some, it’s just an understanding that dating will be reserved for the intentions of finding a spouse when one is ready, instead of doing the boyfriend/girlfriend thing in a trend-like fashion. Hope that helps a little.

Susannah Blackstock September 12, 2016 - 11:32 am

Over the years I’ve found that although many applications vary, the idea of courtship boils down to 5 basic things (I call them the 5 P’s): (1)Piety (meaning God is an important part of your life and pursing Him first in your heart), (2)Patience (don’t be in a rush to get in a relationship/married ASAP “love is patient”, being willing to wait on the Lord and others), (3)Purity (this will look different to a degree for everyone, but valuing God’s gift of sexuality and taking His word into account concerning the issue of lust), (4)Parental counsel (Valuing/honoring your parents and their advice, walking with them as a team – again, this will look different for some), and (5)Preparedness – Are you ready (or mostly ready to a basic degree) emotionally, financially etc. to get married anytime in the not-too-distant future? What I most appreciated about Josh Harris was that he spoke to the heart, and also the idea of using your single years for a bigger purpose than recreational, too-soon dating – for God’s glory, for family and friendships, for exploring/traveling/growing/preparing for the future. I look back on my single years (I married at 28) and have very few regrets! If you look into I Kissed Dating Goodbye, please do read Boy Meets Girl – it expands and clarifies so much, shows differences and shares his own courtship along with others – a great read! Just beware beforehand of coming at it with a “Here’s the formula/steps to follow to secure a particular outcome” – it’s about our walk with Jesus and trusting in His love and promises, just like any area of life, not a list of works/to-do’s, but depending on His grace. Blessings!

Kelly Crawford September 12, 2016 - 12:14 pm


That’s a very good description. And yes, formulas don’t work because each person/family is a different/changing individual. Formulas only work with constant, unchanging factors. Principles, however, are we can look to.

Melissa September 12, 2016 - 11:23 am


I appreciate your words here. I just had to say something. I am mostly out of the loop, as I try not to get distracted from the important things by internet arguments too much (because it really distracts me). I was unaware of a big argument over courtship. I find it rather distressing that Joshua Harris is being picked on like this.

I have to testify that the work of Joshua Harris’s books really helped my husband and I. After we met, we found out how helpful his books had been to both of us. I could write a TON about this, but for now, I’ll just say that keeping the seventh commandment towards your spouse BEFORE you marry them is so important and such a blessing. That is all I saw Joshua Harris trying to communicate, and he helped my husband and I develop ways to carry that out which very much helped in making our marriage happen and giving it a strong foundation. I can’t think of what is more important than that in this age when marriage and fidelity is very much constantly under attack.

My husband and I have been married for eight years and we have been blessed with six children so far 🙂

Kelly Crawford September 12, 2016 - 12:12 pm


Thank you for sharing. I agree. It is confusing to me how this issue/book has divided so many, with half apparently receiving a totally different message than the other half. I guess I’ll never understand.

Janet Billson September 12, 2016 - 5:05 pm

Hi, Kim from Canada (waving wildly!). I haven’t seen you online in a while, probably because I’ve been very busy with a business and haven’t been blogging.

At any rate, my message is this, in regard to the article Kelly wrote: Keep your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith. Do the next thing, as He leads you. Don’t worry about what others say and do, but with your heart towards God, make decisions that seem best to you, and do all to the glory of God. Too often we Christians tend to read a book that is the be-all and end-all about something we’re experiencing (pregnancy, homeschooling, schooling, courting, marriage, etc.) and then we feel like failures if we don’t measure up to what some other man or woman has decided is the right thing to do regarding that thing.

I say, to your own Master you stand or fall. He is certainly able to lead you, and all you have to do is follow.

Josh Harris wrote a book decades ago that was helpful to some, and harmful to others. Why? Because we are all individuals, with differing circumstances, experiences, trials, joys, and emotions.

Keep your eyes on Jesus. Read the books, take the good, get rid of the rest. Don’t place too much stock in what someone else says is the right way to proceed. Read the Bible, pray, and proceed.

