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Clarification on Dating and Courtship


I am often asked if I still agree with what I wrote in my first book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. The answer is that I do, but I'm quick to state that I've never claimed that the ideas I share in it are for everyone, nor that my book is or should be the final word on Christian relationships. The book is simply me at 21 years old sharing my personal journey of learning to honor God with romance and relationships.

I also add that, while I stand by what I wrote, I don't always like the way other people represent or champion the concepts I've written about. Sadly, there have been many times that people have applied its principles in a very legalistic and heavy-handed way. Some people have had my book forced on them or have been treated as though agreeing with me is the only option for Christians. If you're one of those people, I apologize. That certainly wasn't my intention when I wrote it.

I share all this to tell you about a DVD that my publisher released this year that I hope will contribute to clearing up some of the misconceptions that exist about my writing on dating and courtship. The DVD is a combination of both old and new messages that I've given on the topic.

Original Content
The original content on the DVD was produced back in 1999. It features drama, on-the-street interviews, personal testimonies, and segments of me teaching before a live audience. The focus of the messages is not "stop dating" but instead an encouragement to find your definition of love and purity from God's Word. They're a call to trust and honor God while genuinely caring for other people. The three original messages are:

て「 Love: What is true love, and how does its power make it possible for you to enjoy lifelong, meaningful friendships?

て「 Purity: In an age of compromise, how do we cultivate outward modesty and inward purity? What should our ultimate motivation be for living a life of purity, and why should it be a priority in your life?

て「 Trust: Singleness is not a time for watching life go by, but a chance to develop your gifts and use this season—however long it is—to serve the Lord, while trusting God for his good timing for romance.

New Messages
The two more recent messages are on courtship and were done at my church in the past few years. The new messages gave me the chance to address some of the questions raised by my books, and some of the ways their principles have been misapplied. They are:

て「 Courtship Shmourtship: Addresses misconceptions people have about courtship, and takes a biblical look at relationships. I speak to singles who are so concerned with "guarding each others heart" that they're not talking to one another.

て「 Courtship: A Community Project: Looks at how godly relationships can function in the context of the local church.

These bonus messages don't have the same production quality of the first three (you're just sitting in on a Sunday meeting at our church) but we've gotten encouraging feedback on how they answer questions that my books have generated. (We refer to these two as the "bald Josh" messages. The original three messages are the "Josh with Elvis Hair" messages.)

Each of the five messages are approximately 1 hour in length. The DVD is a good resource for youth groups or singles ministries, for sparking small group discussion, as well as personal viewing. You can buy it here.

And here's a little intro we put together for the new content of the DVD:

Comments (41)

Thanks Josh. I'm going to share this with the singles in our ministry. I appreciate all your resources on this topic.

I run into many who are dissatisfied with their experiences in "dating," but it's helpful to have some resources to show some particulars with regard to courting.


As one who greatly benefited from one of the "Bald Josh" talks that I heard through a podcast, I'm glad to see this material get put out there.

A lot of men and women in my generation have been burned by the whole "dating is bad, courting is good" mantra to the point where any talk of it probably only incites more people than it counsels. I hope this new project will help here.

As a singles caregroup leader (with 8 out of the 12 in relationships), what can Josh (my Josh) and I say, but THANK YOU.

wow i think i'll go order that! your books have been such a blessing to me. they really completely transformed my views on dating and helped me to see the beauty of dating from a biblical perspective. i look forward to watching the dvd and sharing it with my younger sister. may God richly bless you in all of your efforts to advance His glorious cause.
in Christ alone,

Sounds like a really cool development, but on a lighter note... is it just me, or do you look really, really spiritual in the still shot for the Youtube vid?


Yeah, that still shot looks like the cover of a worship album or something. Pretty cheesy.


Great post, Josh!

Good to read this because this is the way how I understood your book. Here in Germany many people really appreciated your books, and also many really thought it is horrible. Mostly you are known as the guy who has written the book against kissing before marriage ;-)

I got the I Kissed Dating Goodbye dvd for CHRISTmas. I'm really excited to listen to it. I really pray that I can attend NA this year to hear you speak in person. Take Care.

