Posts Tagged ‘Betrothal’

Does Kissing Dating Goodbye Lead to Kissing Marriage Goodbye?

August 14, 2009

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

http://www.sgmrefuge.com
http://www.sgmsurvivors.com

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

    invested

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.

What Is “Dating” And What Did Josh Harris Supposedly “Kiss Goodbye?”

February 27, 2009

I read a blog entry written by John that asks that same question.  I would encourage anyone to read this link:

What is “dating” anyway?

That certainly is a good question.  What is it that Harris is supposedly “kissing goodbye?”  If one decides they want to follow what Harris is teaching, wouldn’t they want to know that means and what they shouldn’t do.  The word “dating” can mean a lot of things.

There appears to be some confusion in Christian circles as to what dating is and what  they are “kissing goodbye.”

The different meanings that I see with dating along with subcategories are as follows:

DIFFERENT TYPES OF “DATING”

  1. Going out and doing something with someone of the opposite sex (with no commitment implied). This could either be:
    1. Doing something as friends to enjoy each other’s company.  There can be quite a spectrum here of what is done on these dates.  .  “Enjoy” can mean anything from doing some with the purity God commands us to to couples engaging in casual sex.
    2. Spending some time to get to know someone to see if there is possibility that there might be a “connection” to have a relationship.  One might think of this as going out on a number of dates somewhere in the range of 5 dates.  This again can be done with purity or have all the sin issues pointed out in 1a above.
  2. Seeing each other exclusively for a period of time. It might be called “going together” or “going steady” or being someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend. This could either be:
    1. Something relatively short tem such as the repeated hook up and then break up that happens with some high school students.  According to Harris, this produces multiple broken hearts in a person and being at ease with breaking up.
    2. Two people that are seeing each other for a long time period with “no real purpose” in mind as Harris mentions.  .
    3. A couple exploring a relationship to see if they might be a good match for marriage.  Most would call this at least at some point during this stage “courtship.”

As I indicate above, it is quite possible for a couple to be involved in any of the above scenarios and do it in the purity that God commands us to.  Conversely, it is also possible for a couple be involved in the same activities without that the purity called for in scripture.   I am just trying to define the various types of dating.

My study of Harris’s book seems to indicate that what Harris is really opposing is category 2a or 2b: short term boyfriend/girlfriend situations.  Writing from the perspective of his teenage experiences, Harris decries the pattern that some people do (usually teenagers) of being a “couple” for a short period of time and then breaking up.  He also feels it is wrong to be “coupled up” before one is ready to pursue marriage.

Even if one does believe and follow Harris’s thoughts on all of this he unfortunately doesn’t make it clear what he is “kissing goodbye.”  This leads to what some call a “shotgun affect” to where all dating is decried as being wrong while his alternative “courtship” becomes the only thing that is acceptable reason for 2 singles to be together.  This makes all the other categories except 2c seem at least not as “godly.”

One alternative that Harris’s church has pushed for a number of years is singles doing things in groups vs. “dating” someone of the opposite sex until one is ready for marriage and meets someone they are ready to pursue “courtship” with.

This is just something to think about.  There is a broad spectrum in what constitutes dating.  Just know what you are “kissing goodbye” if you choose to do that.

Josh Harris did indicate in his latest IKDG “update” message, “Romance Revisited”, that the title of his book was “confusing.”  He said that he could have said I kissed “short term premature selfish directionless romantic relationships” goodbye but that would be too long of a title for a book.  This confirms what I am sharing above that Harris didn’t really indicate he wanted to kiss all dating goodbye, just  a certain type of dating goodbye.

IKDG Blog One Year Anniversary

December 25, 2008

Well on internet time (terms of blog stats) it is now 12/26 and this day marks the one year anniversary for my blog.

I am almost at 18,000 hits for this blog which is far more than I ever thought would happen when set up this blog.

The fairly constant hits that this blog gets shows me that there still is some need for this type of blog. If my blog does nothing more than make people think about if/how they apply IKDG vs. blindly following then my blog has served its purpose.

