Courting, Dating, or Single?

I’ve avoided reading the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye for years now. I finally broke down and picked it up, thinking I would suffer through it “for research purposes.” Why the negative attitude? I had previously been misinformed by several people who read it that the book was about courting.

Ugh. Courting is a serious turn-off word for me. I think I dislike courting for the same reason many people dislike Christianity. “Well, Christians say they are one thing, and then they turn around and live just like the rest of the world.” The few people who have described courting to me talked like dating was a huge sin, but when they actually told me what courting was, it sounded a whole lot like dating to me. When I pointed that out, I received responses like, “But with courting, you don’t go to any compromising places together,” or “No, because when you court someone, you are actually planning on marrying them.” Okay then, so you just explained to me the difference between dating and stupid dating. It’s the same thing. The only difference is the name you call it. At least, that’s how I see it. But if you have a better definition that can clear things up for me, please let me know, and I will gladly stand corrected.

I haven’t completely finished the book yet, but after reading eleven chapters and not finding anything but a brief reference to the dreaded “C” word, I think it’s safe to assume that the book is not about courting. And according to author Joshua Harris, it’s not even about dating; it’s about living a pure and purposeful singleness. Even if it’s just for a season.

Ironically, the book I’ve been avoiding for most of my teen years is the same book I’ve been searching for most of my teen years. It was like a breath of fresh air to read the writings of someone who actually feels the same way I do about relationships. It was refreshing to realize that the thoughts that caused me to write a book and start this blog are spinning in the hearts of others like me. So now that I’ve discovered that the book already exists, why am I still writing? Well, I guess it’s because there’s still so much to be learned about passionately pursuing God with your singleness. So I’ll keep embracing the moment, living the journey, and sharing my experiences along the way. Who knows? Perhaps my own dance with singleness will encourage you as much as Joshua Harris has encouraged me.

10 thoughts on “Courting, Dating, or Single?

  1. You might find my blog of interest where I critique Josh Harris’s book.
    I Kissed Dating Goodbye: Wisdom or Foolishness?

    Unfortunately Josh Harris is quick to point out the problems with dating but reluctant to share any of the problems with his approach.

    Hope this helps.

    • Wow. I glanced at your blog, but it is going to take me awhile to digest all of that. I’m sure I’ll be back and forth a few times. I understand your concerns with the theory, and I agree that it is bound to have its problems just like any approach to relationships. But as his marriage proves, it did work for Josh. So it’s not an impossible theory. I guess the only thing we can do is pray and ask God what approach he would have us take to romantic relationships. I’m kind of partial to kissing dating goodbye, myself.

  2. You are correct that it “did work for Josh Harris.”

    Of course realize that he met his wife at the church he was working at. Not all w ill meet their spouse by working where Josh Harris worked at. Most work at secular jobs.

    Josh Harris “kissed dating goodbye” after having some experience with dating and his belief that it was bad for him. He also apparently had good social skills with women or didn’t need to develop them. I am sure there are other guys that aren’t so outgoing and without the social skills where “kissing dating goodbye” doesn’t work for them.

    I would also say to be careful in assuming what worked for Josh Harris should be what all do.

    • 1) I’m not sure what the huge difference is between “kissing dating goodbye” in a church or a secular setting. It’s the same concept. And I’m a firm believer in being the same person both in a Christian and a non-Christian setting.

      2) I’m not sure I believe that social skills between the sexes should be learned in a dating environment rather than in the context of friendship. If a guy feels awkward around women why would he isolate himself with one of them?

      3) No book is written for everyone. I Kissed Dating Goodbye was meant for a targeted audience. I fell into that category and the book resonated with me. Saying that Joshua Harris’ approach to dating is the best/only approach is like saying the only way to write a book is to write the general thought and then go back and fix the wording. That doesn’t work for me. I want to make it sound good the first time around. Like everything in life, you have to find what works for you and stick with it.

      4) What do you have against Joshua Harris?

  3. I would say I don’t have anything “against” Josh Harris. I am disappointed that he has been so quick to share what he sees as all the pitfalls against dating but has been quite silent about all the problems his “alternative” has caused. Why is he so silent about these problems? Maybe if they were admitted corrections could be made.

    I do find if baffling how unquestioned the book and it principles were when it first came out. I am glad to see people are now starting to question it vs. just blindly accept it.

    One problem I have seen where “kissing dating goodbye” is taught is that the single men and women become more segragated and almost “aftraid” of each others. That is not healthy.

