“When I was 21 years old, I wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye. And in it I argued that dating was a bad idea. And not just a bad idea, it was selfish. And only lead to heartbreak,” Josh says as he started his documentary. Josh thought he had all the answers to solve the problems he saw in romantic relationships.
The book sold over a million copies. And now Josh Harris has announced that he asked his publishers to stop printing this book and two other books he wrote after it about similar content.
“My book made people feel like they had to do things a certain way and I regret that,” said Josh. Does he still agree with the book? Josh states that his thinking has changed since he wrote it.
Some people loved the book and some people said the book was used against them like a weapon. None the less, the book shaped how the church viewed singleness, dating, and marriage. Now, twenty-some years later, author Josh Harris is reevaluating his views on his book.
From his wife to Josh, “I know that the reason you are doing this documentary is because you want to help people. I see this as a way to let people know it’s okay to have struggled with your book. It’s okay if they have regrets. I know that you’ve carried this on your heart and felt really burdened.”
Josh states he tried to over simplify things in his book, “Although there were things in it that were still true and helpful, it didn’t press down into the really important issues of why we’re created to be sexual creatures and what sex really means before God.”
God created us as sexual beings. Let's go back to the Garden and live naked and unashamed. Click To Tweet
“Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
We are sexual creatures. We have desires and longings. And that is okay. It is okay to date. It is okay to long for a relationship. And if it ends badly, that is okay. These are conclusions that Josh has come to in his documentary and they are important conclusions for all believers.
The thought that saving sex for marriage is the most important thing caused Josh to to believe and preach that we need to stop dating. We need to run from the thing that could cause us to stumble. However, this message caused a lot of problems. The purity movement overshadowed the message of grace. And these dating expectations hurt people, especially women.
Another problem of purity culture is preaching the prosperity gospel. If you are pure, if you kiss dating goodbye, then you will get married and have a great marriage. The Bible doesn’t promise marriage or happiness. The Bible promises suffering, but purposeful and hope filled suffering. The church has pushed that sex is the ultimate, but you must wait until marriage. This makes marriage be the ultimate. But what if someone doesn’t get married? What this book did was set people up to expect a marriage and a great marriage if they lived out a pure dating life. And an especially great wedding night. What happens if wedding night sex sucks? People feel betrayed. We can’t make promises that aren’t true. When these promises aren’t fulfilled, people begin to feel betrayed by God.
Purity also caused extreme shame for those who did have sex out of marriage. People who didn’t follow the teachings of book felt less than. Why is this? Losing your virginity, as a single person, is the only sin that changes your status. Josh explains, “If you have sex you’re no longer a virgin. Your status has somehow changed. And I think that’s an emphasis on one particular sin out of the millions of ways that we can sin and it’s not healthy. And it makes the focus not on who I am in relationship with God. It becomes do I have this badge and this identity of being a virgin? And if I don’t have it, I feel like I’ve lost something.”
So what do we now? How do we honor God and embrace the goodness of our sexuality? How do believers date well today in a world of ghosting and online dating? Josh said, “What I’m seeing is neither the strict rules of courtship nor the rejections of rules in the age of Tinder meet the deepest longings of the heart. Courtship can leave people broken. So can Tinder.”Did you read I Kissed Dating Goodbye? How did it impact you? Click To Tweet
We must focus on showing people grace. Our goal must be to remove shame not pile on more. Having boundaries around our sexuality is not a bad thing, however, we historically have made them too tight and legalistic.
Josh’s book added to God’s Word by creating strict, practically impossible sexual standards. He used rules and fear to try and control people.
Let us know in the comment section:
Did you read I Kissed Dating Goodbye? How did it impact you? I would love to read your stories and have a conversation.
If you’ve been hurt by Josh’s book or the purity culture, I would highly recommend his documentary. It offers healing, hope and ends with the beautiful love of Jesus.
Click to watch the documentary.
The documentary is also showing for free on Amazon Prime!
Image courtesy of “I Survived IKDG.”