Posts Tagged ‘C.J.Mahaney’

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:


  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 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.

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:


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.


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.


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.

Return to Main Page

Revised 2/25/08

“Sovereign Grace” & Courtship: A Contradiction?

January 26, 2008

If you have read my previous post about Courtship being a means for parents extending control of their children then you should have a good idea of where I am coming from.

Courtship: Extending Parents “Protection” Beyond Home Schooling?

Sovereign Grace Ministries, the church association (some would say denomination) that Joshua Harris author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye is a senior pastor in teaches the Calvinistic belief. Harris’s group uses the title “Reformed” and not “Calvinism” though most say they are synonymous. In fact, their name “Sovereign Grace” implies they are Calvinistic/Reformed.

The Reformed Doctrine is based on a strong emphasis on God’s Sovereignty. Some including myself would say that this doctrine takes God’s chosen Sovereignty too far. Their strong emphasis on Sovereignty leads them to believe that God chooses who will be saved and that man has no choice or control in the matter. Put another way God provides an “irresistible grace” to some and those he gives this to are assured of being saved. Putting this another way, man has no free will in his salvation and it is God who decides who He will save including when.

What about those that don’t get this “irresistible grace?” They have no chance of salvation according to Reformed Theology. Either by default or also by God’s selection (depending on which variation of Calvinism taught) they will not be saved and hence eternally damned. This is the dark side of Calvinism that many times proponents choose to downplay.

Nevertheless Calvinism teaches that man has no choice with respect to salvation. God controls who will and who will not go to heaven. Thus this teaching promotes what some say is an extreme view of God’s Sovereignty.

A summary of Sovereign Grace’s teaching is summarized in one message on their web site:

Sovereign Grace & The Glorious Mystery of Election

Note: Many who question the Calvinistic doctrine will state that the use of the term “mystery” is another way of stating the contradictions in Scripture that conflict with Calvinism.

Now here is where I see a contradiction.

Why do groups such as Sovereign Grace Ministries promote a system such as courtship that seems to “over protect” their children while at the same time stating they believe how much God is in control and sovereign? That is according to their doctrine, if God wants to save their children he will do that. Conversely, if God hasn’t chosen to save them, there is nothing they can do to prevent that.

I am not downplaying the benefits of and that one should bring up a child in proper God fearing environment. I am just pointing out the contradiction. Others have shared my same concern. Also, if it is God’s sovereign choice, wouldn’t a Godly environment have no affect on whether their children come to Christ or not?

On a side note, I am always curious if leaders who promote Calvinism are willing to admit that God may not choose to save some of their children. It is easy to teach something like this when it doesn’t hit home and affect your family. It is much easier to say you believe this while pointing to crowd of strangers and not your own family.

One well known Christian author, Dave Hunt, has a book titled “What Love Is This?” That phrase sums it up. How could a God we portray as having a father heart not at least afford all individuals an opportunity to be saved?

Note: I do not hold to or promote a Calvinistic viewpoint though I don’t consider myself to be what is the opposite of the spectrum, an Arminian. If anything I would call myself a “Calminian.”

Tim Lahaye is quoted as saying that Calvinism is “perilously close to “blasphemy.” I would agree with Tim Lahaye. I am just seeing a contradiction. Maybe this should also be called “mystery?” 😉


Return to Main Page

Courtship: Extending Parents “Protection” Beyond Home Schooling?

January 19, 2008

Is courtship’s true motivation a way of extending parents “protection” of their children beyond what home schooling has done for them? This certainly is a good question. If so, is this “protection” wise.

These issues and others are discussed in the following online book written by Robin Phillips. It can be downloaded at the following link:

The Way of a Man with a Maid: A Response to the Courtship & Betrothal Movements

Robin Phillips makes some very good points and comments about the courtship and betrothal movements. I would strong recommend someone with an interest courtship or “kissing dating goodby” download and read this document.

A summary of the points are:

  • The courtship/betrothal movement seems to have its roots in parents wanting to further parents’ protection of their children like they feel they do when they home school their children. Robin Phillips is 2nd generation home schooled.
  • Phillips discussed the roots of courtship going back to Bill Gothard’s teaching especially Gothard’s teaching on family authority. Phillips discusses Gothard’s view on family authority including questioning it. View’s on family authority is provides the foundation for the courtship model.
  • He reviews and critiques Jonathan Lindvall’s teaching on courtship including showing some pretty shocking examples of it going awry.
  • Courtship’s “de-emphasizing of anything relating to romantic love.” He asks if this might be because its not something parents can easily “summon” and hence try to minimize its importance.
  • Questions how biblical “emotional purity” is that is so pushed by courtship advocates.
  • Explains “Why Dating Is Not The Problem And Courtship Is Not The Answer.”

Note: The author has an appendix where he questions whether Joshua Harris is a part of this courtship/betrothal movement he is critiquing in his book. Though Phillips doesn’t seem to think Harris is, Phillips does state that “people might be inadvertently sucked into the wider courtship movement through Harris’ writings as a result of the semantic similarity.” Phillips also states “Boy Meets Girl does present some disturbing parallels with the courtship movement, particularly in his emphasis on reaching a quality of character correctness before one is ready for marriage, and his rather mechanical approach to the operation of human emotions.”

Overall a good book with quite an analysis of what is driving some groups to push toward courtship. If nothing else, reading this book helps you see a motivation behind what is being promoted.

The author of this online book indicates his requests for discussion with Harris went unanswered. I guess I shouldn’t feel slighted that he also hasn’t answered my emails.

Return to Main Page

Issac & Rebekah’s Story: Proactive or Passive?

January 12, 2008

Disclaimer: As far as I know, Joshua Harris hasn’t used the following Scripture to justify “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” or courtship. I have seen it used by others.

Scripture Used: Genesis 24 with emphasis on:

Gen 24:63-67:

And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening; and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, camels were coming. 64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from the camel. 65 And she said to the servant, “Who is that man walking in the field to meet us?” And the servant said, “He is my master.” Then she took her veil and covered herself. 66 And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and he took Rebekah , and she became his wife; and he loved her; thus Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.


Long before Joshua Harris appeared bringing his book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, others taught and promoted doing things in groups over dating. I use the term “promoted” loosely. Sometimes they did more than just “promote” groups.

One favorite scripture to quote was the story of how Isaac found Sarah. Many would quote the above Scripture example and use it state Christian men should be passive about finding their mate. That is they should follow Isaac’s “example” and be “meditating” and God will drop your mate into your lap.

Building Doctrine on a Bible Story?

One thing that always amazed was how they would use this account as a way to build “dating doctrine” or use it as the pattern to find a mate. Just because it happened that way this one time doesn’t mean it should be a pattern or model for everyone to find their spouse.

A good example of this is the story of King Jehoshaphat and Judah’s defense against the Moabites. God’s answer in this case was to go out with praise and singing. Most of the time God’s instruction to Israel was to go out and fight (knowing that God was helping them etc). See Deuteronomy 20:10 and Joshua 9:2 for examples of where God specifically mentioned he expected Israel to fight. It would be quite incorrect to use the Jehoshaphat story as the only approach when adversity happens.

Thus we need to be careful about using a particular story as a pattern to follow.

A Passive Story?

Even if one could argue that Isaac’s story should be a pattern, I would question how this same story shows we should be passive in looking for a mate.

Sure, Isaac was in a field meditating when God brought him his mate but Abraham was very purposeful and ambitious in getting a wife for his son. Other people have commented on that same passage described it as being very driven vs. passive as some read it.

We no longer have fathers who will send their servant out to find us a mate. Doctrine could be built using the same story and give the following steps:

  • Know when it is time to find a spouse.
  • Go to where God’s people are (Church/Singles Events)
  • Ask God to show me who my spouse is to be.

Again I question building a doctrine from one event that happened in the Old Testament but I use this to shows how this same passage could be interpreted quite differently than how some use it. I question the “sitting in a field and meditate” mentality some will promote. This same story could be used to show that we should be “driven” in our quest to find a mate vs. “passive” as some claim it shows.



Return to Main Page


Update Friday 1/11/08

January 11, 2008

I am certainly getting more “hits” and “views” of this site than I thought would happen. It appears that I am “riding the coattails” of another blog that is receiving a lot more hits than the blog creator thought would ever happen. I have been spending time posting comments on this blog. I would encourage you to check it out:

Sovereign Grace Uncensored

This is the group that Joshua Harris is a part of.


 There is even one post discussing  Sovereign Grace’s approach to courtship on this bog plus discussion about kissing dating goodbye and courtship intermixed in the discussion about other posts.

Courtship & the Gospel

I will try to post something new later today.

Does Only Dating Have Defects? Courtship/Groups are Defect Free?

January 5, 2008

One of the biggest concerns I had when I read the I Kissed Dating Goodbye book was that the author only noted “defects” about dating. I saw no acknowledgment of possible defects with his approach. Is his approach without its own problems as one would be lead to assume since none were mentioned?

Reading his approach and not seeing any problems with his system acknowledged reminds me of a salesman, who when trying to sell me his product, only tells me the advantages of his product not the disadvantages. The only problem is that in this case one shouldn’t be selling a product; they should be trying to help singles find out what approach would work best for them.

With almost anything, be it a new approach, a new product, a new system, there are almost always pros and cons. Rarely are there only advantages to one way over another. One just needs to be careful that advantages of a new approach outweigh the disadvantages that accompany it. When someone tries to sell me a new product and states only the advantages I always wonder what are the disadvantages he isn’t sharing.

One reason I have heard for the author not mentioning problems with his approach is that he was only 21 when he wrote the book. Thus he didn’t have that much experience with the system that he is promoting. He was also possibly enamored with his approachsince it proved to be the answer for his situation.

The only problem with this excuse is the church/organization that he was a part of when he wrote the book (Covenant Life Church/Sovereign Grace respectively) had considerable experience this approach before the book was written. In fact they have been promoting at least the group concept since 1978. Surely someone with more experience with this approach from his church could have shared this with Joshua Harris. Being more enlightened he could have considered including problems with his approach in the book.

I was also shocked to see that Harris didn’t share anything about the history of this approach including what has gone wrong with its implementation. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to share about the history so that people reading his book could benefit from what was learned? I sometimes wonder if both he and other leaders of his group have ever acknowledged the problems that have occurred with the group/courtship approach. Isn’t there an old saying that states that those who don’t study and learn from the past are destined to repeat it?

It is normal when one institutes a new system for mistakes to be made. Why not admit them so others can learn and benefit? It is a shame that when you read his book you would think that no problems occur with his system.

The only other reason I can think that he didn’t share any of the problems is that he wrote this book as more as a quasi testimonial of how it worked for him vs. a handbook. When one writes something as a testimonial of what worked for them there is always a risk that people assume that this system is the only way and is will work for everyone. Maybe this is what happened with his book?

As shared in a previous blog, Harris has admitted that people apply his approach in a legalistic manner but he can’t control that. My answer to that is maybe if he had shared some of the disadvantages of his group approach, maybe it would have reduced how much his approach was implemented legalistically. That is certainly something he had control over.

So what are some of the disadvantages of the courtship/group approach? If you look at my previous post about not dating being harmful you will see where a respected Christian counselor gives his views on this. Here are some others:

  1. Many times this makes single men and single women afraid of each other. Even as they move into their 20’s and 30’s, the singles are afraid of each other like teenagers are. This being afraid of each other usually means that there aren’t many friendships between single men and single women.
  2. The teaching many times gives single men an “excuse” to stay away from single women and not pursue relationships.
  3. If you can’t develop many friendships with people of the opposite sex it is harder to find out what type of person of the opposite sex you would be a good match with.
  4. In some groups, a couple that is “courting” are under pressure to either get engaged and married or cut off seeing each other. This can and has lead to couples marrying before they fully knew each other and that they weren’t as good of a match as they thought. Imagine making a commitment that God wants you to honor and where you aren’t that good of a match. I am sure that isn’t pleasant.
  5. It can be applied in a legalistic way. With this system people tend to gravitate toward it being done legalistically especially if the church leadership doesn’t do something to counteract that tendency.

There are more and I will add them as I come up with more.

By not sharing the “defects” of the group/courtship approach I wonder if a lot of people as result of seeing it misapplied do the old “throw out the baby with the bathwater?”  Thus, ironically, by Harris not giving a balanced perspective on his approach vs. dating he destined what he promoted to be short lived due to unintended abuses.


Revised 2/25/08

Return to Main Page

Black & White Thinking: Courtship Approach?

January 3, 2008

I am making another post today. This post is pretty similar to yesterday’s post questioning does”one size fits all.”

One thought that occurs to me here is that this group approach is typically presented as something that is “black and white” with no shades of grey. By this I mean that there is really no middle ground or “freedom” and the same rules should apply to all ages. Another way to say this is that it is presented in a legalistic fashion vs. a guideline.

A lot of things in Christianity are black and white with no middle ground. Since this is the case, people who deal with a lot of black and white issues (such as pastors) have a harder time dealing with and presenting something that can have shades of gray. The author of the I Kissed Dating Goodbye book seemed to present the group approach as a black and white issue with no middle ground. He did in his subsequent book (Boy Meets Girl) indicate that there could be some freedom depending on age/maturity and situation (too bad that wasn’t in his first book or revised first book).

Hindsight and common sense both tell you that the group approach is a good guideline for teenagers and that as someone gets older different guidelines should apply. Perhaps as one moves into their twenties, it is fine to do things one on one with the opposite sex while still doing some things (or earlier stages of a relationship) in a group setting.

One thing to consider is that a lot of pastors that promote the group approach have gotten married at a young age. Thus they don’t have any first hand experience of being an older single and hence they gravitate toward rules that are more appropriate for younger people.

Return to Main Page

Revised 2/25/08

“One Size Fits All?” and Courtship/Groups

January 2, 2008

I have been going back through Harris’s “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” book for at least the third time.

As I reread the book, I get more and more of the opinion that what he writes about and suggests applies more to teenagers and not necessarily to older single adults. Unfortunately in this book I don’t see any acknowledgment that this might be a possibility. To give Harris credit, in his book “Boy Meets Girl” he does acknoledge that their is room for latitude.

One of the problems with Harris’s two books on groups/courtship is that he writes somewhat from a testimonial stand point. He is sharing what worked for him and how it applied to him as a teenager. When he decided to “kiss dating goodbye” he was also struggling in certain areas. I am shocked at how people assume that what worked for him at his age and situation should be the norm for all people.

My thought is that the group approach is good for “teenagers.” It might even be justified to make that the “norm” vs. the exception. As a single person matures as they move into their 20’s the “need” for doing things in groups isn’t there. As stated in another one of my posts, one well known Christian authority presents how rules against are harmful.

Kissing Dating Goodbye Is “Harmful”: A Respected Christian Author’s View on Non-Dating/Courtship

I was involved with one church where they offered the singles (who were mostly in their 20’s) a lot of group opportunities where you could get to know various people of the opposite sex without having to date. At the same time dating was allowed and wasn’t even looked down on. The balance seemed to work quite well.

Return to Main Page

Revised 2/25/08