Courtship, Homeschool Movement, Modesty and Purity Teachings, Single and Christian, Sovereign Grace Ministries, Sovereign Grace Ministries Lawsuit

Has Josh Harris Kissed His Book Against Dating Good-Bye?

Josh Harris, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Courtship vs. Dating


dating, josh harris, i kissed dating goodbye, courtship

Yesterday, this happened on Twitter:



Many are probably familiar with Josh Harris. He was mentored by C.J. Mahaney and took Mahaney’s position as senior pastor at Covenant Life Church (Sovereign Grace Ministries flagship church) in 2004 until 2015, when he resigned. Michelle Boorstein’s article in The Washington Post offers the following explanation for his resignation:

In an interview, Harris said the isolation of Covenant Life, and of a small cluster of churches of which it was a part, may have fed leadership mistakes, including the decision of pastors — himself among them — to handle a child sexual abuse case internally instead of going to police. Source

It’s Cool to Court

Josh Harris’ book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, published in 1999, was a book that challenged modern dating. The book was so popular that teens and young adults jumped on the new courtship bandwagon. Josh Harris was popular especially in the Homeschool Movement circles, but this book went far beyond that populace and into mainstream Christian circles. Parents and young adults were excited about a more wholesome way of dating. Josh Harris, who was homeschooled and had a special niche with teens and especially homeschool kids, made it cool to court.

As the above tweet exchange expresses, this book transformed the lives of many teens and young adults. Many now have regrets about following something that seemed to be pure and right at the time.

I never read the book entirely, but was influenced by it, as many of my peers were giving this book to their teens to read and telling them that this would be how they would be dealing with boy/girl relationships in their home. When my eldest child was a teenager, it was cool to court and more people seemed to be following that bandwagon rather than dating.

At Amazon, you can read many negative reviews. Some of the common themes were:

  • Too much time spent discussing the negatives of dating, but not enough time telling people how courting actually works, the nuts and bolts.
  • Young men and ladies should not be seen alone together, period. They should remain in groups when getting to know each other.
  • There is an emphasis on waiting on God to bring the right soulmate along. (That could be a long wait.)
  • Harris discussed the emotional turmoil of breaking up in a dating relationship. (Could the same not be said about breaking off a courtship?)
  • Many commenters said that Josh Harris wrote this book after his own failed dating relationships. Also, he was only 21 when the book was written.

I thought this review excerpt described well the difficulty that courtship’s privacy rules created:


Imagine not opening up your heart to someone else of the opposite sex. Never having privacy because you are trying to “court” and follow a bunch of stupid “NO DATING” rules. Imagine never really getting close to them, only seeing them in groups or writing them letters, and then marrying them! Is that crazy or what? Talk about a relationship pretty much doomed to failure. Can’t you at least get to be close friends with somebody privately for a while before you decide to tie the knot? Hello! The rest of the world calls that DATING. Source


There are plenty of reviews, articles, and blog posts about how this book has changed people’s lives, many claiming it made it worse for them. Many of you are familiar with those complaints. However, the main point that I would like to focus on is that Josh Harris seems to understand the harm that it may have caused, and plans to address it in the future.

That is a breath of fresh air in my eyes.




photo credit: couple holding hands via photopin (license)

130 thoughts on “Has Josh Harris Kissed His Book Against Dating Good-Bye?”

  1. FYI: I’m married, but I married in my late 20’s, so I did experience a bit of the singleness leprosy. I completely agree with the experiences. As with most complex, life-changing events, there are huge attempts to turn them into spiritual gauntlets.

    For example, college for me was an easy choice. Go somewhere for free, or pay to go somewhere else. But, for a lot of high schoolers, it’s a anxious time with a lot of well-meaning, but off base input, like, if you go to that big university, your professors are going to beat your faith out of you. Or, you need to stay close to home to stay grounded. Or, you need to go away to establish your independence. No one, though, seems to want to take the time to say, well, what are you interested in. I know of some schools that are really good in those areas, or even, talk to Bob. He’s in your area and might have some recommendations.

    Even the school that I went to and would never send my kids without a lot of hesitation… I have recommended some areas of study to people, where the good outweighs the bad, and even when I say stay away, it’s because of very specific things, and some people say, that’s not a problem, I can deal with it.


