There’s been some interesting discussion on the internet lately about the 1997 book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, by Joshua Harris. Have you read it? The premise is that young people should essentially be courting, not dating. Harris taught that people were spending too much time being self-focused and that they needed to be more God-directed in their dating choices. (This isn’t a book review, so if you want to know more about the book feel free to look it up.) My daughter and I read this book several years ago and had some great discussions on the topic of dating. It helped us to figure out what dating would look like for her in the future. We didn’t agree with everything Harris said but we liked his perspective on getting the focus off of self and onto God.
The author, Joshua Harris, has recently given some interviews where he’s expressed the concern that maybe the book was a mistake. Many readers have come forward to say that they feel they missed out or that they had twisted ideas about relationships because of the book. To his credit, Harris is now raising funds for a non-profit film that looks at the long-term impact of the book on Christian culture. He’s also stated that he never intended for people to make his book into a legalistic set of rules.
The main issue to me isn’t dating or courting or emulating the Duggars, nor is it about whether Josh Harris was right or wrong. If courting works for you and you feel God is asking you to do that, then by all means do that. The main issue is when we as Christians read a book and decide to make it our canon. The only book we should be doing that with is the Bible. No book, no author, no blog should have the power to rule your life like that. Reading the Bible and praying for God to give you discernment is the way to navigate dating, and the way to navigate life in general. There’s nothing wrong with reading books on this topic, but our ultimate authority is the Word.
Popular Christian books and ideas come and go all the time. Our foundation to filter those ideas must always be God’s Word.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17