Does Kissing Dating Goodbye Lead to Kissing Marriage Goodbye?

One a few different blogs that I read about Sovereign Grace Ministries:

I have heard Carolyn McCulley’s name discussed and her book titled Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? mentioned. This book is written by an older single woman and is especially written for single women who may think that marriage has passed them by. She uses the term “kissed marriage goodbye” as reference to Josh Harris’s “kissed dating goodbye” book.

I happened to find a portion of her book online at Google Books:

Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?

Reading the book’s preface, I found something quite interesting. Carolyn McCulley talks about “eagerly devouring” Josh Harris’s I Kissed Dating Goodbye book when it first came out in 1997. She also talks about going through the book with a group of “girls” ages 13-35 and how they connected with it. Carolyn McCulley even says about the “kissing dating goodbye” book that she finally realized that this was what she should be doing.

She then talks about 7 years later (doing the math), most of the women in this bible study group were still surprisingly being single. Notice she says “surprisingly” still single. It is as if she is quite taken aback that most of these women didn’t get married or that in normal circumstances most of these women should have been married. Of course for the younger women in the group, that would only be 20, one wouldn’t expect them to be married. Still her tone is being quite surprised that most of these women weren’t married.

Looking at this one would ask, maybe there is a connection between these women “kissing dating goodbye” and “kissing marriage goodbye.” It certainly is something to consider. Is the fact that most of these women didn’t get married when Carolyn McCulley thought they should have been a cause and effect of “kissing dating goodbye” or are they just coincidental? That is, did “kissing dating goodbye” lead to this situation or as my title indicates cause these women to “kiss marriage goodbye?”

The book’s foreword was written by Josh Harris who authored the “kissing dating goodbye” book so was I doubtful that Carolyn McCulley would be critical of the approach Josh Harris championed. I obtained and read through the rest of the book and didn’t see where she even asked the question. Maybe she is ignoring the obvious? Maybe being so sold that “kissing dating goodbye” is the “superior alternative” to dating (as a lot who teach that approach seem to be) that seeing this type of connection would be impossible for her?

I do realize that in most Christian circles there are typically more single women than single men. With this type of situation, it is probable that at least some single women won’t get married but that wouldn’t lead to most not getting married as Carolyn McCulley observed happening with this group of single women.

For those who haven’t read my other blog pages, when I use the term “kissing dating goodbye” I am talking about the approach to single men and women that Josh Harris championed/promoted in his first book. Though it may have some application for teenagers, it many times has lead to older singles almost being “afraid” of those of the opposite sex. Usually in this type of environment, singles are told strongly encouraged to do activities with those of the opposite sex in groups.

Those who promote “kissing dating goodbye” typically are quick to point out the problems with dating but “forget” to mention the problems “kissing dating goodbye” has caused over the years. From what I have seen it leads to single learning to avoid relating with those of the opposite sex vs. learning how to. If you want more information on my thoughts on KDG, please see me other blog pages. I have no doubts that this culture where singles are afraid of each other makes it harder for at least some to marry. It could very well cause at least some singles to “kiss marriage goodbye. “

One other thought I have is those that the more one has


in an approach like “kissing dating goodbye” such as with time and past opportunities the harder it is for one to see the problems with it. It is hard to admit that one is wrong. It is even harder to admit the problems when one has invested a lot and thus past up other means and opportunities.

This certainly raises some questions. I will be curious to hear what comments anyone has on this.

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23 Responses to “Does Kissing Dating Goodbye Lead to Kissing Marriage Goodbye?”

  1. John David Blair Says:

    Whether the book is right or not, I do know several women who have “kissed marriage goodbye.” A neighbor of mine is in her 60s, and she tells me that she has never been married, and, now, she fears that she never will be. Still another woman I know, who is 35, has suddenly realized that, if she does not marry within a few years, she will never have children. After waiting for years, this Christian woman is now so desperate to be married that she is flirting with a married man.

