One of the biggest concerns I had when I read the I Kissed Dating Goodbye book was that the author only noted “defects” about dating. I saw no acknowledgment of possible defects with his approach. Is his approach without its own problems as one would be lead to assume since none were mentioned?
Reading his approach and not seeing any problems with his system acknowledged reminds me of a salesman, who when trying to sell me his product, only tells me the advantages of his product not the disadvantages. The only problem is that in this case one shouldn’t be selling a product; they should be trying to help singles find out what approach would work best for them.
With almost anything, be it a new approach, a new product, a new system, there are almost always pros and cons. Rarely are there only advantages to one way over another. One just needs to be careful that advantages of a new approach outweigh the disadvantages that accompany it. When someone tries to sell me a new product and states only the advantages I always wonder what are the disadvantages he isn’t sharing.
One reason I have heard for the author not mentioning problems with his approach is that he was only 21 when he wrote the book. Thus he didn’t have that much experience with the system that he is promoting. He was also possibly enamored with his approachsince it proved to be the answer for his situation.
The only problem with this excuse is the church/organization that he was a part of when he wrote the book (Covenant Life Church/Sovereign Grace respectively) had considerable experience this approach before the book was written. In fact they have been promoting at least the group concept since 1978. Surely someone with more experience with this approach from his church could have shared this with Joshua Harris. Being more enlightened he could have considered including problems with his approach in the book.
I was also shocked to see that Harris didn’t share anything about the history of this approach including what has gone wrong with its implementation. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to share about the history so that people reading his book could benefit from what was learned? I sometimes wonder if both he and other leaders of his group have ever acknowledged the problems that have occurred with the group/courtship approach. Isn’t there an old saying that states that those who don’t study and learn from the past are destined to repeat it?
It is normal when one institutes a new system for mistakes to be made. Why not admit them so others can learn and benefit? It is a shame that when you read his book you would think that no problems occur with his system.
The only other reason I can think that he didn’t share any of the problems is that he wrote this book as more as a quasi testimonial of how it worked for him vs. a handbook. When one writes something as a testimonial of what worked for them there is always a risk that people assume that this system is the only way and is will work for everyone. Maybe this is what happened with his book?
As shared in a previous blog, Harris has admitted that people apply his approach in a legalistic manner but he can’t control that. My answer to that is maybe if he had shared some of the disadvantages of his group approach, maybe it would have reduced how much his approach was implemented legalistically. That is certainly something he had control over.
So what are some of the disadvantages of the courtship/group approach? If you look at my previous post about not dating being harmful you will see where a respected Christian counselor gives his views on this. Here are some others:
- Many times this makes single men and single women afraid of each other. Even as they move into their 20’s and 30’s, the singles are afraid of each other like teenagers are. This being afraid of each other usually means that there aren’t many friendships between single men and single women.
- The teaching many times gives single men an “excuse” to stay away from single women and not pursue relationships.
- If you can’t develop many friendships with people of the opposite sex it is harder to find out what type of person of the opposite sex you would be a good match with.
- In some groups, a couple that is “courting” are under pressure to either get engaged and married or cut off seeing each other. This can and has lead to couples marrying before they fully knew each other and that they weren’t as good of a match as they thought. Imagine making a commitment that God wants you to honor and where you aren’t that good of a match. I am sure that isn’t pleasant.
- It can be applied in a legalistic way. With this system people tend to gravitate toward it being done legalistically especially if the church leadership doesn’t do something to counteract that tendency.
There are more and I will add them as I come up with more.
By not sharing the “defects” of the group/courtship approach I wonder if a lot of people as result of seeing it misapplied do the old “throw out the baby with the bathwater?” Thus, ironically, by Harris not giving a balanced perspective on his approach vs. dating he destined what he promoted to be short lived due to unintended abuses.