VANCOUVER — A week after “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” author Joshua Harris announced that he was kissing Christianity goodbye, he posted photos to Instagram of his participation in the Vancouver Pride Festival.
“An American in Canada marching with the British Consulate,” Harris wrote with one photo.
He posted another photograph of himself with “Christian rocker” Trey Pearson of Everyday Sunday, who left his wife and children in 2016 after coming out as homosexual, as well as Matthias Roberts, a homosexual and mental health counselor who — according to his website — seeks to “fight bad theology” as he believes “people in the Church have been gravely wrong” in stating that homosexuals aren’t Christians.
Harris wore a “Love Is GREAT – Britain” t-shirt at the event, on which he hung rainbow sunglasses. “Enjoyed swapping stories, gentlemen!” he wrote as a caption.
While Harris’ photographs no longer appear on his Instagram page, the one photo remains posted on Pearson’s Twitter account.
As previously reported, Harris announced on July 26 that he no longer identifies as a Christian. He also apologized to those who identify as homosexuals, stating that he regrets his teaching on sexuality and that he had once stood against same-sex “marriage.”
“I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is ‘deconstruction,’ the biblical phrase is ‘falling away,’” Harris wrote. “By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.”
He said that some people have told him that there is a “different way to practice faith,” and that he wants to “remain open to this,” but added, “I’m not there now.”
Harris pointed to a quote from Martin Luther on repentance, but said that the past several years he has conversely been “repenting” of the views he once held to and taught.
“I specifically want to add to this list now,” he wrote, “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.”
The week prior, Harris and his wife both announced on their respective Instagram pages that they had agreed to separate and just remain friends, citing “significant changes” that have occurred in their thinking.
“We’re writing to share the news that we are separating and will continue our life together as friends,” he posted. “In recent years, some significant changes have taken place in both of us.”
Harris is the former senior pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, the founding church of Sovereign Grace Ministries. He left his position in 2015 and soon moved to Canada to attend Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The following year after leaving Covenant Life Church, Harris explained in an interview with NPR that he was rethinking his approach to romantic relationships.
Harris, who authored the books, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” “Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship,” and “Sex Isn’t the Problem: Lust Is,” had taught since 1997 that Christians should be different from the world, including in their dealings with the opposite sex.
He urged Christians to not engage in recreational dating, outlining the downsides of the common practice, but to be purposeful about finding one’s spouse for life and to consider the courtship model instead.
“The world takes us to a silver screen on which flickering images of passion and romance play, and as we watch, the world says, ‘This is love.’ God takes us to the foot of a tree on which a naked and bloodied man hangs and says, ‘This is love,’” Harris wrote.
“When God knows you’re ready for the responsibility of commitment, He’ll reveal the right person under the right circumstances.”
But some told Harris that his “Kissed Dating Goodbye” book had negative ramifications on their personal lives, as they felt his views on courtship as opposed to dating, not giving one’s heart away prematurely and not kissing before marriage were too stringent. He told NPR in 2016 that he was “really trying to listen to these voices.”
Last year, Harris released a formal statement advising that he no longer believes Christians shouldn’t date and asked his publisher to stop printing “I Kissed Dating Goodbye.” He, however, also expressed apprehension over calls to throw out all of his teaching on purity.
“While I stand by my book’s call to sincerely love others, my thinking has changed significantly in the past twenty years. I no longer agree with its central idea that dating should be avoided,” he wrote. “I now think dating can be a healthy part of a person developing relationally and learning the qualities that matter most in a partner.”
Days following his announcement acknowledging that he could not be defined as a Christian (not based on his views on dating but other factors), Harris remarked on Instagram that he is “not ashamed” of the road he is currently on.
“That old Bukowski poem has been ringing in my ears: ‘If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start,'” he wrote. “Well, I’ve started. But there is a long road ahead. And maybe a cold park bench.”
“[I have determined to] refuse to disappear. To live my life. Hold my head up. Look my Christian friends in the eyes and smile when I pass them on the sidewalk,” Harris said.
He added, however, that “[t]he inner journey that I’m on isn’t something that I need to broadcast,” and that he will not be conducting any interviews or writing any books.
His various posts have generated a variety of responses, from some applauding Harris to others expressing deep sorrow. Some Christians debated whether Harris had ever been regenerated or if his story is more akin to the prodigal son. Some reflected on whether or not it was wise for a young 30-year-old to be made lead pastor as Harris was in 2004 and whether he should have been writing books at 21.
“You are clearly a conflicted person and I have a hunch you will make a certain announcement in the near future,” one commenter speculated. “I just feel most sorry for your kids. I pray you will do what is right according to truth and not what you ‘feel.'”