A Response to Harris’s 7 “Defects” of Dating

Listed below is a response to Josh Harris’s list of “defects” with dating.  I borrowed this from a blog and have that blog owner’s permission to post this:

Effective vs. Defective Dating

Josh Harris wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye when he was 21. I daresay his experience with dating was minimal, so he doesn’t actually know what GOOD dating looks like. I have added my own commentary in italics to his Seven Habits of Highly Defective Dating. It doesn’t have to be defective.

1) Dating leads to intimacy, but not necessarily to commitment.
Dating doesn’t always lead to intimacy either. The “intimacy” could be just a peck on the lips at the end of the evening, holding hands or putting an arm around each other at the movies. Is that wrong? It’s up to you to decide–somewhat depending on your cultural background. Affection is a normal desire and can stay pure. In fact, I would suggest that not touching each other at all sexualizes even the smallest touch. Some people have vastly different affection needs and can hide this behind the rule of not touching at all. This may lead to great unhappiness.

One thing that Josh Harris doesn’t distinguish between is longer term dating (going steady) vs. doing something with a person of the opposite sex as a friend or even as a way to get to know you event.

I have seen the opposite where groups that “kiss dating goodbye” leads to single men and women being afraid of other. In other words they learn to avoid relating with those of opposite sex vs. relating to someone of the opposite sex.

2) Dating tends to skip the ‘friendship’ stage of a relationship.
A Christian couple I knew “skipped” the friendship stage and went right into dating and commitment. He gave her a ride home from a Christian camp and shared a peach together–this resulted in some kissing. They had four children together, ministered at church together and would still be married today had he not been killed in a tragic car accident.

From what I have seen and hear about courtship, it certainly skips the friendship stage. Single men and women are afraid of time spent together with those of the opposite sex and thus only relate with each other after they are in a courtship relationship.

3) Dating often mistakes a physical relationship for love.
Not necessarily. But some physical attraction and affection important to a successful marriage. This is what sets apart a good marriage–I don’t mean sex, I mean other kinds of physical intimacy.

Speaking of attraction, I have heard reports that in churches where courtships is practiced, some of the couples who marry report having attraction issues later in their marriage. This is certainly something to think about.

4) Dating often isolates a couple from other vital relationships.
Not necessarily. Isolating oneself from others is a sign of an unhealthy relationship, one that is important to watch out for. But there is a need for couples to find out how they interact with no one else around or marriage will be a complete and total shock.

5) Dating distracts young adults from their primary responsibility of preparing for the future.
Dating can be a part of preparing for the future by developing the social skills to communicate with the opposite sex. Though it’s possible to develop some social skills in other ways, the skill set needed for communication with a spouse is a slightly different skill set–at least for a successful partnership. There does need to be a balance. Just because dating can do something like this doesn’t mean that one should react and not date.

6) Dating can cause discontentment with God’s gift of singleness.
The statement holds the assumption that the person has the gift of singleness, that it is an actual gift and that wanting relationships with the opposite sex is not healthy. The idea of the gift of singleness for so many singles is a modern concept. For Christians to say to a single woman “the Lord is sufficient and you have the gift of singleness” sounds like a spiritual version of Gloria Steinam’s quote “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”

7) Dating creates an artificial environment for evaluating someone’s character.
Meeting one-on-one for ice cream, going out to dinner, seeing movies, talking on the phone, going to church together, going on walks together–these are artificial environments?? Since when? They work for our friendships, why wouldn’t they work for someone we are dating or even courting? If anything, college and high school are artificial environments because you are surrounded by peers who are close in age. The working world is drastically different. A spouse is someone with whom we will have hours upon hours of one-on-one time. How will we handle it if we have no experience with being with that person? Dating couples can do practical things together like running errands. It’s not all artificial.

Unless a man is prepared to ask a woman to be his wife, what right has he to claim her exclusive attention? Unless she has been asked to marry him, why would a sensible woman promise any man her exclusive attention? This is the only part I actually agree with. However, many times exclusive commitment may be a prelude to engagement without a formal betrothal.

Is it just me or was church once about actually going to church and worshiping the Lord as opposed to everyone keeping increasingly bizarre rules? I’ve come to the conclusion that at once time society was more moral and therefor these rules did not fall to the church alone to dictate.

