I’m still glad I kissed dating goodbye; Despite the falling away of author Josh Harris

This is a guest editorial, this eloquent lady ‘s perspective is very valuable and poignant…

I Am Still Glad I kissed Dating Goodbye by Candace Gage

Early last week found me getting a check-up for the first time in more than a decade. With medical professionals in my family, I can too easily put off those preventative appointments. So, I sat in the olive-green vinyl chair, the sort that populate doctors’ offices across the country. I felt a bit sheepish, like I’d been getting away with something by not going to the doctor for so long. The nurse took my vitals. The doctor asked the routine questions. What medications am I on? None. Do I have any allergies? No. Am I sexually active? No. Have I ever been?

At 34, I don’t always know what response I will get when I describe my sexual history. This was my first time at the clinic, and I wondered what my doctor would think.

I grew up in the ‘90s, when the purity movement was in full swing — especially within my homeschool subculture. I read When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric and Leslie Ludy. I meditated on Elisabeth Elliot’s Passion and Purity. And like most girls my age, I devoured I Kissed Dating Goodbye, the classic manifesto penned by a young, good-looking homeschool graduate named Joshua Harris.

Like so many other teens during that era, I gave my love life to God and vowed to save myself for marriage. I remained dedicated to the courtship method of dating into my early twenties, even when such conservatism became unpopular among my peers. Things got more complicated once I started putting my theories into practice. My views matured with experience — but my convictions regarding sexual purity have never changed.

Since its early proponents came of age, the purity culture we all created has received a heavy amount of criticism from within, and with good reason — it had its problems. Some odd traditions sprang up — purity rings, purity balls, courtship contracts. Young men and women took the whole thing so seriously that they struggled to even talk to one another. People — especially women — were shamed when mistakes were made. Despite our best efforts, so many of us have found ourselves with a string of broken relationships and no marriage to show for it.

And then, starting a couple years ago, our one-time poster boy Harris began rescinding his early teaching on Christian relationships. Last month, he consummated his new position by announcing his divorce and renouncing his faith. While we may all speculate about Harris’ motive for this massive shift in thinking, Dr. Albert Mohler suggested struggles with the Christian sexual ethic were a major factor in Harris’ decision to walk away from Christianity. 

I didn’t really believe it when I first heard the news. I took a tour of Harris now infamous Instagram account and was stunned. Then I was sad, and angry, and confused. I offered prayers for both Harris and his family. And I thought about Harris’ legacy, the purity movement, and the way my own life has been affected.

I’ve written elsewhere about some of the hard lessons God taught me through courtship and dating. In the fifteen years since my first relationship, I’ve learned that God’s plan for my love life won’t protect me from having my heart broken. The long years of celibacy have taught me that God doesn’t necessarily reward good behavior the way I once hoped — being obedient hasn’t earned me a wedding. I’ve come to realize more fully that serving God with my sexuality is about my relationship with Him, not my relationship with a future husband who may or may not exist. These days, I don’t think of myself as “saving sex for marriage,” because that motive misses the point. Instead, I’m honoring God with my body, living in accordance with the natural world he created. The place of sex in God’s creation is between a husband and wife, and I submit to that order by practicing celibacy as a single woman.

Still, I’m grateful I Kissed Dating Goodbye found its way into my hands. At the time, I was a teenager living in a tiny town in rural North Idaho. We had no bookstore, no Wal-Mart, no Amazon (that we knew of yet). I was beyond thrilled when I found a copy of the much lauded book at a garage sale I was visiting with my mom. Harris gave me a vocabulary for taking dating and purity seriously in my own cultural context. He painted a picture of the way relationships could look when serving God was their focus. At the time, that picture was one of the only of its kind. Everywhere I looked, I saw the world’s way of dating. I could see it on the big screen, hear it on my Sony Discman, read it on the covers of teen magazines. In practical terms, Harris gave me a glimpse of what God might mean by romance. As Matthew Lee Anderson wrote in his Mere Orthodoxy piece:

The absence of a script for how to enter marriage was partially a consequence of the loss of a social vision for why one would marry in the first place—and on those scores, Harris offered a picture of a world that in fact might have been better than the Calvinball-like environment surrounding us. It was nostalgic, yes, and was doomed to be distorted in being implemented. But then, every vision is.

