Joshua Harris is a popular name in the circles I grew up in, namely Conservative homeschooling ones. He has recently been making some serious waves on social media because he is rethinking his famous book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. His book is one that many of my friends and their parents read, whether by genuine interest or due to coercion. I didn’t read his book until I was writing my own book evaluating the dangers of purity culture, but the things he promoted were certainly a part of my childhood, for better or worse.
Many of my friends and family know that I have critiqued Harris’ book and at one point directed anger towards him (which was misplaced I now feel), so it has come as a surprise to many that I have financially supported the Kickstarter campaign meant to fund a documentary he is a part of called I Survived I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Something that has bothered me as I have worked through my own experience with purity culture, insofar as his book was involved, is that I was presented with two options: his book as inspired (essentially just an extension of the bible), or his book as a work of religious indoctrination and evil. These two options presented also lead into either hero-worship or hatred of the man himself. I thought I had to choose one of these options, because that was all that was ever presented to me.
Then I spoke to Joshua Harris himself on Twitter. I decided on a whim that it was a long time in coming and that I was done with letting other people decide how my relationships, whether romantic or otherwise, would go. I was done with passive aggressive internet discussions in which everyone wanted to talk and no one wanted to listen. I tried to find out who Joshua Harris was then and who he is now. I believe people change and get wiser, and I think that Joshua’s very public life has been both a burden and a blessing, but also something that God can reveal His love and grace through.
While I do believe in culpability and that many of the things said in I Kissed Dating Goodbye were damaging, I also believe in forgiveness and grace. For the first time when I actually spoke to him, I saw him not as some evil author out to make a profit on innocent children, but as a fallen man and, more importantly, a Child of God, just as we all are.
Many people are up in arms in support of, against, or in skepticism of the film due to their own experience with Harris’ book. There can be no denying the project has hit a nerve in bringing up the past, a past that many would sooner forget. There are many concerns people have had with the documentary (rest assured, Harris is not profiting from the film), but from the very first moment I heard of it and confirmed that the makers were Christian, I knew that I would #BackTheConversation with I Survived I Kissed Dating Goodbye.
I think that the documentary is a step in the right direction towards a healthier conversation about sex, relationships, and legalism in Christian circles. I do not expect the film to be the end-all-be-all of rectifying what has happened in the past, and I do not think it should be or even could be no matter what is said or done. It is my hope that, in helping to fund this documentary, it can bring hurting Christians together so that we may heal together, forgive, confess our sins, and rejoice in the love and forgiveness Christ gave us in his death and resurrection.
If you would like to learn more about the film, you can watch the Kickstarter video or see the backer options (as of this writing, there are 6 days left to back it).
No matter if you choose to monetarily support it or not, please pray for all of those involved. I truly believe that the beautiful people involved in the production of this film need to be wrapped up in our prayers as they have been and will continue to face the uglier sides of humanity during this project.