Tag Archives: true love waits

Some old critique to ‘true love waits’ and Joshua Harris…

true love waits
and that’s okay
but you seem to spend your time waiting
ain’t that extremely frustrating?

(the irresistible 21st century virgin boy)

Last week I had a serious flu and I was quite sick, and not able to do much at all, not even reading or thinking, so I was lying on my bed listening to old CD’s with demo songs that I recorded years ago, when I still used the nick/artist name ‘the irresistible 21st century virgin boy’*. One of the old CD’s contained a song I kissed waiting goodbye that I thought was lost forever, one of my earlier attempts to do something with beats and guitars together in a real song. But it also  vocalised  some critique to a book I mentioned in a recent post (‘I kissed dating goodbye’ by Joshua Harris), and I suppose more broadly to the rhetoric of the people of ‘true love waits’ , who then haTLW2d a Flemish division here in Belgium that sent me a lot of news letters because I once had carelessly signed one of their pledge cards on some christian event. (It seems they’re out of the running now though , can’t find anything of them anymore lately…)

The song itself was dismissed later because I hated how I hadn’t been able to find a really fitting melody on the sometimes quite random chord progressions. Re-listening there’s something in it that I like, and some things that I hate (that really bad word flow of the ‘don’t concentrate’ part for example.) But is was a good try, even if it got forgotten without ever been played again…

[please listen to the song ‘I kissed waiting goodbye’ here https://soundcloud.com/bram-cools/i-kissed-waiting-goodbye (lyrics are there also) and tell me; does it suck completely, or is there still something interesting about it?]

The title ‘I kissed waiting goodbye’ does not mean that I (with my weird artist name) had any problem with the idea of sex as belonging into a marriage relationship (I still believe in that, even though I don’t think a state marriage has much to do necessarily with the definition of marriage) but the whole imported ‘purity culture’ had some exaggerations that I found quite weird. And the local people that preached it were quite peculiar specimens too btw… The emphasis on waiting and not doing stuff was what was getting on my nerves…

Like I said earlier in my recent post a purity culture I don’t know, some of the critiques to ‘evangelical purity culture’ I’ve seen lately are describing something I don’t recognise at all, but I did have my concerns with what I did see. If I would have encountered weirdos like the 2 creeps in Sarah Moons latest blogpost my concerns would’ve been a lot bigger. And it might be that I didn’t even register some of the things that didn’t make sense to me, I think that’s how I never picked up those gender roles in Harris’ book if they are there. my brain didn’t even notice them because they made no sense to me, and they got thrown with the ‘this is too American’** garbage bin.

(Remember that an ‘American writer’ for me is as distant and exotic as an Italian cardinal, and Indian Sadhu  or an African Touareg songwriter…)

The whole movement always was a bit too obsessed with sex for my taste. (an obsession with having no sex all the time is just a weird form of sex-obsession.) It seemed like all they wanted to talk about was how to not have sex, and that was not what I was looking for, I was looking for how to actually grow in my relationship in all kinds of areas. All that talk about what not to do is not good for building a relationship. what people need is positive advice about to grow in love, and not just sexually!!!! there’s much more to a relationship than that, and focussing a relationship on that will make it unbalanced, be it a relationship focussed solely on sex or one focussed solely on avoiding sex …

One of the things I probably dismissed as otherworldy nonsense was the idea of ‘never being alone with someone of the other sex’, including the one you’re not yet married to but having a relationship with. As someone who had been always single with a lot of female friends some of which I saw alone regularly such things just didn’t make sense and didn’t get registered in my brain. It was not something that could convince me anymore than the idea that Belgium does not exist… (It would never haver worked with me and my wife either)

Another point that I found troubling was that I did not see how filling people with a ‘no sex’ message and conditioning them all the time to not touch and not be intimate would ever be reversed on a wedding night. I was too realistic to believe such a thing, whatever promises of ‘great sex lives for those who wait’ were gives. I just didn’t see that happen with such an obsessive attitude. And I later read a lot of articles that affirmed, sometimes from people who were completely blocked down sexually, so it wasn’t a false concern… I know it did work for other people, but I who was already blocked on sex and completely turned off by a world around me that seemed to sell sex on every corner but no love was more traumatised about sex on that moment. And in need of simple honest not overly sexual intimacy. It would actually take years of very slowly growing in intimacy before I would even be ready for sex and by that time I’d be ready to get married too.

