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