I, personally, was helped by a Greg Harris seminar back in the 80’s in Waterloo, Ontario. I remember Josh being there as a teen, and he gave a bit of a testimony. We purchased his 21 rules colouring book, etc., which I bet most of our kids can still recite. If you open it, close it. If you turn it on, turn it off. 😀

Josh is not perfect. Nor am I. Nor are you.

Your kids won’t be perfect, either. However, if you are a Christian, you WILL glorify God as He works in you to will and to do of His good pleasure. You will marry (if He provides you with a spouse) and you will raise a family and you will glorify the God who made you.

Please don’t get caught up in the man-made rules. Follow the Lord.

Kelly Crawford September 12, 2016 - 7:12 pm


So, so very well said.

D. September 12, 2016 - 6:06 pm

I tend to agree with what Janet wrote. Many times we get distracted over what is popular in the media. We grasp for the answer in a book, article we’ve read or what “Joe and Susie” have sworn by instead of looking to Jesus. Joshua Harris is just one of the many, many Christian authors who had a conviction before the Lord about the principle of courtship. What he writes is not gospel and for the many “victims” who claim his book/method ruined their lives……apparently they felt no need to seek the Lord’s wisdom, but felt his book was their answer. Hence, we understand that living by man’s word is not enough – we need the Lord!

The issue is not whether you agree with courtship or dating or neither, but that your heart is tender towards the Lord and you have a desire to honour Him in all the choices made as a family. Even a courtship cannot cure the lust that is liable to run rampant in a young man’s heart, though it can help prevent the physical temptation being lived out. Christ will always be more concerned with our hearts than about our attempts at compartmentalizing our lives into “dating” or “courtship.”

I think it’s better not to get caught up in all this media hype, but instead pray for Mr. Harris that God would give him wisdom in how to respond and how to move forward in a world that is increasingly “doing whatever is right in their own eyes.” And we (I) need to be spending more time in prayer for how the Lord would have us raise our children for the glory of God.

Kelly Crawford September 12, 2016 - 8:08 pm


Thank you, and yes. I sent Josh a link to this article and encouraged him to be wise and told him I was praying for wisdom and peace. He responded and was thankful. We must, must look to Christ, appreciating each other’s perspectives, being challenged by one another’s contemplations, but always looking to the principles of Scripture to be our unwavering guide.

Carolina J. September 13, 2016 - 10:53 pm

I ignored all that controversy and, quite frankly, do not care for it.
I read Joshua´s book about 11 years ago, and it was very revealing to me, and I wish I had read it in my 20s.
The main idea of the book is still fresh, true and motivating: If you are not ready for marriage… don´t date!
Is there anything to object to that?

Candace September 14, 2016 - 10:04 am

Yes, yes, yes! Amen, amen, amen!

This “victim generation” is just killing me! It makes parenting so much harder when those around you are fleeing sound biblical wisdom for cultural acceptance. And it’s usually out of fear of legalism! I call it the “pendulum swing”. I’ve seen families go from one extreme to the other….no middle ground!

Anyway, well said! I appreciate your thoughts on this matter!

Kelly Crawford September 14, 2016 - 11:30 am

Candace–yep, I’ve called it the very same thing. A constant knee jerk reaction. The victim mentality has gone overboard, minimizing the pain of real victims.

Carmen September 21, 2016 - 12:42 pm

Is it being a “victim generation”, or is it expressing frustration while working through obstacles on our way to learning how to operate as functional humans in the real world? Is it fleeing sound wisdom for cultural acceptance, or is it merely trying to salvage a measure of self-awareness after having been incubated in a way that tangibly sets back our psychological and emotional development? So many lives were crippled, decades lost, minds and souls stifled, by following the purity movement as it was presented by many of the speakers du jour. We’re right to acknowledge its flaws and dangers. It’s not bullying—it’s a generation saying we wish for others to not be crippled by the same mistakes we found ourselves trapped in.

Kristen September 24, 2016 - 11:06 am

Good piece, Kelly. I never read his book, and while I managed to get through the dating process with only a few regrets, it was not a pleasant experience, I agree with the commenter who spoke about principles. We as a church need look at what the Bible teaches about marriage, the purpose, the plan, the pleasures, the challenges and figure out how to make that work in each of our lives… from those who have been married for years, to the newly weds, and on down to our children and teach our children that this is the goal, this is what God has planned and expects for our marriage, now, how do we get there?

