Purity Expert Josh Harris Announces 'I am Not a Christian,' Apologizes to LGBT Community

A leader in the Christian purity movement has announced he is "falling away" from Christianity and says he regrets his teachings on dating and sexuality.

Joshua Harris, who first came to notice when he wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye as a 21-year-old, also shared that he and his wife, Shannon, are splitting up and "will continue our life together as friends."

"I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus," Harris wrote Friday in an Instagram post. "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, the son of Christian homeschooling pioneers Gregg and Sono Harris, served as senior pastor of Covenant Life Church from 2004 to 2015. He also wrote Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship and Sex Isn't the Problem: Lust Is, encouraging courtship, rather than recreational dating and abstinence before marriage.

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My heart is full of gratitude. I wish you could see all the messages people sent me after the announcement of my divorce. They are expressions of love though they are saddened or even strongly disapprove of the decision.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ I am learning that no group has the market cornered on grace. This week I’ve received grace from Christians, atheists, evangelicals, exvangelicals, straight people, LGBTQ people, and everyone in-between. Of course there have also been strong words of rebuke from religious people. While not always pleasant, I know they are seeking to love me. (There have also been spiteful, hateful comments that angered and hurt me.)⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ The information that was left out of our announcement is that 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.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Martin Luther said that the entire life of believers should be repentance. There’s beauty in that sentiment regardless of your view of God. 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. 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.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ To my Christians friends, I am grateful for your prayers. Don’t take it personally if I don’t immediately return calls. I can’t join in your mourning. I don’t view this moment negatively. I feel very much alive, and awake, and surprisingly hopeful. I believe with my sister Julian that, “All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

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"While I stand by my book's call to sincerely love others, my thinking has changed significantly in the past 20 years. I no longer agree with its central idea that dating should be avoided. I now think dating can be a healthy part of a person developing relationally and learning the qualities that matter most in a partner."

Harris has walked back some of his views in recent years, stating he no longer believed Christians shouldn't date. He asked Multnomah Books to stop printing I Kissed Dating Goodbye.

"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."

He also apologized for his previous opposition to LGBT rights and same-sex marriage.

Josh Harris
Josh Harris and his wife have announced they are separating. Josh Harris @ Instagram

"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 an op-ed for Christian Post, evangelical activist Mike Farris criticized Harris for "walking away" from his marriage. "You have walked away from your faith in Christ," he wrote. "That's even worse."

Farris admitted he agreed with the guiding principles behind I Kissing Dating Goodbye but said Harris was too dependent on formulas for life: "You thought your faith and your marriage were based on formulas. They never went deeper than that."

"I do commend you for the intellectual integrity for recognizing that your secondary views (embracing the LGBT agenda, etc.) are utterly inconsistent with Christianity," he added "As is your view that it is ok to walk away from your marriage for the reasons you have stated. Both of these proved that you had renounced Christianity before you said so publicly."

Covenant Life Church also posted an open letter, urging congregants to pray for Harris' "redemption and restoration."

"Several times [the Apostle] Paul mentions former Christian leaders 'swerving from,' 'wandering from,' or 'making shipwreck' of their faith," wrote current pastor Kevin Rogers. "So while this is sad and confusing, it isn't new."

Rogers called Harris' announcement "an opportunity for greater resolve in our own faith."

Purity Expert Josh Harris Announces 'I am Not a Christian,' Apologizes to LGBT Community | News
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