By the way, there is something really problematic about all the weirdness this kind of movements does attach to the Christian ideas about sex and marriage. There is something dangerous about a good idea or a truth being hijacked by people who exaggerate in preaching it, and lump it together with nonsense and worse… It might work as a really good vaccination to ever believe it again. Those preached to who are first convinced but later see that the ballast is nonsense will most likely throw away the child with the bathwater… (an example of that here)
See also Ken Ham and his weird form of young earth creationism as litmus test for Christianity…

But let’s close with what I think is important about true love: it loves! And loving is not about not doing things, but about doing things. Apophatic theology (saying things about God by saying what He is not) can be an interesting way to communicate truth about God, but not doing certain things is not the essence of any form of love, and if it is you’re distracted from the real thing…



* There was something sarcastic in that name, mainly the ‘irrestistible’ part… I’ve been single and eh, extremely celibate until I was 22 or so.

** Nothing racist about that. Other cultures always have things that are found to be nonsense and irrelevant by outsiders. But I do think I can indeed say that ‘too American’ is a valid reason for a lot of Europeans to  dismiss something…

A purity culture I don’t know…

Seems like there’s a lot of critique of the ‘evangelical purity culture’ in the blogosphere lately.  I grew up here in Belgium as a pentecostal/evangelical Christian, and I always thought I’d seen a lot of talk about sexual purity and stuff in my life. But when I read critiques of the North-American version of ‘purity culture’ (Very interesting ones from the latest blog storm are Sarah Bessey, Elizabeth Esther for example, or find a bigger list in Scots challenging article at faith and food, and some more commentary from Richard Beck) and  I must conclude that I don’t seem to know much about it myself when I see some of the details mentioned. Seems like there are 2 possibilities:

A) I’ve never been paying attention and did get a slightly different message than what was communicated.


B) What I’ve been taught is not at all as toxic as what appears to be taught in certain corners of the Christian subculture in the good ole Us of A.

What I’ve never heard  in all of this was stuff like the following, all of which I would’ve disagreed with then as much as I would do now:

– female virginity is for some unclear reason much more important than male virginity.

– Men are supposed to take the initiative and always be the leaders, otherwise you have some kind of abomination going on.

– purity rings or rituals for girls involving the father.

– Non-virgins will by definition have a bad marriage.

– Never be alone with someone of the other sex that you’re not (yet) married to.

– if you’re single after a certain age something is wrong with you.

– You must give your first kiss on your wedding day, not earlier.

 (Okay, the last whole ‘first kiss on your wedding day’ idea  was something that some people might choose to do I suppose, but not at all something that anyone (except maybe for some teenagers who never had had a relationship but liked to talk about those rules a lot) would ever see as normative over here. It’s quite an exotic idea in our culture actually, not even recognisable as ‘conservative’… Maybe something for followers of Joshua Harris)

(And oh, the rule of never being alone with someone of the other sex might also be something I read in Joshua Harris, but which I rejected as otherworldly, as being someone who had all his life had female friends and had never had any problem hanging out with them alone at all the idea just didn’t have a chance with me…)

Even though I might disagree with  some details of what I’ve been taught and the way it was communicated, I never encountered most of what those people and others I’ve read are critiquing. What I picked up from sex-talk in church, on teenage camps, and even from the people of wareliefdewacht.be, with was the local true love waits* but does not seem to exist anymore, and from imported  wisdom from people like Rebecca st-James (the Christian rock-singer, who was very clear about both ‘true love waits and her intentional singleness at the moment) was something like:

– Sex is something important that you need to wait with until you’re married. Sex is beautiful in the right context and it is powerful, so it will do much good in the right context, and damage people in the bad context.