Marita October 16, 2016 - 11:24 pm

Mrs. Crawford, totally in an iron sharpening iron kind of way, it would be really beautiful if you could put yourself in the shoes of somebody who has actually been raised in purity culture. Not a parent, a kid. Because the kids are who all of this is directed at, and they feel the consequences–not their socially bulletproof parents. I am a purity culture daughter, and I feel it daily. For instance, I have 3 siblings that I raised and who look to me as their mother more so than they do to our mother–but they don’t speak to me anymore because my parents and their church have told them that I am evil. There are countless other children who I babysat, taught piano, and was like a sister to, who I will never see again because their parents have told them that God himself hates me. What was my crime? I didn’t court. I chose my own husband, who is kind to me, makes me a good living, respects me as his equal, encourages me to study scripture, is a devoted and affectionate dad to our daughters, and is against big government and big pharma and hollywood as much or more as any conservative I’ve ever known. But we didn’t court. So now I am called a rebellious whore and my whole family, the ones for whom I cooked and cleaned and laundry-ed and made a home for since I was 10, have followed church orders to shun me and my little family. If that’s love, then I guess I should redefine hate.

I lived 20 years of my life in this culture that was so full of books like I Kissed Dating Goodbye–Mrs. Crawford, you and I have sat under the same preachers, and we both know that Josh Harris’s writings were weak compared to the other authors that were quoted and supported from the pulpit. The thing is, purity culture creates anything but purity and love. Purity culture creates superiority–not once when I was growing up did I ever hear comments like I am suddenly hearing from you now, about how terrible it is to create “us and them” mentalities. I heard daddies and brothers standing around on sunday mornings joking about how they would use their shotguns if any of those public high-schoolers ever come around lookin’ at their daughters. You know it’s true, because you and I have attended the same churches.

Purity culture also creates a kind of ignorance that is oh-so-dangerous for girls to have. When an older man was making sexual advances at me, I thought he had a fatherly interest in the building up of my character. When that same man started raping me, I had no idea what he was doing because even though I could drive and had raised children and run a home for 10 years, I didn’t know what sex was. I did know, however, that even though I resisted what he did and I didn’t like it, I would be in more trouble than he would, if I ever told anyone. How’s that for actual pain.

How about letting a famous pastor choose your husband for you, then finding out 14 years later that the chosen husband, who happened to be that pastor’s son, was a serial adulterer, gay, and a child molester, and the pastor knew all of this before the wedding. How’s that for actual pain, and I think that’s a story you already knew.

Please, Mrs. Crawford, for the sake of your children, please, listen to the bad stories before you condemn people for bullying the purity movement. Maybe there’s some actual pain behind that angst.

Kelly Crawford October 18, 2016 - 4:25 pm


I would never, ever dismiss real hurt or abuse, in any form, and I am certainly a defender of the wronged. I am so sorry for hurt you have faced or has been done to you.

But even as you write, I have difficulty deciphering truth from distortion (a common thread among children who’ve grown up disgruntled at the “movement” in general) because of some of the things you’ve said.

For example:

“How about letting a famous pastor choose your husband for you, then finding out 14 years later that the chosen husband, who happened to be that pastor’s son, was a serial adulterer, gay, and a child molester, and the pastor knew all of this before the wedding. How’s that for actual pain, and I think that’s a story you already knew.”

I know of only one person who this remotely fits, and if it’s the same one, your story is distorted. The pastor “suggested” not “chose.” Bit difference. I know that because I saw the other end where the man and his parents were praying about the situation at length, how they met, etc.

Also, I don’t know all the things you say to be true (gay and child molester) though that doesn’t mean they’re not. But I do know those things were not revealed to anyone until after the marriage, long after, so to say the pastor “knew all this before the wedding?” is completely false.

Given just this one example then, it calls everything you’ve said into question. I do not WANT to question anything you’ve said–I prefer to believe people speak straight truth–but why wouldn’t I, given what I perceive is a distortion of the one example I do know something about.

I’m truly sorry–no heart-wrenched–that your parents would shun you for not courting. But again, something is amiss. You keep saying “we’ve attended the same churches” and yet I’ve never known parents to shun their children over something like you describe. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, but you are trying to lump together everyone in the same boat. Another problem with referring to “the purity culture” as something harmful in itself.

