JOSHUA Harris, who, at the age of 20, became the darling of celibacy cranks after he wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye, announced yesterday (Friday) that he’s kissed Christianity goodbye.
In announcing his “falling away” in an Instagram post the writer and former pastor who opposed same-sex marriage, apologised to gay people, stating that he regrets his teaching on sexuality.
His announcement came after he recently said that he had his wife Shannon had agreed to separate and just remain friends. He citing “significant changes” in their thinking. Harris posted on Instagram:
We’re writing to share the news that we are separating and will continue our life together as friends.
Yesterday he added:
The information that was left out of our announcement is that I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is ‘deconstruction’, the biblical phrase is ‘falling away’. By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.
There’s been a massive reaction on social media, with people trotting out the threadbare argument that he was never a pukka Christian to begin with. And one person posted on ChristianNews.Net:
Any time I hear of a person walking out on their faith in God, it makes me sad. I used Josh’s ‘I kissed dating goodbye’ to train my boys when they were growing up many years ago. Now, he renounces Christ and accepts homosexuality as OK? Sorry, I can’t say that heartbroken is the only thing I feel right now. Josh Harris was a learned, experienced man who swore he followed Christ, now he has “evolved?” No. He has betrayed God, betrayed his faith and betrayed all those people who listened and followed his leadership …
Harris said that, over the past few years he has been “repenting” of the views he once held to and taught.
I have lived in repentance for the past several years — repenting of my self-righteousness, my fear-based approach to life, the teaching of my books, my views of women in the church, and my approach to parenting to name a few.
But he added that he specifically has had an about-face about the issue of homosexuality, and asked for forgiveness.
I specifically want to add to this list now: to the LGBTQ+ community, I want to say that I am sorry for the views that I taught in my books and as a pastor regarding sexuality. I regret standing against marriage equality, for not affirming you and your place in the church, and for any ways that my writing and speaking contributed to a culture of exclusion and bigotry. I hope you can forgive me.
He closed by remarking that while he appreciates prayers from his Christian friends, he is not sorrowful but rather optimistic about his departure from the faith.
I can’t join in your mourning. I don’t view this moment negatively. I feel very much alive, and awake, and surprisingly hopeful …
Harris is the former senior pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, the founding church of Sovereign Grace Ministries. He left his position in 2015 and moved to Canada to attend Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The following year after leaving Covenant Life Church, Harris explained in an interview with NPR that he was rethinking his approach to romantic relationships.
Harris, who also authored the books, Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship, and Sex Isn’t the Problem: Lust Is, had taught since 1997 that Christians should be different from the world, including in their dealings with the opposite sex.
He urged Christians to not engage in recreational dating, outlining the downsides of the common practice, but to be purposeful about finding one’s spouse for life and to consider the courtship model instead.
When God knows you’re ready for the responsibility of commitment, He’ll reveal the right person under the right circumstances.
Last year, Harris released a formal statement advising that he no longer believes Christians shouldn’t date and asked his publisher to stop printing I Kissed Dating Goodbye.
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.
Meanwhile Shannon Harris said earlier this week that she still believes in God, but also included the hashtag #deconversion in one of her posts.