Though I am not making that many new entries, I will continue to look for new topics that I can post on this blog.

I want to give an especial thanks to Kris of http://www.sgmsurvivors.com. I am sure that the large number of hits to this blog have been due to “riding on the coat tails” or her blogs popularity.

Thanks also to everyone who has posted comments for this blog.

One Person’s Historical Account of the “Kissing Dating Goodbye” Fad

December 1, 2008

I found the following story written on another blog at:

Account of Kissing Dating Goodbye

With permission I am posting it here. It gives one person’s perspective of the “kissing dating goodbye” fad that Harris spawned. I highlighted certain sentences in bold.

Anybody remember this book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye? I remember it very well. It was a very trendy evangelical book when I was in the Navigators and Campus Crusade back in 1998 and 1999. The basic thesis of the book is that dating is wrong, and that you shouldn’t even be alone with a member of the opposite sex until you are married. Thus, the author Joshua Harris distinguishes between dating, which is bad, and “courting,” which is good. The problem is that he doesn’t do a very good job of distinguishing between the two, and apparently he didn’t even follow his own advice, going on a “date” for bagels with the woman he is now married to. I wrote a fairly negative review of the book for Amazon.com, a review which just happens to be the first review most people see when they visit the book’s page on Amazon. I tried to be balanced in my review of the book, which I found superficial, and largely based on the personal negative dating experiences of the author.

My negative impression of the book developed because of what I witnessed before I ever read the book myself. It was all the rage in the evangelical circles I was a part of. You couldn’t go to any retreat, meeting, or whatever, without hearing about this book, and its philosophy, as if it really was the gospel. New converts to Christianity I knew often owned multiple copies of the book and would pass it out to anyone and everyone they met. People would go to dinner and a movie with someone of the opposite sex, but bend over backwards to call it anything but a “date,” because they had been taught, and believed, that “dating” is sinful. Of course, these new converts couldn’t tell you much about who Jesus was, or what he did for us, and hadn’t even begun to read the Bible, but they had the details of this book memorized. Perhaps I was cynical, but I often wondered how some people I knew could claim such sure knowledge of “biblical” love, without ever having opened a Bible.

My review on Amazon.com doesn’t mention this, but Harris’ attitude toward love strikes me as rather Gnostic-like. Even something as mild as holding hands was seen as violating “biblical” principles of courtship, so people I knew literally were getting married within months of meeting, because they craved any type of physical contact with that person (and I am not talking about sinful contacts, but simply holding hands or being alone outside of a group). It created an environment that essentially said “before marriage, no contact, after marriage, do whatever you want,” or at least that is how I heard it presented. I certainly agree that physical contact before marriage must be kept within certain boundaries of chastity, but to suggest that an unmarried couple cannot even spend time alone denies people important bonding time, including time to pray together.

My biggest gripe with the book, and the movement that followed, is not the basic underlying point, which is that the way secular society goes about finding love is very, very, screwed up. I can agree with this. My biggest complaint is the way that this book and movement dominated people’s lives, far surpassing virtually any other aspect of Christianity, including the Bible, basic doctrine, and social justice. New converts I knew learned nothing of the Trinity, helping the poor, Church history, the Bible, the person of Christ, etc, but became fully immersed in one 21-year old’s interpretation of “biblical” love, which was in reality based on a few proof-texts taken outside of any cultural context. “The Trinity? That’s boring. Let’s get back to Joshua Harris.” In other words, this method was the evangelical “flavor-of-the-day,” like the Prayer of Jabez was awhile back. I think following Harris’ principles is spiritually healthier than finding love the secular way, that is for sure, but the movement certainly had a “flavor-of-the-day” feel to it.

No matter what your opinion of Catholicism and Orthodoxy, we have a long and thoughtful tradition that is suspicious of flavor-of-the-day type movements. This is one thing that drew me to both of these Traditions. What I read of Catholic and Orthodox authors (including the Fathers) was far more deep, thoughtful, and enduring than the “flavor-of-the-day” stuff I was often exposed to as an evangelical. Granted, many evangelicals themselves criticize this tendency among some of their brethren, so I am not saying that evangelical=flavor-of-the-day, but many secondhand stores are littered with yesterdays’ “flashes-in-the-pan.”

