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There are many times that I don’t realize just how much strange teaching I’ve had to undo in my life. She now lives in gorgeous Montana with her husband and three kids, loving life, writing about spiritual abuse and grace, and leading worship for church, retreats, and special events.

I usually don’t realize it until times when I try to explain them to someone else. A dear friend and I were talking about our kids and how to help them transition from children to adults.

I define “emotional purity” in the same way that popular homeschool writers have: it is the idea of “guarding your heart.” This sounds all noble and righteous and everything but in this context is really just a facade for fear. It was Josh Harris in and the Ludy’s in several of their books that popularized the idea that everytime you fall in love or get “emotionally attached” to someone, you give away a piece of your heart. Pride because suddenly you are better than everyone else. I am still uncomfortable hugging one of my best friends who is a guy because we were taught never to hug or have physical contact, even innocent, with a guy. We were taught never ever ever to be alone with a guy because it could look bad.

The more pieces you give away, the less of your heart you have to give to your spouse someday. my best friend, my sisters, my husband, my parents, my kids.

Emotional purity Biblical courtship = Godly marriage. You can do everything “right” and your life can still go wrong. People who follow the courtship formula still get divorced. However, what is encouraging is that most of us have determined to stop the insanity.

These teachings have deep, rotten roots, and it takes time to pull them all out. They deceive us into thinking that living by formulas is “safe.” 1 1= 2. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in my dysfunction, but it is discouraging as well.

I leave you with the words of a very wise man:“To love at all is to be vulnerable.Harris even went so far as to say that each of those former flames actually have some sort of hold on you. My third child doesn’t have less of my heart just because I’ve loved two other children before him. It is ridiculous to suggest that there is not enough of my heart to go around. This has got to be the most bogus and the most damaging teaching of this entire movement. And, really, I haven’t given them “pieces” of my heart. The miracle of love is that it multiplies by being given. And what view of redemption does this teaching proclaim? It somehow validates my belief that some of the teachings I grew up with were very wrong. I rejected the teachings of courtship and emotional purity when I was 19. In fact, I have identified several ways that these teachings can damage a person’s heart. Shame because that’s “sinful” and “emotionally impure.” Shame because it sets a standard and proclaims that you are somehow shameful if you cannot keep it. Because your heart is whole and she just gave a piece of hers to a guy she isn’t married to. You have more to give your future husband than she does. This has nothing to do with the righteousness and grace of God, and everything to do with the accomplishments of man. I was trying to explain this to my friend, and it came out sounding so . Lately, I’ve also started facing the ways in which the teachings of “emotional purity,” (a la Josh Harris, the Ludys, and others) have damaged the part of my brain that makes healthy relationships function. You are considered damaged goods if you have fallen in love and had your heart broken. I remember watching a video in which one of the biggest names in the courtship movement bragged with obvious arrogance that he didn’t tell his wife he loved her until their wedding. We took something as simple as saying ‘I love you,’ built a straw man rule around it (‘saying I love you is defrauding’), then hung it like a trophy on our walls.” Job well done, folks. They create skewed views of relationships which lead to dysfunction. Where others see nothing wrong, I am suspicious of every look, every situation, every witty exchange. I feel ill at ease sometimes even talking to other men. I’m really good at pushing those feelings away and acting “normal.” But I am bothered by my reaction to everyday situations.

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