What Joshua Harris got Right that Many Pastors Refuse to Say
Remember, Joshua Harris?
When I was in middle school and high school, he was the “trendy” counter-cultural Christian author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye in the midst of his heyday of influence. In the book, he encouraged young Christians to reject the normal methodology of pursuing relationships with the opposite sex and pursue more “pure” practices.
Well, this week Harris culminated an increasingly worldly journey when he announced his divorce from his wife and exit from the faith. Additionally, he wrote the following:
“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 many ways, this is shocking and sad. I never found Harris to be particularly strong, theologically nuanced, or compelling, but he was, nonetheless, an inspiration to many who were eager for someone to speak to issues they deal with in the world from a biblical perspective.
But, on the other hand, Harris’s words spoke volumes of truth.
When Harris declares that “by all the measurements I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian,” he recognizes a truth that many pastors refuse to preach: that when one holds views antithetical to Scripture, they cannot claim the Christian faith.
Easily, Harris could have found “Christians” eager to hear his newfound liberalism as his marriage melted away and he embraced the LGBTQ+ community. The audience is certainly there for that, many would have applauded, and money could have been made.
Yet, the truth is clear. He no longer believes the Scriptures, which have no ambiguity on the issue of sexuality. Therefore, as someone who denies the authority and veracity of the Word, he can no longer claim to be a Christian.
This begs the question, though: would your pastor admit this truth that this apostate freely confesses?
I hope yours would, but many wouldn’t. In fact, just as Satan’s minions no doubt celebrate the fall of a once-well-known evangelical, there is more cause for them to feel jubilee when the pulpits remain silent – when they refuse to draw a difference between following Christ and embracing the world and sin.
So, while I felt saddened as I read the news the media was so eager to report this week, my hope is that the lonely and lost words of Harris will cause many to consider whether they are following Christ. Do they believe Him and His Word? Are they willing to say that being a Christian isn’t easy, it isn’t popular, and it requires a distinct way of living and thinking?
Our churches need to embrace this. While being radiantly loving, we must return to be steadfastly biblical. For, while I hope to see Harris return to the fold of knowing and loving Jesus, I am grateful that he has come to the realization that he does not follow Him and publicly acknowledged this truth.
For His Glory,
President and Executive Director
Joshua Harris, for better or worse, affected evangelical Christianity because he was willing to talk about cultural issues in a counter-cultural way. There was, undeniably, a hunger for this, and there still is! If your church or Bible study has an interest in hearing biblical truth on the political and cultural issues we encounter when we step outside the four walls of our church or home, I’d be happy to share about biblical citizenship and how it can transform our state. Send me an email if you would like for me to share with your congregation or group.