Did Joshua Harris “Forget” His Own Church’s History With Courtship/Groups?

As I ask myself why did I set this blog up and do all of this writing one of my big drivers: “forgotten” history.

I am one that has seen the “kissing dating goodbye” in practice long before Joshua Harris wrote his book. This includes seeing it implemented in the church Harris now pastors (Covenant Life Church) as well as in other churches. I both saw and heard directly from others mentioning the problems that occurred with the group/courtship system that he promotes. Thus, despite Harris’s failure to mention this his approach had its own problems and still does. Having seen this, I am sure you can understand my shock when I read his book and saw that he left this out of his book.

Harris had no problem saying how defective dating was but failed to acknowledge any of the problems his even his own church had with the system he promoted. In fairness to Harris I should add that Harris wasn’t the pastor of this church when Covenant Life Church first implemented these practices. He was only 21 when he wrote the book but the other pastors at his church certainly knew about them or should have been. Did they not share these problems with Harris or did he choose to not mention them in his book?

When attending the church Harris now pastors in the early to mid 90’s, I would repeatedly hear singles complain about problems with how the single men and women related. The number complaining were more than just an isolated few. Some would say that that the single men and women were “afraid” of each other. Despite this sentiment among the singles, the pastors seemed to think there were no problems. One former lay singles leader indicated that the pastors heard what they wanted to hear about this vs. hearing the truth. Maybe the leadership of CLC is still in blissful ignorance of what problems dating/courtship causes?

I am not sure what to think when I see someone write a book promoting his alternative to dating and doesn’t write about the history or acknowledge the problems that occurred when this was implemented. Have the pastors failed to ever acknowledge these problems? Maybe they truly think it went and was implemented without problems. Of course there being misinformed would be better then purposely hiding the problems with “kissing dating goodbye.”

Maybe not sharing these problems has contributed to his system being used legalistically? Maybe had these problems been mentioned people would have taken more of a realistic view of his system?

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3 Responses to “Did Joshua Harris “Forget” His Own Church’s History With Courtship/Groups?”

  1. Fan Says:

    it’s all part of the shepherding movement that is running rampant within SGM and leadersip. My own pastor’s wife (we are a SGM church) made the comment to me that “Sovereign Grace encourages church involvement and oversight in matters of courtship. THe entire church gets involved” I freaked out. Basically, if the church says I can’t marry someone, I don’t. Talk about unbiblical shepherding.

  2. Stephen C. Says:

    I go to a SGM ministries church in Florida where we have about 11 churches in the state and have many people courting and dating between inter-churches. I admit it and I know that Josh Harris has admitted it in sermons on this since he wrote the book so many years ago, but courtship isn’t perfect. There are problems such as legalism and different interpretations of it that people as individuals do. As “Fan” said in his or her comment, the entire church does not decide whether or not a person should be in a relationship and marriage. What they are saying is that the family and friends should be “involved” as far as accountability to sexual immorality and being there for the couple as they walk through good and bad times with each other. Some couples who court kiss before they are engaged, others wait for the wedding day to share their first lip-lock. The point of courtship is to have a PURPOSEFUL relationship to get to know the person better and see if it is someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. The parameters are open to interpretation. Do people mess it up or does it get used out of context, yes. What doesn’t? But the history of what has happened has not been forgotten and its being worked through. You can find updates in sermons he’s preached since then that are now on a DVD.

  3. steve240 Says:

    Stephen C.

    Welcome to the blog and thanks for your comments.

    I have heard Josh Harris’s two updating messages that he gave a few years ago. I talk about those on another one of my entries: What Josh Harris Admitted ….” I was glad to hear Harris admit that there were problems at his church but was quite disappointed that Harris failed to share these on his website. See that blog entry for more of my comments.

    Have you seen my other entry that talks about what Detweiler taught on courtship? He taught this after Harris’s “update.” It looks like a step back. I wonder if what Detweiler taught represents the trend SGM is moving towards.

    Additionally at least one person has shared that even a few years after Harris’s message, their SGM church appeared to have never heard the message. I really don’t think a message or two that supposedly “updates” views on IKDG is all that is necessary to correct years of problems with the system.

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