My experience and watching many of our friends walk through their version of avoiding the recreational dating model, is that there are all sort of ways to approach it, and almost no family does it the same. For many, they don’t even use the term “courtship” and simply practice a “delayed dating”, all things else being pretty much typical.

For everyone allegedly “harmed” by an attempt to protect our youth from the overly sexual dating game, there are many more who appreciate and thrive having parent who tried to help them enter marriage with less baggage.

I think we must be very careful to call out what is not right–your parent’s behavior, for example, if you are giving us all the information, without lumping it into a category that is not inherently wrong. It’s a little like a wife who is abused by her husband saying that the Bible teaches men to abuse their wives because her husband did it. Call out the sin and the sinner, without incriminating the whole teaching and everyone embracing it.

I hope you understand what I’m trying to say.

Marita October 20, 2016 - 2:24 pm

Mrs. Crawford,
I am glad that you would never ever dismiss “real” hurt or abuse in any form. I am glad that you also seem to be able to define what “real” hurt or abuse would be, and if it even happened or not.
It’s interesting to me that your first defense is to question the truthfulness of my accounts of events that I experienced personally and you did not. Also to tell me to, “Call out the sin and the sinner, without incriminating the whole teaching and everyone embracing it.” After attempting to incriminate the entirety of people like me by telling me that my storytelling is, “…common…among children who’ve grown up disgruntled at the “movement” in general.” Sounds like different standards, Mrs. Crawford. And maybe a little bit of bullying.
You didn’t even address my original point, which was that there are serious problems with purity culture/the courtship model. You say that you can’t believe my story because some of my wording seems like exaggerations to you. Yet I was the one living through these things, witnessing them firsthand, and talking with the victims. As I recall, you were 1500 miles away, getting the story from someone whose reputation and daily living depended on the truth *not* being generally known. That would again enforce my original point, which is that you should try looking at these things from the point of the children and the victims–the people who are actually affected. As it is, you hear what you hear and it affects you as the socially bulletproof member of the parent class that you are.
I actually find it incredulous that you would say that you have “never known parents to shun their children over something like you describe.” I can count without thinking at least 10 sets of parents who have shunned their children over scenarios very similar to what I described to you. Perhaps I should admit, though, that I haven’t told you the whole story–the whole story would be that the shunning started before I began my non-courting relationship. It began when I stopped attending the aforementioned pastor’s church, not because I had turned rogue atheist or started “recreational” dating, but because I started attending another church, with very similar beliefs, that was practically a sister church to the one that I left. The main difference was that I could wear pants to the church service, and talk. For that I was shunned, not spoken to, and completely ignored by this “church family”. So you’re right, I left out the part where I was shunned for even pettier things than I first described. I might also mention that I personally know dozens of people who have had similar experiences, not to count probably hundreds of other cases of people whom I don’t know personally.
So from your point of view, the number of success stories outweigh the pain of the failures and abuses that have happened at the hands of the purity/courtship culture. Also, that most people who practice courtship don’t even really practice courtship, but rather a “delayed dating”, which you fail to define. I am saying that I have lived in the culture, as a child, and I am saying that the picture is very different than what you paint it to be. There is a definite “us and them” mentality, I can say that for sure. For being one of “them”, I lost almost everything.

Kelly Crawford October 20, 2016 - 2:50 pm

I will take your word as absolute truth and say, I am deeply sorry, on behalf of anyone who dismissed you, that you were treated that way. I would not deny that there are parents who have surely abused their roles and mistreated their children. But it’s true, while I don’t personally know anyone who has shunned his children, I do know many children who have shunned their parents without reason to do so. (I’m literally talking through a situation with a friend right now. They have loved as much as parents can love. And the child just decided it wasn’t enough. He is literally making things up to play the victim. I know the whole story intimately and it’s absurd.) And I know more details about things than you think (regarding the example you brought up) so I do speak with some intimate knowledge and compared to that, it does not line up entirely with some of the thing you said. That point is important because in any case where relationships are involved, I have seen the devastation that comes when details are left out, exaggerated, distorted or made up. And it happens all the time. And yes, everyone has the right to question the validity of a story, even if it’s coming from a victim. You don’t get to be a victim just because you call yourself one. I find it deplorable that anyone who questions the validity of someone’s accusations are immediately castigated. We all want fairness and justice. What do we have without truth?

