Joshua Harris’ 1997 publication of I Kissed Dating Goodbye caused a wave of debate within evangelicalism regarding courtship as an alternative model of romance. The book cautions that dating can cause irreparable damage; tending to bypass friendship stages altogether and mistaking physical intimacy for love.
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1. I made a promise to God
Joshua Harris made waves when he published I Kissed Dating Goodbye in 1997 by advocating courtship as the biblical approach to romantic relationships. Following its publication, Harris began speaking at conferences and editing a magazine for homeschoolers; becoming something of an evangelical celebrity within this movement.
But in 2016 Harris began reconsidering his position. He released a video where he asked those affected by his purity movement to discuss whether their book had helped or hindered their lives.
Harris no longer supports his original argument of rejecting dating as wise or biblical; in fact, his dismissal of typical dating has caused great pain and sadness for many young adults he knew at one time. Thus, he no longer endorses it in its current form.
2. I prayed about it
Joshua Harris published I Kissed Dating Goodbye at age 21. It not only became a bestseller but also inspired a movement – courtship was established as an acceptable alternative to dating and conservative Christian teens were taught the value of abstinence prior to marriage as morally right as well as essential for spiritual health.
He contended that typical dating practices lack the intimacy required for healthy relationships; encourage young adults to bypass the friend/courtship stage; lead to romantic involvement without true commitment; and diverts attention away from preparing for God’s calling in marriage.
Twenty years have passed. He is married, raising children, pastoring a church, going through tough trials, and beginning graduate studies – experiences which have taught him that some of the ideals espoused in his first book were unwise and unnecessary.
3. I prayed about it again
Josh Harris wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye as part of an evangelical purity movement to convince young conservative Christian men and women that abstaining from premarital sexual relations was more than just good advice; it was part of God’s will for them.
Harris’ book presented courtship as a legitimate alternative to dating and advocated for strict boundaries, such as no kissing or holding hands before marriage. Without Harris’ work, there likely wouldn’t be an active courtship movement today.
After Harris married, had children, pastored a church and experienced some strain in his marriage, he began re-evaluating his position on sex and dating – questioning whether what he had written was wise and biblical; eventually leading to him abandoning Christianity altogether.
4. I prayed about it again
Joshua Harris wrote a 1997 evangelical best-seller titled I Kissed Dating Goodbye that revolutionized how we view relationships. The book warned against casual dating causing irreparable emotional harm and promoted courtship – an alternative approach in which parents get involved and couples pursue friendship first before romance blossoms.
If you were a conservative Christian teen in the 1990s or 2000s, chances are you read or heard about I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Harris in either English or Hebrew during this era. His book popularized abstinence-oriented teachings by convincing young Christians that rejecting typical dating relationships was more than good manners; it was biblical. After two decades have passed since this book’s publication, Harris has reconsidered some of its ideas as his life changed: marrying, becoming pastor, going through hardships before enrolling at graduate school in Vancouver.
5. I prayed about it again
If you were a conservative Christian teenager during the late 1990s or early 2000s, chances are you read or heard of Joshua Harris’ 1997 international bestseller I Kissed Dating Goodbye. His abstinence manifesto and courtship manual convinced a generation of teens that abstaining from premarital sexual encounter was more than simply smart; it was their God-ordained duty.
Harris proposed parent-involved courtship as an alternative to casual serial dating and hookup culture, warning that romantic relationships could cause irreparable emotional damage and encouraging people to avoid engaging with any romantic interest unless they could see themselves marrying the individual in question in the near future.
Harris, who founded Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, posted to Instagram Friday to announce he no longer adheres to his former teachings and had taken steps to abandon Christianity altogether.