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.