On Josh Harris

What do I think of Josh Harris’s “Deconstruction?” Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Back when I was in Bible College, I remember hearing a lot of talk about a book called I Kissed Dating Good-Bye. I never read it because frankly, dating and I had never even really got to say hello to one another. My apologetics books were much more interesting to me anyway. While I was unaffected, it turns out that many people were affected by this book.

While I am sure Harris had a lot of passion and good intentions, it looks like he did not have knowledge and experience. Still, his book had a major impact on the purity culture. The purity culture had a great desire for holiness, but they also had a number of huge problems. Purity should be emphasized, but often it sounds like sex destroys purity. If you have sex before marriage, which you shouldn’t, you’re just damaged goods.

I also know a lot of people who wanted the first kiss at the altar idea. I really can’t go along with this as there is supposed to be some physical involvement in dating. I think that as long as you’re not touching intimate areas, you’re fine.

But this isn’t about dating. This is about Josh Harris. It’s been known that he recently had a divorce from his wife. As it turns out, it’s not only dating and his wife that he kissed good-bye, but also….

“My heart is full of gratitude. I wish you could see all the messages people sent me after the announcement of my divorce. They are expressions of love though they are saddened or even strongly disapprove of the decision.⁣⁣
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I am learning that no group has the market cornered on grace. This week I’ve received grace from Christians, atheists, evangelicals, exvangelicals, straight people, LGBTQ people, and everyone in-between. Of course there have also been strong words of rebuke from religious people. While not always pleasant, I know they are seeking to love me. (There have also been spiteful, hateful comments that angered and hurt me.)⁣⁣
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The information that was left out of our announcement is that I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. 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.⁣⁣
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Martin Luther said that the entire life of believers should be repentance. There’s beauty in that sentiment regardless of your view of God. 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.⁣⁣
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To my Christians friends, I am grateful for your prayers. Don’t take it personally if I don’t immediately return calls. I can’t join in your mourning. I don’t view this moment negatively. I feel very much alive, and awake, and surprisingly hopeful. I believe with my sister Julian that, “All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” “

All of this is available on his Instagram.

So what are we to make of this? One step I can think immediately is to stop creating the celebrity culture, especially for Christians too young to know better. Harris was put in a spotlight, which is hard for anyone, but harder still when one doesn’t have the maturity needed for fame. Just consider young child celebrities we often see today.

Second, Harris has talked about growing up in a fundamentalist background. This often does lead to a kind of apostasy. You all know I am extremely conservative on sexual morals, but many times fundamentalism even goes beyond that. It’s as if any sexual thought whatsoever is dirty and wicked.

Third, we need more training on marriage. It did not escape notice that Harris has gone a full 180 and is now saying that he is supporting so-called marriage equality. If anything, this was something that really stood out to me and left me wondering why this was included.

Should we pray for Harris? Absolutely, yet at the same time, the fact that this is such a story does make me think that we have too much of a celebrity culture built up. Pray for his ex-wife too. Keep in mind that we don’t know why this happened and we will naturally speculate, but we can’t demonstrate anything yet. We’ll wait and see what happens.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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