Joshua Harris (pastor)

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Joshua Harris
BornJoshua Eugene Harris
(1974-12-30) December 30, 1974 (age 45)
Dayton, Ohio, United States

Joshua Eugene Harris (born December 30, 1974) is an American author and former pastor. Harris' book I Kissed Dating Goodbye (1997), in which he laid out his ideas concerning a Biblically-based Christian approach to dating and relationships helped shape purity culture for many Christian millennials.[1] Harris was lead pastor of Covenant Life Church, the founding church of Sovereign Grace Ministries, in Gaithersburg, Maryland from 2004 until 2015. In 2018, Harris disavowed I Kissed Dating Goodbye and discontinued its publication. The following year, Harris announced that he was separating from his wife, had "undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus" and was not a Christian.[2][3][4]


Harris is the first of seven children born to Gregg and Sono Harris, pioneers in the Christian homeschooling movement. He is of Japanese descent on his mother's side.[5] His brothers, twins Alex and Brett, lead the youth movement The Rebelution (rebelution is a neologism defined by its creators as "a teenage rebellion against low expectations).[6] Harris published New Attitude, a magazine aimed at fellow homeschoolers, from 1994 to 1997.[7] He received no formal seminary or theological training. Harris married Shannon Hendrickson in 1998. In 2019 she began going under the name Shannon Bonne.[8] The pair have had three children.[9]

Harris's first book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, was published in 1997 and has sold 1.2 million copies worldwide.[10] Subsequent books by Harris include Boy Meets Girl (2000), in part describing his engagement to his eventual wife, Shannon; Not Even a Hint: Guarding Your Heart Against Lust, released in 2003 and renamed Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is) in 2005; and Stop Dating the Church!: Fall in Love with the Family of God (2004). Harris' book Dug Down Deep (2010) shared his journey towards a love for theology and highlighted his passion for what he called "humble orthodoxy".[11]

In 1997, Harris moved from Oregon to Gaithersburg, Maryland to be a pastoral intern.[12][13] There, "C. J. Mahaney, a charismatic Calvinist and founding pastor of megachurch Covenant Life Church, took Harris under his wing and groomed him to take over the church."[14] Harris was lead pastor of Covenant Life Church from 2004 until 2015.[15][16] Harris assumed the role of senior pastor at Covenant Life Church at the age of 30.[12] In January 2015, he resigned from that role due to a desire to broaden his views and connect to other parts of Christianity. "Harris said the isolation of Covenant Life, and of a small cluster of churches of which it was a part, may have fed leadership mistakes, including the decision of pastors — himself among them — to handle a child sexual abuse case internally instead of going to police."[16]

Harris started Sovereign Grace Ministries' New Attitude Conference for Christian singles in 1999, with inspiration and guidance from Louie Giglio, founder of Passion Conferences.[14] From 1999 until 2011 he continued frequently to organize and lead this conference, although in 2008 it was renamed "Next."[17] The primary focus of New Attitude was to equip young Christians with what organizers believe is the biblical truth of the gospel, and to stress the importance of the church in the lives of all Christians.[7]

In 2016, Harris stated that he was reconsidering the content of I Kissed Dating Goodbye[18] and apologized to people who said that they had been hurt by its teachings.[19][18] In 2018, Harris disavowed I Kissed Dating Goodbye and discontinued its publication.[20] His publishers agreed that I Kissed Dating Goodbye and two other follow-up books would not be reprinted once the current stock was depleted.[21][22] Harris appeared in a documentary film called I Survived I Kissed Dating Goodbye, where he spoke to people who were critical of the book.[23][24]

In July 2019, Harris announced that he and his wife, Shannon Bonne, were separating due to "significant changes [that] have taken place in both of us".[25][26] Later that month, Harris announced that he no longer considered himself a Christian.[27][28] Following Harris's loss of faith, the producers of the documentary about Harris announced they would be halting the distribution of the film.[29]


  • I Kissed Dating Goodbye (Updated Version). Multnomah, 2003. ISBN 1-59052-135-8
  • Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship. Multnomah, 2000. ISBN 1-57673-709-8
  • Not Even a Hint. Multnomah, 2003. ISBN 1-59052-147-1 (re-published as Sex Isn't the Problem, Lust Is in 2005. ISBN 1-59052-519-1)
  • Stop Dating the Church! Multnomah, 2004. ISBN 1-59052-365-2 (re-published as Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God in 2011. ISBN 1-60142-384-5)
  • Dug Down Deep Multnomah, 2010.
  • Humble Orthodoxy: Holding the Truth High Without Putting People Down Multnomah, 2013. ISBN 1-60142-475-4)


