Josh Harris launched the “courtship movement” with his book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Instead of the drama and sexual temptations of dating, Harris recommended that Christian young adults find someone to marry in a different way, including by getting the families involved.
Harris’s advice has influenced a whole generation of Christian young people, many of whom got married following his advice. But now Harris has formally recanted his book, which will soon be withdrawn from publication.
Here is an excerpt from his statement on the subject:
While I stand by my book’s call to sincerely love others, my thinking has changed significantly in the past twenty years. I no longer agree with its central idea that dating should be avoided. I now think dating can be a healthy part of a person developing relationally and learning the qualities that matter most in a partner. I recommend books like Boundaries in Dating by Dr. Henry Cloud and True Love Dates by Debra Fileta, which encourage healthy dating.
There are other weaknesses too: in an effort to set a high standard, the book emphasized practices (not dating, not kissing before marriage) and concepts (giving your heart away) that are not in the Bible. In trying to warn people of the potential pitfalls of dating, it instilled fear for some—fear of making mistakes or having their heart broken. The book also gave some the impression that a certain methodology of relationships would deliver a happy ever-after ending—a great marriage, a great sex life—even though this is not promised by scripture.
Can any of you speak to this? What, exactly, is wrong with Harris’s courtship model? Would any of you defend it? Those of you who found your spouse using Harris’s approach, didn’t it work for you? Or are there aspects that have caused you problems?
It isn’t easy to find the right person to marry. And the church, the families, and society in general are not making it easier. If dating and courtship both have their problems, what is the answer?