I supposed I haven’t seen the widespread damage that you have seen of the “purity movement”. I’ve seen mostly parents like myself, who were severely damaged (and molested and abused) in the recreational dating movement, and who would never want their children to experience that hurt so they were excited to find there was another approach to finding a spouse that did not include the sexual-laden practice of dating. We are sincere and not infallible. We love our children and pray they grow up to have much less baggage to sort through than we did.

That’s the place I’m speaking from. I’m tired of hearing from grown children who have estranged themselves from their parents over things that are half made up, and half coming from a spoiled bratness that is unparalleled. That is what I’m seeing much of and the parents are heart-broken, shaking their head that the very children they loved and gave themselves for have turned away. I know not all of them fall into that category. I know some of them (like you, I presume) have experienced real hurt. The problem is that we’re not making distinctions between them and the confusing reports are causing mayhem as we try to have discussions about it.

As someone who has been abused, I would think you would be VERY adamant about deciphering between real abuse and the myriads of stories of made up abuse. And they are many. It’s almost an epidemic. And it’s the clever work of Satan, in my opinion, to tear families apart.

Marita October 20, 2016 - 5:15 pm

So first you say that you’re going to take my word as absolute truth, then you imply that I’m a liar in approximately 23 different ways. Then you say, “You don’t get to be a victim just because you call yourself one.” But I don’t see you questioning the claims of any of these poor victimized parents that you speak of.

Intimate knowledge? I had no idea that you were there when all of these things went down. Being friends with the perpetrators doesn’t count.

Kelly Crawford October 20, 2016 - 9:44 pm

You are misunderstanding me and your passive/aggressive responses aren’t helping bring clarity to this discussion. I didn’t imply you’re lying.

**I take you at your word when you talk about your own experience.*** I have doubts about your accusations of the example you gave NOT because of “being friends with the perpetrator” whatever that means. You have no idea what your talking about when you talk to me about this situation, and you have no idea the extent that I know, assuming we’re talking about the same one. I’ll be the first one to throw this man under the bus and I have seen him blindside every single person in his life including myself. He is not honest, and I won’t say more because this is a public forum. Suffice it to say, I am NOT “for him.” Not in any way. YET, you have made accusations that to my knowledge are not all true. You said the pastor knew about these things before he “picked” a wife. There are 2 statement there I know to be untrue. NO ONE knew before he was married, and he didn’t “pick” his wife.

I’m calling you to be clear and honest in all your discussions because if you are not, it calls into question everything else you say. I’m not saying you haven’t described your experience with you family with 100% accuracy. I AM saying that I don’t think your other example was accurate and given that, you have to understand why it calls into question everything else you say. It’s a thread of logic that stands true in every situation.

When I was referring to being a victim, (“You don’t get to be a victim just because you call yourself one. “) I was making a reference to “people” not you. I realize it may not have sounded like that so I’m sorry if that wasn’t clear. The “you” there wasn’t you, specifically.

You don’t have to be defensive. You just need to hear what’s actually being said. If you can have an honest, rational conversation with me, we can go somewhere. If you keep jumping to the defense, avoiding the point I’m trying to make, and accusing me of things that aren’t happening, your credibility weakens.

Marita October 22, 2016 - 11:09 am

How can this man’s character be so utterly separate from that of his father?

How can you still support the purity culture and courtship lifestyle on your heavily-trafficked blog, while knowing all of the absolute atrocities commited by men like Bill Gothard, Doug Phillips, the Jeub parents, R.C. Sproul Jr., Josh Duggar? You can’t possibly say that ALL of the people giving the accounts of these things “have no idea what [they’re] talking about”. These are the very leaders of the movement and yet they have a clear and utter disregard for the ideas they claim to believe. Or is it possibly that the ideas that they teach actually create these behaviors? How is this hypocrisy and immorality (and all of the pain caused by it) not reason enough to seriously question what you continue to espouse here?

