Kissing Dating Goodbye Is “Harmful”: A Respected Christian Author’s View on Non-Dating/Courtship

I am reading a book “How to Get a Date Worth Keeping” by Dr. Henry Cloud. Someone on another discussion list posted a concern about how not dating might be harmful to her sons development as they matured. I was shocked at how applicable a section of this author’s was to what was discussed and how it explained in professional terms this mother’s concern about the group approach/courtship. I would recommend reading this book. It certainly gives a different view than Josh Harris will tell you.

In a chapter titled ” Unleash Your Libido or Real It In” he talks about at least one situation where he has counseled people that were involved in a church where dating is frowned upon . He found that with this person “this ’spiritual’ teaching was covering the fact that he was hiding from sexual problems, insecurities, and lots of weirdness”

He then states his opinion on the affects of a non dating policy:

In the name of purity, chastity, and good morals, singles have been desexualized. The are often repressed beyond normal decency, and as a result they are in a “presexual” stage of development.– what psychologists refer to as “latency/” In other words, out of a fear of sex, they have regressed to preadolescents, and they are feeling and acting like twelve-year-olds instead of adults who have gone through adolescence and figured all of that out.

He additionally states later in the chapter:

Keeping one’s sexuality in an immature and unintegrated state makes it neither holy nor ready for real relationship. … It keeps them out of what God designed as natural attraction, and it keeps them sexually disintegrated from the rest of their personhood.

He also goes on to state that he is not advocating “sexually acting out.” He was advocating sexual ownership as part of who you are. He also quotes Col 2:23.

Thus here is a professional stating in his professional words what this mother’s concerns were about the affect of groups/courtship. Reading what Cloud has written certainly makes one question even more the wisdom of Joshua Harris’s idea of “kissing dating goodbye.” It is certainly something to think about.

This author also coauthored “Boundaries In Dating” with Dr. John Townsend. I recently picked up a copy of this book. I have only read the introduction and 1st chapter. I was surprised to find that this “boundaries” book is a response to Harris’s book. In the beginning the “Boundaries” book lists the problems Harris indicates occur with dating and answers them. In summary, Townsend and Cloud feel that establishing and maintaining proper “boundaries” in dating is the answer to problems that occur with dating vs. Harris answer of “kissing dating goodbye.”

Both of these authors are respected and have a lot of counseling experience as well as education. Both were single into their 30’s so had considerable experience as a single person.

Compare this to someone who at the age of 21 wrote a book about his own experience and how good of an idea it was was for him to “kiss dating goodbye” and who was homeschooled with only a GED (no college degree). This sort of comparison should give one an idea of who has the more experienced background as well as who one should listen to.

Hope this helps.

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19 Responses to “Kissing Dating Goodbye Is “Harmful”: A Respected Christian Author’s View on Non-Dating/Courtship”

  1. Matt Says:

    People forget that experience in life is very important and at 21 you have very little experience.

  2. SavvyD Says:

    I recommend Boundaries in Dating. It’s great no matter what you believe about God. Maybe what I have been doing/blogging about is a little sexual acting out–within limits. I remain a bit giggly and innocent and am at a point where men in their 30s and 40s really don’t want to deal with my lack of experience. What’s a girl to do? I’ve also been with someone who seemed VERY immature for his age because of his lack of experience, too. I don’t think he realized what a match were were in some ways. In any case, it didn’t work out. More on that later on my blog. 🙂 Great job of writing about this stuff. 🙂

  3. Cicely Says:

    Those are some interesting points by Cloud. How, specifically, would someone “de-desexualize” herself? I think the repression is even stronger on women. Many of us have been tought in our churches that women should never take any initiative when we’re attracted to a man.

  4. Nicole Says:

    I have read the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye and I think it is stupid how much criticism this book gets. Everyone has different views on courtship\dating but I believe it all comes down to following God’s plan for our lives. We should all trust in God with our lives and follow His will on dating/courtship. He will speak to us and guide us in every aspect of our lives. I think that all this book is saying is to rely on God with your love life and everything else. That’s mainly what it is all about. It’s useless how technical everyone gets about the book.

