05 July 2012

I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris (Part 2)

   A while ago I posted about what Joshua Harris’s I Kissed Dating Goodbye isn’t about. Now, I’d like to take a minute and tell you what it is about. This is mainly for those who haven’t read it, but if it’s been a while, this review might be worthwhile to you. 

   I Kissed Dating Goodbye is about submitting yourself (particularly in your romantic relationships) to God and His will. Yep, it’s true. In spite of what you may have heard, that is basically what it is about. 

   Mr. Harris has been quoted in the past saying that he could have named the book, “I Kissed Short Term Premature Selfish Directionless Romantic Relationships Goodbye” but that would be too long of a title. His point is not (as I’ve already made clear) “dating is bad.” His point is that God has a plan that includes who will we marry (or IF we will marry) and we don’t need to act in fear that maybe God has forgotten us. We don’t need to pursue short term premature selfish directionless romantic relationships in hopes that we might one day turn up lucky. We can find contentment in our singleness and eventually move toward marriage with someone without breaking hearts along the way.

   Now I brought up the fact last week that the book was written mainly to the very young. Mr. Harris constantly questions the wisdom of intimacy before being ready to commit. This does not mean that it has nothing to say to older singles. (Am I allowed to call myself an “older single”?) In fact, I was so surprised at how much I got out of my rereading. 

   I found the parts that deal with utilizing your time of singleness instead of getting impatient and just dating someone because you can really spoke to me. There are just things one can do as a single person, that are harder to do as a married person. And I’m not just talking about getting to stay up later and getting away with eating ice cream and cheez-its for dinner (as fun as both of those may be). You can be fully devoted to improving your walk with God and be an asset to your church and community. I’m being careful here because obviously there are married men and women who are fully devoted to improving their walk with God and are major assets to their church and community. But when you are married you have responsibilities to your spouse, and to your children if God has blessed you in this way. They are wonderful and joyful responsibilities, but they are responsibilities. Single people have a more open schedule and can be more accommodating to the needs of their church and community. I’m actually reading Nancy Wilson’s Why Isn’t a Pretty Girl Like You Married: And Other Useful Comments and I just finished a chapter where she outlines all the opportunities for single (women in particular, but men too) people. Mr. Harris points out that dating (in the way he is defining it) could distract us from these opportunities.

    Not that singleness is always a fun walk in the park. I’ve entered a season of peace with it, but ask me in another year and I may have a different answer for you. Sometimes it’s a real trial and struggle. But the bible talks about struggle quite a bit and there is always a reason for it. God loves us and His love often takes the form of loving us into loveliness. This often means change. The change often involves pain and trial and hardship. Singleness for those who don’t feel like they’ve been called to be single can be one of those very ways God is changing you and teaching you. Mr. Harris thinks that avoiding this process by entering those short term premature selfish directionless romantic relationships, can be harmful. 

   I also found applicable the section where Mr. Harris talks about how we need to be on the lookout for each other. We need to be guarding our hearts and being sure not to mess about with the hearts of others. Now, I’ve heard many people (Mr. Harris included) talking about people who have taken this to an extreme. They cite examples where the young people are so worried about guarding each other’s hearts, that they don’t speak to each other. Ok, that’s a problem. But I’ve been on the other side of the problem, and let me tell you, I almost wish the other person in question had chosen to not talk to me at all rather than pursue a pseudo more-than-friends-relationship that ended up stealing a lot of my peace and my contentment with what God has for me right now. I’m not advocating the genders never interact, but I am advocating wisdom in our dealings with one another, keeping in mind that women and men think, act, and speak differently. I think Mr. Harris would agree.  

   Now, Mr. Harris says at the end of the book, ““The Bible doesn’t provide a one-size-fits-all-program for moving from friendship to marriage. Our lives are too different, our circumstances too unique, and our God too creative to have only one formula for romance.”[1] But ultimately, I leave you with a question. How is dating working for you? Have you fled temptation, guarded your heart, kept yourself accountable with spiritual mentors, continued your walk with the spirit, and are working towards a God-honoring marriage with another person? Then GREAT! You just described what Mr. Harris has been describing all along. You just call it by a different name. But if you have found yourself compromising your purity, testing the limits of “how far you can go,” avoiding godly counsel, and just stringing someone along or know you are being strung along, perhaps it’s time to get out of the game, and re-think what you are playing.

[1] Joshua Harris, I Kissed Dating Goodbye (Sisters, Or.: Multnomah Books, 1997), page 205


Carrie said...

Well put!

Barbara H. said...

I clicked on the link from your comment on Carrie's 5MFB post to get here. It caught my eye because I read this book years ago when my older sons were in their teens and I was studying out the whole courtship vs. dating thing. You brought out a lot I had forgotten. I do think people tend to mischaracterize this book. I did agree even back then, even before reading the book, that the dating someone steadily, breaking up, then dating someone else pattern was not a good preparation for marriage. I wasn't prepared to go to the courtships extremes of some people we knew, but we did draw many good principles from the book.

BerlinerinPoet said...

@Barbara H: Yes, I'm not exactly sure why that linked this post to that comment, but I'm grateful you'd take the time to read!
I agree! In my part one post, I brought out that fact that the over simplification of this book is a problem on both ditches at the side of the path that I think Mr. Harris walks pretty solidly on. I was mainly just impressed with how much this had to say to me as an adult who has been out of the teens for a while.