Book Review: I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris

I Kissed Dating Goodbye book cover

 

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.

God bless!

christrocks

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21 thoughts on “Book Review: I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris

  1. I guess you took down my comments since they didn’t agree with what you said and question Harris’s book and the problems it has caused. My blog give more details.

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    • I apologize, your comment is going up now. My life got pretty crazy after writing that article, and a lot of things slipped through the cracks. (I have to manually approve everything, so please don’t think that I went out of my way to take it down).
      I’m totally open to those who disagree, and I respect your opinions. I don’t entirely agree with the whole courtship thing myself (though I think a lot of people have gone way overboard in how much they hate it).
      Again, my apologies! God bless. 🙂

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      • Glad my comment did make it up. I think one of the worst things that happened with IKDG is that people just blindly took what worked for Harris and assumed it was what they should do in their circumstances. Josh Harris had an issue with dating too much (he shares that on some of the talks that he gave.)

        I am glad you are open to discussion and comments that don’t full agree with yourself. Sadly a lot aren’t open to any type of dialogue. Also, my blog title ask is “kissing dating goodbye” wisdom or foolishness. I believe it has both.

        It is sad to see so many people that embrace IKDG being totally blind to the problems IKDG has caused.

        Harris also already had social skills with the opposite sex due to his dating and probably natural ability. One person commented in one discussion that Josh Harris dated and developed those social skills but then told others they can’t date and thus develop them.

        I remember reading one blog where a single man wrote about “regretting kissing dating goodbye. He found he was now in his 30’s and little social skills with the opposite sex. He attributed a lot of this to blindly following the crowd and kissing dating goodbye.

        If nothing else realize KDG has its own issues.

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        • I agree; blindly accepting anything can be very dangerous. And yes, I’m always open to other opinions!

          One thing I would like to mention is that you seem to be implying that one needs to date to develop social skills with the opposite sex. Speaking from my own experience, I’ve never dated (or courted or anything), but I have several friends who are guys. I don’t think my social skills are lacking because I’ve chosen, for the moment, not to be in a relationship. In fact, looking around at the people I know who date rather frequently, I would say that in several cases, I interact more easily and frequently with the opposite sex than they do.

          I would also like to point out that Harris never suggests that we avoid those of the opposite sex. In fact, he goes out of his way to state that this was not his intention. Now,I have read books in the past that support avoiding the opposite sex and most having just casual friendships with them. I can very well see where this could go wrong

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        • Oops! Accidentally posted my comment before I was finished. Anyway, I was just going to say that since Harris never suggests avoiding the opposite sex, people who blame IKDG for their lack of social skills probably took it too far.

          And yes, I realize it has its issues. I hope you know that I am by no means sold on it. I’m currently just exploring the possibilities. 🙂

          God bless!

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    • I’ve come a little late to this discussion I see. =) I didn’t actually read all the comments, but I read enough to realize I disagree with most of them. Although I haven’t actually read Josh Harris’s book, most of my siblings have and I know enough about it to know I agree with the concept. Our family does courtship and both of my oldest siblings are married, proof of the fact that courting DOES work. The thing about courting is that it not only ensures physical purity before marriage, but emotional purity as well. I think my biggest problem with dating is that it shows a complete lack of faith. Faith that God has ONE person for you, and that He will lead you to them in His time. I know a lot of people disagree with this idea, but if you think about it, it makes sense. I hate it when people date just for the sake of dating with no intention of ever seriously considering marriage with the person they’re dating. To me, that’s stupid. And selfish. And pointless. You don’t need to date to develop your “social skills”. You don’t need to have a test run before you enter into a “serious relationship”. I believe as Christians we should save ourselves and keep ourselves pure in every sense of the word. Being a one-man-woman or a one-woman-man. God is in control. He knows what He’s doing. Why not trust Him with your future?

