I remember my parents reading “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” by Joshua Harris when it first came out in 1997 — and to this day it still sits on their bookshelf. My older sisters read it. I read it, too.
Like many conservative Christian families, we, at least initially, agreed with much of what was in the book, and it was my parents’ goal that my sisters and I would follow some sort of road between casual dating and Harris’ courtship model.
Now, 21 years later, Harris is publicly apologizing for the book. He says,
While I stand by my book’s call to sincerely love others, my thinking has changed significantly in the past twenty years. I no longer agree with its central idea that dating should be avoided.
In his statement, Harris highlights a few flaws he sees in his book and how it’s confused people, hurt people and held back some in fear. In light of those concerns, his publisher supports his desire to discontinue the book’s publication, so future copies will not be printed.
While “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” did influence the Christian dating culture, we of course can’t blame the full complex reality we’re living in on this one book. Whether it’s social media, the hook-up culture, or church pressure, modern dating is complex and difficult. In the e-book “Books That Changed My Mind,” which further explains his reflections, Harris says,
Regardless of how my book has affected the way a subgroup of Christians approached relationships, there are massive sociological and technological shifts taking place and making modern romance complex. In other words, the rise of singleness and the delay of marriage has not been caused by my book!
But he also notes that “these realities are uniquely challenging for Christians who are seeking to live by a Christian sexual ethic.” Due to these unique challenges, he realizes “how frustrating the ideas of my book could be for those who want to actively pursue and get to know other Christian singles.”
Two years ago, he began re-evaluating the book, asking people how it affected them. He acknowledges the hurt it has caused some, and apologizes for that. He also recognizes that there are some people who have benefited from it, for which he’s thankful.
More of his journey and change of heart will be explained in a documentary slated to release next month.
Where do you land? Have you found “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” to be harmful or helpful? Frustrating or encouraging?