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Joshua Harris, of “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, and Wife, are Separating

This is both saddening and infuriating.

As a very young, intelligent–but untested–adult, Joshua Harris rocketed to the top of the evangelical world on the basis of his landmark book–I Kissed Dating Goodbye–which promoted the notion that dating was evil and that courtship is the preferred Christian alternative to dating.

Sadly, a large sector of Big Evangelical embraced Harris and imposed this dogma on the larger segment of singles, making getting married marginally harder at a time when it was already difficult due to many factors in play. Focus On The Family ran with it. Many homeschooling families ran with it. Churches used it to banish singles into a proverbial black hole.

The book made Harris an evangelical rock star. He would become C.J. Mahaney’s right-hand man at Covenant Life Church, the flagship church of Sovereign Grace Ministries.

As a student of Mahaney, Harris helped commandeer a dysfunctional church whose model of discipline was overbearing. Worse, multiple child abusers operated with impunity. The gross negligence was so severe that even Al Mohler–and the larger Southern Baptist Convention–are now reconsidering their support and alliance with Mahaney.

And make no mistake: Harris was an integral part of that abusive system. He was an executive under Mahaney, and therefore he has command responsibility.

(That is the price of being in charge.)

To his credit, Harris has recently repudiated his book and apologized for the damage he caused with it.

Sadly, it now appears that his marriage was not all he made it out to be.


I am saddened for his children. They didn’t ask for this. They will bear the brunt of this epic disaster.

Do I feel bad for Harris and his wife? Yes. The Church failed Harris, his wife, and his children.

I believe Big Evangelical used him for their financial gain. Yes, he benefited–sort of–but it was other parties which made the really big money at the expense of the larger Body. Harris was a means toward their ends.

NOT ONE evangelical leader stood up and tried to stop this big promotion of Harris.

NOT ONE evangelical leader stood up to question the wisdom of IKDG.

NOT ONE evangelical leader lifted a finger when Harris, an untested young adult, was Mahaney’s right-hand man.

Where was Piper? Where was Keller? Where was Mohler? Where was MacArthur? Where was Duncan? Where was Dever? Where were all of these super-knowledgeable mega-leaders? Most of these leaders pride themselves on their ability to ask hard questions. But none of them bothered to ask any of their own ranks.

Who was holding Harris to account? No one.

This is what happens when you take an untested, young adult–even someone otherwise intelligent like Harris–and make him a General.

10 thoughts on “Joshua Harris, of “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, and Wife, are Separating

  • singleman says:

    Another brick in the wall of Big Evangelical falls out. One has to wonder how much longer before the whole wall comes crashing down.

    As for Piper, Mohler, Dever, Duncan, etc., maybe we should ask where they are now. I just checked The Gospel Coalition’s website and so far they haven’t said anything. Don’t forget Josh Harris was on their council until he and Mahaney resigned in 2014, shortly after a former Covenant Life Church youth worker was convicted on several counts of molesting boys.

    I left a comment at Julie Anne Smith’s blog late last night linking to an article by Rebecca Lemke about the Harris’ separation announcement. I’ll place a link here as well. It’s worth a read.

    https://medium.com/@rebeccalemke/joshua-harris-marriage-has-ended-8fa5d281bf4

    • info says:

      As saint paul commanded. Cast them out and hand them over to satan and the authorities for the destruction of their flesh and the salvation of their souls on the last day.

      They can get their relationship with god right on death row.

  • David says:

    I just knew my cynicism toward this and the “Gift of Singleness” was justified. Hopefully, news of this will spread and churches will pull the 67th book of the Bible from their library shelves. -:)

  • Adam says:

    Amir,

    It is actually much worse than that. Read this interview with Harris from Sojourners:

    https://sojo.net/articles/questioning-faith-after-purity-culture-conversation-joshua-harris

    In case you were wondering, yeah, Sojourners is Jim Wallace’s website. Harris has pretty much left the faith entirely.

    • Amir says:

      I once remarked to one of our leaders at my church:

      Good theology takes you to the edge of the cliff: you can enjoy the view of the mountains, the canyon, the gorge, the view, the skyline…

      Bad theology keeps you so far away from the cliff that you cannot enjoy the fullness of the view; you may have a good time, but you miss out on the best highlights.

      Heresy is what happens when you say, “screw it!” and jump off the cliff.

      Harris is the would-be suicide jumper.

      Let’s pray he doesn’t jump.

      • singleman says:

        I heard about this when I got home from work late this evening.

        https://www.instagram.com/p/B0ZBrNLH2sl/

        I’m still processing the news so I don’t have much else to say right now.

      • Adam says:

        Amir,

        I was hoping the same thing, but just looking at who this man has been associating with was enough to make me very pessimistic. Then, yesterday, more news came out about Harris, and it is ugly. Here is the documentation:

        https://julieroys.com/josh-harris-kisses-his-faith-goodbye/

        In a way, I kind of feel sorry for the man. What has done in leaving the faith and divorcing his wife was wrong, but there is a sense in which his brand was made by Christian intellectuals who saw social utility in his views, and pushed them through as if they were Biblical. The fact that he is a good speaker and has good social skills helped him endear himself to these men. Intellectuals saw in him the perfect spokesperson for a view of purity that looks good outwardly but is a Biblical mess. Add to that the fact that he was only 21 years old when he wrote this book, and you have a recipe for disaster.

        I remember listening to a radio program Harris did with Albert Mohler (one of the earliest examples I could find of Mohler teaching this notion that there is a sin of delay of marriage. This was even before his New Attitude conference talk on the subject). I will never forget how Harris had nothing of substance to add, just repeating the phrase, “I agree with Dr. Mohler.” It was clear Mohler and the other guest were there to present their views, and Harris was just going along with whatever they said. I suspected at that point that Harris’ brand was dependent on Mohler et al for its existence, but now I am almost positive. Here is a man who was thrown into an adult world of theology and apologetics at 21 years of age and simply wasn’t ready. Apostasy is the result.

        • Amir says:

          I am going to post more on this later, but yeah…I saw the IG on Friday.

          I saw this coming. I also think there’s more to come.

        • Jeff says:

          Mohler’s first said delay of marriage is sinful in the spring of 2000 in a lecture series at the University of Virginia, but it was just a few sentences at that point. I remember listening to that 2003 interview that Mark Dever did with Al Mohler and Joshua Harris. In that interview, Harris was so enthusiastic about Mohler’s “delay of marriage” rant that he invited Mohler to speak at New Attitude. In that interview, Mohler implied that he would raise his son to get married young. Now, Mohler’s son is about 27-28 years old, and as far as I know, is still single (so much for evangelical formulaic parenting). I have noticed that Mohler has been talking less about the delay of marriage in recent years. Looking back on it, the whole “delay of marriage is sinful” emphasis among evangelicals peaked around 2004-2010, and it mostly came from Boundless Magazine and Mohler and his orbit.

          • Amir says:

            Irony….

            So far, I’ve heard next to nothing from these leaders about the Joshua Harris train wreck. But make no mistake: they have much to answer for in this.

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