“Part of the reason this has been so hard for me is that I have so much of my identity tied up in these books.It’s what I’m known for,” Harris told me recently from Vancouver, British Columbia, where he moved his family last year to enroll in a graduate program at evangelical Regent College.It inspired both praise—from the likes of purity matriarch Elisabeth Elliot and Focus on the Family—and book-length rebuttals.
Two decades later, the teenagers of the purity movement have had time to date, marry, have sex lives, raise children of their own, and divorce.
They have confronted the movement’s legacy online, communing about what it meant to grow up believing that even sexual thoughts must be squashed to please God.
As one recent response on Harris’ site put it, “I feel the only man I deserve is one who is broken like me.” came out, and everyone I knew in my upper-middle-class evangelical community in suburban Chicago was talking about it.
For me as a teenager, the whole topic had a pleasing ratio of certainty to ambiguity.
It was even better not to even kiss before you got to the altar, Harris suggested, and beware of “emotional hookups,” too.