Books on A Christian Approach to Romantic Relationships: Kissed Dating Goodbye
While the book is well-written and the ideas are well-expressed and thought out, Harris' theories just don't play well in a complex world filled with people. There is no set of rules or philosophies that one can apply to Christian premarital romance (nor any kind of romance, nor any kind of relationship, for that matter), and I believe that, unfortunately, Harris' ideas are a contribution to a philosophy that has caused much pain and cynicism in young single Christian circles (I can say this from experience).
In concurrence with Harris' ideas, many of our parents, with the best intentions, told us pubescent, hormonal Christians that we should wait for "God to bring the right one"; that "God has designed someone just for you". Harris has taken this idea and designed a dating paradigm that fosters to it, gearing up singles to pursue only that one, special, unique someone that God has made just for them. This has led many of us naive, unsuspecting singles to expect to suddenly wake up one morning with the perfect man/woman, a ring on our finger, passionate sex (that of course was saved for marriage without any sort of struggle), and a relationship with depth that's centered around Christ.
What I mean to say is, we know what we want and we expect God to get us there without any effort on our part. Having always been told to wait for God to bring this ominous "One" to us, to kiss dating goodbye, and that God has sculpted said "One" just for us, we have this hopelessly naive and incorrect idea that if we sit around, living our romance-free and happy lives (which, let's be honest, is unfortunately a bit of an oxymoron in our culture), God is going to make romance happen to us and another unsuspecting, beautiful, godly, pure individual.
The repercussions of this are the cause of constant frustration in both sexes. I've heard so many of my girl friends complain about this guy that they like so much, who they happen to know likes them, with whom she hangs out all the time (often one-on-one, over coffee) and this guy just won't ask her out, won't pursue her openly, won't lay his cards on the table and make himself vulnerable. Being a guy, and a guy that's been guilty of this, I can tell you that it's largely due to the aforementioned paradigm. Asking a girl out is terrifying, even if you know she'll say yes; vulnerability is petrifying. This is why the unconscious assumption that God will "bring the right person" to us is so comfortable. It requires no risk. God is going to do all the work for us. That's why we hang out with that girl we love for hours on end, always alluding to our feelings for her but never outright pursuing her, waiting for God to make it happen. It's comfortable, it's safe, and then you end up with mountains of sexual tension that haven't been expressed and eventually that coffee date becomes a make-out session without any pretext, without definitions, which leads to crossed boundaries and baggage. Fortunately I've been able to avoid this, but I've seen it far too many times for me to dismiss it as anything less than a pattern.
Alternately, I've heard many guys, myself included, complain about girls that simply will not say yes to a date. Because of our paradigm, those of us guys that have already gone through the frustrations of "kissing dating goodbye", realized that the difference between dating and Harris' ideas are simply in semantics, and have moved on to dating have found that many amazing, beautiful and godly girls will say no to a date with an amazing, godly man not because she's not attracted to him or not interested, but because she can't see herself marrying him. There's an expectation that, because God has this perfect man made for them, as soon as she sees him she'll be hopelessly in love and there won't even need to be a first date. A date, or courtship, or whatever you want to call it, is the context in which you get to know the other in order to determine whether you could marry that person. You can't determine that in day-to-day life. But, at the same time, girls expect us to pursue them, but not in a dating context because of the negative stigma given to that construct. Us guys are given so many mixed signals, because we're expected to pursue the girl like Christ pursues the Church (thanks, Francine Rivers, for giving every Christian woman the expectation that a good Christian man will be a cookie cut-out from Redeeming Love), but then again, if we do any kind of pursuing and the girl isn't already convinced that she could marry the guy, then we get shot down. So we are forced into the exact same context mentioned above, hanging out with the girl we like, allowing her to get to know us in a nonromantic context so that she can determine whether she could marry us (again, you can't determine how romantically compatible you are with someone in a nonromantic context). So as the two hang out more and more, and the girl still comes no closer to determining marriageability, emotions and sexual tension are still on the rise, and the same consequence mentioned above takes place.
All this being said, it's no wonder that young, single Christians are among the most romantically cynical beings I've ever met - and I am often guilty of this as well. I'm not saying that Joshua Harris is solely to blame, but I do believe that his books and ideology are a manifestation of this vague, misleading and tragic dating philosophy that is fostering so many embittered cynics in young Christian circles. The Church needs to begin addressing this issue, and realizing that there is no clean-cut solution and set of rules to apply to the grey area of romance. Only working relationship with us singles, intimate knowledge of our individual situations and, most importantly, the love and grace of Christ can lead us into romance with healthy expectations and practices. We don't need more books, we need older, experienced believers investing in us. That's what the Church is, anyway: a complex body of relationships, not a bookshelf of philosophies.
