Josh published his career-making book, , in 1997, when he was only 21.His book had a huge impact on not only the Christian homeschool movement but also evangelicalism more broadly, and frankly, messed a lot of things up for a lot of us growing up in that culture.He had never been married, never had a serious relationship, and (to my knowledge) had no formal university-level training in either psychology or theology.
At the time, Harris was just 21, but he was already a rising star.
His parents were pioneers of the evangelical home-schooling movement, and Harris had already founded New Attitude, a countercultural magazine for teens that gave tips for proselytizing and offered in-depth analysis on why pop culture songs like Joan Osborne’s “[What If God Was] One of Us” was unchristian. Here’s why we chose to give birth to black triplets.] As a young home-schooled evangelical, Harris was a paragon of all the Christian virtues — an autodidact, motivated and pure.
Now, almost 20 years later, even Harris appears to be questioning whether his advice did more harm than good.
Harris probably could not foresee how strongly his book would take root in evangelical culture.
Several years ago, even conservative evangelical World Magazine published an article critical of the impact Harris’s seminal book has had on the relationship culture of an entire generation of evangelical young people. It has been nearly two decades since he published his book, and in that time he has married, had children, pastored a church, and weathered a denomination sex abuse scandal that threatened to take his congregation down with it.
It is likely this last event that set him on his path toward seminary.
a book that was in part a warning about the harm that relationships before marriage could cause.
Harris evoked images of men at the altar bringing all their past partners with them into the marriage to reinforce the point that love and sex before marriage took pieces of your heart and made you less.
He was what we, as young evangelicals, wanted to be.
And so we strove passionately to attain the ideal of premarital purity he laid out for us.
If you were a conservative Christian in the 1990s and early 2000s, chances are you owned a copy of the bestselling “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” by Joshua Harris.