On the Deconstruction of Joshua Harris
As many in the Christian community are well aware, Joshua Harris, author of “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” has left the faith, stating recently, “By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.” This development has caused many to seriously question how someone so seemingly grounded, could walk away from everything they once believed? After all, not all of us have seven Christian book titles with our names on them.
Of course, both Christ and the Apostles predicted this scenario. Judas himself was able keep the other eleven apostles from suspecting his own apostasy. But, there were clues along the way. For Judas, it was his greed. For Josh Harris, it’s something else.
Michael Farris, who knew Harris personally, recently wrote in an open letter to him, “. . . you thought your faith and your marriage were based on formulas. They never went deeper than that,” adding, “You haven’t walked away from a relationship with Jesus. You have walked away from the culture you were raised in.”
To someone who has read many of Josh’s books, this sounds like a fair assessment. Whether it’s “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” or “Why Church Matters,” Josh has always written very pragmatically. This does not necessarily have to be bad thing, unless of course, it’s the only thing.
In 2017, Josh publicly showed signs of rethinking his religious views in a Ted X talk entitled, “Strong Enough to Be Wrong,” in which he stated that “being wrong” about courtship “affected his own sense of identity.” People don’t usually say such things about formulas, unless those formulas are necessarily tied to core beliefs.
Harris’s attempt at humility though, was actually a self-focused revelation of his own pride. An inflated view of his own influence caused him to take responsibility for even failed relationships resulting from a misapplication of his book.
For example, Harris writes in I Kissed Dating Goodbye, “Without purity, God’s gift of sexuality becomes a dangerous game.” In Boy Meets Girl, he gives an example of two previously married individuals pursuing purity together. However, in the 2018 documentary, I Survived I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Harris mistakenly takes responsibility for those who wrongfully equated purity with virginity. Even the falling marriage rate in the church is somehow blamed on Harris’s “purity culture.”
Like a mathematician with the wrong result, Harris dissects his alleged formula:
Marriage = Sex = Fulfillment
The take away? Purity culture propagated the lie that marriage would offer fulfillment and it didn’t. Marriage was an “idol.”
It is at this point that we should all recognize a similar talking point coming from the social justice flavor of American Christianity. Russell Moore says, “dark powers would have us idolize our selves or by extension our families.” Matt Trexler and Sammy Rhodes, two “same-sex attracted” Christians, talk about the church’s “tendency to idolize marriage.” Carolyn McCulley, Jennifer Marshall, and Betsy Childs Howard, believe there has been an “idolization of marriage.” Elizabeth Woodson wants to, “dethrone our idol of marriage.” Tim Keller asserts that “traditional religion has often made an idol out of the family.”
Josh Harris’s denouncement of his own book, and by extension, purity culture, did not happen in a vacuum. At the very moment culture is deconstructing creation norms, leaders in the church are also minimizing or tossing them aside. Josh Harris just took it one step further.
Josh describes his own kissing Christianity goodbye as “deconstruction,” going on to state, “. . . 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.”
In the documentary, Harris focuses on “asking questions” and having “conversations” along his “personal journey.” He concludes toward the end, “life is full of contradictions.”
The postmodern assumptions, Josh likely picked up at the liberal Regent College, are alive and well in popular evangelicalism. They fuel the social justice movement: the last stop before complete apostasy.
In the words of J. Gresham Machan, “The chief modern rival of Christianity is ‘liberalism.’ An examination of the teachings of liberalism in comparison with those of Christianity will show that at every point the two movements are in direct opposition.”
Unlike Christian leaders pushing social justice, at least Josh Harris is honest enough to admit it.
Judd Saul, Director of Enemies Within the Church states, “This is the reason we are making the film. Many churches are taking their cues from culture instead of Christ. Christians need to follow the Bible, not celebrity Christian leaders.”