    • Lew Says:

      Nicole, you are absolutely right. However, it’s not just what the book says about following God in your decisions with your love-life or what it says about separating from the world’s idea of dating, it’s more about how everyone responded to that book and the whole “anti-dating” movement that ensued. In my church, you were openly rebuked for liking a boy! The way the churches, SGC churches in particular, (at least that’s all I know of) responded was where the real problem occurred. Young teens were excited for there marriages at 18 just because they were so excited to actually relate to the opposite sex. It’s true. I witnessed it.

  5. mOj Says:

    It’s all about the Lord…. How do you want to live your life matters on what the Lord has commanded you.. truly self help books has a great impact in our lives, helping us in different situation and challenges we encounter, but the thing is we are subject to God’s will in our lives.. So, I suggest have an intimate relationship with the Lord and follow his commandment and let see what will happen to your life.. Its just simple.. LOVE JESUS!

  6. justme Says:

    I think short-term, low-pressure dating is important for adolescents to see who all is out there and get used to the idea that breaking up typically isn’t a terrible thing. For teens in my church, the idea that courtship was the ideal and God was going to find you a mate put so much extra pressure on what should have been casual male-female relationships.

    I’m happily married to a non-Christian now, but I went through what I believe was a lot of unnecessary struggle to get to this point.

  7. deborah Says:

    I regret reading that sinking book I kissed dating good bye it affected my whole life.

  8. boundaries in relationships Says:

    boundaries in relationships…

    […]Kissing Dating Goodbye Is “Harmful”: A Respected Christian Author’s View on Non-Dating/Courtship « I Kissed Dating Goodbye: Wisdom or Foolishness?[…]…

  9. Charles H Heller Says:

    Dr Charles Heller…

    […]Kissing Dating Goodbye Is “Harmful”: A Respected Christian Author’s View on Non-Dating/Courtship « I Kissed Dating Goodbye: Wisdom or Foolishness?[…]…

  10. Jennifer Maassen Says:

    Joshua Harris was home schooled, which is quite different from “only having a GED”. This is a mischaracterization of Harris’ education. Perhaps you are not familiar with the fact that home schooled graduates outperform their schooled peers in by several academic measures. Whether or not you agree with him, most people would concede that Joshua Harris is knowledgeable and has achieved a great deal in life. This is a good blog, and I was going to share this post. However, since you made a statement that is offensive and false, I cannot endorse your writing. Please educate yourself before making ignorant and false claims about someone’s education.

    • steve240 Says:


      Sorry to hear you can’t endorse my writing. My statement of Josh Harris “only having a GED” was a comparison of his education compared to the Phd Dr. Henry Cloud has. Perhaps I should change it to someone homeschooled with a GED.

      Though I agree with you that “Joshua Harris is knowledgeable and has achieved a great deal in life” there is a lot of value when one studies in a regimented program and getting a college degree vs. reading books on your own. A college degree is one thing Josh Harris missing along with the experience and value it brings. Josh Harris also wrote his book when he was quite young.

      I have heard the claims of homeschoolers and how they do compared to regular schoolers. I have also heard otherwise from some school teachers about some homeschoolers when they attend regular school both about their academic level and social skills. I am sure there are some homeschoolers that are in each category and those in between.

      • d Says:

        A terrible book. It harmed me personally. Divorced at 31 from an adulterous abusive man. I read this book and followed the advice.
        I was so sad to learn that at 31 yrs old I couldn’t date. My church backed the book up too. One bible teacher told me I shouldn’t date. I was so fearful of dating and marrying trouble again. I obeyed and spend All my thirties alone. Then in my forties I tried to date but ran into men who were looking for the one and only. I too wouldn’t just date a man if he was interested in me. I wouldn’t want to lead him on….Hello? how was I to know if we hit it off if we didn’t date. Terrible! Just terrible. Wasted years on this this book. That young man only 21 years old I’ve come to learn all these years later, God told HIM not to DATE not everyone else. Crazy book. Many unwed teenage pregnancies at my former church. The youth groups adopted the I kissed dating good by as well.
        Criminal how much that book robbed from people. James Dobson stated he thought dating was a wonderful joy and that finding someone to love was possible, he would move to a different state or change churches to find someone to love and love him.
        Dating isn’t evil, you can remain pure while dating, it’s the waiting TEN! Years to date that makes people unstable. Adult people are not evil if they have desire to date.
        Thanks for allowing me to express my thoughts. That creep who wrote the book enjoys ill gotten gains from all his book sales.

