Some may be familiar with the name Joshua Harris. Harris wrote the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye in 1997, a book that sold over one million copies and “shap(ed) purity culture for many millennial believers” (Caleb Parke, Fox News, 7/29/19). The book exposed the dangers of sensual-based romance as promoted by Hollywood, teen magazines and other cultural norms. Harris advised getting to know a potential mate through family/group outings and other multi-person venues. The book also was critical of homosexuality.
Last week, Harris dropped the bombshell that his 21-year marriage had ended. That was eclipsed by this week’s post in which Harris has completely renounced his faith. He wrote:
“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.’ By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian. 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” (Instagram post).
Harris added, “I have lived in repentance for the past several years – 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 … But 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.”
This turn of events raises concern on several levels.
#1: We need to be wary of LGBTQ ideology. I do not know Joshua Harris; I have read portions of his book. I do not know the details of his marriage, his personal faith or its devolution. But his “transition,” which now includes being a sympathizer of the LGBTQ community, raises warning flags. Whether Harris’ fame went to his head and/or brought him into contact with the pro-homosexual lobby, something completely changed his view of this sin.
The homosexual lobby and its constituent elements – Hollywood propaganda, educational advocacy, strong arm political and corporate pressure (sensitivity training; enforced terminology; etc.), gay marches, celebrations, rainbows, etc. – are powerful forces that are changing cultural attitudes. Don’t assume they can’t change yours. Threats, lawsuits, shame, accusations of bigotry, loss of job – these and other pressures can exploit our weakness of conviction and turn our minds away from truth.
So powerful is this change in Harris that he is making public confessions that are going to cost him respect, money, family, influence. He now seems a true believer in his unbelief. Which leads to a second observation:
#2: Unbelief itself is a persuasive force, and we should not take our faith for granted. We need to be aware of the arguments of naturalists, skeptics, evolutionists – atheism in general. Their messages are embedded in nearly all elements of culture: both K-12 public school curriculum and university studies; museum exhibits, science documentaries, magazine articles – just about every published text or commentary in the public domain. Ask yourself: when is the last time you saw something in the public square asserting that the order and complexity of information in the universe is evidence a creative intelligence? Like, never.
So we must be studious and examine the arguments of unbelief, see through the deception and illogic and ground ourselves in the truth.
#3: We need to understand our own view of LGBTQ issues. Joshua Harris now admits that he was wrong about the stand he took against the gay community. He now says practitioners of sexual perversion should enjoy “marriage equality”; they have a “place in the church”; and he confesses his “exclusion and bigotry.” These are the very things the LGBTQ advocates want to instill in society at large and especially in those who believe the Bible. Regarding these three points:
* The entire cultural and Biblical construct of “marriage” is a life-long covenant between a man and woman that, in the normal course of things, produces offspring. (It is ironic that biological evolutionists have put all their eggs in the basket of reproduction and “getting one’s genes into the next generation” while LGBTQ advocates have taken the polar opposite view, one that cannot pass genetic material on.) To speak of “marriage equality” in a gay context is an oxymoron. Call it a union; call it an arrangement; call it a relationship, but don’t call it marriage.
* Practicing homosexuals do not have a “place in the church.” First Corinthians 6:9-10 makes this clear: “Neither … homosexuals nor sodomites … will inherit the kingdom of God.” This tells us something about Joshua Harris’ view of both the church and Scripture; he has rejected God’s revelation and has sided with the world. (Homosexuals can have a place in the church if they repent, as some of the Corinthians had done.)
* To teach the truth on the sin of homosexuality is not promoting “exclusion and bigotry.” That is what they say it does, but Christians are not to treat sinners with disdain or disrespect. We are all guilty of sin, but Christians must develop a repugnance toward it and desire to put it out of their lives. They must teach others to do the same while retaining their love and regard for the lost. By definition the Lord’s church cannot fellowship those who are openly practicing sin, for it is the body of those who have renounced sin and endeavor to live above it. The question is: why would a homosexual want to associate with those who hold ideals diametrically opposed to his own – unless it is to prove a political point?
#4: We must be careful whose opinions we adopt and preach to others as if it were the gospel. Many Christians fell into step with Joshua Harris and his book. Not that there was nothing legitimate about it, but he was not a prophet, as we all now know. Be careful, the bandwagon may be heading for the cliff, banging its drums every step of the way.