I almost didn’t write this review. I’ve been contemplating writing it for a month. “I really want to write a review of this book,” I told my mom this morning, “but it’s kind of old. Is that weird?”
“I don’t think so,” she replied. “It’s a classic.”
And (of course) she was absolutely right, so here goes:
Although it was written in 1997, Joshua Harris’ book I Kissed Dating Goodbye is just as relevant and needed today as it was eighteen years ago.
This book has been on my radar for a long time. The author’s younger brothers, Alex and Brett Harris, wrote a book called Do Hard Things, a book that my youth pastor lent to me over four years ago and inspired me to start this blog. As a result, I am proud to say that I have been a rebelutionary for many years. Getting back to the point, though–I soon heard about I Kissed Dating Goodbye, but I didn’t feel that it was relevant to my life at that point in time.
Now that I’ve read it, I can see why people recommend it so often!
It’s easy to make assumptions about this book based on its title. “I kissed dating goodbye?” you might say. “Does this guy expect us to stay single for the rest of our lives?” No, and he explains that within the first few pages. I Kissed Dating Goodbye is not about avoiding relationships with the opposite sex. It’s about changing our attitude towards dating, and possibly, as a result, changing our actions.
I’ve been struggling with how to write this review simply because this is such a deep book. It’s so full of wisdom that I hardly know where to start, and I know that, no matter what I say, I can hardly do it justice. However, I’ll do my best, so here are some of my favorite points in the book:
- Defective dating. In his section on the “seven habits of highly defective dating”, Harris challenged me to reconsider my acceptance of the dating culture. I’ve always just assumed that I would eventually date, but that I would go about it differently than the world does. That I would date, maintain my purity, and be an example to those around me. And while I know that all of those things are possible and that many Christians do and have done exactly that, the book put a new perspective on things. If I’m determined to be set apart from the world, why do I feel the need to follow the world’s style in relationships? Should I simply do my best in the defective system that the culture offers, or should I look for something better?
- The gift of singleness. We live in a world where singleness is basically a curse. The goal is to be in a relationship, period. For those of us who are single, whether purposefully or not, it can feel like there’s something wrong with us. Harris challenges this. In fact, he goes beyond the idea that there’s nothing wrong with being single. He states that singleness is a gift, and in reading the book I’ve come to agree with him whole-heartedly. In constantly pursuing relationships, we put ourselves in a position where we are unable to be where God needs us. If we’re constantly wasting our energy on trying to “remedy” our singleness, or if we can’t spend a single moment without our significant other, what energy and time is left for God? Singleness is a gift that allows us to fully devote ourselves to God. For most of us, we won’t be single forever. Rather than rushing the gift to come, let us enjoy and use the gift we have now–singleness.
- Purity. This is certainly one of the deeper subjects in the book, and Harris made several different points in his discussion of it. What stood out to me was what he said about the “direction of purity”. Purity isn’t about setting a line that you won’t cross, whether physically or spiritually, and then getting as close to that line as possible without going over. It’s about setting a boundary and then resolving not to give yourself opportunities to compromise. Basically, rather than testing how close you can get to the line between “pure” and “not pure” (and I doubt there even is such a thing), run the other way. Run away from temptation, and towards righteousness.
I’d like to reiterate that I’ve barely scratched the surface of this book. If you feel this could have application in your life, I encourage you to read it! Personally, I don’t know if I’ve “kissed dating goodbye”. I do know that this book has given me a lot to think about. It has left me with some new attitudes and resolutions, and ultimately I have been blessed by it.