  11. kstarrlynn Says:

    It’s your choice whether or not you choose to follow what IKDG says. That’s what God had planned for Josh Harris, but not necessarily for everyone. If you think it’s stupid, don’t do it. If you try what it says and you just don’t feel like it’s working, try something else. Don’t blame the author or the book on something you chose to do. Same way you shouldn’t bash fast food chains for positively advertising their meals when you chose to eat their food and consequently became unhealthy. Own up to your own choices and don’t blame a book whose opinion you don’t even respect.

    • Deb Says:

      IF you read or understand what I wrote you would have read that I was vulnerable and fearful and this book played on my fears. Many, Many lives were ruined by this book. Do as You wish, but be ware of following man’s ways. Instead follow the bible and God’s ways.



  12. steve240 Says:


    Welcome to my blog. Interesting how you say it is “your choice.” I have seen that where it is hard to be “your choice” due to leadership teaching “kissing dating” goodbye as being the only way. The only way to make it your choice is to leave the church or at least date outside of that church.

    If “kissing dating goodbye” was something that was only planned for Josh Harris why do so many leaders teach it as being applicable to all despite what age they are and their circumstances?

    • Deb Says:

      Hello. I can not speak for others in the church. I can only speak for myself. I can speculate that people repeat ~ what others say and then follow it as though it were gospel truth. Sadly.
      Sub-concously perhaps others were trying to control the lives of singles… I don’t know… but perhaps…people should -Not have power over other people in church. God’s word, and the Holy Spirit and the person’s personal choice.

      I no longer attend the church that preached no dating. I do however attend church and I am grateful to be part of a church that does not condem dating.

      when I look over my shoulder at that time in my life. I am so sad sorry I every read that book. A terrible book and I am sure others have also been harmed.

      The bible has the song of solomon. There are healthy dating books written by doctors, like henry cloud, boundaries in dating. However, Man writes many books and that is the wisdom of man. I say bounce everything off the word of God and a good counselor.

      I wish you all the best with your life and research.


      • Catherine Says:

        I agree with you deb! I grew up in a church that absolutely refused to allow dating because of this book, which for me was fine until i met my now husband at the age of 16. We fell in love almost immediately and were forced to “break up” even though we hadn’t begun dating. How could we? It wasnt allowed! We had held hands i think, haha, but thats it. For five years i watched as my husband, a member of another church with a more open policy on dating, tried to move on (i had been forced by a discipler to break up with him by phone and all contact was cut off between us after that) and dated a girl he almost married. Finally, 4 years later as a 20 year old i was free to approach him without fear of church authority- i was finally old enough and the depression i had begun to struggle with caused leadership to give up on me, they had stopped monitoring my life. Three years later we were married, and this June will be our ten year anniversary. What i have noticed now, and addressed with my husband and our marriage counsellor, is that i am very vulnerable to men, married or not, who flirt with or pursue me. I was never pursued by anyone other than my now husband, and our counsellor had told us exactly what this post mentioned about stunted sexual maturity. I agonize over this and feel guilt for how much attention i seem to need. I feel adulterous all of the time even though I’ve never acted in that way or even let on that outsiders advances have any effect on me. I do fear that i could ruin my marriage someday, if anyone ever pursues me hard enough. This philosophy of dating has had such a negative impact on me, a good kid who only ever wanted to obey and please church leadership, and my husband was for a time made to look like a terrible predator, something he was not and could never be. Im so glad to know youve come to see through this teaching, and i agree with you that it isnt simply “your choice” to engage in a no dating lifestyle. The church speaks with so much authority, and those of us who listen closest are the ones most vulnerable when bad teaching comes down the pipe.

      • Deb Says:

        Dear Catherine, I wanted to reply to your nice letter. You sound very healthy and remember fear is -not of God so do -not fear you will ruin your marriage. Do Not label yourself, sexually stunted. You’re a married woman now; for ten years! The enemy of your soul wants to rob and destroy, but you are alive to Christ and dead to sin. Enjoy your marriage, The attention of other men take to Christ. Resist the devil and will flee. Be encouraged. All people have vulnerable spots. Be honest say, no sr. no thank you. and stay true to God and true to yourself and Yes! true to your man!

        You Can do this with Christ All things are possible.


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