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Sex Ethics After Purity Culture: What do the critics want?

August 2nd, 2019 | 10 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

The news of Josh Harris’ separation from his wife and subsequent announcement of his departure from the Christian faith sent shock-waves through evangelical circles. In the late 90s, Harris’ I Kissed Dating Goodbye was a phenomenon of the first rank, selling over a million copies and destroying all manner of youth groups over whether or not people should date or only “court.”

Its prominence and influence made Harris a convenient target for the growing chorus of critics of evangelicalism’s “purity culture.” Many of those met Harris’ announcement with something approaching schaudenfreude: his divorce, it seems, is vindication that his message was rotten at its core.

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Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is an Associate Professor of Ethics and Theology in Baylor University's Honors College. He has a D.Phil. in Christian Ethics from Oxford University, and is a Perpetual Member of Biola University's Torrey Honors College. In 2005, he founded Mere Orthodoxy.