IKDG: The Final Repudiation

Joshua Harris finally KIKDGG  Here is the link.

Personally, I put less blame on him than I do the larger evangelical celebrity world for imposing his damnable grid on singles.

Shame on them for uncritically embracing the ideas of a whipper-snapper who had no formal theological education, and then using those ideas to shame singles and make the already-difficult world of singleness an order or magnitude worse.

At any rate, I am glad to see that Harris has seen the error of his ways and has shown the courage to repudiate them. That alone puts him light years ahead of Piper, Mohler, Keller, Mahaney, and the rest of his former Amen Corner.

9 thoughts on “IKDG: The Final Repudiation

  1. I’m grateful for Joshua Harris’ apology and his decision to discontinue publication of IKDG. At the same time, his apology will be too little, too late for many current and former evangelicals whose lives were damaged by IKDG and purity culture. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to read the comments on Harris’ Facebook page, but they run the gamut from praise for IKDG to criticism that Harris didn’t go far enough.

    I’m surprised that the reaction in evangelicalism has been muted so far. However, current Boundless editor Abby DeBenedittis posted at their blog this morning on Harris’ announcement. Here is a link to her post:


    • Personally, I wish he had gone farther. I mean seriously…he made money from that book, that book transformed him into an evangelical megastar, and–for years–the celebrity status that he received from that book helped entrench him in his role as pastor of a church that was known for its heavy-handed approach to discipline.

      I’d say his repudiation of ideas in the book is a good start, but it’s far from the only thing he needs to do.

      As for the Boundless crew, I’m underwhelmed with DeBenedittis’s article. While she is not part of the original Boundless crew that promoted–at least tacitly–Harris’ crap, it’s not like she is really weighing in on anything. I would guess that either (a) she has little to say on the matter, or (b) Boundless is not letting her say much on it, or (c) everyone over there is still trying to process the ramifications of their being wrong on this for so long.

    • As for Boundless, I’d love to see what Lisa Anderson has to say on the matter.

      Why Lisa? She’s been there for a long time. She probably even embraced some of Harris’ ideas and perhaps even helped promote them. And she’s still single.

      I personally wonder what role Harris’ ideas have played in her protracted singleness. I know that she wanted to be married; heck, when I was active over there, myself–and sometimes even Farmer Tom–encouraged other bloggers to pursue her. She was not in my geographic venue, but there were others who were in her venue and I was hoping some of them would have given her a chase.

      From an outsider’s perspective, I think her position with Boundless turned out to be a wall of sorts. And FotF’s tacit endorsement of Harris probably pushed guys away, at least marginally.

      I could be wrong, but I think the fallout from IKDG, at least on the margins, has played a role in the protracted singleness of folks in Lisa’s cohort.

      • Amir, I think IKDG *did* contribute to protracted singleness [PS] in several ways.

        First, it separated men and women. Harris said the thesis of his book was “The joy of intimacy is the reward of commitment.” By committment he meant “marital committment.” Thus, you aren’t going to date someone unless you intend to marry them. However, in such a context, the relationships between men and women must necessarily be more aloof, because they can never be deeper than a casual friendship. However, if that is the case, then men and women are going to struggle to understand one another. Ironically, Deborah Tannen’s research, published in the early 1990s just before IKDG, demonstrated that gender affects communication, and if you don’t understand how the other gender communicates, serious misunderstandings can occur, with each side getting angry with one another. Aside from the obvious way this would contribute to PS, if two people ever *do* get married, they will struggle to form intimacy, because they have been told their whole life that they cannot do so. Once they *can* do so, they simply don’t know how, as problems with things like language get in the way. PS, then, is partially due to having to learn the way the other genders communicates on an intimate level on the fly, which is terribly difficult.

        Secondly, I would echo the concerns of Carl Trueman and Aimee Byrd in this recent (last year) podcast they did on the topic:


        They observe that, when you frame the first date with someone as “Are you marriage material?,” it becomes very heavy and very destructive. Instead of getting to know someone and building that intimacy, you are immediately judged as to whether such intimacy is even possible. This is especially dangerous for men, who, as Tannen says, often tend to relate meaning in discourse to whether a conversation is putting him in a one up or one down situation. If entering a conversation is going to put men in a one down situation, they often won’t say anything at all. I think this largely explains women’s frustration with men not asking them out. Saying it is fear of rejection is *way* too simplistic. Before IKDG, girls would playfully flirt with guys to encourage them. The meaning of such flirting is “Ask me out! I won’t turn you down!” However, without that flirting and playful teasing, asking a girl out becomes a shot in the dark, and her, or, more likey, her father in this system, has all the power to send you on cloud nine or to the pits of sadness…and you have no way of knowing which is going to happen; it is a total 50/50 situation with someone else having total control over what happens. Men will avoid that situation like the plague. For women, Aimee is right, it makes it harder to get to know someone, because the focus is on marriage and not getting to know the individual. Women, then, are bogged down with extraneous concerns that have nothing to do with getting to know someone. Again the reasons why this would contribute to PS should be obvious.