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

November 17, 2008

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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Separation of the Sexes: Does it leave you vulnerable to control?

July 27, 2008

One discussion topic about courtship/dating that recently occurred on SGM Survivors (www.sgmsurvivors.com) was about the affects of socially isolating single men and women. One person put it this way:

It left these young people (and some not-so-young people) with immature and underdeveloped abilities…which in turn, of course, leave them more vulnerable to being led and controlled, even as they are pumped full of themselves and their own maturity for “doing it right.”

It has been reported that in some courtship circles including Sovereign Grace Ministries there is a lot of social “segregation” of the single men and. That is the pastors and parents don’t allow single men and women in their teens and older to interact much (with those of the opposite sex). This includes limiting this interaction even in group settings.

It was discussed what are some of the effects of this “segregation.” One clear affect of this “isolation” is that it doesn’t allow these single men and women to develop social interaction skills with those of the opposite sex. In other words, it leaves these young people with immature and underdeveloped social skills with those of the opposite sex. This would include the young men having problems approaching and talking to a single women and single women being shy and “unapproachable.” Put another way the singles become afraid of any interaction with the opposite sex.

When singles don’t have these social skills it makes them more dependent and easily controlled by their parents. Without having the opportunity to develop the interacting skills needed to meet a mate, they can become dependent on their parents and others in finding a mate. I value the opinions and input of others on finding a mate but seriously question if parents should be the ones deciding who you should marry.

I am not one to say that there doesn’t need to be some controls in place especially when singles are younger but what I hear reported seems to be going to quite an extreme.  This is another example of how courtship and “kissing dating goodbye” may have started with the best of intentions morphs into something that is more about control than its original intent.

Comments?

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What Another (Now Former) Leader In Sovereign Grace Ministries Teaches About Courtship & Dating

July 21, 2008

I know it has been a little while since I made an entry but I am not one to just keep posting unless I have something to say.

7/14/11 Update

After leaving SGM Brent Detwiler has produced a number of documents showing multiple problems that exist within SGM and especially the hypocrisy of C.J. Mahaney. As a result of these documents becoming public Mahaney stepped down as leader of the group.

The following blogs are good sources of information about what is going on:

http://www.sgmsurvivors.com
http://www.sgmrefuge.com
http://www.wartburgwatch.com

I have the highest respect for Brent having the courage to release these documents. Hopefully they will result in needed changes in SGM.

Original Post

I was reading some comments on another blog called SGMSurvivors (www.sgmsurvivors.com) and someone posted the following link:

http://audio.kingswaymedia.cc/pdf/4GettingReady.pdf

If you download this pdf file it indicates it is the handout for a message given by Brent Detwiler at “The Summit Men’s Retreat” on September 21-23, 2006.  He is calling the message “Getting Ready” as in getting ready for courtship.

For those who don’t know, Brent Detwiler isn’t just a another pastor in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  He is in the higher leadership of Sovereign Grace including at times having responsibility for oversight of a number of churches.  Thus this teaching shouldn’t be regarded as the teaching of just one of the regular SGM pastors but by someone in upper leadership.

Just like I have commented before on Josh Harris’s books, this handout has both wisdom and foolishness.

Listed below are some of points Brett Detwiler teaches about Courtship/Dating that caught my attention.  I have inserted my comments below each “point.”

  • Courtship is not for fun.

If courtship isn’t fun I wonder what it should be.  Should it be mundane or a chore?  Sure it should be taken seriously and will be some work but shouldn’t a couple have fun exploring whether they are a good match for each other?  Is this a good way to start a marriage?  I question of the wisdom of wanting to get married to someone that I can’t even have a fun experience with.

  • Dating is about personal gratification and an end in itself. It brings all kinds of temptation to sin.

It looks like Detwiler is convinced that someone can’t date without it including all of the above. It is one thing to promote or think that “courtship” is a superior or more holy than dating.  It is another thing to make a generalization like this.

