I read a blog entry written by John that asks that same question. I would encourage anyone to read this link:
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”
- Going out and doing something with someone of the opposite sex (with no commitment implied). This could either be:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- Two people that are seeing each other for a long time period with “no real purpose” in mind as Harris mentions. .
- 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.