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.
“For the love of Joshua Harris, just please stop,” read a magazine column last year urging Christian men to quit with the lofty “marriage material” rhetoric and just ask women out on dates already.
As an article in the conservative Christian magazine put it in 2011, “Even Christians who don’t like the book feel forced to color within the lines Harris drew.” In other words, even those who don’t want to “kiss dating goodbye” will likely find themselves having to explain why not.
It was even better not to even kiss before you got to the altar, Harris suggested, and beware of “emotional hookups,” too.