Posts Tagged ‘Covenant Life Church’

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.

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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.”

Josh Harris’s Shopping Cart Illustration: Does “KDG” Just Change the Cart’s Drifting Direction?

August 3, 2008

Are we fixing the swerving shopping cart or just changing the direction it swerves?

I have been rereading portions of the “I Kissed Dating Goodbye Book.” I noticed Harris’s shopping cart example that he used to “discourage” dating. In this example he talks about how some shopping carts are unwieldy with a “mind of their own” These are the shopping carts that never seem to want to go in the direction that you are trying to push them. With these carts you always have to make adjustments or they will veer off course either into a food display or another shopper. These are the “swervers” to avoid when shopping.

Harris claims that dating works similarly. Despite a couple’s best efforts and intentions Harris claims the system of dating tends to push you off course and into temptation just like a the shopping carts in his example. After this he lists the “7 Habits of Highly Defective Dating.” The author concludes that the “problems in dating can’t all be fixed by merely “dating right” but choosing an alternative to dating.

Before I share my main point of this entry and as I have said in other comments on this blog, Harris’s ideas have some wisdom and foolishness. With teenagers, he may have a point with this illustration and thought. The immaturity of most teenagers might work to make dating a “swerving cart.” But for more mature adults, does Harris’s alternative only move us into another “swerving cart” that only difference is that is swerves us in another direction?

One of my biggest issues with courtship and groups is that everywhere I have seen it applied, it quickly moves toward legalism. Harris even acknowledged that these problems occurred at his own church (but doesn’t mention this on his website). Harris has expressed regret for people that have been exposed to his book that has been implemented in a legalistic manner.

Christians rather than enjoying their freedom in Christ hold to a set of rules that are suppose to lead toward wisdom. You many times see single men and women “afraid” of each other and afraid to have healthy friendships with those of the opposite sex when exposed to teachings like Josh Harris gives. It is where people take well intentioned concepts liked what Harris writes about and pushes them to an extreme.

It sounds like Harris’s “alternative” to dating just might be another “swerving cart” that keeps trying to pull one in another direction: legalism. It is sad but quite possible that “kissing dating goodbye” only changes the direction your cart swerves but doesn’t change the swerve problem.

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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 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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Universal Courtship: If so, would you be here?

January 7, 2008

In one discussion list that I was on that discussed the pros and cons of courtship along with kissing dating goodbye, one person made a good point. Very few of us are here because our parents courted. Another way to put this, is that very few of us would have parents and thus exist if our parents were forced to meet and marry through the courtship “model.”

There may be advantages as well as disadvantages to the courtship model but just something to think about. This was your short thought for today.

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Josh Harris’s View On People Using His Book Legalistically

December 26, 2007

As I started to do some research on the internet about Joshua Harris, his book and what people thought about his book (good and bad) I came upon the following site that is an interview with Harris discussing IKDG book :

http://www.familychristian.com/books/harris_stjames.asp

This part of the interview really shocked me:

Josh: This was never my intention but some people have taken the message of I Kissed Dating Goodbye and made it something legalistic-a set of rules. That’s something that’s beyond my control and it’s disappointing at times ….

Here we have Harris pretty much shrugging off any responsibility for his book being used improperly. I really question if that is fair? Is it right for someone who “championed” the courtship/group approach to so easily say that it is beyond his control? Certainly with any approach there will be abuses but can and should an author so easily wash his hands of any wrongdoing?

In our litigious society, if one sells a product and doesn’t offer warnings with the produce the manufacturer can be sued. I am not talking about blatant misuses like picking up a running lawnmower with your hands. I am talking about more subtle misuses that wouldn’t be always be normal common sense.
Did this book forget to include the warnings? Could have something been added in the book that would have helped minimize its misuse? Now that he is acknowledging the book is causing this damage, is there something that Harris could and should do to reduce the likelihood of people misusing the system he promotes?

Another interesting note, if you read the rest of the specific answer:

Josh: This was never my intention but some people have taken the message of I Kissed Dating Goodbye and made it something legalistic-a set of rules. That’s something that’s beyond my control and it’s disappointing at times, but what I’m so grateful for what God did in our marriage. He gave us a story that is all about His grace.

it is almost as if he is trying to get away from this problem and talk about something more positive like his marriage. His marriage is great but shouldn’t there be more concern about the problems and misuses his book has produced. There still are unmarried singles with some of them being in a bad situation due to how the system was presented.

I will be curious to hear what people have to say about this.

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