I’ve been dreading episode seven of Horimiya for weeks before it aired. Well, not episode seven exactly—I was anxious for whatever episode it would be where that happens, the episode which corresponds to events in chapter 36 of the manga (spoilers ahead). Through a source, I learned that it would happen this week, so I girded myself and prepared for the scene to occur.
Yes, that language seems unusually strong for an episode where in a very short scene, Hori and Miyamura consummate their relationship. But I have my reasons. First, my kids—they’re watching the show with me, and while we’re very frank and open in our conversations with them about sexuality, it’s still a bit different when you see characters you like and admire engaging in a sexual relationship. It hits different, especially for a developing mind.
And that all has to do with the second reason, which is that I’ve personally bought into the Kool-Aid that says Horimiya is “pure”—whatever that means. Like Tonikawa before it, I see comments a’plenty that all basically state, “Horimiya is just so pure!” Sex feels dirty, or at the very least, not quite “pure.”
But again, that’s just Kool-Aid.
And so is my third reason: There’s a lingering Evangelical, purity-culture thought in my mind that says, “That’s not right.” I want to land there today, on this reason, and talk about why for the Christian these ideas about sex outside of marriage are important, though maybe not be for the reasons you believe.
Even though Hori and Miyamura wouldn’t hold to a Christian worldview, they present a good starting point through which we can consider how many Christians think when it comes to premarital sex. While scripture infers and points at sex outside of marriage being against God’s design, a peculiar cult of purity fixated on the idea, gripping evangelical circles some 20 years ago (perhaps even further back) and remains a strong force today. Unfortunately, it’s caused great harm, with many people using social media today to express how thoughts back then led to life-long hurt. For those unaware, this culture insists that young people must go to drastic means to avoid sexual temptation as they seek to work toward a godly relationship and marriage: 1) No one-on-ones with the opposite sex. 2) Hang out in friend groups first. 3) Courtship, not dating. 4) Set strict rules regarding physicality. And on and on and on.
But why do this in the first place? Is it to protect one’s chastity? To have the magic of being with only your spouse, physically, for a lifetime? Or is it to obey God?
For the Christian, following such rules (I won’t usher in the term “Pharisee” here. Oh, wait.) should be about that last option, but I find it strange that such a culture erupted around this idea. And why isn’t there an “escape the love of money” culture? Or “avoid making a safe, suburban existence the goal of life” culture? Or maybe a “Live by the word only” culture? After all, these topics to seem to be of higher significance to the same audience of churchgoers.
We get fixated instead on sex. And while sex outside of marriage is a sin, and yes, it can leave scars, it’s also not a special sin by any means. God will forgive these transgressions as he will any. I mean, if God will forgive murder, he will certainly forgive you having sex during your teenage years before you even really developed your faith. He’ll even forgive you when you’re older than that, more mature than that, more developed in your faith than that—and even when you hurt others by going outside the marriage bed, if you approach him with sincerity and humility.
Unfortunately, I think as purity culture captured many young people’s imaginations, they got stuck on the process, engaging primarily with the “How do I obey?” while forgetting the “Why do I obey?” when that’s far more important. If we skip that question, we may essentially deem that God is just trying to prevent us from having a good time. But one thing that a close examination of scripture reveals is that he never gives arbitrary rules.
Let’s go back to Hori and Miyamura, for example. Although we all want them to work out as a couple, and I imagine they will (I suppose the last chapter of the manga, out next month, will tell us what ultimately happens), what if they don’t? What if they break up, and Hori later meets someone and falls in love with him and he’s just not as physically, er, talented in the bedroom as Miyamura? Will she be satisfied?
But what if they do marry? Well, I think that’s where we can understand the question of “why” most of all. Marriage exists (And as a side note, what really constitutes a marriage by God’s standards? I can’t say—though I have trouble believing that a marriage done in haste in a chapel in Vegas, as legal as it is, is closer to God’s marriage than what Hori and Miyamura have even now in their short time together) as a relationship that portrays what God is to us. It’s a way for humanity to experience God, and to understand what it is to find fulfillment in him. Not in a perfect way, but for just a taste. And sexual fulfillment is a very part of that satisfaction.* We most experience fulfillment in God through godly relationships, including a marriage where sex is highly valued, and highly sought after. Anything less not only cheapens the marriage, then, but also our understanding of our marriage to Christ.
Still, we tend to get mechanical when it comes to sexual purity. We do our best and then worry about failure. Will God forgive you if you have sex outside marriage? Of course. If you’re in a relationship with him, the forgiveness has already occurred (and on a funny note, he may have already forgiven you for a sexual indiscretion you haven’t yet committed). And if you have sex outside of marriage, even lots of it, will you be able to find strong fulfillment in a marriage, including sexually? I imagine you can, though as youth pastors all across the nation teach, scars and other issues from such relationships may follow you into your marriage bed.
But all that talk of sin and future spouses and purity in marriage? It kind of misses the point, which is this: Because God is perfect and only wants our good, when we obey him, we’re at our most fulfilled, our most godly, our most human. We’re doing what we were made to do. And knowing that, why would you rob yourself of something that good?
So that’s why this is important. Not because some author has great advice about a courtship relationship. Not because your church tells you so. Not because you feel “guilty” if you’ve been intimate with someone outside of a marriage. We seek to have sex within marriage because it’s by God’s design, and through it we draw nearer to him, and as do so, simultaneously also toward all we can be.
