I was one of the many teenagers who bought into this way of life highlighted by Joshua Harris, but unlike most I actually read the book! Allow me to digress. The year was 1997, and I was in my senior year of high school. I had never officially “dated” a girl, though I did have a few girlfriends. My typical M.O. was to have a crush on a girl, we would hold hands, sit next to each other at lunch, pass some notes, share locker combinations, and after a couple of weeks or so move on. At the time, I had yet to recognize my fear of intimacy and my fear of rejection.
1997 was also the year I rededicated my life to the Lord. I had heard that a girl that I had a crush on was skipping the typically party after Friday night games in lieu of attending a Bible study. Back then, I only attended church on Sundays because my other days were filled with homework and soccer or baseball practices. The presence of this girl gave me an incentive to attend even though the group was put on by some of the less popular kids in school. After a few weeks of attending, the girl stopped going, but my passion for the Lord had been rekindled. Soon I began going to their church youth group and it was there I learned about kissing dating goodbye.
Joshua Harris was a pure-hearted young author who decided to date with a purpose and wrote about his journey to getting married. He wrote this incredible book, with great quotes and godly principles, but the biggest obstacle to the long-term success of this book was that many of the people who championed the cause had never gotten past the first three chapters or even the cover!
It’s been close to 18 years and I still use my favorite quote of the book;
“The right thing at the wrong time, is the wrong thing.” – J. Harris
I loved Harris’ principles and his heart, which was so clearly communicated in the book. He expressed there isn’t a need to “date” until both parties were ready to begin a serious relationship, and having a friendship until that time is safer and can be more productive. Sadly, because there were so many misconceptions (based almost exclusively on the title), within a few years the movement began to dwindle. Like clockwork, there were books written which encouraged dating.
In spite of this new turn in the Christian culture, I stuck to my guns. Those who introduced me to the concept would now tease me. I remember one “friend” poignantly asked, “How are you going to meet your wife? Is God going to make her knock on your door and say, ‘Here I am’?” My answer to that friend was “Why not?”
I wasn’t concerned with how God was going to bring my wife into my life because I trusted Him. I trusted that if I honored Him and the convictions He placed in my heart, then He would provide. I often told people that if I trusted God with my breath, my soul, and eternal address, then why wouldn’t I trust Him with my wife?
My non-dating journey wasn’t perfect, but it was heartfelt.
Joshua Harris called this path “dating with a purpose,” and I was committed to it. Along the way there were a number of girls that I thought were possibilities, but I didn’t pursue them. I believed in building friendships first, so that’s what I did. Sometimes, things would fizzle out as I got to know the girl better, but there were other times momentum would build enough to the point where it was obvious something had to either happen or not. I would have a conversation with the girl about how I felt and we would pray for God’s direction. Quite honestly, there were times I was excited about the possibility, so to hear God’s “NO” was both disappointing and difficult.
I met my wife when I spoke at her young adults’ group. Ezzy was one of the leaders, and she immediately stuck out to me. Since she stuck out to me, I figured it was because the Lord had a prophetic word for her so, during the altar call, I spoke an affirming word over her life. After service she came to tell me that the word was accurate, but she still stuck out to me. Oddly enough I did think “What if this is the girl I’m going to marry?” but I quickly heard the Holy Spirit say “No.” I heeded God’s word to me and didn’t pursue her then.
There were many confirmations and stories that go along with our story and while God may not have had Ezzy knock on my door, He definitely brought us together and spoke clearly to us both. My journey took 15 years, but my wife is so amazing! she is a stunner (see above picture) whose inner beauty exceeds her outer beauty! I experienced and caused much less heartache because of Joshua Harris’ book and God’s grace. Kissing dating goodbye worked for me. If you’re single, I HIGHLY recommend reading Joshua Harris’ book. But don’t stop at the title!
Thank you Mr. Harris!