Josh Harris’s View On People Using His Book Legalistically

As I started to do some research on the internet about Joshua Harris, his book and what people thought about his book (good and bad) I came upon the following site that is an interview with Harris discussing IKDG book :

This part of the interview really shocked me:

Josh: This was never my intention but some people have taken the message of I Kissed Dating Goodbye and made it something legalistic-a set of rules. That’s something that’s beyond my control and it’s disappointing at times ….

Here we have Harris pretty much shrugging off any responsibility for his book being used improperly. I really question if that is fair? Is it right for someone who “championed” the courtship/group approach to so easily say that it is beyond his control? Certainly with any approach there will be abuses but can and should an author so easily wash his hands of any wrongdoing?

In our litigious society, if one sells a product and doesn’t offer warnings with the produce the manufacturer can be sued. I am not talking about blatant misuses like picking up a running lawnmower with your hands. I am talking about more subtle misuses that wouldn’t be always be normal common sense.
Did this book forget to include the warnings? Could have something been added in the book that would have helped minimize its misuse? Now that he is acknowledging the book is causing this damage, is there something that Harris could and should do to reduce the likelihood of people misusing the system he promotes?

Another interesting note, if you read the rest of the specific answer:

Josh: This was never my intention but some people have taken the message of I Kissed Dating Goodbye and made it something legalistic-a set of rules. That’s something that’s beyond my control and it’s disappointing at times, but what I’m so grateful for what God did in our marriage. He gave us a story that is all about His grace.

it is almost as if he is trying to get away from this problem and talk about something more positive like his marriage. His marriage is great but shouldn’t there be more concern about the problems and misuses his book has produced. There still are unmarried singles with some of them being in a bad situation due to how the system was presented.

I will be curious to hear what people have to say about this.

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11 Responses to “Josh Harris’s View On People Using His Book Legalistically”

  1. Zhang Fan Says:

    I feel that there will always be critics and counter-opinions on any view that is raised by anybody in the world. What we should really focus on is the fact that Josh wrote what he assumed to be in God’s perspective that’s doing the damage.

  2. steve240 Says:

    Zhang Fan

    Thanks for your comment.

    I believe that what you are saying is that Joshua wrote what he did believing it was God’s perspective on dating? I don’t deny that he wrote it with the best of intentions.

    As I have said for other pages part of the problem is that he wrote enthusiastically about what worked for him in his situation including age. The only problem is that what might have worked for him isn’t necessarily the approach all should take.

    My main focus on this entry in my blog is that I don’t see Josh Harris being that concerned and willing to do much to reduce how legalistically his book has and is being used. It is as if he is saying that it wasn’t my intention (even if I could have done more to avoid it) and is in essence washing his hands of the responsibility. I question how proper that is.

  3. Matt Says:

    Yeah, I wonder how he would feel if people who have been hurt by his book wrote him letters about their messed-up relationships.

  4. DieM Rockel Says:

    As someone directly hurt by his books as a high schooler when the books came out I can tell you what he does say. He is too busy to answer or read any personal emails about his books or their affect.

    As an author it is your job to communicate your message. Now that I have gone through some of the hell dating can bring including being hurt and stalked I have some better understanding of his points, but his writing is completely inept.

    His system does not work, because it isolates Christians singles based on whether they date.

    If he was smart he would have gone with a match making system combined with courtship so when people are ready to get married they can have help finding other singles with similar beliefs.

    All the females in my Church gave up dating. When I was in HS all the guys kept dating. In the end the guys ended up with a lot of terrible relationships, because we couldn’t find dating Christians and the girls ended up dating when they found the guy they liked in college. All of them that I know of gave up on courtship and are now married.

    He’s a real tool who couldn’t bother to write his work in a clear manner and blames his audience for not understanding his heart.
    I guess this is an argument against publishing the advice of a 20something.

  5. heatherliz Says:

    Since you posted at my blog, I felt it fair to leave a reply here. And certainly I will let you know when the second part of my review comes out. You might notice that I’m commenting with my WordPress account. I have two for specific reasons that I won’t get into here.

