I Kissed Dating Goodbye, A New Attitude Toward Romance and Relationships
I heard about this book long before I got to read it just recently. When my niece was working as a counsellor at a Bible camp nearby, she would come spend her weekends with us, and while she was unloading all her experiences of the previous week, it came out that some other counsellors had read this book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye and among themselves, the counsellors were having lively debates about the points Harris makes.
Now my niece was not against dating at all, and she was sure her own personal high standards would protect her in any kind of temptation. What softened her towards the book was when knowing that one particular girl had vowed to also kiss dating goodbye, she watched as this girl was wooed by a fine young man, who accepted that girl's boundaries, and did use the courting approach. They were happily married the following summer.
Watching the principles in action gave my niece a great respect for this book. She knew I had high personal standards myself, and though I seldom found people open to hearing them, we had some great discussions.
I'd also heard Joshua Harris interviewed on the radio, on Focus on the Family, so it was with real pleasure that I received the loan of this book recently. I wanted to see how we lined up.
I'm happy to report that we agree heartily! Harris had given up dating after experimenting with it for several years, wheras I had made my resolutions much earlier. I can see where young people will sooner identify with his story. But I really liked how he weaves such good principles and a grasp of God's better ways into his own story and those he tells of other young dating couples.
Harris moves beyond what feels good (dating), to what IS good, and recognizes the negative tendencies inherent in dating. He describes five basic attitude shifts needed to avoid defective dating.
Impatience to marry (or settling for sex), robs us of the gift of singleness. I was so glad Harris points out that there are some great blessings to be had in the state of singleness. It is not the slough of despond, where we must constantly struggle to keep from sinking in the quicksand. Many of us never-marrieds take decades to discover that, if we do at all! Those are wasted years we will mourn afterwards. Someone has to tell this younger generation to respect and to appreciate those single years. They are a gift from God, just as Harris says.
Thankfully, Harris also explains how to have Jesus redeem the past and get us on the road to righteousness. In fact, he lays out four important steps for getting on track with God's plan and switching to a new lifestyle. One where friends are really "just friends," and not sexual conquests, and thus freeing us to enjoy them and our activities far more.
The human heart, being what it is, needs guards set all around it, to keep out lust, self-pity, and infatuations, or foolish daydreams. Here again, he offers some helpful counsel. What's more, he throws in what to say when people ask you if you're nuts, for not dating.
What are the alternatives to dating? How do you get a husband or wife then?
Well, Harris makes a great run at this too. Besides urging readers to make the most of singleness, he
encourages a Biblical and realistic view of marriage, and what will matter most in a life partner. Then he lays
out principles that border on the old-fashioned courting process, to guide the same reader from sound, healthy
friendships to marriage. He sees four stages of development in such friendships, and offers pointers for each,
and how he has adopted them himself. These four are;
purposeful intimacy with integrity
Mainly, there is prayer, and there are questions to ask, and green lights (yes answers) to watch for, and there is the matter of respecting the other person and his or her family, and vowing to reserve passion for marriage.
I should add, that since Harris wrote this book in 1997, he has married, and he and his wife have a young family. He has now come out with a second book, Boy Meets Girl, in which he describes how he got married, without the usual dating route.
Reading some online reviews of his books, and interviews done with Harris, I see that he is a very articulate spokesman for the Christian singles. Oddly enough, it is the girls who respond most to his first book, although he is sure that the males are reading the book too. I'm glad for one, that he is speaking out. We need a few more such spokespersons.
I just learned that he has another book out, which had a title and cover change. It started out as Not Even a Hint, then when a similar cover came out, and his publisher realized the public didn't know what it was about, they re-issued it as Sex is Not the Problem (Lust is). Looks like a book to watch for!
On his own site, JoshuaHarris.com, I see yet another book he has out; Stop Dating the Church. This one seems aimed at the weak and flimsy relationship many young folks have with the church. He advises to fall in love with the Family of God. Hmm... we'll be kept busy reading to keep up with this good author.