Kelly Crawford October 22, 2016 - 12:06 pm


The more you say, the more its confirms that you have an agenda more than you have a love of being truthful and discerning. You are creating tangled webs.

FIRST: we must be talking about a different person in your example. Because I have no idea what you mean by “How can this man’s character be so utterly separate from that of his father?”

SECOND: “How can you still support the purity culture and courtship lifestyle….” As I have written several times before, I don’t support a “movement” of any kind. I support–HEAR ME and don’t tangle it up–kids not engaging in fruitless, tempting romantic relationships before they are ready to think about marriage. I support the prayerful, thoughtful process of considering a spouse, where an adult child WANTS and ASKS for his parents opinion just like I still ask for my parents opinion on any matters important to me. That’s it. I don’t follow any formula for what that looks like, (you can or can’t do this, etc.) nor do I espouse anything different than that. And even on my blog, my ideas have morphed over the years, evidenced by some of my more recent posts about avoiding the problems some HAVE fallen into when they try to follow a formula. What I “espouse” is normal and healthy relationships without the sexual baggage of recreational dating that often takes place. If you want to throw me under the bus for that, do it. It is where I stand.

THIRD: you’re linking men/families to this “teaching” and trying to make that connection is just silly. First of all, are you not aware that in the mainstream alternative (dating culture) there are FAR more atrocities than the ones we’ve been privy to hear about because of the celebrity status of the aforementioned people? In other words, there is sin everywhere, no matter what your belief about dating/courtship.

If Josh Duggar is addicted to pornography because he was raised in the purity culture, why are 2/3rds of male population NOT raised in that culture experiencing the same problems?

Now, the atrocities that ARE committed by professing Christians is all the more tragic, I agree, but because Doug Phillips had an affair with a young woman doesn’t mean everyone who rejects the dating model and is seeking an alternative to marriage is a freak. Same with Gothard. You talk about the Jeubs? Don’t go there. There are SO many lies spewing from their daughter and if you aren’t willing to question the validity of her accusations and hear the other side, you have no business talking about it.

RC Sproul’s crime? Let’s see, if I walked into a racy R-rated movie (or X-rated for all intents and purposes) and sat there for a little while and then, before the movie started, I felt convicted that I was doing something wrong, so I get up and walk out, does that make me a hypocrite, a pervert or a person under the influence of the Holy Spirit? That is essentially his “crime.” Explain to me how a normal man who admitted a moment of human frailty (like every human except Jesus has ever experienced) is a poster child for rejecting the modern dating system?

David was an advocate of a “pure heart” and he raped a woman. I still read the Psalms and his sin doesn’t make me disregard any of it. Even some of the men who have sinned gravely still taught things that have value and worth. (I still benefit from Gothard’s teaching on finances, honoring parents, asking forgiveness, etc. though I can, at the same time, say he was in sin. That’s the ability to discern and speak honestly.)

If you can’t do that, please don’t bother commenting anymore or I will just delete it because this is starting to be a tremendous waste of time for me. I tried to have a civil, kind, honest conversation, and you keep making provocative statements with truth mingled with half-truth twisted with “huh?” and not even addressing what the post is about. And I can’t have that kind of conversation. I’m a logician.

So it’s this kind of attributing one thing to another and denigrating a whole swath of people because of an unrelated sin that I have a huge problem with. Sinfulness has gripped mankind–even the ones who follow Christ–since the beginning. But HOW we think about and are able to discern makes all the difference. We don’t hear of 35 Baptist men who have abused their wives and go on a tirade to wipe out the Baptist denomination. Because that’s not the problem. Same here with your examples.

I was molested by an older guy in a Christian home who went to a Christian school. Does that make the Christian teaching or the Christian school at fault? If you really think about what you’re saying, you have to admit it doesn’t make sense.

Cliff notes for the post: “Promiscuity often resulting from premature dating relationships are bad; Christian parents have long-sought an alternative. That’s good. Let’s have a real conversation about that.” There’s nothing in that that should be provocative.