    In one message Josh Harris gave to the church he pastors he admitted problems such as these happening at his own church. He describes singles as being “stanoffish” and not having freedom to relate etc. Sadly Josh Harris has never shared this probllem on his blog. The message is “Courtship Smourtship.”

    It may be hard for a man to admit that the book and what he taught in it that brought him into prominence has flaws.

    1. My point is that with someone working at a church and being able to meet his wife where he worked at meant he had more opportunities then a lot of other Christians might have. Thus what worked for him doesn’t mean it will work for all. He had more opportunities to meet a compatible wife than others typically have.

    2. I am sure social skills can be learned when people do things in groups vs. dating. See my above comment on how I have seen single men and women typically relate when “kissing dating goodbye” has been taught. It is harder to learn social skills when single men and women are “afraid” of each other.

    Here is one interesting blog entry someone else wrote:

    3. I am glad you agree that one shouldn’t assume what Harris found he needed to do and worked for him applies to all people. I see “kissing dating goodbye” as something that applies more to teenagers vs. older single adults. My criticism of IKDG is based on me seeing it imposed on singles in their 20’s and 30’s. It is sad that Harris really hasn’t admitted it limited application.

    Also Harris sold study guides for the “kissing dating goodbye” book. Doing that presents the books as more of a manual than one person’s account of what worked for him.

  4. I think the view you’ve adopted of the book is the view Joshua Harris did NOT want anyone to take. But I guess just like anything in life, misunderstandings are bound to happen. Kind of like all my friends who told me the book was about courting.

    Before he even got into the book, Josh wrote an introduction to address what he was and was not going to say. The dating he addresses is not an action, but a mentality. It’s the way you enter into a relationship that is the concern. Regarding spending time with women, here’s Harris’ exact quote: “I won’t say that it’s never appropriate to spend time alone with someone. At the right time in a relationship, if the motive is clear and the setting avoids temptation, going on a date can be healthy.” Throughout the book, he encourages male/female relationships in group settings and often mentions things he has learned from his female friends.

    But in the end, his book (like my post) is not even about dating. It’s about living a pure and purposeful singleness. He addresses that fact throughout the book. Our culture force feeds relationships down our throats and speaks as if marriage is the highest calling. Yes, marriage is a calling, but God also has an individual calling on each of our lives. Many people lose that in the chaos of searching for a spouse. In the end, it’s about pursuing God’s will for your life in every season of your life. Particularly in your singleness as that was the audience for which I Kissed Dating Goodbye was intended.

  5. Beyond Waiting

    All I can say is that Joshua Harris’s book has created various situations including singles in many circles being almost “afraid” of those of the opposite sex. Whether he intended this to happen or not is pretty much irrelavent.

    Arguing that something wasn’t his intent would be like a a company who keeps having employees get hurt using a certain machine and then blaming the inuries on careless employees vs. an unsafe machine. Similary Josh Harris’ book has produced what I outlined above. Thus maybe Harris didn’t intent for this to happen but it certainly did.

    See the following blog entry:

  6. I don’t see how Joshua Harris can be blamed for someone perverting his message. He never suggested that men and women should avoid interacting with one another. In fact, he encouraged it. As long as it was in the safety of a group where neither person would be prone to temptation, he cherished male/female friendships. It’s evident in the examples he uses throughout the book.

    I think the “injuries” that are being caused by your mythical machine aren’t so much the fault of the machine, but by the people who misread the user’s manual. The fact that these singles who are “afraid” of members of the opposite sex “because of” I Kissed Dating Goodbye tells me that these people skipped over vital parts of the book. If Joshua harris constantly refers to stories of his female friends, how can one conclude that his message is anti-guy/girl relationships?

    In the 15th chapter of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Josh clearly states that his method is not a magic formula (pg. 205) nor will it solve the world’s relational problems (pg. 221). That sounds to me as if he is asking us not to take his book legalistically. So if someone were to use his method as a magic formula that will solve the world’s relational problems, of course they are going to find a problem with it. If you skip over the instructions that say, “Do not put your hand here,” of course, you are going to lose a finger to that “unsafe” machine. But what can the company do to prevent someone from disregarding the instructions?

    If you don’t believe that his method works, that’s fine. Everyone is entitled to his own opinion. Joshua Harris’ opinion was that principled romance was a safe way for him to pursue marriage. He stated from the beginning that other people may not agree with everything he had to say. There were some things I didn’t particularly agree with, but I kept my heart open to receive the things that I could agree with. And I was encouraged because of it.

  7. Hi, you might find my new blog site interesting. It’s called and supports my workshops called “courting disasters and how to avoid them- from occasional dating to long term mating”.

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