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10 Responses to “A Response to Harris’s 7 “Defects” of Dating”

  1. Scuter Says:

    Yo Steve,
    Very interesting points you’ve got there bro! Certainly got me thinking.
    Personally I’ve been a great ‘fan’ of Josh Harris’s ikdg and boymeetsgirl.
    Its refreshing to see someone present the other side of the argument!
    I believe that for ikdg, Josh Harris was just sharing his experience and his conviction in his own life, hoping to encourage others. Perhaps the way in which he wrote it was a tad too presumptious in that he Seemed to be instructing everyone to do as he did.

    Yes I agree completely with you that whether to “kiss dating goodbye” or not really depends on many factors such as your season in life, cultural background and such, and it would be nothing short of foolishness to blindly adopt Josh Harris’s ideas immediately after reading his book without giving it much thought.

    But anyhow, thanks for offering a different point of view!
    It has built me up and even strengthened my resolve to serve God.

    God Bless you bro

    • steve240 Says:


      Welcome to my blog.

      Thanks for your comment. I think as you mention one big problem is that people took Josh Harris’s testimony of what worked for him and thought it was the pattern for all. I am sure doing that caused most of the problems that IKDG caused.


  2. KathrynM Says:

    Hi Steve,

    I just started reading IKDG. I have to say Joshua Harris made some interesting points, but I don’t really know how much I agree with him. I’ve only read the first 5 chapters so far, but I’m developing my own opinion already.
    Reading your perspective is quite interesting, and I have to say I agree with you on many points. More so than I agree with Joshua Harris.
    While I agree with him that a relationship should ideally be founded on friendship, I feel like this can be done on one-on-one dates. His idea that one should participate in groups doesn’t work in a realistic setting.
    I also agree with JH that physical intimacy should be saved for marriage, but not as extreme as he believes. While I believe sex should definitely be saved for marriage, I see nothing wrong with simple kisses, hugs, putting one’s arm around the other, etc. while dating. I don’t believe this creates any sort of bond.
    I’m glad I will be finishing his book with the opposite perspective in mind. This way I can form my own conclusions.

    God bless,


  3. Steve240 Says:


    I am glad my blog gives you another perspective on “kissing dating goodbye.”

    As I have said other places, in my experience those that follow the “kissing dating goodbye practice” learn to avoid relating to singles of the opposite sex vs. learning how to relate to those of the opposite sex.

  4. Lori Says:

    This is awesome!!! I wish that Christians knew how to date. The Lord made it clear that I would have to marry a Christian last year. This was scary because every Christian guy that I ever dated is extremely socially immature. I think that this lack of social skills comes from getting so little practice dating and relating to the opposite sex. More people from church need to hear about this. It is a dessert out there. There is too much legalistic bad information and people who live by these legalistic rules bring ridicule to the body of Christ instead of bringing people closer to Jesus Christ.

  5. Patrick Says:

    I just finished reading IKDG about an hour and a half ago. I’m pretty upset. I have friends who were guided by this book’s ideas. I took their advice. I’ve been single since 2005 and I don’t think I know how to have a mature relationship because of the ideas in this book.

    • steve240 Says:


      Welcome to my blog. I am sure with time and working on it you can overcome and learn to have a mature relationship. As they say the first step to solving a problem is acknowledging it.

      • Patrick Says:

        Thank you, Steve. I have SO many theological, philosophical, and Scriptural issues with this book. I have never thrown a book down in frustration before until I read this. I’m quite glad I found your blog.

      • steve240 Says:


        Welcome to my blog and glad it is of help to you. As my blog’s name would imply there is both wisdom and foolishness in Harris’s book.

  6. Lisa Says:

    I read I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl when I was about 16 and agreed with it at the time, mostly because I was curious and didn’t know any better. Now I’m 21, and I hate the word courtship, especially after watching the Duggars show, 19 Kids and Counting. I stopped watching when Jill and Derick started courting, cause I couldn’t listen to all the crap. Now I know that I’m for dating. Fortunately, whether it’s from crappy memory or because of how long ago I read it, I don’t remember a single thing from either of Josh Harris’s books.

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