Joshua Harris, author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, pastored my church for over ten years. His book was famous among evangelicals for promoting dating restrictions to nurture sexual purity before marriage. He taught it as a way to have a good marriage later in life.
I was a member of Joshua Harris’s church for over 30 years. It has been in the news lately, and not in a positive way.
Josh resigned as our pastor over three years ago. To our surprise, he recently announced he is divorcing his wife and and that he is no longer a Christian! Additionally, he has adopted a “Side A” gay-affirming belief.
Needless to say, this has had a terrible impact on our church and on many other evangelicals influenced by Josh. I have been urging my friends not to “throw the baby out with the bath water” but to keep following Jesus Christ anyway.
Jesus Christ is still who He is, despite any failures of any one man!
Despite all this drama and the church’s many other issues, this place has been of some help to guys dealing with same-sex attraction. I will discuss two reasons why.
First, our church had a policy against casual dating amongst singles to reduce sexual temptation. The church only allowed very limited and structured dating for those ready for marriage.
This resulted in most single guys not dating, so any guy who didn’t want to date women would fit right in with the majority of single, straight guys in the church.
This was the perfect cover for gay men! I’ve known many other guys in the church who secretly dealt with same-sex attraction while living a celibate life.
We actually did not stand out as weird for not dating women! Many of us felt very comfortable and even accepted in the church for years.
Of course, that was only as long as we were careful not to out ourselves.
Second, our church had a long history of promoting strong same-sex friendships. Pastors of the church often taught that friendships strengthened our commitment to God.
Because real friends talk in depth and hold each other accountable to follow Jesus. Opposite-sex friendships were discouraged because of fear of sexual temptations for straight people.
So, guys like me who deal with gay attractions had many opportunities for close, non-sexual friendships with other guys at Joshua Harris’s church.
Intuitively, we all seemed to know how to talk around our attractions to keep from outing ourselves while still feeling the warmth of real non-sexual affection with other men.
This kind of longterm love and acceptance from other Christian guys really met an inner need and greatly helped me resist my temptations to wrongly fill that need sexually with other men.
Do former Christian leaders’ abandonment of faith and/or their embracing of gay theology impact you? Do you have any questions for me about being in Joshua Harris’s church for decades?