I know of couples that have dated and wasn’t about the above.  It was done with integrity.  I can’t believe Detwiler’s audacity to make this judgment about dating.

At least Detwiler is out and open about his beliefs vs. writing a book that decries problems with dating but then claims they aren’t against dating.

  • Keep Courtship Brief
    • The longer a courtship goes the greater the likelihood a brother and sister will get involved emotionally and physically in ways that are inappropriate or sinful.
    • By keeping the courtship brief (e.g. 3-6 months) you are trying to prevent this from happening. There is a balance between getting to know the person better and escalating temptation.

I have heard of couples that being under pressure to either get married or cut off seeing each other.  Some couples in response to this pressure would get married before they had spent enough time to get to know each other and fully “explore” the possibility of a marriage.  They would then get married and discover they weren’t as good of a match as they thought.  Imagine being married to someone that isn’t the best of match when God wants this to be a commitment for life.

I guess if you listen to what Detwiler says here and other places in this handout, there is only one way to do things?

  • Marriage will not prosper and may not survive apart from wholehearted involvement in a local church.

Though it always good for a couple to be involved in a local church I am not sure how one can make this generalization.

  • Role oriented marriages – the reason why arranged marriages work.
    • Man – priorities as a husband, father and provider
    • Woman – priorities as a wife, mother, and home worker

(I added the underline and italics.)

Well at least Detweiler is being honest about this.  He is promoting “arranged” marriages.  It sounds like he wants the children’s parents to arrange a marriage.  I wouldn’t want my parents deciding especially without my input on who my mate should be.

In conclusion this teaching may show the real heart and what is really behind what Sovereign Grace Ministries believes and teaches on courtship and dating including how bad they consider dating to be.  At least it is nice to know what their views are so that one can make an informed decision.  It is shocking that Detwiler teaches that there is only one way to do something.

Detwiler’s message may also show the real heart behind what Joshua Harris believes on courtship.  Harris may claim that he doesn’t have strong views against dating but when one sees something like this it really makes you wonder if Harris’s views aren’t this extreme also.  Of course there could be differing views in SGM.

8/31/09 Update

What Problems Joshua Harris Acknowledged About How Singles Relate At His Church (But Doesn’t Share on His Website)

April 30, 2008

I know that this has been mentioned briefly on various other threads on this blog but thought it merited its own thread and more discussion.

Here are some points that Joshua Harris made in a message entitled “Coursthip Smourtship: What Really Matters in Relationships” given on November 20, 2005. In this message he acknowledged that how some of single men and women in his church related:

  • Could be described as standoffis, overly reserved, a certain level of uptightness
  • Isn’t how relationships should work in God’s family

After acknowledging these problems Harris indicated what he thought was proper for singles:

  • Felt desire for God to bless single men and women with the good gift of marriage in his time.
  • Didn’t want the singles ministry to become a “meat market” but one in which godly friendships can lead to purposeful courtships and God glorifying relationships
  • Purposeful courtship can only happen when if mature men and women first feel the freedom to get to know each other in brother/sister friendships
  • Men not scared about initiating friendships with women
  • Felt there had been some confusion
  • It is ok for brothers and sisters to go out to lunch/dinner together, grab coffee, and email one another.
  • Should ok talk church lobby w/o asked when is the wedding date

Harris also clarified his views on singles “guarding one’s heart.” Harris even felt the word was misapplied:

  • One should not become self focused in attempt from ever being disappointed.
  • Not to guard your hearts from attraction (don’t run away from a friendship when there is attraction) God can help process that it in godly way;
  • If attempt guard ourselves against attraction/disappointment will cut ourselves off from the good gifts of friendship/fellowship that God has for us.
  • If not mutual attraction/interest God help you walk through that. There will be times of disappointment.
  • Some walk out courtships decide not to get married; successful if walked out in integrity;

I admire that Harris did have the courage to acknowledge problems at his church. Usually one is well on to solving a problem after the problem has been acknowledged. Hopefully this message at least brought about changs at CLC with how the singles relate. The message was given 2.5 years ago. For those of you reading this still part of a SG Church what change have you noticed at CLC or within SG as a result of this message?

