Quoting Quiverfull: True Love?

Quoting Quiverfull: True Love? January 29, 2013

Josh Harris from his book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”

“‎True love isn’t expressed in passionately whispered words an intimate kiss or a embrace; before two people are married, love is expressed in self-control, patience, even words left unsaid.”

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QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders and ask our readers: What do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is the place to state your opinion. Please, let’s keep it respectful – but at the same time, we encourage readers to examine the ideas of Quiverfull honestly and thoughtfully.


NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce



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  • Cathy W

    All I can say is, Josh, you love your way, and I’ll love mine – the idea of love that involves withholding emotional intimacy is just alien to me, but whatever floats your boat.

    (On a more serious level – it seems obvious that a lot of what Josh Harris is doing is trying to shore up a “marriage as duty” culture against the inroads of a “marriage as life choice” culture – and I don’t think it’s going to hold for long. This might be one of those things where our grandchildren point and snicker at their “quaint” ancestors…)

  • Nightshade

    First I have to say that I totally reject the purity worship these people are so fond of, the idea that ‘true’ love is not expressed in the intimate ways that are deemed sinful by them, and that marriage is the only acceptable avenue for that type of expression. To each his own, covers a lot of ground. However, I do see a teeny-tiny grain of truth here, that love can be expressed in self-control and patience. Love includes doing what you feel is best for the loved one, and self-control can be a large part of that…like, I dunno, not insisting that a wife be sexually available at all times regardless of her feelings and well-being? Or maybe if the belief against contraception is iron-clad and impossible to shake then putting her health above his desire for physical gratification for a few days, even weeks if necessary? Conceding that a woman is an equal human being and has feelings and desires, goals for her life, and has a right to them? Yeah, that would be an expression of ‘real love,’ doncha think?

  • True love can be expressed in any and all those things and Josh Harris does not have the authority to define which expression indicates a more true love than another.

  • revsharkie

    And “words left unsaid” leaves an awful lot of room for game-playing. Don’t say what’s wrong, leave them to guess, withhold “I love you” until you get a certain action out of your partner (even though you have not told said partner what action it is that you’re expecting them to do), and so forth. That’s NOT how God intended for us to relate to one another; if you believe in Adam and Eve and the Fall, all that stuff comes with the broken relationship between male and female. We Christians are supposed to believe that Jesus redeemed the consequences of the fall (or at least set in motion the eventual redemption of them), yet we hold onto unequal, dysfunctional relationships between men and women as the God-given norm. No. They’re not.

  • My son’s stepbrother and his wife gave my son that book, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, as a college graduation present. IIRC, his stepbrother, B, got married while in college because a baby was on the way, so I guess B did kiss dating goodbye. My reaction to the book as a gift was to ask, “Has B ever actually met you?”

    The book was written with that false big brotherly air of “I’m giving you moral advice but I’m still hip, uh,cool, uh, with it, uh, what do you kids say these days?” One chapter started with a moral crisis in which the author felt guilty over admiring his fiancee’s legs too much. He actually talked about having to tell her that one particular pair of shorts she wore caused him to “struggle” too much. It was also a big deal that while he was a virgin, she was not. He went into a whole chapter on forgiveness and the significance of the cross, and how he was finally able to forgive her because we are all miserable sinners, blah, blah, blah. For him to simply be able to say, “That happened before I met you and is none of my business,” would have been a symptom of the whole moral downfall of the Western world, apparently.

    So if you think intimacy can be based on being shamed by your partner for being attractive and having your prior sex life equated to serial murder and stealing that jellybean when you were six, all at the same time, yeah, I guess this is great advice.

  • Red

    Sigh. I just….I’m getting so tired of these people couching ridiculousness in grains of truth. It’s gone beyond my patience level.

    First, duh, true love can be expressed through patience and holding back. Before AND after marriage. Duh. Duh, duh, duh. We don’t have to say that patience-related traits are for pre-marriage and then there’s another standard that comes into play after marriage, and vice-verse for expressive traits. Joshua Harris likes to say things like this because black-and-white thinking makes people more likely to agree with his conclusions.

    My husband and I both waited for sexual activity until marriage, so I can see the rationale behind that (which, of course, doesn’t mean that everyone will make that choice!) But even seeing the positives behind that belief, I still think Harris is silly. For heaven’s sake, most people show love in a variety of ways all the time, and not by designating one “set” of ways for a certain time, and another “set” of ways after a certain time….come on, talk about over analyzing and micro-managing and compartmentalizing and, I’ll say it again, black-and-white thinking.

    This is like doing a math equation to figure out your relationships. For crying out loud, pick someone you really like and then the two of you get together and discuss what you believe about physical relationships! Talk to people you trust for advice! Don’t buy a book written by this guy!

  • Nea

    having your prior sex life equated to serial murder and stealing that jellybean when you were six

    This, this RIGHT HERE is what freaks me out the most about this type of believer and the deity they believe in. Anyone who can put those three concepts in the same sentence, who can consider them all equal crimes and that everyone is equally likely to do all of them “but for the grace of God” has no sense of perspective. And without that perspective, that person is a monster, plain and simple. Unable to grasp concepts of fairness or empathy, that person is equally ready to punish the most innocent of infractions from the powerless with a violence suited to punishing a mortal sin or to excuse the most horrific of crimes from the powerful with the excuse that “we are all sinners” who would do the exact same atrocities.

  • Love can be expressed in self-control, patience and unsaid words AFTER two people are married, too! In fact, I would say more so.

  • AR

    Never mind that he wrote this silliness with no real experience of relationships. Pretty safe to say he had no idea what he was talking about. It was all theoretical.

  • thalwen

    I agree. I’ve come across this line of evangelising and it just seems ridiculous and especially ridiculous as it’s often paired with the “atheists don’t have morality because a book doesn’t tell them what to do” argument. Yes, we are all sinners and no one is perfect but to equate finding someone attractive to murder (not to mention the [im]morality of sending a kid to hell for stealing a piece of candy).

  • Tori

    Love is trust, love is patience, love is tolerance, love is forgiving. Sex is sex. Both are good, but they are both better together.

  • SAO

    Dating is the process of getting to know a potential mate and seeing if love can grow. The Kiss-dating-goodbye theme seems to miss this step between initial attraction and committed love. The only way this makes sense is to conflate initial attraction with love. Lasting love doesn’t come from liking someone’s appearance or first impressions, but from knowing your partner and loving the person you know.

    There’s a reason why states with fewer religious conservatives and more liberal views on dating have lower divorce rates.

  • Persephone

    This always makes me think of the Victorian guy whose only knowledge of female anatomy came from sculptures. He literally freaked out and fled his marriage on his wedding night when his wife undressed and he saw body hair, especially her muff. He had this picture of a woman as a breathing, pinkish, classical marble. How can a marriage based on these attitudes survive unless its members don’t believe in divorce.

  • Kimberly

    A couple I know reared their kids in a strict, patriarchal, evangelical homeschooling family (although not QF) had the kids study this book and encouraged a courtship approach. I guess the book had it’s effect. The kids kissed dating goodbye and haven’t made connections with the opposite sex that could possibly lead to marriage as they approach their late twenties and thirties.

  • I hope I didn’t mislead anyone about what Josh Harris actually said. My “having your prior sex life equated to serial murder and stealing that jellybean when you were six, all at the same time” comment was my snarky summary of his theology of the cross. He didn’t give those two examples (at least not so far as I remember); I made them up. But if you read this post (http://www.joshharris.com/2011/02/why_we_need_the_doctrine_of_th.php) by Josh Harris, you can see why I made them up.

  • Persephone

    Coleslaw, thanks for the link; I had wondered just how much of a self-righteous d-bag Josh Harris is, and it was made abundantly clear.

    I automatically write off anyone who thinks that there is a hell where people will suffer forever. I am disgusted by those who believe that anyone who lived before Jesus came, or who never hears about him, will burn in hell forever.

  • Lilah

    And they say romance is dead!