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Premarital sex and pregnancy were major social disgraces and a lot of guidance from parents and older family friends (we call them all aunts and uncles) was built around avoiding those disgraces.I found [the book] very white and male-centered, very dismissive of emotions and intimacy, and very body-dissociative.The wider teaching also undermined a relationship I had toward the end of college.It actually had potential and we had a lot of intellectual, emotional, and sexual chemistry but I felt I had to break it off before we “got into trouble.” So I felt pressured to be guarded.I once called it that, but no more.: I first read IKDG while in college in Jamaica.I’d moved there from the UK where I’d attended an all-immigrant congregation that packaged purity culture as counter-cultural self-empowerment and self-love.I remember seeing the cover, and thinking how cool it looked, tipped fedora and all.

I have to listen so hard to myself to actually know what I like, what I don’t, and what I desire, because the idea of pleasure is a foreign idea.In the wake of its publication, churches held purity conferences, purity balls, and had teens take purity pledges.My own parents vowed that their children would never date, we would court, as laid out in Harris’ book.It’s fostered the sort of shame that follows me into my relationship now, and it makes me angry at how dating or relationships without marriage as a pre-determined point, let alone sex or any kind of physical affection, were robbed of any joy for me.It’s like a low level noise of distrust and anxiety that some would probably call the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

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