I was one of those with Josh Harris "forced on me" in my teen years. I had one of those homeschool moms who hoped I would meet and marry someone just like you. You were my ideal, until I grew to resent your book, especially as I attempted courtship and saw it fail (in my limited perspective). Now, at 25, still single, but still pursuing purity, and at a much deeper relationship with the Lord, I am thankful for your ministry, and for your continuing work getting out the message of purity and living for the Lord. The Lord has also laid the burden of teaching on purity and godliness in relationships on my life, and I am on my way to the mission field. For all of my teenage rants and rebellion, the Lord used you in my life, and I want to to say thanks. To God be the glory, certainly. May your ministry in this area, and in all areas be blessed.

I would think that if people are misapplying your book (such as implementing it legalistically) you might ask yourself what could be done to reduce the chances of that happening. Perhaps posts and clarifications on your site here would help? Maybe another revision to your book?

Joshua Harris, your book has helped me redefine dating for me and has been a catalyst in the change in my dating standards, morals and values. THANK YOU!!!

I am glad to see that even comments that are somewhat critical but respectful are allowed here.

I want to thank you for being open and honest enough with the world to put the truth out there about the dangers of modern dating. You have helped, in so many ways, prepare me for my God-given spouse, eventhough we've never met. I'm heading the singles' ministry at my church in hopes to prevent younger Christians from experiencing the pain of dating outside of God's will and help heal older Christians from the messes they've caused themselves by being out of God's perfect will.
Thank you for being a voice of wisdom is a chaotic world

lol hmmm let's see i just finished reading ur first book a couple of weeks ago??? XD but still thank you very much for your sharing =]

and by the way >.

Why aren't any of the problems you talked about in the new messages that occurred in your own church mentioned here on this web page? Wouldn't that have made sense to share with more people the own problems you had with the "kissed dating goodbye" philosophy?

I thought both books were great and I don't think too much 'clarification' is needed. Basically your books just put in words, with scripture references, what I thought and felt about dating/courting. Thank you!

i read your boook many times "i kissed dating googbye and boy meets girl as recommended by a christian friend..a purposed dating and courtship motivated in obedience in God's will and wisdom..thanks for inspiring millions of teens and singles, =)

Please stop damaging the church with your "work." It is one thing to voice your opinion, it is another to pervert the word of God and create a diaspora within the church.

I saw a lot of talk about humility perusing these pages. A humble man would have realized the hypocritical and contradictory message of "Boy Meets Girl" after "IKDG," especially when God presented you with a loving and quiet reminder of this when he "magically" introduced you to your wife.

Instead you take the path of the proud and arrogant, pumping out "Sex" to further inflame the dogmatic and unmerciful members of the church who view going out for coffee as the greatest sin a person can perform.

I can ask God for justice, but "with great patience and careful instruction" all I can ask you is to please stop writing.

I soooooooooooooooo appreciate you writing this, and clarifying this. I know some families that refer to themselves as "courtship families"...it is their distinctive. There is no room for 1)their child to want to do anything differently and 2)those who aren't "courtship families" are often seen as "wrong". There is no room for applying the principles...or doing it a little differently than they do it. My husband and I read your book to our children, who are both teenagers. We loved how you brought out Biblical princples on how to relate to the opposite sex, and then gave suggestions as to why dating--the way our culture does it---isn't done the best way. You never came across as judgemental, or legalistic. You just put it out there. It was good. Is it okay if I link this article to my site?

i am a little confused, and perhaps you could help me out. you wrote, "Some people have had my book forced on them or have been treated as though agreeing with me is the only option for Christians." i feel that the word of god is definitely an only option. i felt that you were making these points in the book b/c of biblical convictions. could you show me where the line was drawn between biblical standards and your own standards? thank you!