If Hori and Miyamura were Christian, if they were, you know, not fictional, they may be feeling a mixture of elation and guilt right now. You might be feeling the same. But don’t let that sense of guilt be one that’s brought about by purity culture or by a static reading of the Bible. Let it be about wanting more of God, just like Hori leaning on Miyamura’s heart, wanting more of him, and Miyamura leaning on Hori’s heart, wanting more of her. That’s exactly the desire we could and will, one day, have for him. And by living according to his design, we get a bit closer to it while showing him the devotion and love that we would show our earthly lover.
And who doesn’t want to be in a relationship like that?
*Note: There are folks who don’t have a desire for sex, and those who feel fulfilled being single and without sex. Paul says this is good. If that’s you, well, I guess you can move along from this post. In many ways, you are quite blessed!
Horimiya can be streamed on Funimation.
18 thoughts on “Horimiya: They Did It! Why it Matters (And How It Doesn’t)”
Great job on this post!
Thank you, ma’am!
The best advice I ever got on this subject is that “Purity isn’t a line, it’s a direction”. Basically, if your definition of “pure” is “Anything under a certain level of physical contact”, human nature is going to kick in and you’ll pretty quickly start doing moral gymnastics to stretch that definition as far as possible, while a person actively seeking the will of God in their life will tend to naturally avoid the most compromising situations and be far better equipped to handle temptation when it comes.
We start concocting our own rules and lines about what is okay and what isn’t, and we also often try to do “good” under our own power. But simply loving God puts us in the right frame of mind to handle temptation, and also, I think, helps us get up quicker when the sometimes inevitable happens and we do fail.
Thank you for writing this. I’m so grateful there are other people who feel this way about this topic.
This is probably a given but in episodes before this the student council president said that if anyone wants to date hori they have to be ‘a hell of a masochist’ meaning that this so called purity was broken the moment he really said that. Comparing this to a lot of different anime out there this one is a calmer one, mixing religion and a anime that ignores religion (keeping in mind that Japanese anime often contain Buddhist beliefs). It’s great for you to follow your beliefs and religion but try to keep in mind that people who make anime don’t always want religion in it
Thanks for the thoughtful comment. We try to be very careful to not “Christianize” anime, meaning to apply our own values to a medium that rarely, rarely exemplifies the religion in any purposeful manner. However, we use the form to better understand our own faith, and so do the opposite—bring anime into Christianity. There’s much we can learn, I believe, by looking at anime, manga, and light novels, and using them in an introspective way to examine how we live and what we believe.
I’m confused, they were having sex? it didn’t look like it though..
It’s inferred but I might not have caught it had I not already know about this scene from the manga. It’s been much discussed previously.
Good article! I finally got around to watching this anime after reading the first volume of the manga. It’s pretty good, and I think the anime was more entertaining than the manga (for me). I haven’t got to this point in the manga or anime, but I don’t mind spoilers 🙂
Thank God I didn’t go through that whole “purity culture” thing, it sounds so confusing whenever I read or learn about it. I understand the point of it, but the strict rules aren’t necessary. I think they can be helpful, but to invent a “culture” around it isn’t right. Like you said, when you live your life to obey God because you WANT to, not because someone told you to do it, then it’s much easier to say no. For example, if your alone in a car or room with the person you are attracted to, and you both have strong feelings towards each other, it’s easy to give in to your feelings (which are natural) and just go for it right there. But, for the Christian, the fear of God and wanting to obey His will is paramount to our lives and should be.
We all mess up, but that personal relationship with Him is what should be our concern and obeying His will. He knows better and knows what’s best for us more than we do. I’ve been in those situations myself, some I’ve been able to run from and others I didn’t. God forgives when we seek His forgiveness, and I hope others do as well if they are dealing with guilt from past sexual relations…
Thanks so much for this! As a teenager who struggles with the “why” of sexual purity, I was so happy for Hori and Miyamura when they did it, but at the same time, I felt a bit guilty that I was happy for them since they aren’t married. It made me question even more why I felt guilty, since this was such a loving relationship. I stumbled upon this article (and this site) on accident, and I now have a new perspective on everything.
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I think that the purity culture exists as a pushback on the free-wheeling sexual liberation movement of the 1960s. Ever since the boomer generation, the trend of healthy marriages has plummeted along with our society’s age demographics. Fewer births has resulted in an unhealthy demographic change where there are more boomers retiring than workers to replace them. Part of this is urbanization, but a lot of it is how we changed our thoughts on marriage and love and procreation after WW2. I don’t fault purity culture as much as the sexual liberation movement has done immensely more harm.
There’s a unique issue with sexual temptation in that exposure to it makes one more likely to accept or engage in sexual sins where the opposite seems to be true about a sin such as violence where things like the murder rate has gone down in our country since the first violent video games, but sexual deviancy has increased with pornographic availability through the internet.
Maybe? I know the free love revolution devastated our culture in so many ways, even outside of a Christian context. But purity culture came form a variety of sources, with its leading proponent being a 19-year-old author who may or may not have been personally impacted by those changes in culture. Either way, purity isn’t bad—it’s something to seek and attain in the context of our romantic relationships. I think we just have to be wary about whether we’re doing this for God (and if it’s done in a way that jives with scriptural context) or we’re seeking wholesomeness and equating it with godliness; the latter will not survive the fire, and I think that’s been bearing out as the people of purity culture hit their 30s and 40s.
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