Author Joshua Harris Kisses His Faith Goodbye: 'I Am Not a Christian'
Joshua Harris, author of the popular evangelical best-seller “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” which he has since denounced, declared Friday he has bid adieu to his Christian faith.
Days after announcing via Instagram he and his wife would be permanently separating, Harris, known in the early 2000s as something of a relationship guru, said he is “not a Christian” anymore.
My heart is full of gratitude. I wish you could see all the messages people sent me after the announcement of my divorce. They are expressions of love though they are saddened or even strongly disapprove of the decision. I am learning that no group has the market cornered on grace. This week I’ve received grace from Christians, atheists, evangelicals, exvangelicals, straight people, LGBTQ people, and everyone in-between. Of course there have also been strong words of rebuke from religious people. While not always pleasant, I know they are seeking to love me. (There have also been spiteful, hateful comments that angered and hurt me.) The information that was left out of our announcement is that I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is “deconstruction,” the biblical phrase is “falling away.” By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian. Many people tell me that there is a different way to practice faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now. Martin Luther said that the entire life of believers should be repentance. There’s beauty in that sentiment regardless of your view of God. I have lived in repentance for the past several years—repenting of my self-righteousness, my fear-based approach to life, the teaching of my books, my views of women in the church, and my approach to parenting to name a few. But I specifically want to add to this list now: to the LGBTQ+ community, I want to say that I am sorry for the views that I taught in my books and as a pastor regarding sexuality. I regret standing against marriage equality, for not affirming you and your place in the church, and for any ways that my writing and speaking contributed to a culture of exclusion and bigotry. I hope you can forgive me. To my Christians friends, I am grateful for your prayers. Don’t take it personally if I don’t immediately return calls. I can’t join in your mourning. I don’t view this moment negatively. I feel very much alive, and awake, and surprisingly hopeful. I believe with my sister Julian that, “All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
“I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus,” he wrote. “The popular phrase for this is ‘deconstruction,’ the biblical phrase is ‘falling away.’ By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.”
The now-controversial author said he is receptive to “a different way to practice faith,” though he is admittedly “not there now.”
Harris also used the post to issue an apology to and to announce his support for the LGBTQ community. He credited his erstwhile perspectives to his “self-righteousness” and “fear-based approach to life.”
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“To the LBGTQ+ community, I want to say that I am sorry for the views that I taught in my books and as a pastor regarding sexuality,” he continued. “I regret standing against marriage equality, for not affirming you and your place in the church, and for any ways that my writing and speaking contributed to a culture of exclusion and bigotry.”
Harris suggested his falling away from Christianity played a role in his and his wife’s decision to separate, a decision he announced last week.
Last fall, the 44-year-old author and former pastor decried his past writings, saying he “no longer agree[s] with its central idea that dating should be avoided,” referring to his book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” which was popular in conservative Christian circles.
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“I now think dating can be a healthy part of a person developing relationally and learning the qualities that matter most in a partner,” he said.
Harris also said he had reached an agreement with the book’s publisher to pull the book from production. The book, which Harris wrote when he was only 20 years old, will no longer be in printed after the current copies in circulation have been sold.
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