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I Kissed Dating Goodbye: A New Attitude Toward Relationships and Romance Paperback – Import, 1 Apr 1997
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While most Christians agree to seek purity and save sex for marriage, few have been given a blueprint for how that should affect their view of dating and love. In I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Joshua Harris exposes the "Seven Habits of Highly Defective Dating" and offers a realistic outline of how to have a biblical vision of marriage. Harris contends that one must begin with a new attitude, viewing love, purity, and singleness from God's perspective rather than thinking that love and romance are to be enjoyed "solely for recreation." In such well-named chapters as "Guarding Your Heart" and "What Matters at Fifty," Harris encourages the reader to look at one's character rather than reveling in infatuation, to regard love as a truly selfless, biblical act rather than a feeling. He refutes the concept that we are victims of "falling in love" (that it is beyond our control), saying that "God wants us to seek guidance from scriptural truth, not feeling. Smart love looks beyond personal desires and the gratification of the moment. It looks at the big picture: serving others and glorifying God." Before you roll your eyes, moaning that this sounds terribly unromantic, know that Harris does a superb job of couching his convictions in the sincere belief that if we are purposeful in our singleness and date with integrity, a fulfilled marriage awaits us--in God's timing. --Jill Heatherly
About the Author
Joshua Harris lives outside Washington, D.C., in Gaithersburg, Maryland, where he's a pastor at Covenant Life Church. His greatest passion is preaching the gospel and calling his generation to wholehearted devotion to God. Each January he leads a national conference for singles called New Attitude.
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Background of me: I read it as a 16-year-old and it skewed my view for years as to how to find a spouse. (I'm 29 now and happily married, though at age 24 had a relationship end horribly, with unneeded and drawn out pain afterward, in part I attribute to the teachings of this book that were the foundations of that relationship. Also a bad book for teens: "When God Writes Your Love Story" by Eric and Leslie Ludy).
I am all for Christian purity. I am a youth pastor as I said. When this book emphasizes "be pure and holy", I couldn't agree more! BUT, when this book teaches that to every person you date you give a portion of your heart, I whole-heartedly disagree! (pardon the pun!) They essentially teach that if you date someone and don't marry them, you've given them half your heart, and you only have 50% of a heart for your spouse. Thus, the natural conclusion is for any thinking teen "I must only date one person! Thus, I must marry my first boyfriend/girlfriend!" You know what that leads to? EITHER never allowing yourself to date someone until you know you can marry them (which is the real point of dating, isn't it?), OR not allowing yourself to break-up with someone you should break-up with but marrying them instead! Both awful!
When someone has a child, they love them 100%. When they have a second child, do they love them each 50%? No! They love them both 100%. Love is exponential. You can love a girlfriend/boyfriend 100%, and have it not lead to marriage, and then still love your future spouse 100%. The fundamental basis for this book is flawed.
My entire generation of Christians have been scared to date and thus struggling to find spouses because of books like this one and "When God Writes Your Love Story."
As a youth pastor (and grad of The Master's Seminary), I fully recommend NOT buying this book for your teens.
As I read the book, I thought to myself, "this reads like some kid in high school writing stuff down and who can't think coherently." Worse, he somehow suggests his courtship model is somehow ordained by God and that if couples follow it, they're somehow guaranteed a happily-ever-after relationship. I knew it was scam book, and at the time of its publication it was the latest rage in some churches. One zealous loudmouth at church preached it as "God's way" for everyone. He and his girl friend followed it to the letter, evangelized with it for a while until they got divorced 4 years later.
Should Christians Kiss dating goodbye? The Bible doesn't give a simple formula for courtship. If anything I've been struck by the variety of ways God unites couples, and sometimes its pretty sordid. God had Hosea marry a whore, God killed Ezekiel's cherished wife, God united Isaac with Rebecca through a miracle, Jacob fell in love with Rachel's beauty, God had Esther herded into a kings harem, Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, and Ruth spruced herself up and laid down at Boaz's feet while he was about to sleep. Godly men like Jeremiah and Daniel did not find wives. The unspoken implication of Harris' book is that if one is not happily married, one somehow failed to do things God's way, and God's way is Harris' courtship model. The Bible doesn't really say there is a method, except to say it is ultimately by God's blessing, and to make decisions wisely and not to be yoked with an unbeliever.
I taught a Bible study to college age students. Ironically by the end of the school year the numbers had risen and I had an abundance of 19-year-old girls attending. I expressed my critical view of Harris' book and warned them that God doesn't promise happily ever after. They should simply live a pure life because it pleases God, not because it would land them prince charming (as Harris book insinuates). If they do marry, I told them to choose wisely, and that means asking basic questions like -- how many kids do you want, where do you want to live, will you travel for the husband or wife's career, etc. There is much wiser counsel from other books than Harris' book.
At the time I wondered if I was doing the right thing by dissuading them form Harris' book. Now in retrospect, given the divorces of some of his most devoted advocates, I'm glad I suggested other books. This was about 11 years ago before e-harmony came around and Neil Clark Warren had commercialized his work, but Warren's book listed down all the questions people should ask themselves and each other before getting involved. Ben Young's "Ten Commandments of Dating" was very sensible, but Warren's book was the most well conceived based on Warren's decades of private practice in dealing with couples.