A few months ago, an event rocked the Christian world. Joshua Harris, the famous author, speaker, and pastor, disavowed Christianity. He announced that he would be separating permanently from his wife, Shannon, whom he wrote about in Boy Meets Girl. Then, not a month later, he announced his disavowal of Christianity and all things Christ. A few weeks later, he was seen marching in an LGBT procession.
What on earth happened? The moment I heard this, I was rocked with grief. Not only was I impacted by Harris’ writing on several levels, but I had also shaped a lot of my personal beliefs off of him (see my dating posts). This seemed like a repeat of the Antonio Brown story, except within the Christian world instead of the NFL.
Firstly, if you don’t know who Joshua Harris is, then you’re about to find out. I, for the second time this week, will be writing about a pastor that made a bad decision. For the first post, click here.
Now, upon encountering Joshua Harris’ Wikipedia page, found here, I was instantly surprised. The only mention of Harris’ turn from the Faith was a one-sentence statement, given at the end of the page. No details were given and nothing was said beyond the fact that he had turned from the Faith. Disappointed, I was forced to search elsewhere. Now, after several hours of research and reading, I have the (mostly) complete story of Joshua Harris.
Joshua Eugene Harris was born on December 30th, 1974, making him two years older than my dad. Harris was the oldest of the seven children born to Gregg and Sono Harris, one of the first to lead the homeschooler movement. Having grown up in a homeschooler environment, Harris quickly became the hero for all homeschoolers as he published New Attitude, a magazine for homeschoolers, by homeschoolers. By the age of 22, Harris had published his famous book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which proceeded to sell over 1 million copies.
Within five years, Harris had met and married his wife, Shannon, and published a book on their courtship- Boy Meets Girl. Within the following years, Harris had published three more books and moved to Maryland. While there, he was personally mentored by famous pastor C.J Mahaney, who trained Harris to take over the megachurch Covenant Life Church.
Between the years of 1997 and 2011, Harris pastored his church and continued speaking at events and conferences. He built up a reputation as a fighter against all kinds of lust, and millions took his words to heart. His book Not Even a Hint, which I have read three times, was one of the defining factors of my new faith.
Then, in 2018, Harris announced that he would be discontinuing all printing of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, claiming that it had hurt many people and was more of a hindrance than a benefit to Christians.
Finally, only a few months ago, Harris announced that he would be permanently separating from his wife, Shannon, mother of their three children. A few weeks later, he announced on Instagram that he had “undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus”.¹
He later said…
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 practise faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now.²
The followed this up by saying…
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 to name a few.³
Harris’ disavowal of Christianity left thousands reeling in pain and hurt. Harris was supposed to be the greatest of all of us, a man that we could look up to. Now, it turns out that our “hero” has abandoned our cause and is now marching with the people he spoke against not even a year ago. Within weeks of his announcement, Christian writers, speakers, and pastors from all over the globe were speaking and writing on his life, including well-known writer and pastor John Piper.
Finally, to top it all off, Harris’ former church, Covenant Life Church, released a surprisingly gracious response, giving advice on how to deal with Harris’ announcement.
Now, I echo their words in saying this: Pray for our friend Josh. There is nothing left to do but pray. While he has walked away from the Faith and effectively made a wreck of his life, there is still hope for him yet.
Mr. Harris, if you’re reading this, then know that I’m praying for you every day. May God’s grace be with you.
Also, to you readers: Thanks so much for reading this post! Your support means a ton to me. If you haven’t already, be sure to click that Follow button. Once you’ve done so, you will receive regular emails when I publish a new post! Thanks again, and I hope you have a wonderful day!
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¹²³: Sherwood, Harriet. “Author of Christian relationship guide says he has lost his faith.” The Guardian, 29 July 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/29/author-christian-relationship-guide-joshua-harris-says-marriage-over
Covenant Life Church’s response to Harris: https://julieroys.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/CLC-Letter-About-Harris_Final.pdf
Joshua Harris’ Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joshua_Harris_(pastor)
The story of Harris’ announcements: https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/entertainment/2019/august/ex-pastor-joshua-harris-shows-lgbtq-support-at-vancouvers-pride-parade