In this book Joshua Harris tells you to, as the title suggests, to kiss dating goodbye, suggesting that here is a better way to approach romance than simple "dating" could ever provide.
While most Christians agree to seek purity and save sex for marriage, few have been given a blueprint for how that should affect their view of dating and love. In I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Joshua Harris exposes the "Seven Habits of Highly Defective Dating" and offers a realistic outline of how to have a biblical vision of marriage. Harris contends that one must begin with a new attitude, viewing love, purity, and singleness from God's perspective rather than thinking that love and romance are to be enjoyed "solely for recreation." In such well-named chapters as "Guarding Your Heart" and "What Matters at Fifty," Harris encourages the reader to look at one's character rather than reveling in infatuation, to regard love as a truly selfless, biblical act rather than a feeling. He refutes the concept that we are victims of "falling in love" (that it is beyond our control), saying that "God wants us to seek guidance from scriptural truth, not feeling. Smart love looks beyond personal desires and the gratification of the moment. It looks at the big picture: serving others and glorifying God." Before you roll your eyes, moaning that this sounds terribly unromantic, know that Harris does a superb job of couching his convictions in the sincere belief that if we are purposeful in our singleness and date with integrity, a fulfilled marriage awaits us--in God's timing. --Jill Heatherly
Endless teenagers today feel discouraged or debilitate on the grounds that they don't have a sweetheart or sweetheart. Many single Christians feel baffled with culture's assumptions and examples of dating. Youth ministers and guardians wind up managing youthful grown-ups who fall into sexual enticement or burn through more effort on dating than on after God. I Kissed Dating Goodbye offers a new dating attitude an all-new way to deal with dating connections, summoning youthful grown-ups from playing the dating game and uncovering how they can carry on with a way of life of genuine love, genuine immaculateness, and intentional singleness. Legit and reasonable, this ground-breaking book will move teenagers and youthful grown-ups to remap their sentimental lives in the light of God's Word. Not simply a book of hypothesis, I Kissed Dating Goodbye incorporates sound difficulties to the present social presumptions about connections and gives strong, scriptural options in contrast to society's standard.
“Tired of the game? Kiss dating goodbye.
Dating: Isn't there a better way?
I Kissed Dating Goodbye suggests there is. Reorder your romantic life in the light of God's Word and find more fulfillment than a date could ever give – a life of sincere love, true purity, and purposeful singleness.” That is the promise and the premise behind Joshua Harris' new book I Kissed Dating Goodbye.
Joshua Harris writes pretty well, and he makes several good points in this book. When he talks about Mate God's view on love, Harris is right on the money. Love is not just a feeling. It is not a dominating force that overwhelms our ability to follow God. Unfortunately, Harris' radical new take on dating is really old-fashioned Pharisaical law. Harris has rightly shown some problems with our culture's view of dating, but his own system, while claiming to be biblical, reminds me very much of the Pharisees practice of writing their own laws to make sure that their fellow Jews wouldn't break God's laws. And we know how Jesus felt about that!
You might be wondering what I mean when I say that Harris has replaced a defective system with his own set of rules, instead of following God's laws. Pharisee-ism can be a very subtle thing. So let me give a very clear example. One of the key reasons Harris gives for avoiding dating is because it does not live up to Mate God's standards for love as set out in 1 Corinthians 13. Dating is short-term, it can be self-centered, and it can lead someone to fall away from God. Harris' solution is to avoid committing to one person until you are ready to marry. Is that a biblical perspective on love? 1 Corinthians 13 is not talking about romantic love. It is talking about the love that we are supposed to have for all believers all the time!
Now, can dating be self-centered? Of course it can.
Can dating lead you to care too much about the short-term? Yep.
Can dating cause someone to fall away from God? Definitely.
Can dating lead to prematurely intimate physical relationships? No doubt.
But it doesn't have to do any of these things. Harris proposes his own solution, courtship, which is no more biblical than dating. There isn't really any advice on dating or courting in the Bible because that was not a very big part of that culture. Marriages were (mostly) arranged affairs that were as much about economics and social status as love. So, there is really no such thing as "biblical" courtship or dating or whatever else. There are just decisions that believers need to make about how they are going to follow God in their situation.
So, I liked this book for some of its criticisms of our culture. I just don't think the prescription is any better than the disease.