Sue M. April 3, 2017 - 7:36 pm

Subsequent to your reply, R.C. Sproul, Jr. has done some thing far worse than the Ashley Madison incident. In December, 2016, he was caught driving drunk with a .17 blood alcohol limit in Indiana. I believe at least two of his children were in his car at the time. The charges were serious enough that he was forced to leave Ligonier Ministries. Recently, he was arraigned in court on four charges related to this incident, two misdeamenors and two felonies. His court date is in early May 2017. I say this not to judge him, but he very likely has a serious substance abuse problem, needs prayers, rehab, and deserves justice, not coddling because of his name. His alcohol abuse has not been a secret to those close to him, even prior to the death of his wife and disabled child. This must be especially be hard on his children and his new wife.

Angie July 25, 2017 - 11:39 am

Reading your words here breaks my heart. I am so sorry for the abuse you suffered at the hands of evil people. This post is about the purity culture but really what you are describing is a perverse form of legalism that has infiltrated some homeschooling circles and churches. I know EXACTLY what you are talking about. I was in such a church. My daughter was touched by a serial child molester who is still considered a member in good standing as he serves out his 17 year prison sentence. We also were shunned by our church. There is even a family that to this day literally turn their backs on us if our paths ever cross. It’s surreal, isn’t it? And very hard for those who haven’t lived it to comprehend.

I guess I would fall into the category of a parent who brought my children up under the bondage of that legalism (though we were never quite as ‘extreme’ as some others). When Doug Phillips’ affair was exposed, and the man we considered a dear friend of 15 years was exposed as a lifelong child molester (among several other high profile incidents), and our church didn’t support us in our pain but accused us of gossip (for talking about what we were going through) and ‘not showing Christian love’ for not supporting the child molester; the pain and betrayal were almost more than I could bear. My mother was also dying of cancer while all of this was going on and our entire support system abandoned us.

It’s been about five years since all of that started and some of my adult daughters had to deal with the same bitterness I hear in your words. You have a right to feel bitter. It’s an emotion and it’s a reflection of your pain. Embrace that pain and do the hard work of healing. Don’t get stuck in the bitterness. (and I’m not saying you are stuck… that’s just my advice generally speaking in these situations). These situations are unfortunately terribly common. Just in my former church alone I know parents who have shunned their children. I can think of seven families I know personally who have done this. You are not alone. Unfortunately you are not alone in being abused either.

The way we have healed from that devastating situation is my daughters and I took our power back. It goes without saying we left that church. Eventually we were forced to cut all relationships with the majority of them. But that’s OK because the Lord restored the land the locusts had eaten and gave us a beautiful church home with wonderfully authentic godly people to come alongside us and minister to us when we were as broken as anyone can be. My daughter went back to school and got a master’s in social work and just started working as a child therapist counseling abused children. I am going back to school to get my masters in counseling so I can become a therapist for abuse victims. Not only are those who suffer abuse at the hands of a church member abused by that predator, they are far too often abused by the church who oftentimes sides with the predator. It is SO common! That’s going to be my area of specialty, those abused in and by the church. That is how we are taking our power back.

I’m praying for you, Marita! What you have been through is horrific. It shouldn’t have happened. But even if those broken relationships are never restored, the Lord can heal you and you can carry on far stronger and wiser than you ever were before. May the Lord use this terrible situation to bring something good and positive to your life for His glory!

Many blessings to you,
Angie Martin

Sue M. April 3, 2017 - 7:26 pm

Way too late to this post, but…There certainly can be problems with high school students becoming seriously involved with the opposite sex before they are mature enough to handle this. However, once a young person becomes a legal adult, he or she can join the military, marry, sign contracts, move out of the family home or do any number of things that his or parents may not approve of. Parents have an advisory role when it comes to how and who an adult child dates/courts. Any parent, whether father or mother, regardless of how devout their Christian faith, who insists that a young man must be prescreened before he can date their adult daughter is going way too far. In Biblical times, the young women in question were probably in their early teens, not young adults. Wasn’t even the Virgin Mary even probably 12 to 14 years old?

Jennifer Corry July 23, 2017 - 12:58 pm

Very good reminders, Kelly, especially about not blaming our parents. Even aside from any system’s flaws, people have flaws and sometimes that means trouble in our approach. A sensible courtship is better than the hookup ideal any day.

Kelly Crawford July 24, 2017 - 11:12 am

Yes ma’am. Well said.


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