  2. Future SSB feature: The SSB Connection for Singles?

    :^) If someone meets someone and finds themselves as blessed as I am with Mrs. Bubba, let me know and I’ll send a present.

    Seriously, my comment was actually intended to gently hint that meeting people in other venues might help reduce the number of creeps one might meet. You know a priori that they’ve actually got more than one thing on their mind, no?

    And with that I’ll shut up for a while. Good luck to the single folks out there!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bike Bubba said,
    “…gently hint that meeting people in other venues might help reduce the number of creeps one might meet.”

    Other than blind luck (say, happening to meet a great guy in the produce aisle at Krogers while you’re picking out some carrots), your only options as an over- 40 single for meeting single dudes are…..
    1. bars
    2. church (not really, though see disclaimer below)
    3. dating sites
    4. friends fix you up

    Point 2 (church) is a problem, because churches do not have single males ages 25 to, say, 60 in attendance.
    The single males who are at a church might be perverts or abusers.

    I’m not too keen on bars or clubbing, never have been. I’m not a party girl, so that might eliminate the swinging night life for me.

    Most of my real-life friends live out of state, so hoping a buddy can fix me up is pretty much not going to happen.

    And besides, a lot of Christians (assuming you have Christian friends IRL) won’t fix you up anyway:
    They refuse to and give the stupid speeches about, “you must be content in your singleness,” or “just pray and trust in the Lord, and it will happen if it’s meant to,” or “the LORD is your husband” or, “try a dating site”

    (I did meet my ex through a mutual internet friend.)

    There really is no place one can go to avoid meeting creeps. Creeps are everywhere.

    Creeps are in churches too; Julie Anne has blog posts on here by Christian women who married Christian dudes who turned out to be pedophiles. And the pedo husbands attended church (though I can’t recall if they met their spouses in churches).

    Sickos and randy, vulgar jerks are on Christian dating sites like eHarmony (at least when I was on there, eHarm was pretty much considered a “Christian” dating site).

    A Christian rapist used Christian dating site “Christian Mingle” to choose victims to rape. I linked to that story higher up the page. So, not even Christian dating sites are safe from the creeps and dangerous men.

    When I was on eHarmony (and other dating sites) although nothing in my profile or photos were sexually suggestive or racy, it did not stop randy, Bible quoting horn dogs who identified as Christian on their profiles from hitting me up on eHarmony, or telling bawdy jokes off the bat, or telling me their favorite sexual positions within the first 2 or 3 eHarmony guided exchanges.

    One thing that brings me some schadenfreude-based glee (I know this is horrible of me, but)…..
    Reading widows, widowers, or people who divorce in mid-life who finally admit on forums and blogs something like this:

    ‘Hey man, I didn’t realize until I was “single again” in my mid 30s (or 40s) after I divorced (or my spouse died) how AWFUL dating is, and how AWFUL churches are to adult singles.

    OMG, after I become ‘single again’ and went to churches, I was treated like a pedo, or like I was a loser, and in some churches, I was ignored. I didn’t realize how much it blows to be single over the age of 30, especially among Christians and in churches.”

    I have seen a few “single again” adults say such things on other sites. They finally get to see what folks like HUG and myself bring up from time to time.


  4. Daisy,

    I have heard my late mother giving some suggestions to older singles who wanted to meet someone. Ironically, church was not a suggestion although I never asked why. Perhaps because she met my dad at work? :o)

    . She thought it important to do things you were already interested in. Take photography class, language, karate or gardening. Just make friends. Most married people know singles and love to make introductions.

    The point is if you don’t meet someone your life is richer for the new skills or knowledge. You are being you in the process.

    She thought those who chose to stay single were fine, too.


  5. Here are some reviews from the software developers (spark networks/glassdoor)

    The investors seem to be unaware of the need for new technology and the board of directors seem to be unable to present the advantages of spending some money into advancing the company. The company does not use an ad server and has various record keepers, but the records do not match up. Management would rather replace employees than replace old technology or alter current processes.

