“One Size Fits All?” and Courtship/Groups

I have been going back through Harris’s “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” book for at least the third time.

As I reread the book, I get more and more of the opinion that what he writes about and suggests applies more to teenagers and not necessarily to older single adults. Unfortunately in this book I don’t see any acknowledgment that this might be a possibility. To give Harris credit, in his book “Boy Meets Girl” he does acknoledge that their is room for latitude.

One of the problems with Harris’s two books on groups/courtship is that he writes somewhat from a testimonial stand point. He is sharing what worked for him and how it applied to him as a teenager. When he decided to “kiss dating goodbye” he was also struggling in certain areas. I am shocked at how people assume that what worked for him at his age and situation should be the norm for all people.

My thought is that the group approach is good for “teenagers.” It might even be justified to make that the “norm” vs. the exception. As a single person matures as they move into their 20’s the “need” for doing things in groups isn’t there. As stated in another one of my posts, one well known Christian authority presents how rules against are harmful.

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

I was involved with one church where they offered the singles (who were mostly in their 20’s) a lot of group opportunities where you could get to know various people of the opposite sex without having to date. At the same time dating was allowed and wasn’t even looked down on. The balance seemed to work quite well.

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Revised 2/25/08

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6 Responses to ““One Size Fits All?” and Courtship/Groups”

  1. John Immel Says:

    Thanks for pointing me towards this post….

    This is funny… you definitely expanded what I thought from the first time I read his book. There is no way what is wise council for an adolescent is good for an adult. It is absurd on its face.

    I remain amazed at how often thinking adults get sucked into ideologies and practices because it sounds Holy. But as an active adult, a professional, the social opportunities are not the same. The need to be able to seek out individuals to get to know them increases directly proportional to our peer sphere… There usually isn’t enough qualified individuals of the opposite sex in a singles group for there to be a cross section of choice, or to offer a “group” atmosphere. There are plenty of cultural problems with “dating” Dinner, Movie, dance Club, go home. Most dates are random and in places where it is almost impossible to LEARN about who you are with. I get that Christians should be intentional about their actions and pursuits of a mate… But eliminating one on one interaction for fear that it might lead to bad things is silly. Are Christians really that weak? I know plenty of unbelievers that manage to do dinner and a movie and avoid crawling in bed. How is it that we assume Christians can manage the same thing without some strict guidelines?

  2. steve240 Says:


    I am glad you enjoyed reading this blog entry. Unfortunately I have seen where a practice that might make sense for teenagers is imposed on all single adults. Eventually the older single adults seemed to act like teenagers in how they related to the opposite sex.

    It baffles me why so many think that what might have worked for teenage boy in his situation should be what all people of all ages do. Just because it was appropriate for Harris in his situation doesn’t mean it is appropriate for all ages.

  3. John Immel Says:

    Well… this is me speculating as to motive for following sheepishly along… there is a loose logic in Christianity (and definitely within Sovereign Grace Ministries) that says … “If a pastor (leader) did this then I’m safe in emulating.” I understand the wisdom does tend to follow patterns, however, your blog title is apt… one size does not fit all.

    The wisdom in Harris’s book is boiled down in “Be intentional about finding a mate” and it isn’t even a bad thing that he has offered some possible steps to acting on that intentionality.

    But you and I are in utter agreement that suggesting that everyone MUST avoid “Dating” as culturally defined is truly absurd.

    But the ultimate absurdity is adults getting sucked into the SGM group think.

  4. M. Gold Says:

    There is much wisdom in his books and one does not need to get on the dating bandwagon to find a mate. When one puts their hand to the fire it is going to get burned. People who grow to emotionally depend on the person but getting embittered because after four years there is still no wedding ring.
    To look at dating and courtship from the outside they are radically different one suggests getting to know the person their strengths, their weaknesses, through the people who’ve known them longer and the person before evaluating if they would be a good helpmate. This would only work if one is truly biblical in their living. One or two hours with a person when they are on their best behavior will not help. It promotes sexual intimacy, emotional intimacy, but in the end will they ever get to spiritual intimacy. The dating route has not created lasting marriages, what does that show?
    Finding someone is not like buying a car, people are not to be driven around the block and then discarded because another one is sportier.