    Kissing dating goodbye may have some value for young teenagers, but for adults, I have never personally seen it work. Most all the happily married Christian couples I know dated before getting married, and not just their spouse.

    For me, the courtship approach involves too much waiting and not enough sowing. One of the most universally true principals of the Bible can be found in Galatians 6:7, which reminds us that “God will not be mocked.” this is because we reap what we sow. If you plant a sunflower seed, you can bet that you will not reap anything other than a sunflower. Similarly, if we sow nothing, then we reap nothing.

    I wrote an article called “No Deposit; No return” at the ATI blog ( that expads on this reasoning, but I believe it to be especially true in dating. If you are waiting for a spouse to fall into your lap, then you have missed God’s design for our lives entirely. Absent some revelation from the Lord commanding you to wait for Him to deliver a spouse to you, if you sow waiting, then waiting is what you will reap. Lots of waiting. Anything else mocks the Lord’s design.

  2. steve240 Says:


    Thanks for posting another comment. I think we are in agreement that “kissing dating goodbye” is more appropriate for teenagers vs. older singles.

    IMO, some of the things that “kissing dating goodbye” teaches younger singles almost need to be unlearned when one becomes more mature is ready for a mate. The other problem is that “kissing dating goodbye” many times leads to people learning to AVOID relating with those of the opposite sex vs. LEARNING how to relate.

    An example of needing to unlearn things is someone’s interest in that of the opposite sex. “Kissing dating goodbye” says to avoid any romantic attachments since you aren’t ready for marriage. If one keeps that mentality then they are most likely to be “kissing marriage” goodbye.

    Thanks again for your comment.

  3. John David Blair Says:

    I agree – learning to relate to members of the opposite sex takes time, more for some and less for others, but always it takes some amount of time and investment. To assume we can go straight from avoiding relationships with the opposite sex into marriage is not only silly, it is a contradiction (and mockery) of God’s design.

    I think the principal of reaping/sowing applies as much to datinbg as it does “faith healing” and every other area of our lives. We recently posted an entry on our blog along those lines called “God really does help those who help themselves” (see

    The point I am trying to impress on others is this: whether it is dating or any other facet of life from your finances to your job to your friendships, you won’t get something for nothing. God requires an investment of prayer, faith, obedience, and effort of us when answering our prayers. He does answer prayers and perform miracles, but God requires us to do our part here on Earth. That’s how he made the universe to work. God doesn’t need our efforts, but he does require them. Just examine the lives of the apostles for confirmation.

    I highly recommend people carefully sow in this way in the area of dating if they want to reap the harvest of a happy marriage. To do nothing and expect everything from the Lord is to mick Him, and God does not respond to or tolerate mockery.

    But that could just be me 😉

  4. steve240 Says:

    John Blair

    One thing I think that Josh Harris didn’t take into account with his book and how others apply it is that Josh Harris before he actually “kissed”dating goodbye he had done some dating and thus developed some relationship skills with those of the opposite sex. Also, listening to a few messages from Josh Harris, indicate that he was never on the shy side with women and didn’t need much work on learning how to interact with the opposite sex.

    The problem is that a lot of people aren’t like Josh Harris. They haven’t had much interaction and need to develop over time certain relational skills. Sadly “kissing dating goodbye” stops this development from happening with a lot of singles and they also didn’t have the chance that Josh Harris had before his big decision.


  5. kingtut3 Says:

    Here’s my personal thoughts. I’m a single, 21 year old college student who has never dated. I have been in group conversations and one on one conversations with people of the opposite sex. Group conversations tend to be more surface level. Why? You are with multiple people. There might be one or two people with whom you wouldn’t share things deeply. Also, you don’t get as much as a chance to talk. Now let’s look at one on one conversations. One on one conversations go deeper. I had two close friends who were girls. We were close because we spent one on one time together. There was no problem with it. I wasn’t pretending to be someone else or putting the relationship ahead of anything else. If I had listened to Jushua Harris, we would never had been close friends.

