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Viewing the evangelical purity movement through a hermeneutic of suspicion is wrong.It should be viewed through a hermeneutic of regret.As young evangelicals begin to mature, their parents are approaching midlife, a season often ripe with regret and resentment.

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here is, without question, something beautiful about the vision offered by evangelical purity culture: love unencumbered by memory, the body unencumbered by experience, trust unencumbered by disappointment — and all of this given freely to a single person who fully receives and fully returns the same.When it came to romance, these parents were often quite frank: they had loved and lost, and they didn’t want their children to experience the same.This kind of parenting is, in many ways, the complementary converse of the historical understanding that many evangelicals set forth.My conclusion may be sociologically unorthodox, but I think that evangelicalism’s popularity springs from an especially intense form of parental idealism. Overprotective parenting is hardly restricted to evangelicals, and at least one major religion can look to such parenting as part of its origins: the Buddha’s childhood was spent in a palace built for the express purpose of shielding him from suffering (the plan failed).With nearly two-thirds of evangelicals younger than 50, the family dynamic is key for understanding the appeal of Harris’s book and others like it.

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