    You say Mr. Harris ““championed” the courtship/group approach,” but I think that’s a subtle misunderstanding. I am sorry to be like this, but when did you last read the entire book, and how many times have you read it? There is nowhere that says, “Courtship is God’s way and dating is evil.” There is no quote even remotely like that in the book. People get so caught up in the semantics. Mr. Harris himself says all courtship is is “dating with a purpose.” In some of his later books he says it doesn’t make a difference WHAT you call it. What matters is the attitude.

    One of your commenters (without trying) gave actually a great defense of Mr. Harris. All of the teenaged women wisely stopped trying to commit to short term foolish relationships before they were ready. Unfortunately the men weren’t so smart and they all ended up in….well, short term foolish relationships. They were hurt. If he wants to blame his foolishness on smart women who decided the shallow and selfish dating scene was not for them, that is his prerogative. But this is exactly the thing Mr. Harris is concerned with. Young people being hurt because they embarked on shallow, selfish, and short term relationships.

    As for Mr. Harris’s reaction, I feel it is justified. Again, your logic doesn’t flow well. If someone has some good advice, and someone else comes along and twists that advice, all the first person can say is. “Well, that is obviously not how I wanted you to take that. I find that very upsetting.” But the first person can’t exactly strong arm the second person into listening. Again, I’m not equating the two, but one could use your logic to say, “Because some Christians get ridiculously legalistic about the bible, we should throw out the bible.”

    He couldn’t have included a warning, because the book is about trusting God with your life and being purposeful and careful (not to hurt) in your relationships with others. This is something we ALL agree on. How could he possibly have realized this was a controversial message.

    • steve240 Says:


      By “champion” I mean that Josh Harris through his book became a major promoter of the “courtship” and “kissing dating goodbye” approach. Before Josh wrote his book, the concept wasn’t nearly as widely known and practiced. Thus I conclude Harris “championed” this “alternative.”

      I appreciated you input but will stand by statements that Josh Harris should accept more responsibility for what his alternative has caused including writing more clarifications etc.

      • heatherliz Says:

        You agree that “short term premature selfish directionless romantic relationships” are a bad idea correct? Well, so does Josh Harris. He’s not promoting anything different. He just thinks premature selfish directionless romantic relationships (which he calls “dating” or “dating according to the world”) are a bad idea. He doesn’t care what you call it as long as it isn’t “short term premature selfish directionless romantic relationships.”

        As for his culpability, it was no surprise to me that we disagreed here. I hardly expect a man dedicating an entire blog to this cause (something I still think should be reconsidered) to have his mind changed by some gal on the internet.

      • steve240 Says:


        Yes I do agree that “short term premature selfish directionless romantic relationships” are a bad idea.

        My point has been that IKDG has caused in a lot of groups singles to almost be afraid of those of the opposite sex. This isn’t healthy. If you read others posts on the blog one person wrote about regretting kissing dating goodbye. He said that kissing dating goodbye caused him to not have very good social skills with women. Also the word “premature” almost confirms that IKDG is more designed for teenagers than older singles.

        I am not sure why you are so opposed to my blog here. It isn’t like I make repeated entries here each day and haven’t made any new posts for a while. The point of my blog is help people to think and question about this “alternative” rather than blindly accepting it like so many people did when it first came out. People can read and make their own choices.

      • heatherliz Says:

        IKDG has not caused singles to be afraid of the opposite sex. That is either a family issue or a personality issue. If one read the book with an open mind, it is easy to tell that isn’t at all what Mr. Harris had in mind.

        I just think a blog entirely against one thing is odd. Especially since it deals with the work of another Christian, I’m unsure how it is God-honoring. I feel like a blind acceptance of dating is probably a lot worse than a “blind acceptance” of the message of Mr. Harris’s book which is “Trust God and be careful and loving in your relationships.”

      • steve240 Says:


        If IKDG doesn’t produce this problem with how those of the opposite sex relate why does it always seem to be the case in group’s that promote “kissing dating goodbye.” I have also heard that IKDG gives men in their 20’s an excuse for not approaching and thus possibly finding a partner.

        My blog certainly isn’t “against” one thing but a discussion etc. Again my blog says “wisdom or foolishness.” If anything it is a discussion of a philosophy and approach vs. just a book. It is also a comment on what IKDG has produced especially the problems it has caused.

        We may just have to agree to disagree.

      • heatherliz Says:

        Yes, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

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