It is interesting to note that even at Harris’s own church there were significant problems with how singles related. From reading his books and looking at his website you would think that only dating had problems. Harris doesn’t mention any problems with his system in his books. People say that there is never a “perfect church” but when I read his books one would think he has found perfect system for singles.

This is probably my biggest issue with the way Harris has presented his “kissing dating goodbye” approach; he fails to admit any problems this approach can have. In other words, he is setting people up for false expectations when he doesn’t warn of the problems with his approach. It is like saying he found the “perfect church” when there is no perfect church.

One problem I have with all of this is when I look at Harris’s website I don’t see these problems mentioned He mentions where he has added these messages to the DVD package he sells but doesn’t mention any of the particular problems on his website:

http://www.joshharris.com/2007/11/dvd_messages_old_and_new_1.php

Wouldn’t it have made sense to spread the word about the problems with his approach to correct the imbalance his books created by not mentioning any of these problems? I am sure they exist in other churches. If he mentioned these problems on his website maybe other groups could learn from the problems that occurred at Harris’s own church.

Some Harris defenders cite this message as when people criticize Harris and his books. The only problem is that he doesn’t seem to be widely sharing these problems he found in his own congregation with his approach.

One other thought on this is “so what else is new.” The problems he acknowledged have seemed to have always coexisted with the group/courtship approach. Sovereign Grace had been using Harris’s approach of “kissing dating goodbye” for almost 20 years when Harris wrote his book. At least in this message the problems were finally acknowledged by someone in leadership. My thought in the past was that pastors only wanted to hear what they wanted to hear about this approach (only the good).

One person on the Sovereign Grace Uncensored blog (now sgmsurvivors.com) conjectured that Harris was between a rock and a hard place on this. He has a large following among the home schooling crowd that admire the group/courtship model he has set up. It would be hard for him to come out and backpedal on what he has said is such a good system.

Update 11/24/2008

These messages are now again available for downloading (free of charge):

Kissing Dating Goodbye “Updates”

Enter “courtship” as the search term.

I am interested in hearing what comments people have on this.

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

February 25, 2008

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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Definition of Terms: Dating, Groups & Courtship

February 20, 2008

Now that I have been blogging on this topic for a while I think it is more than appropriate that I define some terms, especially as they have been applied in Sovereign Grace which is the group Harris is a part of.

Here is a summary of the three stages I have seen:

DATING

This is what a lot of people do. It can be a casual date doing things as friends where a person dates different people to see what personality works best for them. It could be a long drawn out thing with no intention of marriage. There is quite a spectrum here. SG moved away from this early in their church history. Incidentally, in Joshua Harris’s “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” book he doesn’t seem to make a distinction between casual dating (as friends) and a long term dating.

GROUP APPROACH

This is what Sovereign Grace Ministries started promoting early in their church history (1978). With this approach, singles are encouraged to do things in groups vs. two single people of the opposite sex going out on “dates.” Dating might not have literally been forbidden but it might as well have been. Only after having done a lot of thing in group situations and in that context gotten to know each other was a couple allowed to pursue a relationship and do things one on one.

COURTSHIP

This system is something SG gravitated to around the mid 90’s. It especially worked well for children growing up in the church. This is an extension of the group approach and goes even further.

With this approach an interested young man must first approach the young woman’s father and gain his approval to court or “woo” as they like to say his daughter. Getting the father’s approval may take some time and is done before the young man can spend any significant time with the young woman to determine if she is even a good match for him.

At one time this approach was introduced as having prospective couple do things around each other’s family where they couldn’t put on a facade for their potential partner but now has moved toward getting the father’s approval first before much contact between the two single people. To me the having to get the father’s permission to “woo” his daughter before you can spend time to get to know her to see if she is a good match is like putting the cart before the horse. How can one know if they want to court a girl until after spending time with her? It’s almost a Catch-22.

I will be curious to see what comments people have about this. Correct me if I am wrong about my definitions.

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Revised 2/25/08