Thank you for standing up for what you believe in. I believe that young people need more of your kind. The kind who doesn't care what people think but what God thinks and someone who would have been more bothered by not doing what God told him to do then by what other people think.
IKDG must be the one thing in my life that I have sowed the most. That message blessed me right out of my socks, although I must admit that it took several attempts from me to finish the book.
The important thing to remember with this book is that the person reading it should be ready to receive the info in the book, he or she should be able to handle the truths in the information and very important, the person reading the book should let God talk to him or her about what they need to know from the book (as with any other christian literature). Eat the meat, spit out the bones! What I got from the book may not be what you would get from the book. It may be that you only have to read the first two pages from the book at this stage of your life. The message of the book grows on you as you allow what you experience as truth to work in your life. Don't be narrow-minded, read it and then decide.

hi!.....i appreciate so much...it.. thanks for giving knowledge about dating and courtship....


Like many others, I am glad to see that you have clarified that courtship may not be for everyone. I think it is important that you continue to address to young people, as well as their families that the ideas of the book should not be "shoved down anyone's throats." That is a good message that I feel that many parents should hear, as I have seen friends who have turned away from religion due to parents who were overly emphatic and forced their ideas down their children's throats. It is also important to address to such parents that while they lead their children towards one set of beliefs/relationship ideals, that they also equally stress the importance of being open minded towards others who do not share their same convictions and be accepting.

I was also curious to see how you felt about those in other faiths pursuing your ideas of courtships(in terms of purity, waiting, etc?)

Thank you for allowing me to express my curiosity, and I will be sure to read more of your work.

Hey Josh!
You just don't know how "on time" this book is! My Pastor gave me this book because I had become angry with dating and the men who have come in and out of my life. As an African-American woman over 30, I did not think that it would relate to me. Although I am a Christian, I've always perceived that different races always have different perspectives and experiences with dating. The majority of my experiences have been semi-good or all the way bad (which is the way that most African-American women 21 and over perceive African-American men and their dating experiences.) This book has taught me that no matter what race you are, it's important to keep in perspective who you are and Whose you are. It makes life better and easier. I'm learning so much about being by myself that I've learned in all the years of my singlehood. Although this book has been out for a long time, I'm telling all of my single friends about it so that we can all get together and talk about it. I wish I had received this book a long time ago, but God knows what he is doing, and this book is wonderful. Hopefully, I'll be able to get the video series next. Keep up the good work and thanks for renewing my faith in my singlehood! God Bless....

i'm tricia from the Philippines...josh and shannon, you two are an inspiration to us young people in living our lives to please God...Lord bless you and keep you...hugs!

i'm tricia from the Philippines...josh and shannon, you two are an inspiration to us young people in living our lives to please God...Lord bless you and keep you...hugs!

Why must you "sell" a clarification? Could you not at least post in a PDF the main points of your corrections so that people who are 'taking you out of context' can be properly redirected? I am not opposed to your making money off your books; no problem with that! But given that you had admitted that your ideas need some clarification, can you at least offer some free help for young persons without requiring them to shell out more of their money to receive your corrections to the admitted inadequacies in IKDG?

hey Joshua thanks a million times for the book it really working it wonders with me. A friend of mine from Japan posted it for me now all my friends want a copy but we struggling to get it here in South Africa we live in the town of Durban...PLZ let us know how we can get it plz

hi josh! im from the Philippines.i just finished reading IKDG. i really enjoyed reading it cause i learned a lot of things. my eyes were opened to the dangers of dating prematurely and many more things. i thank GOD for allowing me to read your book. now,i'll be ready to read boy meets girl. thank you and GOD BLESS!

hi, this is the first time i visited your site. if only i had known this for the past years, i would have been a valued "poster" to this site. i was caught surprised to see josh's hair now, hehez. but to tell you guys im so blessed by the books josh wrote and this site of course. God bles you guys. im fr the phils too.

Rick makes a good point. Why not at least summarize the "updates" and problems that occurred with singles in your own church here on this blog?