        Finally, I can’t help thinking that much of this was about power. I mean, you can’t read into an individual person’s motives. Still, I think the answer to Carl Trueman’s question as to why a publisher would publish a book by a 21 year old on dating and relationships is because the ideas Harris promoted could be used to weild power over young people, not just to control what they thought about dating and relationships, but how they behaved too. Even if you want to go the route of saying that they were trying to say that parents should make these decisions, how on earth are parents going to know what to do? Ultimately, they have to rely on the books, tapes, and conferences put on by intellectuals to know who they should allow their children to marry and who they should not. If you have a girl who is crazy about a guy, and an intellectual tries telling her that she can’t marry him because he doesn’t match up to the standard the intellectuals think he should, they had better be prepared to get slapped real hard. However, if you can take away that intimacy, and you demand that it not occur until the person is ready for marriage, then you can get women to listen to you about who they should marry, and women will only become intimate with who you say they they should become intimate. Thus, you can effectively control who gets married and who doesn’t get married.

        Of course, intellectuals would probably say that they are just looking out for women. However, what on earth do intellectuals know about the context of a woman’s or a man’s life, how they need to grow, what lessons they need to learn, etc.? Even if you wanted to point back to scripture, there is the problem of horrible exegesis within this movement, but also the problem of application…matching the intent of scripture with the context of the situation. The idea that these intellectuals have enough consequential knowledge to understand the context of every situation of every such relationship of every young person is absurd to the core. In essence, the claim that they care about women is parallel to the claim of the democrats when they claim to care about the poor and minorities. No, they are using the facade such care for power and manipulation. Again, I must take great care at this point to say I am speaking of the intelligentsia in general. It could certainly be the case that there are people who bought into this movement because they did legitimately care about young people. In fact, that is probably the case with Harris himself. However, I think this was much more about power, control, popularity, and money than it was about legitimate care for these young people. The results have been unintended consequences that an entire generation is feeling…even among those who did not accept the movement.

        The Christian church must finally get around to recognizing that intellectuals can be every bit as dangerous as incompetent people. Until they do, these kinds of destructive fads will continue to pop up like weeds in a flower garden, and be every bit as difficult to remove. This one took 20 years to remove, and affected an entire generation. A strong church is built from the ground up. A strong laity leads to strong church leaders out of which comes intellectuals who care about the people. This kind of top down building never works, and results in the kind of disaster we are seeing today.

      • You may be right about Lisa but we’ll see if she ever says anything about the subject.

        As for Abby, I think it may be a combination of b and c. Joy Beth Smith, who succeeded Martha Krienke (now Renaud) as Boundless editor, only lasted a few months before she got fired for failing to toe the Focus on the Family party line in some of her outside writings. I expect Abby wants to keep her job. I also wouldn’t be surprised if they’re still processing the ramifications.

        I’d like to see Joshua Harris go a lot further as well. I’d also like to see him address the 2004 New Attitude conference he sponsored at which Albert Mohler made his infamous address about singleness and sin. That was the beginning of a number of bad years for single Christians in general and single Christian men in particular. It’s not surprising that many single Christians, as well as many Millennials, are voting with their feet and their wallets in kissing the church goodbye.

  2. As for other reasons for singleness. I encourage you to look at the Duluth Model of Domestic Violence:

    And why marriage is dying in America:

    The Duluth model of domestic violence which always prosecutes the man, no-fault divorce and child support systems that enable confiscation of children and property from fathers. That and other factors have been discouraging marriage and encouraging out of wedlock births.

  3. I watched the documentary a few days ago (on Amazon Prime). I thought it was really good, and I’m glad Harris has had the courage to publicly re-think his book.

    I read Harris’ book out of curiosity when I was in my early 30’s (and still single). I took it as one guy’s journey, much of which just wasn’t practical for me. It’s unfortunate that so many other more balanced books never got the attention that IKDG received.

  4. Amir, I’m glad to see you commented this week. I was hoping and praying nothing had happened to you, Mrs. L or Abigail. It’s not as if there isn’t enough material for you out there, from the upcoming butt-whipping for the Southern Baptist Convention, at least if Dee at TWW is correct, to the fact that my home state has become a national laughingstock and disgrace politically and culturally.

    By the way, Rebecca Lemke, author of The Scarlet Virgins: When Sex Replaces Salvation, interviewed Joshua Harris last month. It’s worth listening to when you have the time. The podcast is just over 50 minutes long.


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