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You can’t measure the results of the book after only a year.
But after 15 years went by, people who adopted these ideas and tried to put my book into practice suddenly had a track record.
Harris was just 21 years old when was published, but the book quickly became the most popular resource for a growing movement of Christians, which at its best, guided teenagers towards sexual abstinence, and at its worst, heaped shame and condemnation on young people who had been sexually active.
If you’ve ever come across purity rings (which are worn as an outward sign of a vow to practise abstinence until marriage) or been on the receiving end of teaching that says women should cover up in order to protect men’s minds, then you’ve encountered what’s been dubbed ‘purity culture’.
But to the wider Christian world (and the secular media, who were understandably intrigued by Harris) this teaching was brand new, not to mention radical.
sold more than 1 million copies and was passed around many Christian youth groups – including the one I attended here in the UK – throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s.
At first he ignored the push-back, but tweets such as “your book was used against me like a weapon” mounted up and, eventually, he was forced to consider if a book written to help young people live for God had actually caused more harm than good.
These choices are not the defining qualities of who I am.”When did you first start to notice there were a lot of people who were hurt by the book?
I remember reading criticism early on but I had people around me at the time who were saying: “You just need to stand your ground”, “You need to be a strong leader”, “You’re too worried about people’s criticism.” So I shoved all that aside.
Also this idea of being damaged or having lost something.
I think another big problem is, people made a potential relationship so serious, so soon.
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Anna, they don’t mean anything to me now, but I’ve given part of my heart to each of them.”.