    The tech stack has been neglected and old. The engineering and the management team are not data savvy. Project management is very backwards. You can’t build a business to react quickly with changing environment. We are the odd man out stuck in righting the ship while everyone else are talking about growth and IPO.
    Users are steadily leaving. The fact that there is no network effects for a social dating site is troublesome.
    HR is just not responsive. The purpose of their existence is just unknown. There is no point to pay someone full time for this level quality of work.

    Rigid back end framework and it dept that refuses to innovate. mobile experience is wack. good ideas are stalled or stolen by people with no talent. Work weekends on projects nobody cares about. no mentorship or employee development. projects managed by incompetant progect managers. micromanagement by unprofessional supervisors. talented non brown nosers eventually leave.


  6. Although I’m biased as a developer, I find that developers and engineers often have the company nailed. Every person self-identified as an engineer gives the company 1/5, which is to say, it’s really, really bad. Essentially, you couldn’t pay me enough to work there.


  7. You can delete them if you want. I was responding to the Christian Mingle issues exposed on TWW. Saying primarily that it was the managers trying to deflect blame on a horrible technology platform that couldn’t prevent predators from harassing people.


  8. What about volunteering? My friend met her soulmate volunteering at the library. Hospitals always need volunteers. Volunteering is not for everyone but if there is something that you have a passion for, it gives you the opportunity to meet other people who feel the same way.


  9. “Future SSB feature: The SSB Connection for Singles?”

    With all the people who meet and marry online, it might work. We have several things going for us.
    1. Pair bonding instinct
    2. Christian emphasis: marriage = respectability
    3. Morality

    On the other hand, social scientists (Pines, Falling In Love) observe that “falling in love” is based on —

    Geographical closeness (someone in your apartment, dorm, or on the same street)
    Frequency (how often you are in the same class, church service, company, study group, Bible study)
    Looks (how much do you look like each other)
    Beloved’s similarity to opposite sex parent (Freud and Jung)
    Meet each other’s needs (money, emotional, child raising)
    Loving those who love us. (This takes a long time for some people to understand. Instead they chase people who are apathetic toward them.)
    Arousal (a powerful shared experience of danger, exertion, or opposition)
    Similarity (“Hey, we both like SSB!”)
    Attachment styles (Secure, Anxious, Avoident, Anxious-Avoident)
    Character (men and women both want kindness, consideration and honesty)

    Two good friends have found people online and married in the past 18 months. So it does happen. But buyer beware: The quality of candidates degrades over time.


  10. Bike Bubba said,
    “…gently hint that meeting people in other venues might help reduce the number of creeps one might meet

    Hilarious. But I met a guy online last year, did a long distance thing and it was an absolute mess. It will be a while before I try something like that again.

    Although I’m certainly amused at the idea of Julie running a dating service 🙂


  11. Most married people know singles and love to make introductions.

    I haven’t found that to be the case, at least in recent years.

    I’ve been set up on dates a few times. None of them worked out. The last such instance, a few years ago, was especially strange. Perhaps I need to submit my dates to a background check before going out.


  12. Whoa, hold on guys. Josh Harris wrote IKDG before he met, dated and married his wife. He wrote “Boy Meets Girl” after he dated and married his wife. It was intended to rearrange the goal lines set in IKDG, since he didn’t follow his own rules. He began his move away from IKDG a long, long time ago.
    I sat through his “New Attitude” teen conference at a convention once upon a time. I can promise you that almost every girl in the room was praying fiercely that God would reveal to Josh that he was supposed to marry them. He was homeschooling royalty and treated accordingly.
    I can attest, as someone who spent their formative years in a very patriarchal, dominionist church, that turning your back on so many parts of your past at once is hard and it takes time. He’s left his job, his church, his ftiends, their families, his kids are in public school, he’s in seminary, and his wife is working to support them. That’s a lot of life stress at once without people expecting reparations. Give him time to sort himself out.


  13. Lydia’s points a bit above are well taken. Being one who thoroughly enjoys marriage, I would LOVE to help introduce singles to one another. I really would. But ya know what? What Lydia says about the general lack of nose-breathing eligible people of the opposite sex in churches and the like is sadly true. Either the eligible people are well aware of each other already–and often dating–or else they’re well aware of each other, and not interested for whatever reason. So I generally simply start quietly praying for that person to find someone.