  1. ^ Parke, Caleb (July 22, 2019). "Christian author of 'I Kissed Dating Goodbye' separating from wife". Fox News.
  2. ^ "He wrote the Christian case against dating. Now he's splitting from his wife and faith". Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  3. ^ "Joshua Harris on Instagram: "My heart is full of gratitude. I wish you could see all the messages people sent me after the announcement of my divorce. They are…"". Instagram. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  4. ^ "Joshua Harris on Instagram: "We're writing to share the news that we are separating and will continue our life together as friends. In recent years, some significant…"". Instagram. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  5. ^ "Trip to Japan". Archived from the original on October 7, 2009. Retrieved June 9, 2010.
  6. ^ Eekhoff Zylstra, Sarah (November 5, 2014). "Alex and Brett Harris Are Doing Hard Things". TGC. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Jeeya (July 31, 2019). "Joshua Harris Biography". Gossip Gist. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
  8. ^ theology, Jonathan | sex & (August 15, 2019). "Joshua Harris's wife finds her voice". Medium. Retrieved February 3, 2020.
  9. ^ Laviola, Erin (July 29, 2019). "Joshua Harris: Former Pastor Says He's No Longer a Christian".
  10. ^ Bote, Joshua. "He wrote the Christian case against dating. Now he's splitting from his wife and faith". USA TODAY. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  11. ^ Sherwood, J.J. (March 31, 2010). "Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why It Matters". TGC. Retrieved August 31, 2020.
  12. ^ a b Wishall, Garrett (August 17, 2009). "'It's a role of service:' Joshua Harris on being senior pastor of Covenant Life Church". Towers. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  13. ^ "Joshua Harris Author Profile". Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  14. ^ a b Hansen, Colllin (September 22, 2006). "Young, Restless, Reformed Calvinism is making a comeback—and shaking up the church". Christianity Today. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  15. ^ Lee, Morgan (February 5, 2015). "Why Joshua Harris Kissed His Megachurch Goodbye". Christianity Today. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  16. ^ a b Boorstein, Michelle (January 30, 2015). "Pastor Joshua Harris, an evangelical outlier, heads to mainstream seminary". Washington Post.
  17. ^ Harris, Josh (January 2012). "New Attitude, Na, Next 1999-2012". Josh Harris. Archived from the original on May 19, 2014. Retrieved May 19, 2014.
  18. ^ a b Graham, Ruth (August 23, 2016). "Hello Goodbye: The author of a best-selling abstinence manifesto is reconsidering the lessons he taught to millions". Slate. Retrieved December 11, 2017. “It’s like, well, crap, is the biggest thing I’ve done in my life this really huge mistake?”... He has come to question many assumptions that undergirded his book: the urge of parents and church leaders to strictly control young people; the purity movement’s implication that sexual mistakes are somehow irrevocable; and his book’s “formulaic approach to relationships that somehow guarantees a happy outcome.”
  19. ^ Martin, Rachel (July 10, 2016). "Former Evangelical Pastor Rethinks His Approach To Courtship". National Public Radio. Retrieved December 11, 2017. ...I feel like I'm on the front end of a process to help people in some way if I can apologize where needed and re-evaluate where needed.... when we try to overly control our own lives or overly control other people's lives, I think we end up harming people. And I'm—I think that that's part of the problem with my book.
  20. ^ "Joshua Harris Says 'I Kissed Dating Goodbye' Will Be Discontinued, Apologizes for 'Flaws'".
  21. ^ Wittmer, Carrie (December 17, 2018). "The Christian author who pushed for people to skip dating, including kissing and sex, before marriage has changed his mind and asked his publisher to stop printing his book". INSIDER. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  22. ^ Aviles, Gwen (July 29, 2019). "Author of bestselling Christian book apologizes to LGBTQ community". NBC NEWS. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  23. ^ MacCammon, Sarah (December 17, 2018). "Evangelical writer kisses an old idea goodbye". NPR.
  24. ^ MarieAnn Klett, Leah (October 23, 2018). "Joshua Harris says 'I Kissed Dating Goodbye' will be discontinued, apologizes for 'flaws'". The Christian Post.
  25. ^ "Evangelical Writer Who Influenced Purity Culture Announces Separation From Wife".
  26. ^ Harris, Joshua. "Joshua Harris Instagram". Instagram. Retrieved July 18, 2019.
  27. ^ Parke, Caleb (July 29, 2019). "Well-known Christian author, purity advocate, renounces his faith: 'I hope you can forgive me'". Fox News.
  28. ^ Sherwood, Harriet (July 29, 2019). "Author of Christian relationship guide says he has lost his faith". The Guardian. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  29. ^ Gions-Phillips, Tré (August 29, 2019). "Film distributor drops Joshua Harris' documentary after being blindsided by author saying he's no longer Christian". Faithwire. Retrieved August 29, 2019.

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