– Speak about boundaries in a relationship, which was mainly about the ‘how far will you go before marriage’, but the issue of consent and not being pushy was also communicated clearly…

– Virginity and sexual purity is  equally important for boys and for girls.

– Love and friendship are very important in romantic relationships and marriage.

– Singleness is something to be embraced, and does not have to be a problem. For most it will be a season in their life that they will learn from, for others it might be a calling.

– Sexual sin might be serious, but there is always forgiveness, whatever you have done. (The weird term  ‘recycle virgin’ was also used.)  Anyway there’s no need in shaming those who have made mistakes.

ongekust en

When I was in my early twenties that Joshua Harris’ ‘I kissed dating goodbye’ (a book of which the Dutch title can be translated back as ‘unkissed, but not a frog’) was making the rounds, and that most people I knew found it ‘too American’. I can’t remember much of it, actually, I just know I wasn’t impressed at all.

Now I don’t say I would agree with everything if I’d have to hear one of those sex-talks again that I heard as a teenager, but I do not recognise the big problematic things at all… And really, I do not understand the asymmetry in which rules for women would be different from those for men. That’s just nonsense… (especially in a heteronormative frame, where sex requires both a man and a woman…)

So, my question is; those things that I do not recognise, how common are they?

And how do we frame talk about love, sex and marriage? I do believe that sex belongs in a lifelong monogamous family-forming relationship (which is not necessarily the same as a state marriage, I would think the sacramental part and the reality -2 people form one life-unit- more important), but there seems to be so much ballast on the concept of marriage and on all this ‘no sex before marriage’ stuff…


* they have nothing to do with this beautiful radiohead song.

no comment…


I don’t know how I came on this video… it must be part of a certain Christian subculture…

yeah she’s cute, and I’d give her a hug if I could…And it makes me less sad than Lady gaga videos…

but for some reason it always reminds me of this:

I still wonder if there are more people for whom ‘true love waits’ is a radiohead song, and not something aboout having no sex….


christians and cross-gender friendships

One of the things of american christianity, which sometimes get copied in this part of europe but seems totally alien to me, is the way some people seem affraid of the other sex, and use theology to justify that.

Now, I do know some people just can’t get along with the other sex. In working class circles I noticed that there sometimes was a really large gap between the sexes that I could not understood, but I always noticed that such a disconnection was almost always paired to a porn-like objectification of the female. which is very evident: the more you treat female humans as sex objects, the less you will relate to them as human beings that you can be friends with… So I’m not that surprised when that kind of men would tell me that it’s impossible for them to be just friends with a woman. It is a deep and grave wound in their sexual human-ness, but totally understand, even though it’s sad and evil and it does no goed for man neither woman and brings lots of hurt to both…

But I’ve always seen Christianity as something which goes beyond that, something which bridges the gap between the sexes (‘in Christ there is male nor female’…) and cures the disconnections bethween people. But some people seem to totally disagree with that. I know some ‘true love waits’ type of people disapprove of being alone with the other sex at all, just like some ministries have rules for pastors to never be alone with someone of the other sex. Like this one from saddleback church. For reasons of temptation or reputation if you’d be seen with someone and stuff… But all of this looks so cramped in my eyes….

My whole life is opposed to that anyway, I am the kind of guy who sometimes makes friends with girls more easily than with other guys, even though the girls I like to be friends with are not the type of girl I would be romantically interested in. (Except for one interesting exception, who is now my wife…) I like to be friends with girls and women, and nothing of that did substantially change when I passed from celibate singleness into a relationshop into marriage, au contraire: she likes about me that I see girls and women as humans to be friends with, and not just sexuals things that could tempt me or that I could sexual fantasies about or something like that. Yike! Women are people to be friends with, and sisters in Christ.