    In Christ,
    James Tuttle

  6. Daniel Thomas White Says:

    The ideas throughout Harris’ book should be adhered too at any age. The concept of putting “self” aside and allowing Christ to be center should be the utmost desire of every believer. “Dating” as is discussed in the book is just the spring board to which every other aspect of life should be yielded to God’s will. A yielded life would bring such glory and honor to God. Isn’t that what we were made for; to bring Glory to our God the Father. Did He not send his Son to die to reconcile the relationship between God and man? His love is so BIG for us, how would we dare to believe that if we put Him first in our lives that He would not withhold any good thing from us?

  7. steve240 Says:


    Welcome to my blog.

    I am not sure why you made this comment on this blog page but I would agree that that godly principles should be adhered to at any age and that would include those that Josh Harris outlines in his book. Realize that some of what Josh Harris shares in his book aren’t necessarily godly principles but are his way of doing something. One has to differentiatel.

    When I have seen churches that require singles do things in groups at all ages I shake my head. There can be times when it is good to do things in groups but requiring this is something more designed for teenagers and not older singles.

  8. inah Says:

    the question that must first be answered is whether one is meant by GOD to be married. if one subscribes to the theology that GOD is sovereign, then whatever age one is, he/she must surrender to GOD’s will. hence, the “sowing” part should be sowing FIRST in prayer, whether one is for marriage, according to GOD’s will. “dating” without first seeking and praying for GOD’s will, is dangerous and can be really painful. boundaries must be kept between men and women and whether we like it or not, dating can easily blur the boundaries. i guess that’s the goal of the book. to hinder us from getting hurt when we assume too much that whatever GOD wills for another is what HE also wills for us. surely, no one believes that GOD wants all of us married right?

    • steve240 Says:


      Welcome to my blog. I am not totally sure what your point is.

      One does certainly have to pray and and decide if it is God’s will or not to marry someone. You might want to read my blog more. “Kissing Dating Goodbye” has caused a number of problems as well as helping singles.

  9. Jaqueline Says:

    Just think about it…

    women who stay single their entire lives

    …are not far from the feminist dream.

    Here we have the best proof that the fundamentalists who define a woman’s role as wife ‘n mother are just wrong.

    Carolyn McCulley could title the same book “I Kissed Men Goodbye,” and keep the same content!!

    *laughing to myself*

  10. Jaqueline Says:

    or she could title the book, “Am I a Woman? Trying to Keep My Essential Humanity When the Harris Brothers Define My Womanhood in Terms of Marriage and Kids”

  11. Lori Says:

    There is definitely a lot of missing relationship skills among Christians.

  12. Kourtney Leanne Says:

    Thanks for commenting on my blog!
    I read this post and skimmed through a few others that you have posted on your blog. I can see why you say that their are also effects of “kissing dating goodbye” can also be negative. But as for me, I do not intend to go in an extreme direction in this time of singleness. I totally know how to interact with the opposite sex. In the past four years of my life, there has not been a time when I was not talking to a guy. I am ready to have just one. One that I know I will be with forever. I really believe that God is calling me to take a break from dating for an entire year. I cannot even see myself getting married in the next couple of years, so there is not really any point to date someone right now anyways. Josh Harris’s book is not just about not dating, but also about how to love others in all circumstances, like Christ loves us.

    • steve240 Says:


      Welcome to my blog and thanks for your comments. Each person has to think and pray about their own situation. There may be seasons when one puts dating on hold.

  13. Kourtney Leanne Says:

    Even for older adults, I believe everything has to be a balance. A person can’t just be a loner and never have a chance to interact with others and expect God to bring them the person of their dreams. On the other hand, a person can’t just date recreationally and hook up on every blind date that they are given and expect to marry that person that God intended for them. Everything must be done in balance and moderation. Consequently, this is where many negative views towards not dating can come from if not done in moderation.

    • steve240 Says:


      Welcome again. I agree in the need for moderation.

