Well-known author and former pastor Josh Harris announced recently that he has abandoned Christianity because he cannot reconcile the Bible with his current views on sexuality, which include fully embracing homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism.
Harris, 44, wrote the 1997 bestseller I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which argued for sexual purity among Christians and an approach to seeking a mate that eschewed casual dating in favor of courtship. The book, along with its two Harris-penned sequels and associated materials, was highly influential among Evangelical Christians.
On July 17, Harris announced on Instagram that he and his wife of 21 years “are separating and will continue our life together as friends.” The split, he explained, came about because “in recent years, some significant changes have taken place in both of us.”
Harris’ changes have been both significant and public. In 2015, he resigned as senior pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, a post he had held for 11 years. At the time, Harris said he planned to attend Regent College, a graduate school of theology in Vancouver, British Columbia; he had no formal theological training prior to becoming a pastor.
Last year, he renounced I Kissed Dating Goodbye and asked his publisher to stop producing it and the related books and materials. In a statement on his website, he apologized for any harm his book had caused — among other things, some people apparently believed that following his advice guaranteed perfect marriages — while acknowledging that it had also helped many people.
Then, just nine days after announcing his divorce, Harris dropped his biggest bombshell. “I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus,” he explained on Instagram. “The popular phrase for this is ‘deconstruction,’ the biblical phrase is ‘falling away.’ By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.”
Harris said that “for the past several years” he has been “repenting of my self-righteousness, my fear-based approach to life, the teaching of my books, my views of women in the church, and my approach to parenting to name a few.”
“But,” he continued, “I specifically want to add to this list now: to the LGBTQ+ community, I want to say that I am sorry for the views that I taught in my books and as a pastor regarding sexuality. I regret standing against marriage equality, for not affirming you and your place in the church, and for any ways that my writing and speaking contributed to a culture of exclusion and bigotry. I hope you can forgive me.”
In other words, Harris has decided that hewing to the in-vogue way of thinking about sexuality — not only does anything go, but also it should be publicly affirmed and celebrated — is more important to him than adhering to the faith he once claimed, and so he is abandoning the faith.
“Many people tell me that there is a different way to practice faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now,” Harris wrote. To his credit, rather than pretending that his newfound opinions are compatible with Christianity and treating believers in the historic faith as the problem, Harris recognizes that he is the apostate one and is acting accordingly. Indeed, given a chance to adopt the “progressive” interpretation of Scripture in a February interview with the left-wing Sojourners, Harris said, “It actually feels more intellectually honest for me to say I don’t know that I agree with the Bible in general than it is to get it to say these things.”
“It can get to feeling, like, what are you holding onto in Christianity? Why do you need it still?” he added. “I guess if we can with one generation make that radical a shift with the Bible, who’s to say that another generation can’t completely shift the Bible to, you know, to justify something that we would all think is horrendous? It starts to just be silly putty.”
While many Christians are dismayed at Harris’ willingness to turn his back on his faith, Harris claimed, “I don’t view this moment negatively. I feel very much alive, and awake, and surprisingly hopeful.” His hope, unfortunately, is seriously misplaced.
Image of Josh Harris: Screenshot of TEDx Talks on YouTube