Joshua Harris ‘Kisses Christianity Goodbye’ – A dangerous farewell
Joshua Harris’ fame has spread and his influence and persona have morphed over a couple of decades. The most recent limelight has been his public statements on social media.
Over the years, and across thousands of miles, Joshua Harris has been a virtual guest in my life.
Through his books (some more controversial than others), and his sermon downloads, his sincere passion for God and His Word have challenged my mind, convicted my heart and encouraged my soul.
Now he has kissed that passion goodbye.
When he began his journey of introspection regarding his iconic and influential dating manual - ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye’ – I saluted a man who was prepared to humbly acknowledge his youthful arrogance at the time of writing the book, and his admission that perhaps he didn’t know it all. That took guts.
At the time of writing his bestseller, Joshua Harris was boldly prepared to challenge the Christian status quo regarding sexual purity and dating across the pragmatic American landscape of complacency and compromise. He got people to think. His desire was for Christian relationships to glorify Christ. I applaud that.
We should not kiss that goodbye.
Even though the elevation of such youthfulness in ministry has come under scrutiny, it is not my place, nor desire, to enter that conversation. I was not in his church. That was the responsibility of the elders and disciplers in his life.
I was not there. But Joshua Harris has not been the first young man in Christian circles to rise to the spotlight and gain status.
And so we should be careful to make an example out of him alone, now that we have the wisdom of hindsight amid fraying repercussions.
Here is a guy who has been a public figure, on a global status, since the age of 21. Josh has referred to his younger self as ‘young, zealous, certain and restlessly ambitious.’ His influence has been far-reaching. In 1997, his book, ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye,’ brought him ‘likes.’ In 2018 his documentary, ‘I survived I kissed Dating Goodbye’ brought him more likes, and in 2019, his social media posts regarding his ‘deconstruction’ or falling away from Christianity, and his divorce from his wife, have brought him much attention.
The ‘celebrity high' of fame and influence is addictive.
It is hard for anyone to kiss that goodbye.
Joshua Harris has turned his back on the God he once publicly confessed. He has chosen to discard the Gospel of Jesus he once seemed to openly believe and preach. He has rejected the covenant vows he made to his wife on their wedding day.
He has kissed his marriage and his faith goodbye.
He is shaking his fist in the face of a holy God.
That is a dangerous posture.
God is not surprised by this and in a panic – wondering how He could have let one of His children fall away. And so we should not be surprised. We should not panic.
Jesus’ warning in Matthew 7:21-23 has not changed: ‘Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'
The promise that Paul preaches in Romans 8 :38-39 hasn’t changed: For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The comforting assurance of Jesus in John 10: 27-29 stands true: ‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.’
I do not know Joshua Harris’s heart. But God does. I can only observe his words and behaviour, public as that may be. I do not know if He is truly one of God’s children. If so, God’s Word stands true. If not, God’s Word still stands true. Time will tell. But when Joshua Harris stands before God one day, he will know. God is not mocked.
What has saddened me about Josh’s social media outburst - which has been proud and loud - is that within the Christian community, the buzz and conversations are all around the man; Christ seems to fade into the background.
The spotlight is on Joshua and not on Jesus. We are focusing on the man and taking our eyes off the Saviour. That is a dangerous place to be.
Joshua Harris knows the truth. He has preached the truth and written about the truth. He has now chosen to exchange the truth for a lie and to pursue man’s truth of post-modernism, new age thinking and eastern religions. He appears to be choosing all paths, despite Jesus’ words in John 14:6: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except though me.’
At this moment he has chosen to kiss that truth goodbye.
That is a dangerous farewell. The consequences are eternal.
We as a Christian community do not have to answer for Joshua Harris. That is not our job. That will be his job when he stands before the holy God he is now turning his back on. He will have to give account. Our job is to warn him and to pray for his soul that he would turn to God - that God would be gracious and merciful to him.
We do not need to panic. Joshua Harris has not dethroned God.
Just because Joshua Harris no longer believes the truth he professed and confessed, does not relegate that truth to untruth. Truth is Truth.
Joshua Harris is not the definer of ultimate truth. God is. His reputation is at stake. Josh is not stronger than that. His denial of God’s truth is not stronger than God’s truth. Joshua Harris is not stronger than God.
At this moment in time, Joshua Harris is no longer pretending. His heart has been exposed. He seems to be telling the truth. That is a place where hopefully he can be confronted with the reality of who he is truly is and what that means.
May he soon realise that by kissing the Gospel goodbye -
all is vanity, all is meaningless.
May he realise that he cannot fight God and win, and that he cannot run from God and escape. May he find no rest until he humbly bows the knee before the One who came to being eternal life, ultimate rest and true joy. I pray he does that before that day when every knee will bow and acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord, but then it will too late.
God is building His Church. Jesus Christ is interceding for His own. The Holy Spirit is at work. Man cannot frustrate that. Joshua Harris cannot frustrate that. The King of kings and Lord of lords is on His throne and all power and authority belong to Him.
Joshua Harris may have kissed Christianity goodbye. He is not the first and he will not be the last.
May we not do the same.
It is a dangerous farewell.