      There also are different types of “dating.” One can be the more casual doing something with someone while another can be more of a longer term “going together” type situation.

  14. Kristin Weber Says:

    I saw your comment on my blog “I Kissed Dating Hello.” Good discussion you have going here! I agree that IKDG can be applied more toward teens/young twenties still living under their parents’ roof and rules. It gets harder to keep those rules when you live 1500 miles away from your family!

  15. Taunya Richards Says:

    Thank you for your comment on my blog!

    The teens/young twenties set are still developmentally in the growing stage. I find this age group do need some settings to help them avoid the dangers that can occur in a dating situation such as: ownership, possession, sex outside marriage, abuse.

    Mr Harris wrote this book at age 21…before he reached a psychological mature age!

    “So the changes that happen between 18 and 25 are a continuation of the process that starts around puberty, and 18 year olds are about halfway through that process. Their prefrontal cortex is not yet fully developed. That’s the part of the brain that helps you to inhibit impulses and to plan and organize your behavior to reach a goal.”

    There is good reason to help young people to date within safe parameters. However, this is the extreme opposite of the world’s anything goes dating.

    I will say that most groups who do adhere to this are concerned about purity. However, unless one is taught the reasons for purity, how to maintain one’s purity without external pressures…then 90% (of my peer group) end up giving up their purity the minute they find someone interested in them. Over 50% of the group it meant life-long consequences that they regret, but now cannot change.

    Ultimately, this is just too easy of a way to shirk one’s parenting responsibilities. As a parent you need to make sure you help your child successfully transition into adulthood. This means from the ages of 13-20’s you should be helping them to learn the skills of making adult decisions while keeping the safety net to save them from their impulsiveness.

    In my opinion, we have made children adults way too soon without any training.

    • steve240 Says:


      Thanks for your comment. My blog name asks if IKDG is widsom or foolishness. It certainly doesn’t call it all foolishness. I believe it has both. I would agree that teenagers need some guidance before just like you can’t expect someone to be thrown in a pool and immediately expected to swim if they have never swam before.

      IKDG was written by someone sharing what worked for him as a teenager and was his response to his problem. Sadly people have taken this to be the only way things should be done. If nothing else, I am trying to get people to think about the book vs. blindly accept it as was done a lot when it came out.

      I have seen cases where it caused a number of problems for older singles. Sadly older singles in the their 20’s acted more like teenagers such as being afraid of those of the opposite sex apparently due to this approach being taught. Josh Harris has had problems at his own church that sadly he hasn’t widely shared.

      One big problem that IKDG has caused is a lack of social skills with those of the opposite sex.

      Your approach to analyze what is best for your son and his maturity level is much better than what has typically happened with the one size fits all approach.

  16. Manufacturing Singleness Part 2 | The Society of Phineas Says:

    […] end effect of “kissing data goodbye” seems to most certainly be kissing marriage goodbye as […]

  17. Some Problems In Christian Dating | The Society of Phineas Says:

    […] With the drive to purity that’s happened within the church, there have been teachings that are not only designed to push abstinence, but has had the effect of rendering men and women unable to communicate with one another. This happens due to the common segregation that occurs today (men’s and women’s ministries for instance), but also due to bad dating advice such as I Kissed Dating Goodbye which pushes abstinence for reasons beyond sexual motives and ultimately teaches single men and women to not have anything to do with each other at all for fear of fornication. That this impedes the normal interaction between men and women is without question. The end effect of “kissing data goodbye” seems to most certainly be kissing marriage goodbye as well. […]

  18. Anonymous Says:

    In my opinion it’s a combination of problems. I believe there genuinely is an imbalance in the number of qualified marriage candidates among 20-something Christian guys and girls.

    The U.S. census says there is no **actual** disparity. But I suspect a spiritual disparity. Only 1-in-5 of the single 20-something Christian women I know has a serious boyfriend right now.

    There was a Mark Regnerus article alluding to the imbalance in the number of good marriage candidates in this article:

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