Ex-Evangelical Joshua Harris, Leader in Christian Purity Movement, Marches in Vancouver Pride Parade

A former pastor who stunned the evangelical movement last month by announcing he was "falling away" from Christianity and recanting his teachings on sexuality marched in the Vancouver Pride Parade over the weekend.

On Sunday Joshua Harris, author of the popular Christian relationship guide I Kissed Dating Goodbye, posted Instagrams from the festivities. "An American in Canada marching with the British Consulate in the Pride Parade," one caption read.

Joshua Harris
Ex-evangelical leader Joshua Harris posted images from Vancouver Pride. Joshua Harris @ Instagram

He also shared a photo of himself alongside LGBT advocates, including out rocker Trey Pearson and Queerology podcaster Matthias Roberts.

Harris, senior pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, from 2004 to 2015, first came to notice as a 21-year-old in 1996 with I Kissed Dating Goodbye, a biblical guide to relationships that advocating courtship and abstinence before marriage rather than modern dating and casual sex.

A leader in the purity movement, he also wrote Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship and Sex Isn't the Problem: Lust Is.

But on July 26, Harris posted on Instagram that he had undergone "a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus."

"The popular phrase for this is 'deconstruction,' the biblical phrase is 'falling away," he added. "By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian."

In the same post, he specifically apologized for his previous opposition to same-sex marriage and LGBT rights.

"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.⁣⁣"

Vancouver Pride
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family at the 38th Annual Vancouver Pride Parade on July 31, 2016 in Vancouver. Andrew Chin/Getty Images

He also walked back the views on dating he espoused in I Kissed Dating Goodbye.

"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."

And Harris shared that he and his wife, Shannon, were splitting up but "will continue our life together as friends."

View this post on Instagram

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.”

A post shared by Joshua Harris (@harrisjosh) on

On Twitter, Harris identified himself professionally as working in "marketing, branding and content strategy."

Evangelical leaders have responded to his "falling away" from Christianity with a mix of anger, sadness and confusion.

Pastor Heath Lambert, author of Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace, announced he was removing Harris' forward from the book.

"In Finally Free, I am trying to be clear about a Christian approach to sexuality," Lambert said in a statement. "Joshua's recent actions and statements only confuse that attempt at clarity and will lead others astray."

Harris "is in absolute spiritual peril," Lambert added. "He needs our love, and he needs our prayers. He has mine, and I trust he will have yours as well."

Ex-Evangelical Joshua Harris, Leader in Christian Purity Movement, Marches in Vancouver Pride Parade | News