The topic of dating and relationships came up and we started talking about my story. In my life it meant never having a crush on a guy, never allowing myself to “fall in love.” Basically, training myself to shut down a normal, healthy, functioning part of my human heart. I told her if she was to walk out of the room, leaving me and her husband in the same room, my first reaction would be one of panic. I was at work several months ago and was thinking about the depression and anger that plagued me throughout much of my teen years, and I think much of it can be linked to Jesus's words about lust in Matthew and 28.Sometimes it’s actually comforting to me to be met with blank or incredulous stares from people I consider “normal,” good Christians. I’m 27 years old, and I’ve been married for almost 7 years. Shame because sometimes you can’t help but like one guy a little more than another. Pride because you are so much more spiritual than that poor girl over there who is crying because her boyfriend broke up with her. They made up laws that God never condoned, then patted themselves on the back for keeping them, while looking down on those who didn’t. I often felt guilty and angry when I felt any kind of sexual urge, tingle or emotion, and since adolescence is a time when we guys feel that frequently, there was a ton of anger and guilt.

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.

Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.

I leave you with the words of a very wise man:“To love at all is to be vulnerable.

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 . It wasn't until fairly recently that I saw a minister on TV--Creflo Dollar, I believe-- teach that the purpose of those passages wasn't to make us feel guilty or repress our sexuality, but to emphasize God's grace and to make us realize how much we need Him in our daily lives.

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. Jesus could also have been "showing up" the Pharisees in the crowd by showing them that they weren't nearly as good at following the Law as they thought they were, and also showing them how it felt to be crushed under it.

Maybe time is the only cure, and I need to be more patient with myself. I have talked with literally hundreds of alumni my age, and I am not exaggerating the extent of the issue.

This is one dysfunction that I really wish I could be freed from. When you choose to love, you are choosing to accept risking a broken heart. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). We build neat little formulas and say “THIS will keep me safe! Thanks to those good intentions, we are seeing an entire generation of homeschool alumni who have no idea how to have normal relationships.

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. It was like, "Gee, NOW someone tells me." There aren't enough adjectives to describe the spiritual, emotional and mental damage this has caused.

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. Others who have experienced the same thing have likened our thought processes and feelings to adults who were victims of childhood sex abuse, and I'd be hard-pressed to disagree.

Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.