Bestselling Christian dating author apologises to LGBTQ people

Josh Harris (Pic: Whitney Buckner / Facebook)

Joshua Harris, who wrote a bestselling Christian guide to relationships, has apologised for the harm he’s caused LGBTQ people.

Harris’s 1997 book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, written when he was just 21, sold close to a million copies around the world and promoted the ideal of abstinence before marriage.

It embraced a “purity culture” and a conservative stance towards sexuality and the role of women and was seen as a ‘guide’ for young Christians.

Harris went on to become a senior pastor in the Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland from 2004 to 2015.

He later left the church and has since begun retracing his earlier views. This included agreeing to no longer publish new copies of the book and others he wrote, Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship and Sex Isn’t the Problem: Lust Is.

In 2018, he stated: “I no longer agree with its central idea that dating should be avoided. I now think dating can be a healthy part of a person developing relationally and learning the qualities that matter most in a partner.”

Earlier this month he revealed that he was ending his relationship with his wife of 21 years, writing on Instagram that “In recent years, some significant changes have taken place in both of us”. Days later, he went on to address his faith, past approach to LGBTQ people and the public response to his separation announcement.

“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⁣⁣,” said Harris.

“The information that was left out of our announcement is that I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus… 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.⁣⁣
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“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,” added Harris.

 

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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.”

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