- Joshua Harris was a 21-year-old virgin who had been homeschooled his entire life when he wrote the best-selling ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye’
- The book, which helped fuel the purity culture movement, argues against premarital sex and dating and Harris later advocated against marriage equality
- Now 44, the former pastor said he has turned his back on his faith, only days after revealing that he has split from his wife of 21-years Shannon Bonne
- He declared ‘I am not a Christian’ and extended an apology to the LGBTQ community saying ‘I regret standing against marriage equality’
- His post comes days after he announced he’s separating from his wife of 21 years Shannon Bonne on July 17
- He has since changed his views on dating and recently released a statement apologizing for those whose lives were ruined by his first book
An evangelical Christian author and dating guru who advocated against gay marriage has turned his back on his faith after splitting from his wife and apologized to the LGBTQ community.
Joshua Harris, 44, rose to fame as a pastor and Christian author who penned the bestseller I Kissed Dating Goodbye in 1997 – a book in which he argues against premarital sex.
But on Saturday, he took to Instagram to reveal that he no longer considers himself a believer and apologized for his once ‘bigoted’ LGBTQ views writing, ‘By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.’
His candid post followed his Instagram announcement on July 17 that he and his wife Shannon Bonne were separating after 21 years of marriage.
‘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,’ he revealed.
Harris went on to say that he’s spent several years in repentance for decisions made in his life and gave an open apology to the LGBTQ+ community for standing against gay marriage and failing to welcome them into the church.
‘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,’ he said.
Despite the big shake-up in his life, Harris says he doesn’t view his breakaway from the faith 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”,’ he said.
Harris formerly led the Covenant Life megachurch in Gaithersburg, Maryland but stepped down in 2014 after a former church volunteer was convicted of child sex abuse, as per Christian Post.
He revealed that since his divorce and breakaway from the faith, he’s received messages of support and grace from Christians, non-believers, and LGBTQ-community members alike.
He shocked his Christian community earlier this month when he announced he and his wife of 21-years were separating.
In his famed 1997 book he argued that Christians should practice ‘courting’ instead of traditional dating practices because the latter leads to divorce.
‘We’re writing to share the news that we are separating and will continue our life together as friends,’ they wrote in their joint statement.
‘In recent years, some significant changes have taken place in both of us. It is with sincere love for one another and understanding of our unique story as a couple that we are moving forward with this decision.
‘We hope to create a generous and supportive future for each other and for our three amazing children in the years ahead. Thank you for your understanding and for respecting our privacy during a difficult time.’
The author and his wife did not reveal whether they have plans to officially divorce.
Evangelical Christians traditionally consider divorce to be a sin, an interpretation based on certain passages in the Bible that seem to prohibit the legal split of a man and wife who have been joined in a lifelong union in the eyes of God.
Over the past couple of years Harris revealed he re-evaluated and at times regretted his statements in his best-selling book, particularly after going through his own marriage.
‘I think it’s made us realize how there’s heartache and there’s pain no matter what pathway you choose in life,’ he said. ‘There’s no path you can choose that can protect you from that.’
Joshua was a 21-year-old virgin who had been homeschooled his entire life when he wrote ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye,’ according to Slate.
The book shaped — and in some cases ruined — the lives of many conservative Christians who took his teachings as gospel.
Not only did he promote saving yourself for marriage in the controversial publication, but he even went as far as shunning kissing and hand-holding.
Joshua also warned of ’emotional hookups,’ insisting you shouldn’t fall in love with someone who you won’t end up marrying.
The author married Shannon when he was 23 years old and went on to release more books about dating and marriage, including ‘Not Even a Hint: Guarding Your Heart Against Lust’ and ‘Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship.’
A few years ago, Joshua went on an apology tour of sorts, saying he was re-thinking the best-seller that launched him into Christian fame.
‘Part of the reason this has been so hard for me is that I have so much of my identity tied up in these books. It’s what I’m known for,’ he told Slate. ‘It’s like, well, crap, is the biggest thing I’ve done in my life this really huge mistake?’
The father of three also shared an apology on his website, writing: ‘While I stand by my book’s call to sincerely love others, my thinking has changed significantly in the past twenty years.
‘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.’
He added: ‘To those who read my book and were misdirected or unhelpfully influenced by it, I am sincerely sorry. I never intended to hurt you.
‘I know this apology doesn’t change anything for you and it’s coming too late, but I want you to hear that I regret any way that my ideas restricted you, hurt you, or gave you a less-than-biblical view of yourself, your sexuality, your relationships, and God.’
In the statement, the author shared that he asked his publisher to stop printing the book and two related titles.