Rick and Steve,

Thanks for your comments. Actually the messages from the DVD's are available on our church site for free. When I did this post we didn't have them available because we were redoing our church site. But they're back and I have plans to highlight them more here on the blog...I'm just a little behind.

All that to say, I think it's a great idea to outline those messages here on the blog. That's a great suggestion.

And just to clarify, what I share in these messages isn't a retraction of what I've written but an attempt to adjust wrong ways I've seen it applied.

Thanks, brothers!



Thanks for your response back. I will look forward to seeing your summary and a way to at least listen to these "updates" free of charge.

Have you ever thought that maybe one of the reasons why "wrong ways I've seen it applied" has happened is that neither your book or blog has ever mentioned any of the problems that have occurred with the system you promote?

Even in your church's 30 years of promoting "kissing dating goodbye" it has caused a number of problems. If these problems were mentioned then maybe people would be aware of the "landmines" of this alternative to dating. IMO your books seems to present this approach as a "perfect solution" to all the defects of dating you indicate when it certainly isn't. It can and has created its own set of problems.

www dot ikdg wordpress dot com


I heard you speak at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in '99 when you were touring with your first book I believe. Anyway, thought your talk was great back then, but was no where ready to swallow the idea of "kissing dating goodbye". I, like many others, heard the legalistic singles over the next decade promote IKDG as the only "godly" way to date, or not date, or something? Anyway, they were enough to turn me off to reading the book. Hearing the title of your second book, "Boy Meets Girl", was music to my ears, the title alone now gave me amunition against all my "legalist friends" to say, "Ah Ha! He DID date", without yet again, reading your book to find out how you and your wife met, courted, whatever.

Having now reached my early 30s as a much more mature and open minded single woman, I'm sure your message would be well received and perhaps, just perhaps, I will finally read your books.

I do know for certain that our westernized culture's way of dating, even in the church, is sadly lacking in morality and is often completely destructive. Thanks for defending righteousness and being willing to take a stand, even if others find you offensive. I believe there was a Jewish Carpenter kinda like that too. . .



Hey there,

I saw a friend of mine reading your book "Boy meets girl" and what perfect timing as I'm currently in the part of my relationship where I'm having second thoughts and where disagreements and conflicts are cocming into the picture. Better still, I found your book in my university's library :) and I'm halfway through it. Just wanted to say it's inspiring and well, I hope and pray that it'll help us through this period of courting.


hi josh,

its my first time to visit your website and im so glad i can be able to post a comment here. i would just like to thank you for writing IKDG, my friend recommended it to me because that time, i am in the state of my life were i got my first heart broken.. my 3yrs relationship got ended and i just cant seem to move on and i really don know what to do.Because of your book, i learned to accept and understand why that relationship got to end, and i believed it's God's will and way to call me so that i can know Him.Your book encouraged me to seek God in my life more, and now, im attending a christian fellowship though im a catholic, and Im really happy now with my life.your book is my guide on how to handle my suitors.hahaha.its kinda hard but i know God wants to be be obedient to him and wait for the right time.thank you so much Josh, i got all the 3 books now but im reading again IKDG so i could be refresh with the principles and guide. God bless You!

As one of many to receive your form letter in response to my email about the pain your book caused me in my high school years. It greatly reduced my respect for you as an author let alone a person.

In my church the girls parents sold your system to the girls and the boys parents were looking at the ideal dreams of some day my prince will come and ask my daddy to court me as being pie in the sky dreams.

Turns out all of them abandoned courtship in College or when they met the right guy. It was just an excuse in the end not to date Christian guys like me.

Your system doesn't teach any of the social skills necessary to attract the opposite gender or confidence. Every girl I've met on the system still is self conscious and immature.

Maybe the real solution is a service to connect up people who are courting with other singles of similar beliefs. Then it would actually be realistic to think you will find your prince and they would use courtship.

Anyway you now have my email now as one of the many horror stories you've brushed off.

Feel free to email me and apologize for leaving only non-Christians for me to date who didn't care about my purity. I waited till I was 20 hoping things would change.

pulling cart indeed (just spit in the faces of those who consider trying to be disciplined in dating. The not shopping when your hungry would have made a better chapter)


Dear DieM,

Your comment is a difficult one to respond to. It certainly saddens me to hear about the obvious pain you've experienced. It's true that I've not been able to read every email I've received about my book. In my books I tried to make that clear this was the case when I invited people to write. But I certainly haven't meant to brush anyone off.

That being said, I don't think it would honest if I apologized for your experience. You seem to imply that if I'd never written my book all the girls in your church would have gone out with you. My friend, relationships have always been difficult and marked by disappointment. Please don't blame me or my book for the disappointments you've faced. And please don't judge every girl you've known who didn't want to date you. They weren't obligated to do so.

You and I can disagree about dating and the things I've written. I don't mind you believing that I'm wrong. But please don't live your life blaming me for your relational problems. Seek to be a godly man, take responsibility for your own life and press ahead in seeking God.


Joshua Harris

First of all I thank God for using you to inspire and call our post modern culture and "proffesing" church back to the biblical perspectives on love, purity (holiness), and trust, in relationships and in general. As Christains, our life is all about seeing, savoring, reclaimg, and proclaiming God and His glory in all aspects of our lives -- to bring Him all the revence, honor, glory and worship He rightly deserves!

Now for those who disclaim Josh's writings, with the feeble argument of: "it didn't work for me, therefore it is useless." Beware, for that is the modern mindset that has taken western civilization (and much of the proffesing church) down the drain! Truth is not relative, but absolute. I quote the famous church reformer Martin Luther, "whether it is heresy (error) or not, it is still true." However, it can be misunderstood, misinterpreted and misapplied. Yet truth still will divide! God's glory is what matters, God wisdom and will shall stand! And He will divide the "wheat from the tares". Anyway, For Josh courtship, was the liberating alternitive to the worlds way of dating: a relatively new system that has never worked for any culture -- and especially hasn't worked towards propelling God's glory in relationships! And what God's glory in relationships -- that they'd all be conformed to and reflect the Glory of God in Christ. That's the bottom line. That's Josh's motivation and intension!

Anyway, I've read IKDB, "Boy Meets Girl", and Not Even a Hint (or now titled, "Sex is not the problem"). The first book I read was "BMG". Although I had never really dated, it was illuminating, insightful, and I agreed with your points, especially that: courtship is not not dating but... dating with a purpose (or with WISDOM & PATIENCE); and that that purpose should be to see if it's God's will for the two to begin a relationship, with the purpose of marriage in veiw. This view is diametrically opposed to trite "recreational" dating the world adheres to(I think this is what you were attacking in IKDB -- those who are mature should understand this).

Secondly I read IKDB, I but didn't read that until about a year ago. It highlighted and reinforced some of my convictions as well as some of my own observations; namely how, even in the church, there are many guys and gals that don't know how to befriend one another -- how tragic! Your outline to solving this problem is very practical -- love biblically, pursue fellowship, and service, not exclusivity. Moreover, I believe that if men and woman would simply learn how to, as 1 John puts it, "love one another" and serve one another from a pure heart, than the steps leading up to courtship and/or marraige would be much simpler and less painful.

As for myself, I have learned to embrace being single (its the only way to not go insane worrying over when God's sovereign will will take place), By God's grace (with your help too) I have pursued brotherly service toward my fellow sisters. It has not been perfect but it has been fun! It's an awesome thing to serve the bretheren (and people in general).

Anyway, you are an inspiration to me Josh, I am glad to see the Lord continue to use you and grow both you and Shannon -- you're in my prayers. May the Lord continue to form Christ in you!


P.S. in the process of serving one of my fellow sisters, I believe this boy (me) may have met that girl! Moreover, without me driving these concepts down her throat, providencially, her friend passed IKDG to her -- it's changed her -- Lord willing, I hope this will help us find His perfect will. Thanks!

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