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        • @Steve, I checked out that link, and while it made some sense, I still disagree. I mean, the whole dating Bob on Thursday and then Bill the following Thursday goes against what I’ve always been taught -that being I should save myself for one man. I agree there are issues with courtship if you get involved in it and really don’t know the ins and outs in the first place. The deal is, in any relationship having Christ as the center of it is key. If you build the foundation of your marriage on Christ and His word and continuously seek to glorify and honor Him within your household, you will have found the key to a long-lasting, Christ filled relationship. This is true whether you are courting or dating. My family has found courtship to be the most effective form of guarding our hearts and remaining pure until marriage. Although some courtships end in shambles, every one I’ve ever known who did courtship has a strong, healthy marriage relationship because they continuously seek God in their lives and relationships. Now, I can’t speak for everyone, but in my own experiences I have found that when I’m talking in a group or even one on one with guys most of the time there’s no awkwardness at all. I watched my two oldest siblings during the duration of their courtship and they didn’t have any trouble socializing or communicating at all. I believe when God brings the person He has for you into your life, you’ll know it. There won’t be any need to date around and find out what you want in a spouse. For me, I wrote up a list of the things that are most important for me in my future husband. The top of the list being a strong relationship with Christ. I know God will lead me to who He has for me in His timing, so I’m not worried about dating around and finding who I need to marry. God will bring him to me. And I like the idea of having my parents involved in any future relationship. Not only is it accountability, but I also greatly respect their views and opinions. They’ve already gone through the relationship leading up to marriage, so they obviously know a lot more about it than I do. I trust my parents, I trust God, and I’ve seen proof that courtship does work if it’s done right. People who go into it liking the “idea” of it, but being unsure or misinformed on how to handle that relationship are the ones that end up worse for it. Done right, courtship does work.

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      • Welcome, Abby! 🙂
        I’m really glad to hear that courtship has worked for your family. I do think, however, that there is nothing inherently wrong with dating. It seems to me that a lot of the problems with dating that you have pointed out are situations in which the world has used dating to meet its own selfish desires. Dating without intention of marriage? I totally agree with that being wrong. It really frustrates me. And dating doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) about “developing your social skills”. Done right, dating is just another way to get to know someone with marriage being the ultimate goal.
        I agree that God has one person out there for me. And I also believe that He will lead me to that person whether I choose to date or court. I fully trust Him, and I don’t see how a choice to date would say otherwise.
        Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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        • Well one thing to remember about “dating without intention of marriage” is that “dating” can mean a lot of things. Josh Harris was more against a couple “going together” when they were young and not ready for marriage.

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  2. I JUST read this book, and loved it! I thought that some of it was a wee bit over my head (since I’m only 15 and inexperienced in the dating field), but overall I really enjoyed the book and learned a lot.
    Awesome post!
    Brooklyn

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    • Hey Brooklyn, it’s great to see you here! That’s awesome! I’m not much older than you, and I quite deliberately don’t have experience dating either. But I think this book can still give us something to think on for the future, as well as practical advice on purity that we can use today.
      Thanks! 😀 God bless!!
      Christy

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  3. Hello!

    I am looking to hand letter (typography, hand written kind) blog headers to make them personalised for $25, because I love hand lettering and personalising 🙂

    More of my work is here: http://www.mariepeh.co.vu

    (Btw, I am a christian too, and I like that you share your faith here!)

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    • Hi Gabrielle,
      I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you! Thanks for sharing that with me. I have seen similar articles, although that particular one seems to be more level-headed than most. I haven’t really taken a side either. I can see the pros and cons in both dating and courtship. Ultimately, I recommend that people read the book and see what they get out of it. I was very encouraged by certain aspects such as his thoughts on purity and singleness; that doesn’t mean I’m sold on courtship.
      By the way, thanks for commenting/following! It’s nice to see someone from the Reb here. 🙂
      God bless!
      Christy

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  4. I would suggest caution whenever looking into Christian relationship advice. In surrounding ourselves with one perspective will keep us off balance when we look at the big picture. Some Christians go through courtship or betrothal and end up in a holy yet loveless marriage with their first girl/boy friend. It is better to take a moment to figure out who you are as a single individual than to not know who you are and rush into a marriage you shouldn’t.

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    • Hi Jamie,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I agree that it can be dangerous to rely on one perspective. That being said, I can assure you that that is not what I’m doing. I’ve read a few books on dating so far–one that is far more conservative, and one that is less so. I haven’t yet set my mind on any particular viewpoint. And when I do make a decision, it will ultimately be based in God’s Word, not a book written by man, no matter how good it might be.

      I can also assure you that I am by no means rushing into anything. I plan on approaching relationships with a Christ-centered perspective. Whether I’ll use that perspective in dating or courting or something else, I don’t know yet. But I know that God is guiding my future, that He knows what is best, and that everything will happen in His own timing. I don’t plan on rushing Him. 😉

      God bless you!
      christrocks

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