No book on dating has generated more heated response than Joshua Harris's I Kissed Dating Goodbye (Multnomah, 1997). In addition to enormous sales (nearing a million), four years later, many young Christians are passionately for it or against it. Though Harris has subsequently gotten married and written Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship (Multnomah, 2000), it is his first book that still provokes the most discussion among singles. CT managing editor Mark Galli sat down with Harris to ask him about the book's genesis and the ongoing controversy surrounding it.
What prompted you to write I Kissed Dating Goodbye?
I was editing New Attitude, a national magazine for homeschooled teens, and relationships was a big issue. At the same time, I had been going out with a girl in my youth group, and I was acting like a typical high-school Christian kid. I knew sex before marriage was wrong, but I was involved in this dating relationship where we were pushing the line, and we were being dragged down spiritually. Many homeschoolers talked about the concept of courtship, but I basically wrote it off. I remember my youth pastor saying how he hadn't kissed his wife until he got engaged, and I just laughed at that: "Oh my goodness. Get real!"
At that time, God began to do a work in my life. I ended that dating relationship and began to ask some serious questions about my lifestyle. I had wasted two years of my life—in terms of time, emotional investment, and energy. That relationship had been my focus. I realized I had promised my former girlfriend a lot of things—and I hurt her because I was the one who broke off the relationship. And so I started to look at these ideas about courtship.
I wrote an article, ...1