Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Communication Studies and Theatre

First Advisor

Karla Hunter


Purity culture is a movement many young Evangelical Christians experienced in the 1990s and early 2000s. Purity culture espouses many values including practicing abstinence until marriage, observing strict dating and/or courtship rules, and remaining physically, emotionally, and spiritually pure. In 1997 Joshua Harris authored I Kissed Dating Goodbye (IKDG) which popularized purity culture principles. Over the past twenty years, Harris reflected on his writings as well as feedback from others to determine that some of what he wrote was incorrect. In 2016, Harris requested IKDG readers to submit their experiences with the book in the form of personal stories. Through Communication Theory of Identity (CTI), these stories are examined for identity messages. Through directed qualitative content analysis and thematic analysis, 56 stories were analyzed. Of the 56 stories, 53 included language that indicated identity gaps, or “…discrepancies between or among the four frames of identity” (Jung & Hecht, 2004, p. 268). The four frames of identity (personal, enacted, relational, communal) were present in all but seven stories. Implications of the study’s observations and future research directions are discussed in the final pages.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Purity (Ethics)
Sexual abstinence -- Religious aspects -- Christianity.
Christian women -- Sexual behavior.
Sex -- Religious aspects -- Christianity.
Shame -- Religious aspects -- Christianity.
Social movements -- United States -- History.
Social values -- United States -- History.
Identity (Psychology) -- Religious aspects.


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright