“I kissed dating goodbye” author is separating from his wife

Popular author and former pastor Joshua Harris announced via Instagram that he and his wife Shannon are separating.

Harris influenced a generation of Evangelical Christian youths with his popular books “I kissed dating goodbye” and “Boy meets girl: say hello to courtship.”

On Instagram, Harris said:

We’re writing to share the news that we are separating and will continue our life together as friends. In recent years, some significant changes have taken place in both of us. It is with sincere love for one another and understanding of our unique story as a couple that we are moving forward with this decision. We hope to create a generous and supportive future for each other and for our three amazing children in the years ahead. Thank you for your understanding and for respecting our privacy during a difficult time.

Last year, Harris began to distance himself publicly from his dating philosophy and called for the end of the publication of “I kissed dating goodbye.”

I do have a few thoughts.

It’s very unfortunate that their marriage is in its current state. I sincerely hope that they can reconcile and go on to have a strong marriage. In his post he used the word “separating” instead of divorce, so maybe I’m overly hopeful.

Some will mock Harris. I think that’s unfortunate. Let’s not rub salt on the wounds. It’s a family, people’s lives, they have three kids. It’s not funny.

With that said, I also don’t think a person should feel guilty of noticing the irony. He was the relationship guru for untold swaths of young Christians. I think a person can observe that fact without celebrating it.

There may be a temptation for Christians who are in a tough spot with their own marriages and who bought in to Harris’s philosophy to question their own vows and relationship. Don’t do that. Joshua Harris is still just a man and he’s still fallen and fallible. Let us not make idols of teachers and writers. Regardless of what he is doing in his life and marriage, that doesn’t undermine the commitment that anyone else has made to your spouse.

I also think it’s worth noting that just because Joshua Harris is separated from his wife does not mean that everything he ever said about dating and relationships was wrong. I don’t love “I kissed dating goodbye.” I would not encourage a person to base their dating philosophy off of that book. But for people who did, there are still some good things that he said. He emphasized being ready for marriage, commitment, healthy boundaries. Those are good things. Just because a person doesn’t ultimately live up to their own ideals does not make the ideals wrong in themselves.

It’s important to continue to fight for your marriage. Everyday.

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Josh Benner has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has served churches in Minnesota and Illinois. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in St. Louis.