    Can one say when they are married with a history of four or five relationships that will it be just the person and the spouse or will they be remembering the others that failed?

    Take a look at courtship versus dating. Look at history. Dating just teaches that one can always break up unfortunately that just teaches that when marriage gets rough there is always an out.

    This will be my only post.

  5. steve240 Says:

    M. Gold

    Thanks for your comment. I am not sure if I totally understand what you are saying.

    You seemed to be convinced in your mind that Harris’s approach is much better than the the traditional dating approach. I would just be curious as to what basis you are using to come to this conclusion? Is it experience and actions you have seen first hand or is it what you have been told about Harris’s approach? If it is the latter, then be careful. People can say all kinds of things that turn out to not be true.

    I don’t deny that there is some wisdom in Harris’s books. I would caution you about relying totally on what you hear about how good this system is. If you read some of my blog entries like the one that talks about Harris forgetting his own church’s history with this or even the one where he acknowledged problems in his own church with how singles related (but doesn’t share this on his website) you will see that Harris in his books didn’t tell the whole story. For whatever reason he ignored and left out the historical problems that have occurred with this approach.

    Another problem that has happened with the groups/courtship movement is that in some circles there was undue pressure for couples to either get married or cut off seeing each other. This has resulted in people getting married that soon into their marriage found they weren’t a good match. Imagine being in that situation where God believes this is a life commitment but not being a good match. Why isn’t this potential problem ever shared?

    A lot of people read the books were “sold” on his approach and it seemed to produce short lived large following until people IMO found out it wasn’t nearly as perfect as it was “sold.” (See my blog entry asking if people are still kissing dating goodbye.)

    I would caution you to keep your eyes open so you can see some of the defects of his approach especially when it is taken to an extreme or applied to the wrong age group.

    Thanks again for you comment.

  6. Emily Says:

    “It promotes sexual intimacy, emotional intimacy, but in the end will they ever get to spiritual intimacy. The dating route has not created lasting marriages, what does that show?”

    I realize your concerns here and in some ways I share them. I feel that today’s “young people” (and I am one of them, being 18) are all too ready to “give themselves fully” to the first man that walks by and end up traumatized when that relationship fails. But I disagree that it means the answer is “no dating”, rather I think it should mean “responsible dating”. Don’t “give” your heart to this man on the first date. Don’t build false expectations of actually marrying them. And don’t be afraid to fail. I would much rather date a man and later break up with him than date him and feel I have to marry him, even if I think the relationship wont be as strong as it should be. I think people build their idea off of the ideal marriage from false expectations– and THIS is what needs to be answered to curb the rising divorce rates.

    I also question equating physical intimacy with sexual intimacy. Even the early church kissed in greeting, and there is no reason to assume that this had sexual overtones. There is nothing wrong with “innocent” physical intimacy (hugging, for example) between male/female friends. It isn’t an expression of sexual desire, but rather an expression of the emotional bond that friendship has fostered. The closer we let people come to us the more emotionally attached we are to them (normally).

    It seems to be more of an “American culture” thing to equate all physical intimacy with sexual intimacy, and I think this is where quite a lot of our problems come from. IMHO, if people would lighten up a bit about who they let “into their bubble” it might have less of a sexual conotation. (And this is coming from someone who, quite frankly, not all that comfortable with people of any gender touching me. I have a very large bubble– but lately I’ve noticed the desire to be “touched” or “held” and been struggling to repress this until I realized that what I assumed was a ‘sexual desire’ could easily be something that was met from a hug from my mother (decidedly non-sexual) or a female friend. Why does it have to be sexual if this hug came from a male friend but with the same intention– expressing emotional intimacy?)

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