In the end, doesn’t common sense and basic ethics tell us that we should consider every woman as a sister, mother, or daughter, depending on age? Or am I too naieve in thinking such things are a matter or logic? maybe I am. Maybe the disconnect is rooted too deep in our societies, and it may be growing with the explosion of porn and R&B-videos…

But still: that has nothing to do with Jesus And reading through the bible I see Jesus also acting against all that cross-gender paranoia. Jesus breaks all taboos when talkin (alone!) to the samaritan woman at the well: a rabbi doesn’t speak to women, and a jew doens’t speak to a samaritan, and one does not speak to people with the sexual history she has when one wants te be respected. That kind of logic is what I recognise in the Saddleback story, but it’s exactly what Jesus opposes.

Besides, I find it sexist and degrading, the idea that being with someone from the other sex should be considered unsafe. Very insulting even if I would be a woman offering to drive some speaker to somewhere, and he would refuse for that reason. Even autistic maybe. But totally unchristlike. Indeed Christ would not be hired at all in such ministry with the attitude he had towards women, if we look at the samaritan woman, and his friendship with Maria and Martha…

I still don’t get the christian intersexual disconnect, it is totally alien to me, and every time I read things suggesting that it is a controversial subject, like this zoecarnate blog-post, I am amazed again.

May we all learn to love…



ps:  for people interested in the subject, I do recommend the blog of Dan Brennan, who writes a lot about cross-gender friendships and related subjects from a somewhat post-evangelical perspective…

blast from the past 2: these are the days of great distraction…

This is another repost of one of the few attempts I once had to use my myspace as a blog…  A bit older, and I wasn’t married yet at the moment.. For a soundtrack I would propose some great psalters music, like the songs we are all lepers here and the turn me round slave song. More of their songs can be downloaded @ psalters.org > media.

thursday, januari 04, 2007
title: these are the days of great distraction…
originally posted on http://www.myspace.com/bramc
The city is dark tonight; I’m all alone right now with a messy room and this old crappy computer… So much things that I should do, and what do I do? nothing… It takes me more than one day to clean up this 3 little rooms that I have in this new home in the big city, it takes me forever to do just nothing…
I pick up an old comick, I read it, I chat on MSN, I walk around, I eat something, I do nothing… I could be playing or recording music, I could be writing, I could be drawing, I could be reading… I could be praying, I could be helping friends, I could be loving… But right now the nothingness is calling me to waste my time, waste precious time and energy… And I just give in… Sometimes the devil does not come with sex and drugs and rock’n roll… The results are the almost same. I’m half part of the machine, half sucked into notingness, and as a whole I’m not being what I’m meant to be…
It’s not that I’m unemployed right now; work is just another distraction most of the time!! People ask you ‘what are you doing’ and then expect me to say my job or what I’m studying… As if those meaningless jobs are our identity… As if the way you make money is what you are… What are you doing? Just making money and waiting till the day is over, watching TV, falling asleep,…
All of this, it’s all just distractions. meaningless and chasing of raindrops…
An old radiohead live only songs plays in my head ‘I’m not living, I’m just being lived… What’s the title again? ‘true love waits’? Well the time for waiting should be over… True love is to be lived, and nothing else matters!!! True life is to be lived, and otherwise it’s not worth a thing. If we are alive without being living we are insulting the One who gave us life!!! Like I’ve been doing today!!!!
I’m far away from God, I’m far away from the people who need my love, I’m far away from God… I’m far from living…
Oh If I could just be a who God made me to be, a lover to my lover, a true friend to my friends, oh if I could only love God above all and my neighbor as myself, oh if I could make LOVE the center of this life… Right now I’m still living in the great distractions… I’m stuck bethween nothingness and the machine right now… Let it end tonight!!!!!
Oh God, I need to LIVE!!! WAKE ME UP!!!