In 1997, then 21-year-old Joshua Harris published I Kissed Dating Goodbye, a book founded on Christian beliefs which encouraged young people to stay away from dating and encourages couples to restrain from physical contact until after marriage. The book became widespread within certain Christian communities, though some critics accused it of sexism, as well as promoting the idea that people should feel ashamed of physical romantic relationships outside if marriage. Twenty years later and the book’s author has since stated that he regrets the book and has lost his faith.
Harris, a former pastor at the US megachurch the Covenant Life church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, once argued that young people should resist dating and that they shouldn’t kiss, hold hands, or spend time alone together before they are married. His book stated that dating was unhealthy for one’s spirit and a “training ground for divorce.” Harris did leave the church in 2015, and it has been accused of failing to report the claims to police in order to cover up allegations of child sexual abuse.
As The Guardian reports, in 2018, Harris stated his regret over the book, saying: “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.
“To those who read my book and were misdirected or unhelpfully influenced by it, I am sincerely sorry.”
Earlier this year, Harris posted a message on Instagram explaining that he and his wife of 21 years were separating due to “significant changes have taken place in both of us.”
A following post a few days later stated he had “undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus.”
He continued: “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.”
He wrote: “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.”
He finished by saying that I Kissed Dating Goodbye is to be discontinued due to its “flaws”.