Josh Harris, Marriage, Spiritual Abuse, Courtship, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Sexual Abuse
The post reads:
We’re writing to share the news that we are separating and will continue our life together as friends. In recent years, some significant changes have taken place in both of us. It is with sincere love for one another and understanding of our unique story as a couple that we are moving forward with this decision. We hope to create a generous and supportive future for each other and for our three amazing children in the years ahead. Thank you for your understanding and for respecting our privacy during a difficult time.
I want to share some background about Josh as I remember it, and some thoughts. I remember Josh as a kid as he would help his father, Gregg Harris, at homeschool conventions. He was probably the age of a middle schooler. I still saw him several years later when we moved to Virginia Beach and his dad was still doing conferences. Josh did a lot of work setting up tables to sell his dad’s merchandise. His dad, Gregg Harris was one of the four pillars of the Christian Homeschool Movement which I believe contributed much harm to Christian homeschooling families. (You can search this blog or look in the sidebar for topics such as: Gregg Harris, Patriarchy, Christian Homeschool Movement, Purity, Modesty, Courtship, etc.) As a 23-yr veteran homeschool mom this is the stuff that I read and tried to practice with my family. Thankfully, I failed in many of these areas, but sadly, damage was also done!
Josh was raised in a climate of male rule over women – all women, not just their own wives. Gregg encouraged his sons to be entrepreneurs and Josh ventured out, helped by his father’s notoriety in the Christian Homeschool Movement, by creating a name for himself among teen Christians. And then in his early 20s, he wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye.
No young twenty-something should be writing a book about dating and marriage. And nobody should be reading a book about dating or marriage written by a 21-year old. But somehow, this book became very popular reaching far beyond the Christian Homeschool Movement. Josh made traditional dating to be uncool for Christians.
Courtship, purity, and modesty (Josh’s brothers made modesty a hot topic in their entrepreneurial venue) were popular trends. Each of these trends have had backlashes and we’ve seen countless stories of harm coming from these ideologies.
But then Josh was mentored by C.J. Mahaney, pastor of the flagship Covenant Life Fellowship, a Sovereign Grace Ministries church in Maryland. C.J. Mahaney was extremely popular at the time, a big-name speaker at conferences (The Gospel Coalition, the Shepherd’s Conference, Together for the Gospel, etc.) It was a big deal for this homeschool kid to be mentored by such a powerful man. We know the rest of the story about that “powerful” man who wrote a book on humility, but who had no business writing such a book based on his reputation of being so proud and a spiritual bully.
C.J. Mahaney passed the torch to Josh Harris at Covenant Life. He seemed to be very respected. He had a humility that C.J. never had. But then the sex abuse scandals came to light at Sovereign Grace churches.
Eventually, Josh Harris stepped down from his position, but not after he stated publicly that he, too, was a victim of sexual abuse as a child. He moved his family to Canada and attended Regent College.
While at Regent College, he worked on a documentary about his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. He publicly apologized for the harm done. Some feel he didn’t apologize enough, or that it was insincere.
We can read from another of Shannon’s Instagram posts some significant hashtags: #exvangical and #deconversion. In Josh’s Instagram profile, we read about his personal business, “I use the power of story to help businesses connect with their customers. Message clarity, marketing strategy, website design. Let’s work together! .”
I wish I could sit down and talk to them both and ask about their journey. It’s not my business, but yet, in a way, you can’t help but wonder because he was so open with his life and his personal beliefs for decades.
All in all, I feel sad. Separation is never easy (we don’t see the word divorce in their posts). It is a heart-wrenching decision. But it makes me once again question those ideologies that led up to this point. It makes me think about spiritual abuse. It makes me think about Patriarchy. What significant changes were made in their journey? What ideologies did each one keep, and each one ditch?
I believe both Josh and Shannon have been victims of spiritual abuse by the system they were raised in (or brought into). Spiritual abuse rattles you to the core. When you process what happened and then reevaluate what you believe, what you don’t believe, what you will hold on to, what you will toss as far as it will go, it is a very big process. And we don’t always land at the same place. I know that from my own marriage. And it’s difficult when you were together on core beliefs, but then have since separated on your own paths.
I cannot imagine what either of their journeys has been like as they have been deconstructing. I know what it has been like for me. My heart goes out to them both.
This is the sad reality of bad church ideologies and spiritual bullies. Give me Jesus. Just Jesus.
UPDATE 7/26/19: There is a follow-up statement from Josh Harris and article posted here: My Thoughts on Josh Harris as a “Fallen Christian”