Josh Harris, a former pastor and former advocate of the “purity movement” stated that his marriage is over and that he has lost his faith and, because of that, apologizes for any harm that his best-selling book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye has caused to anyone who has read it, according to The Guardian.
I Kissed Dating Goodbye can be described as a how-to guide for relationships that uses biblical information to tell people how relationships should work. In the book, Harris encouraged Christians to stop dating, practice abstinence, discouraged young couples from holding hands, kissing, or spending time together before marriage, and Harris also wrote that dating is a “training ground for divorce.” The book, when it was written, was praised by Evangelicals because they felt that it promoted “purity culture.”
However, Harris denounced the teachings of his book after his divorce from his wife, saying that he disagrees “with its central idea that dating should be avoided” and that he thinks that “dating can be a healthy part of a person developing relationally and learning the qualities that matter most in a partner.” He has also said, in an Instagram post, that he wants to apologize to LGBTQ people for his past views on sexuality, his opposition to marriage equality, and for contributing to a “culture of exclusion and bigotry” and that he is no longer a Christian.
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My heart is full of gratitude. I wish you could see all the messages people sent me after the announcement of my divorce. They are expressions of love though they are saddened or even strongly disapprove of the decision. I am learning that no group has the market cornered on grace. This week I’ve received grace from Christians, atheists, evangelicals, exvangelicals, straight people, LGBTQ people, and everyone in-between. Of course there have also been strong words of rebuke from religious people. While not always pleasant, I know they are seeking to love me. (There have also been spiteful, hateful comments that angered and hurt me.) 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. Many people tell me that there is a different way to practice faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now. Martin Luther said that the entire life of believers should be repentance. There’s beauty in that sentiment regardless of your view of God. 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 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. To my Christians friends, I am grateful for your prayers. Don’t take it personally if I don’t immediately return calls. I can’t join in your mourning. I don’t view this moment negatively. I feel very much alive, and awake, and surprisingly hopeful. I believe with my sister Julian that, “All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
I’m conflicted – on one hand, it’s good that he changed his mind but on the other hand, has the damage already been done? The book was written in 1997 and, I assume, has been in circulation for all of these years and he is now just denouncing it. So my question to you, should people accept this apology as sincere or should we look back on all of the harm that he has caused not only with his book but his speech as well and chalk this up to simple damage control?
Source: The Guardian