When Joshua Harris announced that he was separating from his wife, I grieved. When he announced he no longer identified as a Christian, I grieved again. When I read the comments on his announcements, I grieved further still. Christians can be so mean sometimes.
As many of you know, I have been critical of many of the ideas in I Kissed Dating Goodbye, but I wasn’t critical of Joshua the man. He wrote his book with the best intentions, he had no idea how things would turn out. Since my blog and book came out, I’ve had the chance to talk with him over the phone, interview him on my radio show, meet with him in person, and appear in his documentary. I have enjoyed getting to know him and I like him personally.
In all the drama over these announcements, I think people are missing a core reality: Joshua Harris, the man, is a man in pain. He is putting a brave face on it, but everything in his life that can be shaken, has been shaken. Making it worse, the feedback he has received from some Christians has been terrible.
Can you imagine how it would feel?
Being mean, spiteful and cruel is not of Christ. If you are abiding in Christ, the fruit of the Spirit will appear in your life, fruits including love, gentleness, and kindness. If you don’t find these things growing in your life, consider diving deeper into Christ rather than deeper into conflict with others.
Some would say, the way to love Joshua Harris is to shout the truth at him until he repents. To them, I would ask, when has that ever worked for you? Has anyone shouted you into agreeing with them? My guess is that you find self-righteous chest-thumping unattractive in others too.
Truth is vital. But, speaking the truth without love, is not the language of Christians. It’s the language of demons. The evil spirits often spoke truly when they spoke of Jesus but they did it with malice and evil intent. Jesus often had to silence them from speaking the truth about him (Mark 3:11-12).
Joshua Harris was a pastor and a seminarian. What are you going to say to him that he hasn’t already heard? The kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power (1 Cor 4:20). And what is more powerful than love?
A lot of Christians right now are frustrated about a lot of things. We are hurting, grieving, and scared. But none of that cancels Jesus’ commandment to love. Christ calls us to love one another (John 3:11) and to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43). So even if you see Harris as your vilest enemy, Jesus still calls you to love him, bless him, and do good to him (Matthew 5:44).
So maybe buy Joshua coffee before telling him how wrong he is. And if you don’t know him personally, perhaps spend your time earnestly praying for him rather than leaving him angry comments on Instagram.
Your message is on point. If we Christians continue to be harsh and judging, we will continue to see marriages fail and people turn away from Christ.
Thank you! I also grieved. I did agree with many if his principals and I think he was lead of God. I agree that many have been cruel. This is why many turn from God that also have not known Him because they see christians responding not in a spirit of love. They associate God with that behaviour and wany nothing to do with that.
When something like this happens, we as a Christian Community grieve together. It grieves our spirits. We may grieve in different ways. I think it is important to remember that Josh is not the enemy. We follow Christ and resist our real enemy. When one of us gets hurt or falls, we need to come beside him and love him like Jesus does.
God is still on his throne. He is not surprised standing there wringing his hands. He is working in Josh’s life and in each of our lives in ways we do not see and often do not understand. I am not saying that God made this happen. He is still at work. Jesus invites us to join him in fighting on behalf of Josh and his family through prayer. I pray that God would heal Josh, his family, and the Christian Community. I pray that God would take care of Josh and bring him life. I choose to trust God. Will you join me?
Thank you. Well said.
Wonderful post, Thomas! It grieves me to know Christians would behave so unChristlike to their brother. I didn’t even realize… I’m sure his book helped some people, too. He had an opinion. Some people accepted it; others didn’t. Joshua, if you’re reading this… please know that God and his real people never stopped loving and caring about you — and never will.
Thanks so much for this article. I was also grieved when I heard the news because I know them personally. But i can say I am very disappointed in those that consider themselves to be followers of Jesus just being down right mean and cruel. When as a believe we should be banding together and fasting and praying and lifting them up because it could be us.
Well said, Thomas. Keep up the good work.
In 1 Corinthians the scripture instructs the church how to handle sexual immoral behavior. That is Christ like because their soul is at stake.
Well, wow. That was an absolutely profound blog post!
People who know him personally can speak the harder truths with love he can “hear” much better than strangers beating him with the Bible any day. The rest of us can shut up and pray. We can do as Scripture says and “treat him as an unbeliever.”
Do we lead unbelievers to Christ by attacks, cruelty, and rejection, or do we by love, kindness, and being ready to speak the Word when that unbeliever asks? Just sayin’.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Thomas, for speaking the truth in love.
Well said, Thomas, thank you for posting this.
Your words are true. However, I see far too little sympathy for his wife, family, and the people who took his advice to heart. I have a thousand times more sympathy for them, especially his wife and kids, than I do for him. He violated the most sacred trust that God gives a man. We at least must acknowledge that.
I decided a long time ago that “Christian book-publishing celebrity” is not one of the spiritual offices. If we quit elevating these stars of the faith, then they and their audience will not be so hurt when they fall — as has happened so many, many times.
“perhaps spend your time earnestly praying for him rather than leaving him angry comments on Instagram.” nice!!
When I was seventeen years old, I picked up I Kissed Dating Goodbye and discovered a world that my peers, church, and parents had never spoken of–a world of purity, waiting, and believing. I began this journey, believing that my man in shining armor was out there. Fast forward ten years, I meet David, a man after God’s own heart. We fall in love and exchange marriage vows.
I realize that some people were hurt by Joshua’s message because they say it failed to consider that if someone joined the purity club, but fell, they could never re-join the club again. However, Jesus presents a different message than this. He offers cleansing, redemption, and forgiveness. And while God is perfectly loving and merciful, He is also unchanging and holy. His standards of holiness will never be compromised. Jesus demonstrated His love through his death on the cross and God displayed his holiness through the punishment of the world’s sins on His shoulders.
My heart broke as I read of Joshua, the man who led me on a journey to present myself to David on our honeymoon night as a virgin, had forsaken the way. But more so, my heart broke for the teens around us. I was given direction, and though maybe not entirely perfect, my heart understood what He was saying about purity. You see, even though God offers cleansing, redemption, and forgiveness, there is great pain in loss virginity and broken hearts. My teen heart understood that Joshua and God did not want that for my life. But will today’s teens know this way? Perhaps all they will know of Joshua Harris is that he has forsaken the way.
Great blog, and yes each one must love, and forgive each brother they look upon no matter what they are saying or doing. It’s important for each Christian to keep His eyes firmly fixed on God. His mind must be set on Love, because if he takes his eyes off truth, he will be carried away by the behavior of someone else, Christian or not. A Christian rooted and grounded in the love of Christ will be able to face anything, and not be shaken, and to remain unaffected by all loveless acts. There will be no offense in him. His demonstration will be a testimony to those looking on. It’s okay to make mistakes. Shake the dust off your feet and move on, but never shake God off or you’ll pay the price. Not because God is punishing you, but because by default you have joined the opposition and will lose your way. In a world of duality, there are only two ways to live: With the Light of Love and all that is good, or with dark fear, and all that is evil. Choose love brother and know you are love. All your mistakes have been forgiven, and you are so loved. You are not alone.Keep your mind set on the One who walks with you. God bless you all.
Thanks! Your post spoke of the Character of Christ and help me to not all into those critical discussions of still our brother, Joshua Harris.