    (people tried to set me up/point me to eligible young ladies in my bachelor years, but it fell into the categories I mention above)

    I still think it’s helpful if you know that someone’s got something else on his mind besides you know what–this may have something to do with the fact that my first date with my wife was hanging sheetrock with Habitat for Humanity, ha!–but at the same time I acknowledge fully that it’s not foolproof.

    And along the same lines, a dating service run by JA is an amusing thought, but given that so many commenters here are trying to get away from creeps….


  14. JA, Mark’s comments are simple. He heard about troubles at ChristianMingle and visited a site called “Glass Door”, where current and former employees of companies give feedback about their employers. What he found is that these people are saying the company is behind on database technology, screening and exclusion procedures, and more–and they don’t seem to be very motivated to fix these problems.

    In other words, they don’t know how to run their business, or they don’t care. So while GlassDoor can be biased–I remember wondering whether I should post a review of a former employer in violation of my “silence clause”, and it would have been VERY negative–there is generally a core of truth to what people are saying there.


  15. Although I’m generally biased as an engineer, but I find that engineers have a pretty good handle on problems in the company. When multiple engineers have similar stories, then it’s probably true. Maybe we need a Glassdoor for churches. That would be interesting.


  16. Whoa, hold on guys. Josh Harris wrote IKDG before he met, dated and married his wife. He wrote “Boy Meets Girl” after he dated and married his wife. It was intended to rearrange the goal lines set in IKDG, since he didn’t follow his own rules. He began his move away from IKDG a long, long time ago.

    If Josh did write “Boy Meets Girl” to “rearrange the goal lines” I sure didn’t see nor did he clarify any changes on his blog. If anything “kissing dating goodbye” was what one was supposed to before you were ready for marriage and “Boy Meets Girl” was what you did when you were ready for marriage and had a prospective mate. When ready for marriage Josh Harris indicated you were to have a relationship with a women only for the purpose of marriage to determine if you were to marry.


  17. The first line, “missed my prom”, due to fundamentalism. Yep, understand that one. Grew up in such a religious home it was everything around church and going to hell if involved in the world; so sad. As reading all the comments, I grew up with Letters to Karen/Letters to Philip by Charlie Shedd, Walter Trobisch books; more seasoned writers, Bill Gothard was way back when.. Eye opener was “Marjoe” Documentary U-Tube; someone brought to my attention someone five or older allowing to marry a couple was an education in itself-all to make money.
    In reading comments, wished People, families were healthier in the church that we recognize wrong teaching, error and confront and NOT tolerate any of it and or spiritual abuse. I have a friend road, of recovery has been very long long-Sovereign Grace Ministry Scandal (know husband/wife confronted hardcore).
    For some reason, churches think they are above the law and exempt from reporting scandals to children and that it’s in house mentality. Only, because they don’t want attendance disappearing which affects the money coming in and their lifestyle and been going on for FAR TOO LONG in ALL DENOMINATIONS (children’s health/well being NOT important. Let alone strong and healthy families). Worse, they coerce the parents NOT to do anything either. Bike Bubba/Mike appreciated comment about the “Glass Door Info”; wondered how many Companies wouldn’t have gone defunct if had listened to their employees.
    Daisy: wish we could meet and talk, I’m in 50’s never married could write the book on all the stereo-typing Got screwed up by the church all this guilt, condemnation, criticism and belittling. Have had friends in their 40-60’s who asked why they never got married (couldn’t keep healthy relationship; all had childhood trauma). Our church was horrible at telling people who to marry and date and if you weren’t part of the acceptable ones, oh my. That same idiot pastor said “if you weren’t married, you weren’t complete, whole and or acceptable” but he was trying to match up friends with major homosexual person (no discerment and no healing for either party with their childhood trauma). Susan Forward, Dr. Laura, Herb Goldberg, David Elkind, Victoria Secunda, their written works were very healing. God used them as great teachers.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I don’t know if you’ve heard yet, but Joshua and a woman he met while attending college are making a documentary called “I Survived I Kissed Dating Goodbye.”

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I wouldn’t get your hopes up. It wouldn’t surprise me if Harris is teaming with this person to minimize what is said. Harris could have done a lot a while back but basically just sat back and washed his hands IMO.

    Hopefully Harris’s interests and motives are pure but am skeptical.

    Liked by 1 person

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