Harris’ call to return to old practices helped many families — including my own — recover structures to protect the virtue of young people in days gone by. The courtship movement may have been awkward at times, but I think we all took stumbling steps toward something truly good.

All these thoughts shuffled through my mind the week before my doctor’s appointment. As I sat there that day, I squared my shoulders and answered the medical history question — “No.”

Being a virgin isn’t popular these days. As one writer put it, it isn’t cute anymore — even among many Christians. Still, my virginity lets me off the hook from several routine tests and procedures, because I am not at any risk. And to my relief, I got a smile from the doctor who told me how “rare” this is. I joked about still holding out hope for settling down. She said she knew how hard it must be these days. I mentioned the recent news: Joshua Harris may have taken back his teachings in I Kissed Dating Goodbye, but I’m still thankful for the wisdom I gleaned and the boundaries I learned from those pages.


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8 Responses to I’m still glad I kissed dating goodbye; Despite the falling away of author Josh Harris

  1. Wendy Thome says:

    Thank you for this, Pastor Bill. I have been celebate since leaving my abusive husband 31 years ago. It was hard in the beginning, but I am at peace with my situation now. My relationship with The Lord is all I need in my advanced years!

  2. Thank you for sharing that Bill. It brought tears to my eyes as I thank God for those who REALLY want to honour God in every area of their lives. We all fall short but this is a sharp reminder that in the area of sexuality, it CAN be done.
    Meanwhile, the recent public recantations from the faith have been interesting in regard to their timings, but a very sad trend which is an ominous sign of the times and should serve as another wake-up call to those who are not walking correctly.
    He’s coming soon…

  3. There is a lot of wisdom in this post.

    “My views matured with experience — but my convictions regarding sexual purity have never changed…

    These days, I don’t think of myself as “saving sex for marriage,” because that motive misses the point. Instead, I’m honoring God with my body, living in accordance with the natural world he created.”

    It is corrective, medical and encouraging. Thanks for posting.

  4. Jeanne T. says:

    “These days, I don’t think of myself as “saving sex for marriage,” because that motive misses the point. Instead, I’m honoring God with my body, living in accordance with the natural world he created. The place of sex in God’s creation is between a husband and wife, and I submit to that order by practicing celibacy as a single woman.”

    Wow, that is so good. It’s hard to improve on her comments. And as she said, “I’ve learned that God’s plan for my love life won’t protect me from having my heart broken.” So true!! The Bible does not promise us a fairy tale life! It does not promise us exemption for heartache, tribulation, even persecution. I loved Elisabeth Elliot for this. She never sugar-coated her life and circumstances. But she always trusted God, regardless of the circumstances. And God was always faithful, despite her losing two husbands to death, one to martyrdom.

    Unrealistic expectations always lead to disappointment. But God does not give us unrealistic expectations. In fact, Jesus said we must count the cost of following Him, because it will cost us everything. He sends his disciples (that’s you and me) out into the world as witnesses, in the Greek “martus”, which means martyr. Very sobering, but that’s the reality.

  5. ross says:

    its well written. God bless her. Rgds Ross Curtin

    On Tue., 20 Aug. 2019, 1:21 am Pastor Bill Randles Blog, wrote:

    > billrandles posted: ” This is a guest editorial, this eloquent lady ‘s > perspective is very valuable and poignant… I Am Still Glad I kissed > Dating Goodbye by Candace Gage Early last week found me getting a check-up > for the first time in more than a decade. With medic” >

  6. Deemar says:

    “Eloquent” is right!
    So encouraging and refreshing to hear the voice of someone who has truly given herself “a living sacrifice” for Jesus and His glory… we often think of martyrdom as physical death – but now I see it can also mean “death to self” in a spiritual sense. This post was truly beautiful; thank you for sharing! What an encouragement for all of us.

  7. standingfirm says:

    Yes, I agree as well, “eloquent”. I applaud the sister in Christ for holding tight to her convictions. God does know what is best for us. STD’S have been rampant for for at least the last 40 years. It is better to obey the Lord then risk your life for a incurable disease! Also, I would shout from the rooftops to every unwed Christian lady, under no circumstances marry a unbeliever!! I can not say that enough. Marry a unsaved man and your life will be sheer misery and a utter nightmare. It is better to be single then be with a child of the devil!!
    MARANATHA!!!!

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