I Kissed Dating Goodbye was a book that haunted me throughout my childhood. After talking to a family friend who had read the book and made the decision not to kiss a guy until they said, “I do,” my parents got excited that I would have the same love story. I grew up hearing the words, “Hannah, you’ll never date. God will show you who your husband will be,” which would elicit terror and rage inside of me. I wanted to go on dates and experience what my friends were doing; however, the more I watched the pain my friends were going through, the less I wanted to be a part of the dating lifestyle.
“A relationship based only on physical attraction and romantic feelings will last only as long as the feelings last.”
~ Joshua Harris
When I was fifteen, my mom gave me I Kissed Dating Goodbye to read for the first time. She knew that I was interested in a guy and wanted me to read this book before things got serious. I laughed at her gesture and hid the book at the back of my bookshelf. Then, right before I turned eighteen, I went through a tough long-distance break-up that shook my world. For the first time, I picked up this book and was open to hearing what Joshua Harris had to say. Surprisingly, his book opened my eyes to a life that focused more on God and what He wanted, than on what my heart desired. I finally understood my parent’s advice of God finding me a husband and began to allow the Holy Spirit to lead me.
“One of the saddest tendencies of dating is to distract young adults from developing their God-given abilities and skills. Instead of equipping themselves with the character, education, and experience necessary to succeed in life, many allow themselves to be consumed by the present needs that dating emphasizes.” ~ Joshua Harris
Flash forward to today, five years later. I have just finished reading I Kissed Dating Goodbye for a second time amidst the ‘scandal’ of Joshua Harris’ exit from the Christian faith. So many people claim to have been hurt by his book. Joshua even filmed a documentary, called I Survived I Kissed Dating Goodbye, apologizing for the words and advice he wrote more than twenty years ago. However, as I read, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, I couldn’t help but agree with almost all of his points! I also noticed that Joshua was NOT saying that we should NEVER date; instead, he was emphasizing the importance of dating with the purpose of marriage, in a pure and less sexualized way. He also highlighted the difference between intimacy and sex and spoke about the significance of using our time of singleness for the glory of God rather than running after boys/girls who are not our future.
“Each of us will probably develop intimate relationships with several people before God clearly indicates who to marry. But we can’t use this reality as an excuse to pursue romance for its own sake. I believe this mind-set is misguided and selfish. If you’re not ready to consider marriage or you’re not truly interested in marrying a specific person, why encourage that person to need you or ask him or her to meet your needs emotionally or physically?” ~ Joshua Harris
Like all teachings, we should take everything to the Lord and pray about what has been spoken or written. People, especially pastors and leaders, are not always right and stray off the path of God, so we mustn’t believe all that is said until we have studied the topics for ourselves. I, personally, loved Joshua’s book and will be sharing it with others; though I will also give them the advice of taking all the points in this book with a pinch of salt. Not all of us are called to adopt Joshua’s philosophies into our lifestyles, but there is a lot of wisdom to be gleaned from his words. In this era, dating is overhyped, and love is a word that is abused way too much! It’s time we start to put our hope in God and fulfill the callings on our lives before trying to find someone to spend the rest of our lives with!!
“As Christians we need to remember that God’s perfect love is not only for our benefit. A model wears clothing to attract attention to the designer’s creativity. The model displays the designer’s work, but the designer’s reputation is on the line, not the model’s. In the same way, as Christians we model God’s love, whether or not we realize it. People watch us, and what they see affects God’s reputation for loving His creation. If we claim to follow Christ then wear the world’s twisted style of love, we drag the name and character of our Lord in the dirt.”
~ Joshua Harris
If you’re interested in forming intimate relationships, I highly recommend reading this book first. I believe that the world’s view of dating brings more pain and hurt than the teachings found in I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which is a book that was written to encourage Christians not be pressured into doing what the world deems ‘normal’. Many people have warped the purpose of this book for their benefit, and it has caused many to turn away from God and feel shamed for not abstaining from physical touch until marriage. We all have unique stories to tell, and sometimes those stories come with lots of hardships and trials. I’m excited to one day share my love story, but I also know that it’s all in God’s timing.